Inter Milan welcomes Benfica to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Wednesday night in the UEFA Champions League. The Nerazzurri won 2-0 in Portugal in the first leg, their only win in the last eight matches. Benfica coach Roger Schmidt has seen his side lost three successive fixtures but he has overseen five wins in six away fixtures in Europe this season.
Inter are in largely dreadful form and media reports state the players have been promised a big bonus to make the top four. They currently sit fifth in Serie A and went into the first leg against Benfica on a six-match winless run. That streak saw defeats at Spezia (2-1) and two 1-0 home losses to Juventus and Fiorentina.
After two 1-1 draws on the road, including at Salernitana where they produced 2.94 Expected Goals, they went to Lisboa and won the first leg against Benfica. They played the match smartly and created five big chances in a 2-0 victory. Over the weekend, they lost 1-0 at home to Monza. Once again, they put up 2.07 xG and outshot their opponents 25-7.
Inter Team News
Simone Inzaghi is probably going to play the same XI from the first leg. Milan Skriniar has a back problem and will miss the match in the back three. Matteo Darmian could again play as the right-sided centre back with Stefan de Vrij left on the bench.
Federico Dimarco is set to return in reference to Robin Gosens at left wingback. Marcelo Brozovic had a rest against Monza (playing just 20 minutes) and so did Lautaro Martinez. Both will start. Up front, Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku are fighting to partner the latter.
Inter have switched focus to the Champions League of late, which largely explains their drop off in league results. Full attention will go on reaching the semi-final in this match.
A draw is enough to progress and Inzaghi’s side won’t open itself up. They’ll keep it tight and try to nick a goal which would make the tie very difficult for Benfica to turn around.
Benfica had lost just one match all season by the end of February. They’ve since lost three successive fixtures and some alarm bells are ringing. A 2-1 home loss to Porto in the league slightly opened up the title race. They then lost 2-0 at home to Inter Milan in the first leg. Despite dominating possession and having 10 shots inside the box, they couldn’t score in Lisboa.
Over the weekend, they lost 1-0 away at Chaves in the league. Their gap at the top of the table has been cut to just four points. It was a damaging defeat considering it was practically a full-strength XI selected. Benfica will take heart from their recent away record in Europe. In their last eight away matches, they have won six times including at Ajax and Juventus and drawing away with PSG.
Benfica Team News
A big boost is the return of veteran defender Nicolas Otamendi after he serves a suspension in the first leg. He will partner youngster Antonio Silva will Morato dropping down to the bench. Former PSG winger Julian Draxler is out injured. Florentino Luis will start in midfield after serving a weekend ban in the league.
Left-back Mihailo Ristic is back from injury but Alexander Bah is missing on the other flank. Winger David Neres came on in the first leg and started over the weekend and is pushing for a starting XI spot here. Frederik Aursnes could be the one who drops to the bench in that case.
The Eagles are going to attack in this match and do everything to progress. They need the first goal and will look to Goncalo Ramos with his 25 goals this season.
They’ve scored 19 goals in their last seven away Champions League matches so they have a reasonable chance of scoring at least twice in this fixture.
Inter have won just 1 of their last 9 matches in all competitions
Inter Milan have failed to score in 4 of their last 7 matches
Inter have won 6 of their last 10 UCL matches (3 wins in a row at home)
Inter’s Lukaku has scored 9 goals in his last 11 UCL matches for the club
Benfica have won 6 of their last 8 away UCL matches (20 goals scored)
Benfica have lost their last 3 matches in a row
This should be a good match with Benfica’s firepower. Both teams created a decent amount in the first leg and should score in this fixture. I can see this ending in a score draw, a home win or even an away win in vain.
Best Bet: Both Teams to Score at 1.68
Value Bet: Draw with goals at 4.35
Goalscorer Tip: Lukaku anytime scorer at 2.75