Inter’s Champions League journey is 90 minutes from reaching the semifinals of Europe’s premier competition. Thanks to a 2-0 Leg 1 victory with goals from Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku, all Inter needs is to avoid a multi-goal defeat to advance. The away goals rule no longer exists, so a two-goal Benfica win would lead to extra time.
Inter is not the only team that suffered an embarrassing result over the weekend in domestic play. In fact, every single team on the Italian side of the bracket made people question how one of those four teams will be in a Champions League final in a little over a month’s time. Milan and Napoli tied Bologna and Verona respectively, while Benfica lost 1-0 to midtable Chaves, their second straight loss in the Primeira Liga after just 1 in the 25 fixtures prior. Porto has now closed the gap to 4 points with 6 games left, so like Inter, Benfica has domestic concerns on its mind as well - albeit not quite as grave as Inter’s.
The Nerazzurri’s Champions League run has come hand-in-hand with a 5-game winless run in Serie A that’s seen Simone Inzaghi’s men fall to 5th, two points behind Milan in 4th. At this point, the only thing keeping Inzaghi from an employment center is Inter’s European success, which will be put to the test Wednesday against a Benfica side with nothing to lose and in need of quite a few goals.
Inter and Benfica have now met 4 times, with the good guys holding a 3W-1D-0L advantage in the series.
Predicted Starting XIs
- Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martínez were benched over the weekend so it would be assumed that they start against Benfica, but Lukeku has been in good form in the UCL, and even if he’s missing chances in Serie A, at least he’s getting those chances, unlike Dzeko, whose legs look heavier than ever and has 1 goal in 20 games
Prediction: Inter Milan 1-1 Benfica
Inter will move onto a UCL semifinal thanks to a 1-1 draw in leg two, with Romelu Lukaku opening the scoring before Benfica equalize through Goncalo Ramos, but it’s not enough for the visitors to complete the comeback.