- Inter welcome Portuguese champions Porto to the San Siro on Wednesday night as they play host in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie.
- The visitors are dealing with a plethora of injury problems ahead of the match, with the likes of Evanilson, Otavio and Mateus Uribe all in doubt.
- Inter and Porto last met back in 2005 where they would play a total of four times in the year.
Joaquin Correa is a major doubt for Inter as he has now missed the last three matches due to injury and has not been involved in training this week. However, according to reports, the hosts will not have to deal with any other selection issues ahead of the clash with Porto.
Henrikh Mkhitarayan will also be available after being subbed off against Udinese at the weekend with an ankle knock. It remains to be seen whether coach Simeone Inzaghi will select Romelu Lukaku or Edin Dzeko to partner Lautaro Martinez up top.
However, the same can not be said for visitors Porto who are dealing with an ‘injury crisis’ ahead of their trip to Milan. Coach Sergio Conceicao has stated that his side will have “many players out.”
Brazilian forward Evanilson has struggled since the turn of the year with injuries and has missed the last two matches, with it looking increasingly likely he will miss out against Inter as well. Fellow countrymen and forward Gabriel Veron is also unlikely to feature.
Portuguese midfielder Otavio is questionable and has missed the last four games due to a hamstring injury. Defender Fabio Cardoso is also a big doubt due to a muscular problem that has kept him out of the last three squads.
Midfielder Galeno is a major doubt for the first leg due to a muscle injury that kept him out of the last match against Rio Ave, whilst Uribe was also absent for the last game too due to a hamstring injury. Both are not expected to feature.
Champions League Form
Inter finished ahead of Xavi’s Barcelona to qualify for the knockout rounds, finishing in second place behind Bayern Munich in Group C. Despite suffering two defeats against the German champions in the group stage, Inter managed to take four points in their matches against Barca, with their 1-0 victory against the Catalan side ultimately being the deciding factor.
Portuguese sides have performed strongly in this season’s Champions League campaign so far, with both Porto and Benfica topping their respective groups. Porto led the way in Group B ahead of Club Brugge, Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid, despite losing their opening match to the Spanish side. Conceicao’s men also suffered a 4-0 home defeat to Brugge in matchday two.
However, the Dragons would respond magnificently and would go on to win all four of their next group stage matches. Not only would they get revenge and inflict a 4-0 hammering of their own over Brugge, but they would also go on to concede just one goal in their remaining group games.
UCL 22/23 Key Stats:
Goals For: Inter 10, Porto 12
Goals Against: Inter 7, Porto 7
Both Teams To Score %: Inter 16.67%, Porto 33.33%
Over 2.5 Goals %: Inter 33.33%, Porto 83.33%
The mid 2000s saw Inter and Porto meet four times in a year but they have failed to meet ever since. Inter cruised past Porto in 2005 in the Champions League at the round of 16 stage, winning 4-2 on aggregate. A 3-1 victory at the San Siro, thanks to a hat-trick from Adriano, sent the Nerazzurri into the quarter-finals.
The two sides would meet later that same year when they were drawn together in Group H. Inter would go on to top the group, defeating Porto 2-1 at home, despite suffering a 2-0 loss away at the Estadio do Dragao. Porto would finish last, with the win over Inter being the only three points they would pick up.
Sitting 15 points behind Napoli who are at the summit of Serie A, the title seems a little out of reach for Inter this season. The Scudetto certainly seemed possible for the Nerazzurri immediately after the return from the World Cup after they recorded a 1-0 win over the Partenopei.
However, draws away to Monza and Sampdoria, as well as a home defeat against Empoli has tempered Inter’s title aspirations. Nevertheless, they enter this clash in fine form, being undefeated in their last five matches and dropping points in just one.
Porto are yet to suffer defeat all year and their last loss in all competitions came back in October at the hands of league leaders Benfica. Nevertheless, their unbeaten run now stands at 22 games, spreading across fixtures played in Primeira Liga, the Champions League, Taca de Portugal and the league cup.
Conceicao’s men will certainly be difficult to beat and their run of ten successive victories is a testament to how good they have been this term. Scoring the second most goals in the league, they have also been solid at the back and have the best defensive record in Portugal. 39-year-old veteran Pepe continues to be a leader in the centre of defence.
Predictions & Suggested Bets
Inter 2-1 Porto @ 15/2 Despite Porto’s magnificent run of form, we are backing a narrow win for Inter here. Home advantage will play a factor and the fact that the Dragons are dealing with multiple injury issues plays a big role as well. The Nerazzurri have also suffered just one defeat at the San Siro since October in all competitions.
Lautaro Martinez Anytime Goalscorer @ 15/8 Martinez will be itching to add to his singular goal tally in the Champions League so far this term and his superb run of form since the World Cup puts him in good stead to do so. The Argentine has scored eight goals in 11 games since the restart.
Hakan Calhanoglu To Have 2+ Shots @ 8/11 Not only is Calhanoglu the primary set-piece taker for Inter but he has averaged two shots per game in his last three matches. The Turkish international will likely be on free kick duties so we see this market as great value.
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