Benfica, who is now leading the Primeira Liga standings, had the potential to take a commanding lead at the top but lost to Porto 2-1 on Friday night. Now that Inter Milan is coming to town, they must quickly put their domestic blunder behind them and return their focus to the UEFA Champions League (UCL), where they will be attempting to continue their impressive home record against Italian clubs (W7, D4, L3).
Benfica’s prospects of moving on from this quarterfinal match will mainly depend on claiming a first-leg advantage, and the Eagles are in a good position to accomplish so after losing just three of their last 25 home European games. (W16, D6). Unsettlingly, one of those losses occurred exactly at this point in the UCL season before, and to compound matters, Benfica has lost all five of its quarterfinal matches since the UCL’s inception.
Inter, the 2010 UCL champions, have a similarly unimpressive track record at this point in the UCL era, losing at this hurdle in four of their six quarterfinal excursions. Their domestic play offers no solace either; a 1-1 draw against Salernitana on Friday ensured that they would remain outside the top four in Serie A despite a four-match league winless streak. (D1, L3).
Benfica failed to defeat Porto on Friday, but Inter did, as the Italian powerhouses advanced their Portuguese rivals to the round of 16. The home team won that match, and Inter will probably need another one next week in Milan if they are to advance here. Only once have they ever defeated Portuguese competition away from home. (D5, L4).
Joo Mário of Benfica has scored in five straight UCL matches, four of which have come from the penalty spot, but he is still far from Cristiano Ronaldo’s UCL record of 11 consecutive scoring appearances. One goal separates Lautaro Martnez from sharing the top spot among Inter’s away scorers in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League. Seven of his eight UCL goals for Inter have been scored away from home.
Goncalo Guedes will not play for Benfica on Tuesday due to a knee injury, Julian Draxler will not travel with Benfica to face Inter due to an ankle injury, and Nicolas Otamendi will be suspended.
Due to a hamstring problem, Mihailo Ristic has been absent since February and is most likely to sit out the match against the Nerazzurri.
On the left side of Benfica’s defense, Alex Grimaldo, who has two goals and three assists in this season’s Champions League, might put on yet another outstanding performance.
Alexander Bah, a right back, was substituted after 26 minutes in O Classico and Gilberto would start in his place if he were injured.
Despite conceding from Candreva’s cross against Salernitana, Andre Onana is projected to remain in goal.
Hakan Calhanoglu and Milan Skriniar might not play since the midfielder sustained an injury while representing Turkey during the most recent international break.
At left wing-back, Federico Dimarco might take the place of Robin Gosens, who scored against Salerno.
Possible starting eleven for Benfica includes Vlachodimos, Luis, Chiquinho, Gilberto, Silva, Verissimo, Aursnes, and Ramos.
Onana, D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Brozovic, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Martinez, Dzeko are likely starters for Inter Milan.
Benfica 3-0 Inter Milan, according to us
Benfica are simply too strong, and their menacing attack might overwhelm an Inter team that has given up in six of their previous eight games across all competitions, despite Inzaghi’s skill at navigating cup competitions.