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Who to Watch: Inter Milan vs. FC Dallas

With a nearly sold-out showdown between FC Dallas and Inter Milan only hours away, I thought I’d jump into the discussion with my own predictions of key match-ups in tonight’s game. I certainly don’t envy Schellas Hyndman’s task of filling out the FCD lineup card against a team that managed to win the Coppa Italia, Serie A, and UEFA Champions League titles all in one year – but I’ll play armchair skipper anyway.

WATCH: FC Dallas vs. Inter Milan preview

With Rafa Benitez now in charge following Jose Mourinho’s departure for Real Madrid, I expect to see changes in formation and tactics as the game goes on. Inter will in all likelihood begin in a 4-4-2. I expect to see FC Dallas line up in their familiar 4-1-4-1 formation, albeit with the insertion of Eric Avila and Dario Sala to the starting lineup.
FC Dallas attack: Forward Milton Rodriguez will be defended by a combination of Ivan Cordoba, Marco Materazzi, Walter Samuel and Lucio (to name a few). Rodriguez will need to do well with his back to the goal in order to relieve pressure and help include FCD attackers David Ferreira, Brek Shea, Atiba Harris and Avila. If he is able to bring that presence, the home team will be able to push forward despite being under pressure from the Inter attack/possession.

READ: follows Inter Milan across N. America
FC Dallas midfield: Captain Daniel Hernandez has played in many big games during his impressive career. Can Hernandez get enough of the ball from the FCD back four in order to find Dallas attacking options? He will need to bring the same midfield composure to this game as he does to MLS regular season games, because Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso & Co. will look to make life difficult for the FCD midfield general.
FC Dallas backline: The starting back four has only conceded five goals in their last eight games during the team’s impressive unbeaten run. They will face an attack boosted by players like Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito and Victor Obinna. Their coordination and communication must be spot-on, because Inter will look to methodically exploit and create gaps in the FCD defense.
Watch for:

Maicon joining the Inter attack and the FCD response.

Inter Milan’s fitness level and ability to handle the oppressive Texas heat.

FC Dallas’ ability to create problems through Ferreira and Avila in advanced positions.

1v1 defending of creative, pacy Inter attackers: i.e. Pearce, Benitez, Harris and Shea.

I can’t tell you how long I’ve been anticipating this match, and I fully expect it to be an entertaining one!

FOLLOW: Bobby Rhine match commentary on Twitter