The UEFA Champions League quarter-finals begin on Tuesday, with high-flying Benfica hosting out-of-sorts Inter Milan at Estadio da Luz.
Benfica has had an impressive campaign in the Champions League this season. Despite being grouped with heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, they finished on top of their group, with Juventus being eliminated.
The team remains unbeaten in the competition, along with Manchester City and Bayern Munich, which bodes well for their confidence heading into their upcoming match in Lisbon.
Benfica’s attack has been particularly noteworthy this season, with only Napoli scoring more goals than their 23 in the competition. This statistic will likely trouble their upcoming opponents, Inter Milan, who have recently struggled to keep clean sheets in Serie A.
However, Benfica’s preparation for their upcoming fixture was dealt a blow after they suffered a 2-1 defeat to their title rivals Porto on Friday. This result reduced their lead at the top of the standings to seven points.
Benfica Form (All Competitions): W W W W L
Inter Milan’s recent form has concerned their fans and manager, Simone Inzaghi. After a commendable 1-0 win over Porto in the Champions League, the team suffered a 2-1 defeat to Bologna, which started a run of games where they only secured one victory in seven matches across all competitions.
The team’s struggles to score goals have been particularly worrying, with the Nerazzurri failing to score more than one goal in three of those seven fixtures. Furthermore, they could have scored in more games, highlighting their attacking issues.
In their recent match against Salernitana, Inter Milan’s attacking frustrations continued. Romelu Lukaku missed a golden opportunity by hitting the crossbar from close range, while Nicolo Barella hit the post from a distance.
Despite creating numerous chances, Guillermo Ochoa’s excellent saves denied them a win, with Antonio Candreva’s fortunate equalizer salvaging a 1-1 draw.
Inter Milan Form (All Competitions): D L L D D
Goncalo Guedes of Benfica will miss out due to a knee injury, while Julian Draxler, who is on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, is also unavailable due to ankle surgery.
In addition to these absences, Benfica’s left-back Mihailo Ristic has been sidelined since February with a hamstring issue and is unlikely to feature against Inter Milan.
Meanwhile, Alexander Bah, who was withdrawn after just 26 minutes in their recent match against Porto, is a doubt for the upcoming game.
Inter Milan may have to do without Milan Skriniar and Hakan Calhanoglu for their upcoming fixture.
Skriniar’s availability for the match is uncertain, while Calhanoglu sustained an injury while on international duty with Turkey during the recent break.
Benfica’s expected starting lineup:
Vlachodimos; Gilberto, Silva, Otamendi, Grimaldo; Luis, Chiquinho; Mario, Silva, Aursnes; Ramos
Inter Milan’s expected starting lineup:
Onana; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Brozovic, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Martinez, Dzeko
Head to Head
Inter Milan has a strong track record against Benfica, having emerged victorious in three of their four previous meetings, with the other match resulting in a draw.
Time, Date & Venue
Date: Tuesday, April 11
Time: 08:00 pm, BST
Venue: Estadio Da Luz, Lisbon
Although Inter Milan coach Simone Inzaghi has proven himself skilled at leading teams through cup competitions, Benfica’s formidable attack could pose a challenge even he may need help to overcome.
Inter Milan has been struggling defensively, conceding in six out of their last eight matches in all competitions, which could leave them vulnerable against Benfica’s potent offensive lineup.