Stefano Pioli must hit the ground running at Hapoel Beer-Sheva on Thursday if Inter are to have any hope of making it through to the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
In order to remain in contention for a round of 32 place, Inter must win. Any other result and they cannot qualify for the knockout stages of the competition and the possible path into the Champions League next season.
Inter have to play Sparta at home in their last match, so they need Southampton to beat the Czech side on Thursday so that Inter can still control their own destiny.
- Miguel Vítor and Maor Buzaglo scored as Hapoel inflicted a shock 2-0 defeat on Inter at San Siro on matchday one; it was the clubs’ first meeting, and both teams’ maiden competitive fixture against a side from their opponents’ home country.
- In 13 UEFA competition fixtures between Italian and Israeli clubs, the Serie A representatives have posted six wins, three draws and four defeats; Hapoel’s victory ended a seven-game unbeaten run (W5 D2) for Italian teams against Israeli counterparts.
- Hapoel have not scored in three Group K matches since that success in Milan (D1 L2) and have yet to register a group stage goal at the Turner Stadium, where their record this season (including UEFA Champions League qualifying) is W3 D1 L1.
- Inter have not won in six European away fixtures – three draws followed by three defeats.
- The Israeli side are making their UEFA group stage debut this term, having fallen to Celtic in the UEFA Champions League play-offs.
- UEFA Cup winners in 1991, 1994 and 1998, Inter have successfully negotiated both of their previous UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns.
Links and trivia
- The journey from Milan to Beer Sheva is around 2,700km.
- Inter have played more UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League games than any other club, 179, and have also won (88) and drawn (43) the most matches in the competitions.
- Beer-Sheva boss Barak Bakhar steered the club to their first Israeli championship in 2015/16, his first season in charge. He previously landed the 2013/14 Israeli Cup at the helm of Kiryat Shmona, where he had spent the bulk of his playing career as a defender.
- Stefano Pioli was appointed by Inter on 8 November following the dismissal of Frank de Boer. A centre-back, he helped Fiorentina reach the 1989/90 UEFA Cup final as a player and steered Parma through the 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage as a coach, as well as taking Lazio all the way to last season’s round of 16.