Inter Milan are ready to host Portuguese heavyweights Benfica in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-finals clash on Wednesday, 19 April. The Nerazzurri beat the odds to stun Benfica at their own yard last week and are just aiming to get the job done to make way to their first Champions League semi-finals since 2010.
Benfica, however, have been a bit of a ‘giant killers’ in the Champions League this season. They topped a group involving PSG and Juventus and are definitely capable of producing surprising results away from home. Roger Schmidt’s side is bold, and fearless and sticks to an exciting brand of attacking football.
In more ways than one, they are an antithesis to Inter – who produced a defensive masterclass at the Stadio da Luiz last week and scored two clinical goals to gain an advantage in the tie. They’ll aim to do some of the same in the second leg, ensuring Benfica can’t get many shots past Andre Onana.
The Portuguese side have nothing to lose and will throw the proverbial kitchen sink at Inter – which should lead to a really entertaining battle of wits at the San Siro.
Last 5 Games
Even though Benfica have lost their last three successive games in all competitions, they still boast a better record than Inter Milan over a five-game period. The Portuguese giants have won two out of their last five, with Inter only being able to manage one victory.
Loss: 1-0 vs Monza
Win: 2-0 vs Benfica
Draw: 1-1 vs Salernitana
Draw: 1-1 vs Inter Milan
Loss: 1-0 vs Fiorentina
Loss: 1-0 vs Chaves
Loss: 2-0 vs Inter Milan
Loss: 2-1 vs FC Poro
Win: 1-0 vs Rio Ave
Win: 5-1 vs Vitoria SC
Inter are going to be without their commanding center-back Milan Skriniar for this match, as he struggles with a back injury. Stefan de Vrij will undergo a late fitness test before being deemed fit enough for the game.
The Nerrazzuri are also going to be without left-back Dalbert as well as young center-back Alessandro Fontanarosa for this game.
Benfica are missing their influential winger Julian Draxler, who suffered an ankle injury earlier this year that has kept him out for a long time. They’ll also be without right-back Alexander Bah for this one, but defender Nicolas Otamendi is back after serving out a suspension.
Inter Milan: Onana, Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni, Dumfires, Barella, Brozovic, Mkhitaryan, Gosens, Martinez, Lukaku
Benfica: Vlachodimos, Gilberto, Silva, Otamendi, Grimaldo, Luis, Chiquinho, Mario, Silva, Guedes, Ramos
Inter hold a pretty nice record against Benfica in their history, having won four of the five times that they’ve met against the Portuguese heavyweights in history.
The recent-most game between these two sides were, of course, last week when Inter picked up an impressive 2-0 win thanks to second-half goals from Nicolo Barella and substitute Romelu Lukaku – giving them a big advantage heading into the second leg.
Where the game will be decided
The first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals between Benfica and Inter ended up being a cagey affair, mostly because Simone Inzaghi’s side was able to neutralize Benfica’s attacking prowess.
The second leg should be a case of attack vs defence again because the Portuguese heavyweights are going to push a lot of bodies forward in the look of completing a difficult comeback.
As a result, the game should be decided in Inter’s half – more than anything else. If the Nerrazzurri are able to produce another defensive masterclass as the first leg and choke Benfica’s attack, they will get enough chances on counter-attacks or set-pieces to score a goal or two – which will put the game to bed.
Benfica, however, will play with more motivation to silence their doubters in this one. Their attackers Goncalo Ramos, Rafa Silva, and Joao Mario are all unpredictable in the final third, so if Inter isn’t nearly perfect in their own half, then Benfica could cause a rude nightmare on Wednesday.
We back this game to be a goal-scoring draw between Inter and Benfica. Despite their sorrows in domestic competition, Inter have been surprisingly good in Europe this season and are unlikely to bottle a significant lead from the first leg in front of their raucous home support.
Benfica should be more dangerous on the attack and create better chances than last week, but their poor run of form and low confidence levels are likely to hold them back. Expect both teams to score to make this tie exciting, but Inter should be the ones going forward to the semi-finals.
Prediction: Inter Milan 1-1 Benfica
Inter Milan to win: 11/10
Benfica to win: 5/2
Inter are the bookmakers’ favorites to win the game, being given 11/10 odds. That means if one was to bet $1 on them to win, then they’d get a return of $2.10 – with a $1.10 profit.
Benfica, on the other hand, have been given difficult odds. Their 5/2 odds mean if one was to bet $1 on them to win, they’d get a return of $3.50 – with a $2.50 profit.
*By BetUS At the time of writing
The match is set to kick off at 20:00 GMT and the referee assigned to it is Carlos del Serro.