Inter’s capricious Serie A form has put Simone Inzaghi’s future at Inter under more pressure than ever. Still, if one thing has been the Mister’s saving grace, it’s the Nerazzurri’s ability to find results in cup competitions, but even that will be put to a severe test this Tuesday when Inter visits the Estádio do Dragão and Porto in Leg 2 of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. The good guys might have a slim advantage in the series after a 1-0 win three weeks ago, but things have only gone downhill since then for Inter, and Porto is not the type of team to forgive the types of performances Inter has put in of late.
Since Romelu Lukaku’s 86th-minute game-winner back on February 22nd, Porto has picked up 2 wins and a defeat, falling 8 points behind Primeira League leaders Benfica. Sergio Conceicao’s men have a crucial clash away against Braga on the weekend, who are just two points behind Porto in the race for the automatic Champions League spots in Portugal. Porto will obviously still put its full effort into attempting the comeback against Inter, but fixture congestion will be a factor for more than just Inter. The Dragons will be without the suspended Otavio after his red card in the first leg, while Brazilian attackers Galeno and Evanilson are still returning to full fitness after a few weeks on the sidelines with injuries.
This upcoming week could very well decide Simone Inzaghi’s future at Inter. Though the Nerazzurri somehow held onto 2nd place despite its shock loss to Spezia (a big thanks to Bologna and Sassuolo for taking points off the Roman clubs), the vibes at the club are decidedly off. Inter is only 3 points ahead of 5th place and the strategy of getting bailed out by other teams dropping points is not a viable long-term plan. Following Tuesday’s Champions League outing, Inter has a derby d’Italia against an in-form Juventus to worry about Sunday, and losses in both could very easily lead to Inzaghi’s sacking over the international break. A pair of positive results, however, would be a massive confidence boost to the team ahead of the final stretch of the season, at least until Inter plays someone ranked below 10th again.
Inter has a 3W-1D-1L lead in the all-time series, including the 1-0 victory in the reverse leg this season.
- 1-0 (H), 22/2/22
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Porto 1-1 Inter Milan
It’s going to be some nervy, tense ninety-plus minutes no matter what but I’ll be optimistic and go with Inter getting the job done thanks to a Lautaro Martinez strike to cancel out Mehdi Taremi’s opener. Away goals are not in effect anymore, so any even aggregate scoreline after 90 minutes will lead to extra time.