Benfica are ready to host Inter Milan in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final clash at the Estadio da Luz. O GLorioso has scripted a special story in the Champions League so far and even topped a group involving Paris Saint Germain and Juventus!
However, they now face an experienced Inter Milan who are plotting to go far into the competition. The last time Inter actually reached the Champions League semi-final was when they won the competition in the 2009/10 campaign.
Benfica have actually only lost one home game in all competitions this season, which came in their defeat to FC Porto in their last league match. This should motivate Inter to push for a positive result in the first game, knowing all too well that Benfica might be wounded.
However, the Eagles have proven themselves to have the ability to torment the best of opponents in Europe this season and are pretty strong even after losing Enzo Fernandez in January. This should be an enticing tie pitting the persistent attacking force of Benfica against the defensive sturdiness of the Nerazzurri, with the more clinical side set to draw first blood.
Last 5 Games
Benfica are definitely in better form heading into the first leg, having won four of their last five games across all competitions. Inter, on the other hand, have not been able to win a single game in their last five matches and even just scraped their way to a goalless draw in their previous Champions League game against FC Porto.
Loss: 2-1 vs FC Porto
Win: 1-0 vs Rio Ave
Win: 5-1 vs Vitoria SC
Win: 3-0 vs Maritimo
Win: 5-1 vs Club Burge
Draw: 1-1 vs Salernitana
Draw: 1-1 vs Juventus
Loss: 1-0 vs Fiorentina
Loss: 1-0 vs Juventus
Draw: 0-0 vs FC Porto
Benfica are juggling with a few injuries and some key players look set to be out for this huge Champions League game. Nicolas Otamendi is suspended for the game. Striker Goncalo Guedes is injured, as are Julian Draxler and Mihailo Ristic.
On top of that, defender Alexander Bah also picked up a slight injury in the loss to Porto last week. He looks to be a major doubt for the first leg clash, leaving Benfica slightly short of numbers at the back.
Inter were not helped at all by the March International break, where two of their key first-team stars picked up injuries. Hakan Calhanoglu and Milan Skriniar are both unfit and are unlikely to be able to recover for this first-leg clash.
Inter Milan defender Dalbert is out for the entire season after sustaining a nasty ACL injury last summer.
Benfica: Vlachodimos, Gilberto, Silva, Verissimo, Grimaldo, Luis, Chiquinho, Joao Mario, Rafa, Aursnes, Ramos
Inter Milan: Handanovic, Darmian, De Vrij, Acerbi, Dumfries, Barrella, Brozovic, Mkhitaryan, Gosens, Dzeko, Martinez
Benfica and Inter Milan have rarely met in European competitions and actually last faced each other in the Champions League way back in the 1964/65 Champions League season. Back then, Inter came out victorious with a 1-0 win over a powerful Benfica side.
They have, although, faced each other four times in total in their history and Inter boast an impressive record against Benfica – having won three out of those four games in their past meetings.
Where the game will be decided
Benfica have arguably been the biggest surprise package in the Champions League this season, and that is mostly because of their menacing attacking threat in the competition. The Portuguese giants have scored a whopping 23 goals in the Champions League, one of the highest for any team this season.
Roger Schmidt’s side’s attacking prowess is their biggest strength and the aspect of that is likely to make the most significant difference in the upcoming games. Inter Milan, however, have struggled for goals as of late – but have improved their defensive record too.
The Nerazzurri have some experienced, hard-working defenders and Simone Inzaghi knows how to set up his side really well defensively. Indeed, Inter knows all too well how to frustrate their opposition teams and force them into losing their heads on the pitch.
It’ll definitely be an ‘attack vs defense’ case at the Estadio da Luz and could turn up as a really cagey affair unless Benfica are able to tap into their ruthlessness. The Portuguese side have been inspired by the unstoppable Goncalo Ramos and impressive Rafa Silva this season, with the duo causing major problems in the final third.
If Inter are able to keep them quiet with their defense, they have a chance of coming out of the game with a decent result. If not, then Benfica could make them their latest victim in eh Champions League.
We back Benfica to continue their impressive form in the Champions League and pick up a win in the first leg. They’ve been too prolific in the competition so far to crumble at this point and should capitalize on Inter’s weaknesses to cause trouble.
Considering how Inter have struggled for goals in recent weeks, it’s unlikely for that to suddenly change all around and that they’ll be able to bulldoze through Benfica. Expect the Portuguese giants to get a pretty compelling win thanks to Goncalo Ramos & Co.
Prediction: Benfica 2-0 Inter Milan
Benfica to Win: 23/20
Inter to win: 51/20
Benfica seem to be the bookmakers’ favorites to win the game considering their 23/20 odds. This means that if one was to bet $1 with Benfica to win, then they would get a pay out of $2.15 on the desired result – with a $1.15 profit return.
Inter, however, have been given unfavorable odds of 51/20. This means that if one was to bet $1 for them to win the game, then the desired result would get them a $3.55 return – with a $2.55 return.
*by BetUS at the time of writing
The game will kick off at the Estadio da Luz at 20:00 GMT, with Michael Oliver being the referee for this one.
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