A place in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals will be on the line when Inter Milan and Benfica meet at San Siro on Wednesday.

The curtains will fall on the quarter-finals of the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League this week, with two matches on Wednesday rounding off the action. Both matches will go ahead simultaneously, with one of them featuring Bayern Munich and Manchester City. The other game will see Inter Milan hosting Benfica at San Siro.

Inter Milan reached the UEFA Champions League knockout stage by finishing second in Group C behind Bayern Munich. The Nerazzurri then narrowly beat FC Porto in the Round of 16 to reach the quarter-finals. But their overall form has been sub-par, with Simone Inzaghi’s men coming into this game on the back of a 1-0 loss at home to Monza this past weekend.

On the other hand, Benfica surprised one and all by finishing atop Group H ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus. The Eagles then continued their dominance by handing a 7-1 chastening to Club Brugge in the Round of 16. But their form has nosedived lately, with Roger Schmidt’s men losing their last three games.

One of those defeats came in the reverse fixture last weekend, with Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku guiding Inter Milan to a 2-0 win over Benfica in Lisbon. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Simone Inzaghi has a new injury concern hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Benfica on Wednesday, the Inter Milan manager will be bereft of the services of two first-team players.

Stefan de Vrij is the latest absentee after sustaining an ankle injury this past weekend against AC Monza. While the Dutchman might recover in time for Wednesday’s game, Inzaghi will unlikely risk him. In addition, Milan Skriniar remains on the sidelines due to a back issue.

Francesco Acerbi should replace de Vrij in the central defensive unit. The experienced Italian defender will join Alessandro Bastoni and Matteo Darmian, who has revelled as a centre-back, in the back three. The trio will protect Andre Onana, with Inter lining up in the usual 3-5-2 formation in front of him.

As for the midfield unit, Hakan Calhanoglu and Marcelo Brozovic should return to the starting eleven. Calhanoglu has recovered from a thigh strain and should be fit enough to start. He, along with Nicolo Barella, will look to provide the creative impetus from the middle of the park.

Finally, the strike partnership should feature Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez. Romelu Lukaku has picked up form in the last few games but will likely appear off the bench on Wednesday. Joaquin Correa will be another backup option for the hosts.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Onana; Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Dimarco; Dzeko, Martinez


Unlike his counterpart in the Inter Milan dugout, Roger Schmidt does not have any new issues ahead of the trip to San Siro. But the Benfica manager will be without three first-team players on Wednesday.

Alexander Bah is a long-term absentee due to a knee injury and will be unavailable for a few more weeks. In addition, Mihailo Ristic and Julian Draxler are recovering from muscle injuries and will not feature on Wednesday.

Odysseas Vlachodimos is an automatic pick between the sticks, with Benfica lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him. Meanwhile, Gilberto will continue as the right-back in the absence of Bah. The 25-year-old will join Antonio Silva, Nicolas Otamendi, and Alejandro Grimaldo in the backline.

As for the midfield unit, Florentino Luis should replace Chiquinho, adding a layer of defensive cover in the middle of the park. The 23-year-old will join Fredrik Aursnes in the double pivot. The duo will aim to keep Inter Milan’s creative players quiet, thus giving Benfica a way back into the game.

The attacking quartet should remain unchanged this midweek. Goncalo Ramos will spearhead the Benfica attack against Inter, with Rafa Silva playing behind him. Finally, David Neres and Joao Mario will be the two wide attackers.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Vlachodimos; Gilberto, Antonio Silva, Otamendi, Grimaldo; Florentino, Aursnes; Neres, Rafa Silva, Mario; Ramos

Key Stats

  • Inter Milan are unbeaten in all four meetings with Benfica (W3 D1), keeping a clean sheet in three of those matches.
  • Benfica have already won away to Italian opposition in the UEFA Champions League this season, beating Juventus 2-1 during the group stages. They were winless in six such games before that match (D1 L5), with their previous victory away to an Italian team coming against Fiorentina in the Cup Winners’ Cup in March 1997.
  • Benfica lost the first leg of a two-legged European Cup/Champions League tie by 2+ goals for the ninth time. They have previously progressed from such a position only once, ousting FC Nurnberg in the quarter-finals in 1961/62 despite losing the first leg 1-3 – they won the second leg 6-0.
  • Inter Milan won the first leg of a two-legged European Cup/Champions League tie by 2+ goals for the ninth time in this tie’s reverse fixture. They have never faced elimination from such a position.
  • Goncalo Ramos has been directly involved in four goals in his last four UEFA Champions League appearances for Benfica (three goals and one assist). On top of his attacking contribution, he is crucial to Benfica’s pressing out of possession, where he has applied more pressures (674) and pressures in the final third (299) than any other striker in the competition this season.

Player to Watch

Romelu Lukaku

Embed from Getty Images

Scoring goals has been an issue for Inter Milan in the last few games. They have barely found the back of the net from a move from open play. And Romelu Lukaku is the only player to succeed in doing so. So his appearance off the bench on Wednesday will be crucial. Meanwhile, he has a solid record in the UEFA Champions League for Inter.

Lukaku has scored nine goals in 14 appearances for Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League. Only four players have found the back of the net more often for the Nerazzurri in the competition – Adriano (14), Julio Cruz (13), Hernan Crespo (11) and Samuel Eto’o (10). And the Belgian striker will be eager to take his tally into double figures on Wednesday and guide Inter to the semi-finals.


Inter Milan 1-1 Benfica

Inter Milan and Benfica have been struggling to put together a winning run in the last few weeks. With their form nosediving, Wednesday’s match becomes unpredictable. Both Inter and Benfica will aim to pounce on the other team’s defensive vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, the visitors are currently unbeaten in seven away matches in the UEFA Champions League (W4 D3). And if Roger Schmidt inspires his troops to rediscover their form, that run will continue on Wednesday.

But an unbeaten result might not be enough to reach the semi-finals. That is because The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-1 draw between the two teams at San Siro. The Nerazzurri will thus face the winner of the game between Napoli and AC Milan on Tuesday, thus setting up an all-Italian semi-final.

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