Inter Milan vs Benfica: Predicted Line Ups – Will Lukaku Play?

Italian heavyweights Inter Milan have a commanding two-goal lead to defend against Benfica in the second leg of the teams’ Champions League quarter-final this evening, though there is still room for drama to develop in the second instalment of his titanic double-header at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

Despite losing the xG battle in Lisbon last week, Inter notched two second-half goals to take the wind from Benfica’s sails, though Roger Schmidt’s impressive young outfit will still harbour hopes that a turnaround is possible in Italy.

Inter’s triumph in last week’s first leg was only their second victory in ten assignments in all competitions since the end of February, and their run of three games without a win – or even a goal – at San Siro could embolden an attack-minded Benfica later today.

Inter Milan team news: will Romelu Lukaku earn a starting spot?

Inter Milan have few pressing personnel concerns at the moment, though key defender Milan Skriniar remains sidelined, while fellow centre-half Stefan de Vrij is a slight doubt having been withdrawn early in Inter’s 1-0 loss to Monza at the weekend. Neither defender started in last week’s first leg in Lisbon, however.

The biggest question marks concern Romelu Lukaku however, and though the Belgian did net a penalty as a second-half substitute in game one, the Belgian hitman still isn’t a guaranteed starter this evening. The 29-year-old played 90 minutes against Monza at the weekend, though he was ineffectual, and Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko could be favoured ahead of Lukaku again.

Inter Head Coach Simone Inzaghi could even choose to deploy the same XI that performed so well in Portugal last week. That scenario would see Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi and Alessandro Bastoni reunited as a central defensive trio, with Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco reprising their roles as wingbacks.

In midfield, Marcelo Brozovic should be the anchor with the more-expressive Nicolo Barella and Henrikh Mkhitaryan positioned either side. If Inazghi opts to add a more creative string to his midfield bow, then Hakan Çalhanoglu could be squeezed into his XI. The 29-year-old tops the pile at Inter for average key passes played per Champions League appearance this term (1.6).

Benfica team news: Otamendi to return?

Benfica have a trio of players missing through injury at present and Mihailo Ristic, Julian Draxler and Alexander Bah will all be watching on from the stands in Italy. While Ristic and Draxler are considered bit-part squad members, Danish international Bah is Benfica’s first-choice pick at right-back and As Águias could have done with the 25-year-old’s thrust in the first leg.

Experienced campaigner Nicolas Otamendi missed last week’s loss to Inter through suspension, though the 35-year-old, who has started eight times in the Champions League this season, should slot straight back in alongside highly-regarded teenager Antonio Silva at the heart of Benfica’s backline this evening.

Leading marksman, Goncalo Ramos, who has scored 20 times in all competitions this term, was somewhat starved of service in the first leg, mustering just two attempts against Inter overall, though the powerful 21-year-old will hope to see more action in Italy.

Midfield duo, Chiquinho and Florentino, who were largely dominated by their Inter counterparts last week, will be aiming to pull the strings with more authority in the second leg, though they will need help from teammates further up the pitch, particularly Joao Mario and Fredrik Aursnes.

Aursnes and Mario have been averaging 1.3 and 1.2 tackles per game in the Champions League this season, though both attacking midfielders will need to up their output against a combative Inter side later on. The Italians out-tackled Benfica by 20 challenges to 11 in the first leg.

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