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Inter Milan vs Benfica predictions: Eagles could swoop against ailing hosts
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Dan Sait
Benfica boss Roger Schmidt will be looking for his team to turn the tables on Inter
Benfica boss Roger Schmidt will be looking for his team to turn the tables on Inter

- Inter hold a 2-0 first-leg lead but were fortunate in that win – their only victory in eight matches
- Benfica beat Juventus home and away in the group stage and twice held Paris Saint-Germain
- Recommended bet: Benfica to win

A first-leg 2-0 home defeat to Inter Milan has dented Benfica's Champions League dreams but the Portuguese side played well enough at Estadio da Luz to suggest this tie is not yet dead.

Head coach Roger Schmidt is doing a fine job in Lisbon, with the Eagles on course to end their four-year wait for a Primeira Liga title while also catching the eye in Europe.

His side was largely the better team last week, with Inter awarded a soft penalty and scoring one of only two other serious openings, while Benfica spurned several excellent chances to gain parity.  

Overturning a two-goal deficit in Milan remains a massive task, of course. But Benfica have already beaten Juventus home and away and twice avoided defeat against mighty Paris Saint-Germain in this season's competition and will believe they still have a chance against out-of-form Inter.

Team news

Inter will again be without injured centre-backs Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij after De Vrij damaged his ankle in Saturday's shock home defeat to Monza.

Benfica have a centre-back returning, with Nicolas Otamendi having served his one-match suspension in the first leg.

Attacking midfielder Julian Draxler and full-backs Alexander Bah and Mihailo Ristic each remain unavailable through injury for Benfica.

The stats 

Benfica topped Group H with victories in all four games against Juventus and Maccabi Haifa and a pair of 1-1 draws against PSG. They followed up with a thumping 7-1 aggregate defeat of Club Brugge in the Round of 16.

Inter's progress was less serene, albeit from a trickier group – the Serie A side twice lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich but took four points off Barcelona and beat Viktoria Plzen home and away. 

Simone Inzaghi's men then edged past Porto – who trail Benfica in the Primeira Liga – 1-0 on aggregate in the first knockout round but their goal led a charmed life. The Nerazzurri created just 2.0 expected goals over the two legs and conceded 3.3 xG, with Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana making a number of excellent stops and Porto hitting the woodwork. 

Inter are also fortunate to be 2-0 ahead in this tie, with Benfica bossing 57% possession in the first leg and taking 12 shots to Inter's eight to create 1.6 xG to Inter's 1.4. 

That was Inter's only win in eight games and they have been wildly inconsistent against the better teams in Serie A, losing seven times against top-half opponents and winning only six, with no draws. 

Benfica are on a three-match losing streak having won their previous 12 matches but dominated Chaves in an incredibly unlucky 1-0 defeat last weekend and deserved at least a draw in meetings with Inter and Porto. 


Simone Inzaghi's Inter have a 2-0 lead to protect
Simone Inzaghi's Inter have a 2-0 lead to protect

While Inter are in an extremely strong position in this tie, nothing about their first-leg performance, their recent form or their inconsistent results makes them convincing favourites for the second leg. 

The San Siro has been no fortress this season, with Inter losing as many times as they have won when hosting top-half visitors, and Inzaghi's position is under threat as his side sit 24 points off the title pace and are in danger of missing out on the top four. 

The impressive performances of goalkeeper Onana have papered over the cracks and while Inter have the quality up front to make the most of lesser chances, the team is not firing on all cylinders and dominating opponents.  

Individual brilliance may yet see the Italians through but both teams to score looks an appealing addition to Bet Builders given the structural problems within a side short of confidence and missing two first-choice centre-backs. 

Those frailties also make the hosts hard to trust at short prices and a well-drilled and determined Benfica outfit could bring this tie back to life. 

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