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UEFA Champions League Betting Preview: Inter Milan vs Benfica
October 3, 2023
Portuguese champions Benfica travel to face Serie A side Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Although Inter Milan and Benfica are the Group D favorites to qualify for the last-16, Real Sociedad and RB Salzburg have proved to be challenging opponents.
The Nerazzurri claimed a 5-3 aggregate win over Benfica in last season's quarter-finals. Benfica suffered a 2-0 first-leg defeat in Lisbon, while the second leg in Milan ended in a 3-3 draw, with two late goals from the Portuguese side.
Furthermore, Inter Milan got the better of Benfica in the UEFA Cup fourth round in 2003-04, with a goalless first leg in Lisbon followed by a spectacular 4-3 win in Italy two weeks later.
Benfica also lost to Inter Milan in the 1965 Champions League final at the Giuseppe Meazza.
Inter Milan Betting Preview (-131 at MyBookie)
The Nerazzurri played out a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad in their opening Champions League group stage match at the Reale Arena in San Sebastian a fortnight ago. Lautaro Martínez's late equalizer rescued a point for last season's finalists who will be eager to build on against the Portuguese champions.
Inter Milan's 2-0 win in Lisbon earlier this year proved the catalyst for an upturn in form for the Nerazzurri. They not only went on to reach the Champions League final (where they produced a very solid performance against Manchester City, against all odds), but had also defended the Coppa Italia and finished third in Serie A.
The crucial first-leg victory over Benfica been followed by a disappointing 1-0 home loss to Monza - a defeat sandwiched between the two Champions League quarter-finals with Benfica - but the positive outcome of the Benfica tie earned more time for Simone Inzaghi, who was under huge pressure as Inter Milan failed to win in six consecutive games prior to the 2-0 win at Estadio da Luz.
Simone Inzaghi's side Scudetto bid this season started with five consecutive wins, including a massive 5-1 victory over bitter rivals AC Milan in their first match after last month's international break, until a surprise 2-1 home defeat to Sassuolo last Wednesday.
Yet, The Nerazzurri returned to winning ways at the weekend when they claimed a 4-0 win at Salernitana on Saturday night, with four second-half goals from Lautaro Martínez.
The 26-year-old Argentine forward was only introduced as a second-half substitute replacing fellow South American Alexis Sánchez in the 55
minute to eventually become the first player in Serie A history to score four goals after coming off the bench.
Thus, Inter Milan are top of the Serie A table, level on 18 points with AC Milan, superior on goal difference. The Nerazzurri also hold a four-point lead over reigning champions Napoli in third and Simone Inzaghi's side are set for a home clash against Bologna in the Serie A on Sunday in their last match prior to the next international break.
Stefano Sensi and Davide Frattesi remain injured, but Juan Cuadrado will be available for Tuesday's clash, Simone Inzaghi confirmed during his pre-match press conference on Monday.
Federico Dimarco remained an unused substitute against Salernitana and the Italy international should return at left wing-back, while Brazilian Carlos Augusto, who earned his first Serie A start, may have to settle for a place on the bench.
Benfica Betting Preview (+350 at MyBookie)
Having clinched their 38
domestic title last season, German coach Roger Schmidt brought the trophy back to Estadio da Luz for the first time since 2019. Benfica are now bidding to defend the throne, while they're also aiming to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the third time in a row.
However, Benfica opened their Champions League campaign with a disappointing 2-0 home loss to RB Salzburg - Roger Schmidt's ex-club - and will need a much better performance if they are to wrest something from their trip to the Giuseppe Meazza.
The Eagles fly to Milan on the back of an important 1-0 win over arch rivals FC Porto on Friday night. It was their second win over FC Porto this season, after the Portuguese Super Cup triumph in August, and their first home win in O Clássico in five years.
Even though Benfica remain second in the Primeira Liga table, one point behind Lisbon rivals Sporting CP, they still can take positives ahead of their second Champions League group game. They have kept a clean sheet against Porto, though the Dragons were down to 10 men just 19 minutes into the derby game.
Angel Di Maria, who scored the winner on Friday, has been directly involved in seven goals in as many domestic games since the Argentina veteran returned to Benfica over the summer. Aging like fine wine, a young Di Maria had scored a total of seven league goals over three full campaigns for Benfica between 2007 and 2010, while he already bagged five goals in six Primeira Liga appearances this season.
With three goals and four assists in seven top-flight appearances this term, Rafa Silva is another standout performer for Benfica. The 30-year-old ex-Portugal international is now fully focused on his club career after he opted to retire from international football one year ago.
Roger Schmidt is forced to reshuffle his backline as Antonio Silva is suspended. The young Portuguese defender was sent off early in his side's loss to RB Salzburg so Morato is expected to start alongside captain Nicolas Otamendi at centre-back.
Elsewhere, Brazilian winger David Neres started against FC Porto and the Benfica boss could be tempted to start him over João Mário. However, if he opts for a more conservative approach against Inter Milan, Mario should be recalled to the starting line-up.
Possible Starting Lineups of Inter Milan and Benfica
Inter Milan: Yann Sommer - Benjamin Pavard, Stefan de Vrij, Alessandro Bastoni - Denzel Dumfries, Nicolò Barella, Hakan Calhanoglu, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Federico Dimarco - Marcus Thuram, Lautaro Martinez. (3-5-2)
Benfica: Anatoliy Trubin - Alexander Bah, Nicolás Otamendi, Morato, Fredrik Aursnes - João Neves, Orkun Kökçü - Ángel Di María, Rafa Silva, João Mário - Petar Musa. (4-2-3-1)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
Having conceded just one goal in their opening five Serie A matches this season, Inter Milan surprisingly lost 2-1 against Sassuolo last week.
All in all, their defense has been doing well this season and Simone Inzaghi's side should secure their first win of the Champions League campaign here.
Benfica, on the other hand, have won their last three away games in the Primeira Liga since a 3-2 defeat at Boavista on the opening weekend of the season. However, they have also conceded in all of their away games this season and Silva's absence won't make things easier for them.
Spooky Express Pick: Inter Milan -131 at MyBookie for 8/10 Units
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