- Inter welcome Benfica to the San Siro on Wednesday night having taken a two-goal advantage from the first leg in Lisbon.
- The city of Milan will be gearing up for a highly-anticipated return leg of Champions League quarter-final action as the Nerazzurri aim for European glory, despite their domestic shortcomings.
- Benfica are feeling the pressure of late and have lost all three of their last matches in all competitions, with both their league and European campaigns in danger of faltering.
Milan Skriniar will remain out for the hosts as his back issue continues and he will not be able to feature in the return leg here. Inter’s defensive woes worsen since Stefan de Vrij is questionable to play after picking up an ankle injury at home to Monza at the weekend. He is not expected to feature so a defence of Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi and Alessandro Bastoni is the most likely to play against Benfica.
Hakan Calhanoglu made his comeback from injury at the weekend as he appeared off the bench at the San Siro. He will add some much-needed support and quality to the centre of midfield.
Julian Draxler remains out for the visitors due to an ankle problem that will not see him return this season. Mihailo Ristic has been absent since February and is also unlikely to feature. Fellow defender Alexander Bah is also out and will miss the next few weeks due to a knee injury. Brazilian right-back Gilberto should continue in his place.
However, positive news is that Nicolas Otamendi will be able to return to the heart of defence after serving his suspension in the first leg. He will likely partner 19-year-old Antonio Silva at the back, with Morato dropping to the bench.
Champions League Form
It was expected that Benfica could really give Inter a tough time at the Estadio da Luz last week, given the Nerazzurri’s shocking form in Serie A and Roger Schmidt’s side sitting top of Primeira Liga. However, it was Inter who came away with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku. That has now put Simone Inzaghi’s side in pole position to make it to the semi-finals and could save him his job.
That was also the first defeat of the Eagles’ European campaign this term but they remain unbeaten away from home. A repeat of their 2-0 win over Club Brugge in their last Champions League away match is what is needed to bring them back into the tie but it will be difficult against an Inter side who seem to be pinning all their hopes on European glory this season.
Inter have suffered just one defeat at the San Siro in the Champions League so far this term and that last came on the opening matchday in a 2-0 defeat against Bayern Munich. Defensively, Inter have excelled in Europe and have managed to keep three consecutive clean sheets - expect yet another tight display from Inzaghi in this one.
UCL 22/23 Key Stats:
Goals For: Inter 13, Benfica 23
Goals Against: Inter 7, Benfica 10
Both Teams To Score %: Inter 11%, Benfica 67%
Over 2.5 Goals %: Inter 22%, Benfica 44%
The Italian outfit clearly have the advantage based on history. Benfica are yet to beat Inter and suffered a 4-3 defeat the last time they played at the San Siro back in 2004. The Nerazzurri will be hoping for a much less exciting match this time around but the Eagles certainly have the firepower to make a game of it.
Inter have been truly awful in Serie A of late and have lost four out of their last five league matches, including a 1-0 defeat at home to Monza last Saturday. That has seen them drop to fifth in the table, two points behind rivals Milan in fourth. Fortunately for them, the likes of Milan, Atalanta and Juventus have all been very inconsistent too but having lost a colossal 11 matches in Serie A so far this term, pressure is mounting on Inzaghi.
Their defensive stability in Europe has not been replicated domestically and Inter have not kept a clean sheet in any of their past five league games and have conceded the fifth-most goals in the competition. Going forward has also been a struggle and they have scored just two goals in their last five matches. Star forward Lautaro Martinez has been in poor form and has not hit the back of the net in any of his last eight games for Inter.
Despite leading the way in Primeira Liga, Benfica have suffered a dip in form and have lost all three of their last matches in all competitions. That includes back-to-back defeats in the league and that has opened the door for rivals Porto to get back in the title race. A 1-0 defeat away to Chaves on Saturday has seen the gap reduce to just four points and Porto are in excellent form too, having not lost since February.
The Eagles’ poor recent form has coincided with the lack of goals from their main goal scoring outlets in Goncalo Ramos and Joao Mario. They both top the goal scoring charts in Portugal thus far with 17 goals a piece but neither of them have scored in any of their last three matches.
Prediction & Suggested Bets
Inter 0-0 Benfica @ 10/1 Neither side are in the best of form offensively at the moment and with Inter not needing to score, we are expecting another defensive masterclass in the Champions League from Inzaghi. The San Siro will be fully behind the Nerazzurri and so we are backing Inter to get through to the final four with a potential meeting with either Milan or Napoli on the horizon.
Goncalo Ramos To Have 2+ Shots On Target @ 17/10 Benfica need goals to get back into this tie and they certainly do have the quality to get back into the match through Ramos and Mario. Inter will likely sit deep, inviting pressure and so Ramos to have 2+ shots on target in the match looks like good value as he is set to lead the line once more. He has also registered five shots on target in his last three Champions League appearances.
Marcelo Brozovic To Be Carded @ 6/4 It will likely be a combative affair in Milan and Brozovic is expected to feature in his usual defensive role in the midfield. He has picked up four yellow cards in his last five appearances, including one in the first leg and so looks likely to do so again in the return leg here.
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