Few would have expected Inter to conquer Liverpool when the Champions League Round of 16 draw was revealed, but the manner in which the good guys fell to a two-goal defeat in leg one stung particularly strongly. A packed San Siro was on hand to witness Inter’s first knockout appearance in Europe’s premier competition in a decade and for 75 minutes the crowd got its money worth. And then, as we’ve seen oh so often this season, missed chances came back to bite Inter as Liverpool slotted home its first and only looks on goal of the night for a 2-0 lead. Mounting a miracle comeback at Anfield in leg two is probably out of the question but getting a result in Merseyside would be something for Inter to hang its hat on.
Liverpool has been in stellar form since leg one, winning five straight including the EFL Cup final over Romelu Lukaku’s Chelsea on penalties, The Reds have outscored opponents 12-3 in that span and the gap to Man City in first place in the Premier League is down to six points and a game in hand. Along with the lethal duo of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, Inter will have its hands even fuller thanks to the addition of Luis Diaz to an already stacked Liverpool offense. The Colombian, who came off the bench in leg one, adds another dimension to Liverpool’s attack and already has one goal to his name. As we saw in February, it takes just one lapse of concentration for Liverpool to make you pay and Diaz’s red-hot form means Inter will have to be even more on-edge at Anfield.
It took some work, but Inter finally got back to winning (and scoring) ways Friday against Salernitana. The Nerazzurri, who had been shutout four times in a row in all competitions, last scored before the defeat to Liverpool. Perhaps the attacking explosion vs Salernitana is the spark Inter needs to find its top form again, but a trip to Liverpool isn’t an easy way to start a winning run. Still, even taking a draw back home could be a mental boost ahead of some tough Serie A clashes with Torino, Juventus, and Fiorentina.
Liverpool has won four of the five meetings between the sides, including a 2-0 victory in the first leg thanks to goals from Roberto Firmino in the 75th minute and Salah in the 83rd.
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Predicted Starting XIs
Some squad rotation would be nice with a difficult trip to Torino looming Sunday and the Scudetto race as close as ever, but Simone Inzaghi is likely to stick with his guns Tuesday. At the very least, subs should come early and often but full-scale changes could be the recipe for a blowout.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Inter Milan
Lautaro Martinez will build off a hattrick against Salernitana with a tally at Anfield but Liverpool will take the lead via Salah and Jota before Joaquin Correa snags a late equalizer off the bench to cap an entertaining and back-and-forth ninety minutes.