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Both Benfica and Inter have been crowned European champions more than once
The Portuguese side should not be underestimated in this year’s Champions League
Inter are prone to inconsistency but they have plenty of quality within their squad
The odds for Benfica vs Inter are from the FanDuel sportsbook, where you can get a no sweat first bet up to $1000.
Home advantage could go a long way to determining the outcome of Tuesday’s encounter.
Back Benfica to beat Inter in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final. (+115)
There are eight teams still standing in this season’s Champions League, but the best online sportsbooks believe the eventual winners will come from a group of four: Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Napoli or Real Madrid.
As such, the four other teams still involved in Europe’s premier competition - AC Milan, Chelsea, Benfica and Inter - are not particularly fancied to go all the way. Yet the winner of the tie we are previewing here will be in the semi-finals, from where they would be at most three wins away from lifting the trophy.
The sportsbooks might not be anticipating a Benfica or Inter triumph in this year’s tournament, but neither side can be labeled a continental minnow. In fact, these are two of the most storied clubs in European soccer.
Only 13 clubs have won the Champions League on more than one occasion, and Benfica and Inter are part of that exclusive club. The Portuguese giants have triumphed on two occasions, in 1961 and 1962. Meanwhile, Inter were crowned kings of the continent more recently, in 2010, as well as in 1964 and 1965.
In the first half of the 1960s, then, these were arguably the strongest sides in Europe. But in recent years, the Champions League has been dominated by clubs from England, Spain, and Germany. Every winner of the tournament from 2011 onwards has come from the Premier League, La Liga, or the Bundesliga.
Perhaps Benfica or Inter (or Napoli or AC Milan) can buck that trend this year. Due to the way the draw has been done, one of those four teams will be in the final. Supporters of Benfica and Inter will be daring to dream of an appearance in the biggest game in club soccer.
Benfica are one of the ‘big three’ in Portugal, alongside Porto and Sporting CP. That trio of clubs has dominated the Primeira Liga throughout its history. You have to go back to 2001 to find the last time another team won the title, while there have only ever been two occasions where a non-big three side has got its hands on the prize.
After three consecutive group stage eliminations between 2018 and 2020, Benfica did not even make it that far in 2021, suffering an exit in the third qualifying round. But they have now reached the quarter-finals in back-to-back campaigns, having gone down 6-4 to Liverpool in the last eight in 2022.
Benfica should not be underestimated. They have been by far the strongest side in Portugal this term and are just a few weeks away from winning the championship crown. They have triumphed in 23 of their 27 matches to date, leaving Porto and the rest trailing in their wake.
Benfica have also impressed in the Champions League - even more so, in fact. They won all four qualifiers against Midtjylland and Dynamo Kyiv without breaking a sweat, then topped a group containing Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and Maccabi Haifa after amassing 14 points from a possible 18. Beating Juve home and away was a real highlight for Roger Schmidt’s side.
Benfica then stormed past Club Brugge in the round of 16, winning 7-1 on aggregate. They have considerable momentum behind them and will fancy their chances against an Inter team that has been plagued by inconsistency throughout this season.
Inter began the campaign as the favorites to win the Serie A title, but that ceased to be a realistic objective many months ago. They are now 23 points adrift of champions-elect Napoli, and are in danger of missing out even on the top four - Simone Inzaghi’s side are currently a point adrift of the Champions League qualification spots.
They will arrive at the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday on the back of a dismal recent run of form. Inter have lost three of their last four games in Serie A, and the exception was a disappointing 1-1 draw with Salernitana at the weekend.
Inter have triumphed in just one of their last six league games, and questions are consequently being asked of Inzaghi. The former Lazio head coach has just one Coppa Italia to his name since his appointment at San Siro, and unless he adds another item to the club’s trophy cabinet between now and the end of the season, Inzaghi could find himself out of a job in the summer.
Inter under their current manager have earned a reputation for being more of a cup team than a league one. That is why they still have some hope in the Champions League, where their inconsistent tendencies over the course of a 38-match Serie A season are not as significant.
Yet with Benfica in fine form and home advantage behind them, the Portuguese side are deservedly the favorites for this one. Back Schmidt’s men to come out on top.
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Teams: Benfica vs Inter
Location: Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal
Date and Time: Apr. 11 , 2023, 3 p.m. ET
How to Watch: Paramount+
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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