Preview: Inter Milan vs. Liverpool – predictions, team news, line-ups
The long-awaited Champions League contest will take place at the San Siro on Wednesday night, when Scudetto holders Inter Milan host six-time European champions Liverpool for the first leg of their last-16 tie.
The Reds are one of three teams in this year’s competition to finish the group stages with a 100% record, while the Nerazzurri are second behind Real Madrid.
For the first time in a decade, Inter Milan will be competing in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and while hopes are high for progressing to the final stages of the competition, they will have the difficult task of overcoming one of the tournament favourites. Liverpool in two legs.
As mentioned earlier, Simone Inzaghi’s side are second in Group D with 10 points from their six games, five points behind group winners Real Madrid. The Nerazzurri won home and away against tournament debutants Sheriff Tiraspol and secured four points from their two meetings with Shakhtar Donetsk, but they were unable to claim any points or score against Los Blancos.
Inter head into Wednesday’s clash having failed to win their last two Serie A games, losing 2-1 to city rivals AC Milan and drawing 1-1 with Napoli last weekend. This result saw Inzaghi’s men knocked out of the top of the table by Milan, but they still have a game in hand.
The Nerazzurri will be eager to bounce back with a positive result in midweek, although good results against English clubs in Europe have proved challenging over the years.
Since the 2003-04 season, Inter have been eliminated from two of their previous three two-legged knockout games against English sides; all three have been in the last 16, suffering defeats against Liverpool in 2007-08 and Manchester United in 2008-09, before losing to Chelsea in 2009-10.
Inter will face another tough challenge on Wednesday but their home form should give them confidence, as they have lost just three of their 30 competitive fixtures at the San Siro in all competitions since the start of 2021.
Liverpool extended their winning streak in all competitions to six games with a narrow 1-0 Premier League win at club Burnley last weekend.
Fabinho’s close-range strike just before half-time helped Jurgen Klopp’s men return to nine points clear of league leaders Manchester City, and the Reds have a game in hand.
Liverpool are now turning their attention to the Champions League and they will be hoping to improve on their last two knockout appearances in the competition. Since capturing their sixth European crown in 2018-19, the Reds have been knocked out in the last 16 against Atletico Madrid in 2019-20, before losing in the quarter-finals to Real Madrid last term.
This season, Klopp’s side have been in excellent form, scoring 17 goals and winning all six of their Group B games, including both meetings with Inter’s rivals AC Milan. Liverpool could become only the second team after Tottenham Hotspur in 2010-11 to win against Inter and AC Milan in the same season, if they win on Wednesday or in the second leg next month.
Liverpool’s midweek match will be their fifth match against Inter in European competition; The Reds suffered a 4-3 aggregate defeat in the 1964-65 European Cup semi-finals – the same season that Inter won the trophy – before seeking revenge 43 years later in the 2007-08 Champions League last 16, winning 3-0 on aggregate thanks to a goal from Dirk Kuyt , Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.
Liverpool were originally due to face Red Bull Salzburg in the last 16, before UEFA’s failure in the December draw forced a re-draw, with the Reds now facing Inter Milan. The two-legged clash with the Nerazzurri will be seen by Reds supporters as more challenging than against Salzburg, however, Klopp and his team-mates will remain strong favorites to emerge victorious.
Inter Milan Champions League form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
Liverpool Champions League form:
Liverpool form (all competitions):
Inter Milan will be without Joaquin Correa and Robin Gosens, as they continue to recover from thigh injuries, while Nicolo Barella is suspended following his dismissal against Real Madrid in their final group game.
In addition, Aleksandar Kolarov is ineligible to play after being removed from their Champions League squad, allowing January signings Gosens and Felipe Caicedo to be included. Stefano Sensi is the other player removed after joining Sampdoria on loan last month.
Centre-back Alessandro Bastoni is currently serving a domestic suspension, but the Italian is available to play in midweek and he is expected to replace Federico Dimarco on the left side of a back three, starting alongside Stefan De Vrij and Milan Skriniar.
Former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko, who has scored in each of his last three appearances against Liverpool, is set to lead the line in attack alongside Lautaro Martinez, with Alexis Sanchez an option from the bench.
Arturo Vidal, who has started only five games this season, is expected to replace Barella in centre-midfield, joining Marcelo Brozovic and Hakan Calhanoglu in the middle of the pitch.
As for Liverpool, Klopp may decide to make one or two changes to freshen up his starting lineup after last weekend’s win at Turf Moor, with the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and James Milner all fighting for a place in centre-midfield alongside Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.
Diogo Jota should be in contention to start despite beginning on the bench against Burnley after picking up a dead leg in the build-up.
The Portugal international could therefore replace Roberto Firmino in the first XI, joining Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in a formidable front three, with January signing Luis Diaz set to begin on the substitutes’ bench.
A back four of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson is set to remain intact, shielding goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Vidal, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Martinez, Dzeko
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mane