Inter vs Benfica – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Wednesday 12th April 2023
As part of our Champions League predictions, we take a look at the second leg of Internazionale’s quarter-final clash with Benfica. Inter are in poor form, but produced a shock result in Portugal – can they finish the job? Read on with our Inter vs Benfica prediction.
Inter vs Benfica Match Preview
The first leg encounter between the two sides produced something of a shock result. While we acknowledge that Inter were able to come through a hugely difficult group with Bayern Munich and Barcelona (eventually qualifying at Barcelona’s expense), and also that they managed to snuff out the threat of FC Porto over two legs, they weren’t expected to emerge from Portugal with a two-goal lead.
Following a first half which was the dictionary definition of cagey, the visitors found their noses in front in the 51st minute through Barella’s well-taken header. Benfica then forced a chaotic goalmouth scramble which the visitors manage to survive before Simeone’s men managed to convert a rather harshly-given penalty to seal the home side’s fate. Getting back into the tie will be a fiendishly-difficult task for a Benfica side that has hit a poor patch of form at just the wrong time.
That said, Inter are also in poor form – domestically at least. A hugely disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Monza ensured that the Nerazzuri have now failed to win their last five Serie A matches and have picked up just one point during that unwanted sequence of results. It is the inconsistency of those around them such as their Milan rivals and Atalanta, coupled with Juventus’ 15-point deduction that is keeping Internazionale well in the race for Champions League football next season as opposed to any real merit on their part.
As mentioned, Benfica have now hit an inopportune poor patch of form after being excellent for much of this season’s campaign, particularly in the Champions League. The Lisbon club have now lost three matches in a row in all competitions for the first time this season, and if they’re unable to arrest the temporary slide then they’re in danger of being overhauled by rivals FC Porto and possibly Braga in third place. For such a free-wheeling side, the goals have dried up – we noted this in our preview for the first leg as they were even second-best away to Rio Ave before their disappointing home defeat to their title rivals.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: De Vrij
Will Not Play: Dalbert, Skriniar
Might Not Play: Ristic
Will Not Play: Bah, Draxler
Inter vs Benfica Lineups (Predicted)
Inter (3-3-2-2): Onana; Acerbi, De Vrij, Darmian; Dimarco, Brozovic, Dumfries; Calhanoglu, Barella; Martinez, Lukaku
Benfica: (4-2-3-1): Vlachodimos; Grimaldo, Otamendi, A. Silva, Gilberto; Aursnes, Florentino Luis; R. Silva, Joao Mario, Neres; Ramos
Inter vs Benfica Analysis
The Onus is on Benfica to Create
Much of Inter’s recent struggles have come from an inability to break down the opposition when they concede possession and territory. There was yet another occurrence of this particular scenario this weekend, in that they had 57% possession, 25 efforts on goal, 6 on target… and zero goals. Their xG per attempt on goal remains rather low for a big club tasked with taking the initiative against smaller teams who will invariably seek to restrict and counter, and thus it proved once again at the San Siro against Monza.
In recent weeks, they have struggled to break down Bologna, Spezia, Fiorentina and Salernitana, as they contrived to score two goals in four outings. So what does all this have to do with Benfica? Well, the onus this time around is fully on Benfica to force the issue and attempt to create opportunities in order to claw their way back into the match. The issue for Benfica is that they’re simply not scoring goals at the moment – they’ve all but dried up and Inter have capably demonstrated that they’re able to shut up shop and play reactive football.
They managed to progress from a group containing two of Europe’s strongest attacking sides in Bayern Munich and Barcelona by doing just that, and they managed to shut out Benfica’s fellow Portuguese side and title challengers FC Porto over 180 minutes. This match could be one that plays into Inter’s hands, and the longer that Benfica find themselves behind in the tie, the more likely it is that Inter can score a goal of their own by taking advantage of the away side’s desperation.
Benfica Should be Patient
For much of this season, Benfica have been excellent. They’ve vanquished an excellent Juventus side in the group stages – 4-3 at home, and 2-1 away. They also drew 1-1 twice with PSG and disposed of Club Brugge 7-1 on aggregate in the last round, although we must acknowledge that Club Brugge were a club in crisis following the disastrous appointment of Scott Parker. What we’re saying is that they need to be patient and to trust their quality and ability to create clear chances against an Inter side that is far from formidable this season.
Roger Schmidt’s men showed glimpses of this ability throughout the first leg despite the poor result and overall poor performance. A goalmouth scramble which Inter were fortunate to survive and a highly controversial penalty in Inter’s favour lends credence to the theory that 2-0 was something of a misleading result. Benfica are still firmly in this tie owing to Inter’s poor domestic form and inability to create a consistent attacking threat.
We expect Benfica to be a little more accomplished than going for broke from the very start. They’ve been able to show discipline in group-stage matches against PSG earlier in the season and they’ll need to produce a display of similar quality here as a single goal from Inter could put the game beyond the Portuguese side. Therefore, we believe that Benfica will also prioritise restricting Inter as they’ve proven largely incapable of carrying a consistent attacking threat. The longer they keep Inter quiet, the more likely they can get back into the game and turn it on its head.
At this stage of the competition, most ties are well-balanced and difficult to predict, and this one is doubly so because both teams come into this match in poor form. It’s easy to advocate for a victory for both sides and whenever that is the case, it’s seemingly sensible to opt for the draw.
While it’s true that Inter aren’t exactly scoring goals by the bucketload, nor are they particularly porous at the back. It’s difficult, but admittedly not impossible, to envisage Benfica scoring twice here. By the same token, we don’t think that Inter will either need to or be able to score twice unless Benfica are somewhat cavalier in their approach.
Inter 1-1 Benfica
Inter vs Benfica Betting Tip – Draw Odds:
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