Preview: Benfica vs. Inter Milan

Preview: Benfica vs. Inter Milan

The quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League are upon us, and high-flying Benfica welcome out-of-sorts Inter Milan to Estadio da Luz on Tuesday.

The Eagles annihilated Club Brugge in the first knockout round to make it to this stage in consecutive seasons, while Inter eliminated another Portuguese side Porto to reach the last eight after 12 years.

It has been an outstanding Champions League campaign for Benfica this season, ending atop a group that contained heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, with the latter exiting the competition in the group stage.

Roger Schmidt’s troops are unbeaten in this year’s competition — a feat they share with Manchester City and Bayern Munich — and their continental form means they should fancy themselves in the Lisbon fixture.

Only Napoli (25) have scored more than Benfica’s 23 in this year’s competition, a statistic that would worry the Italian side, who have struggled for clean sheets in Serie A of late.

The goals have been spread around, but Joao Mario has hit the back of the net six times for the Portuguese outfit, with Rafa Silva and the talented Goncalo Ramos finding the back of the net five and three times respectively.

However, the Eagles’ preparation for Inter saw them beaten 2-1 by their title rivals Porto on Friday, which saw their lead at the top of the standings cut to seven points.

It was their first league loss since New Year’s Eve, and Schmidt will hope that defeat was a one-off result.

As for Inter, the New Year has been a mixed bag for Simone Inzaghi’s team, evidenced by their wretched sequence of results since the end of February.

Beaten by Bologna after a commendable 1-0 win over Porto in Europe, that defeat began a run of games in which only one victory has been secured in seven games in all competitions.

Goalscoring has been an issue for Inzaghi’s men, with the Nerazzurri not scoring more than one goal in three of those seven fixtures, and also failing to even find the back of the net in as many games.

Good Friday’s 1-1 draw with Salernitana was almost comical, with Romelu Lukaku contriving to somehow hit the crossbar from the goalmouth, Nicolo Barella hitting the post from distance and Guillermo Ochoa making a glut of saves to keep the home side in the game before Antonio Candreva’s fortunate equaliser.

Be that as it may, Inzaghi could take solace in the quality of chances created on the day, even if they can afford no more off days in front of goal against one of the best teams in this year’s Champions League.

Benfica Champions League form:

Benfica form (all competitions):

Inter Milan Champions League form:

Inter Milan form (all competitions):

We say: Benfica 3-1 Inter Milan
Despite Inzaghi’s adeptness at navigating cup competitions, Benfica are just too potent, and their threatening attack could overpower an Inter side that have conceded in six of their last eight games in all competitions.

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