- Last season’s Champions League quarter-finalists Benfica take on three-time winners Inter at the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday.
- Visitors Inter are expected to be without key players Milan Skriniar and Hakan Calhanoglu for the first leg. The hosts will be missing Julian Draxler, Goncalo Guedes and Mihailo Ristic.
- Benfica must bounce back from a defeat at home to Porto last week, whilst Inter enter this one in poor form and have not found a victory in any of their last six games.
Milan Skriniar continues to be the main issue in defence for the Nerazzurri and has played just 11 minutes over Inter’s last eight matches. He has been dealing with a back issue and his time at the San Siro is heading for a sour conclusion, with the Slovak defender heading to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.
Simone Inzaghi will also be sweating over the fitness of Turkish midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu who picked up a thigh injury recently on international duty. Reports have suggested that he has returned to training but he will not be able to feature in the first leg, with more hope he can play in the return leg in Milan.
For the hosts, Julian Draxler’s injury issues continue since the German has missed the past eight squads due to an ankle problem and won’t be able to return for the rest of the campaign. Forward Goncalo Guedes was able to return to the side for the second leg against Club Brugge in the round of 16 but has missed all three fixtures since so he remains unlikely to play here.
Defender Mihailo Ristic has been suffering with a muscle injury and he is also unlikely to feature since he has been absent since the beginning of February.
Champions League Form
Benfica well and truly deserved their place in the final eight after thrashing Brugge 7-1 on aggregate in the first knockout round. Manager Roger Schmidt has got his side playing some excellent football and they will be no pushovers when they welcome the Italian outfit on Tuesday night, especially considering that the club are still undefeated in this year’s competition.
After recording a 2-0 win in Belgium in the first leg, the Eagles returned to Lisbon in a comfortable position. Nevertheless, they didn’t allow any room for complacency to creep in as they dismantled Scott Parker’s side 5-1 to advance to the quarter-finals. That put an end to Parker’s time with Brugge as Goncalo Ramos starred for Benfica in the convincing victory.
Inter snuck past Porto in the last of 16, with a 1-0 win at the San Siro being enough to get through. It was a frantic end to the return leg as the Dragons valiantly fought right until the end. However, it wasn’t meant to be, with Andre Onana and Denzel Dumfries proving to be the heroes for Inter.
Inzaghi has been able to guide Inter to the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 2010/11 and the last time they went beyond the quarter-finals they actually went on to win the entire tournament. The Nerazzurri are far from perfect this season and their domestic form has been a cause for concern. However, Inzaghi seems to have a knack for performing well outside of Serie A.
UCL 22/23 Key Stats:
Goals For: Inter 11, Benfica 23
Goals Against: Inter 7, Benfica 8
Both Teams To Score %: Inter 12.5%, Benfica 75%
Over 2.5 Goals %: Inter 25%, Benfica 50%
The only meeting between the two sides came back in 2004 in the UEFA Cup. Inter were victorious in the tie after defeating Benfica 4-3 at the San Siro in the return leg. The first leg finished 0-0 at the Estadio da Luz but a seven-goal thriller would follow as a brace from Obafemi Martins proved to be the difference.
Benfica are leading the pack in Primeira Liga this season and sit seven points ahead of Porto in second. They have sat at the summit since matchday four but did suffer a 2-1 defeat at home on Friday against Porto, leaving the door open for the Dragons to re-enter the title race. That has slowed their momentum slightly but Benfica have still got the best attacking record in the division after scoring 68 goals in 27 games and they have conceded just 16 in the process, also having the best defensive record as well.
Both Goncalo Ramos and Joao Mario have been superb for the Eagles, scoring 17 goals a piece in the league. The pair have also been deadly in Europe too, scoring a combined total of 13 goals, whilst also assisting eight.
It has been the complete opposite for Inter who have been disastrous in Serie A of late. They have failed to win in any of their last four consecutive matches in the league and despite peppering the Salernitana goal in their last fixture on Friday, their forward issues resumed as they were held to a 1-1 draw.
That has also seen the Nerazzurri drop to fifth in the standings and they are in big danger of failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League campaign. Goals have been the main issue and they have managed to score just once in their last three Serie A matches. Inzaghi has to turn things around and fast.
Prediction & Suggested Bets
Benfica 1-1 Inter @ 5/1 Inter’s form doesn’t bode well here but Inzaghi seems to get the best out of his side in the cup competitions. The Italian’s have been strong defensively in Europe so we are expecting them to keep it fairly tight here and take a draw back to the San Siro.
Joao Mario To Score Anytime @ 12/5 Mario has been in fine form for Benfica this term and scored six goals in five games prior to the international break. He has been brilliant in Europe so far this term too and has scored in all five of his last Champions League matches.
Francesco Acerbi To Be Carded @ 5/2 The veteran defender has been ever present at the back for Inter this term and he will likely continue here. We can see Inter being pinned back deep and so that leaves plenty of opportunities for Acerbi to be booked against a strong attack against the likes of Ramos, Mario and Rafa Silva.
Click here for our Discounted Account Offer. Access updated previews and analysis on up to 5 tournaments for 30 days.
Nine teams are in the Premier League relegation...