Despite coming from behind to defeat Estoril 3-2 last weekend in Liga Portugal play, Porto is still eight points behind Benfica in first position. So, it is likely that keeping their spot in both the current and future UEFA Champions League (UCL) editions will continue to be a top priority. But, history suggests that following the 1-0 loss away to Inter Milan last month, their chances of moving on are slim, particularly given that the Portuguese team has lost six of its past seven two-legged UCL matches while trailing after the first leg.
Despite the loss, Sérgio Conceiço commended his team’s performance after the away leg match, especially after Porto midfielder Otávio was sent off for a second yellow several minutes before Romelu Lukaku’s game-winning goal. Given that the Dragons have won each of their last four home European matches against Italian opposition, the hosts should have some optimism that they can make it to the round of eight for a third straight time.
Inter Milan enters this match second in their domestic league, same to Porto, but some distance behind leaders Napoli (18 points). They are also still recovering from a shocking 2-1 loss to Serie A underdogs Spezia on Friday night. Simone Inzaghi was unrepentant in the aftermath of the setback, admitting it was “not right that Inter lost to Spezia – we won’t sleep tonight.”
The three-time UCL champions will try to quickly recover by building on their lead from the first leg, but they still have a lot of work to do since they have only won one of their previous eight away games against Portuguese teams in European play (D3, L4).
Mehdi Taremi of Porto, who scored the game-winning goal against Estoril, has made seven goal-related contributions (G5, A2) in his six UCL games this season. Lukaku scored at the weekend as well, and he is now going for his ninth goal in his past 13 UCL games for Inter.
Sergio Conceicao must make at least one change to the starting lineup from the first leg because Otavio is ineligible due to a suspension stemming from his red card in Milan. Andre Franco and Stephen Eustaqio are among the candidates for selection.
Eustaquio, a Canadian player who had a heel injury against Estoril, should be able to play more defensively while Franco and Galeno, who came off the bench on Friday, have greater attacking ability. Evanilson, a Brazilian teammate of Galeno, is still having thigh pain.
Mehdi Taremi and Matheus Uribe, who were both benched over the weekend, should return to the starting lineup for Conceicao on Tuesday.
Following fresh criticism of club captain Samir Handanovic for his performance at La Spezia, Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana will also return after being rested on Friday.
The visitors will start in Simone Inzaghi’s favored 3-5-2 formation with Hakan Calhanoglu and Federico Dimarco, but Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku’s battle to join top scorer Lautaro Martinez up front is still up in the air.
While Milan Skriniar, who recently returned to training, may not make the squad due to a back injury; the Derby D’Italia on Sunday is a more likely target for the Slovakian defender. Joaquin Correa is another option after his recent return to training, but he may only play as a second-half substitute at best.
Costa, Mario, Pepe, Cardoso, Sanusi, Grujic, Uribe, Franco, Pepe, Galeno, and Taremi might be in the starting lineup for Porto.
Inter Milan’s potential starting lineup includes Onana, De Vrij, Acerbi, and Bastoni, as well as Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, and Dimarco.
Porto 2-1 Inter Milan, according to us (2-2 on aggregate; Porto win on penalties)
Even though Porto have made a few mistakes recently, Inter’s defensive issues and road woes are serious concerns going into this second-leg decider. The home team can score goals in a variety of ways, but because they are behind before the game even starts, it might require extra time and penalties to win.