Soccer Champions League - Play-Offs Prediction
Benfica vs Inter - Match Preview
⚽ 11 April 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
A 2-1 defeat to Porto in Primeira Liga action on Friday night was a big opportunity missed for table-topping Benfica, who had the chance to open up a near-unattainable lead at the summit. They must now forget about their domestic slip-up and quickly switch their attention back to the UEFA Champions League (UCL), where they will be bidding to extend their impressive home record against Italian clubs (W7, D4, L3) when Inter Milan come to town.
Claiming a first-leg advantage in this quarter-final tie will likely be key to Benfica’s chances of progression, and the Eagles are in a position to do so after losing just three of their last 25 European matches on home turf (W16, D6). Ominously, one of those defeats came at this very stage in last season’s UCL, and to add further uncertainty, Benfica have lost all five of their quarter-final ties in the UCL era.
For 2010 UCL winners Inter, their record at this stage in the UCL era is similarly uninspiring, falling at this hurdle in four of their six quarter-final jaunts. There isn’t much comfort to be sought from their domestic football either, with a 1-1 draw against Salernitana on Friday ensuring they remain outside the Serie A top-four amidst a four-match winless league run (D1, L3).
Inter did, however, do something Benfica failed to do on Friday, and that beat Porto, with the Italian giants eliminating their Portuguese counterparts in the last 16. Victory in that tie was courtesy of a home win, and Inter are likely going to need another of those next week in Milan if they’re to progress here as only once have they ever won away from home against Portuguese opposition (D5, L4).
📋 Players to watch: Benfica’s João Mário has scored in five successive UCL games, four of which came from the penalty spot, though he sits a good way off the UCL record of 11 consecutive scoring appearances set by Cristiano Ronaldo. A happy traveller, seven of Lautaro Martínez’s eight UCL goals for Inter have been scored away from home, leaving him one goal away from becoming Inter’s joint-top away scorer in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League.
⚡ Hot stat: Five of Inter’s last six away games in all competitions witnessed fewer than 2.5 total goals.
Manchester City vs Bayern Munich - Match Preview
⚽ 11 April 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
Current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola swapped the Bayern Munich hot seat for England almost seven years ago and, since then, has won almost every possible trophy… aside from the UEFA Champions League (UCL). The Citizens are the favourites to lift the famous trophy this season, and with an eight-game winning run in all competitions ahead of this, confidence should be high coming into this quarter-final first-leg.
After finishing first in their UCL group for a sixth successive season under Guardiola, City will hope to get a foothold in this tie by extending their impressive 24-game unbeaten run in European home games (W22, D2). In fact, City can make history here as one more win or draw will set a new record for the longest UCL undefeated home run of any English side!
The man looking to end that run is none other than Thomas Tuchel, the former Chelsea manager who famously defeated City in the 2021 UCL final. Tuchel’s ambitions of wanting to “win all the trophies” upon joining Bayern Munich were quickly dashed when Freiburg dumped them out of the DFB Pokal, though a 1-0 league win against the same opponents at the weekend has kept them on course for a record-extending 11th straight Bundesliga crown.
Bayern have been eliminated at this stage of the UCL in each of the last two seasons and is at risk of failing to reach the semi-final stage for three straight seasons since 2008/09. However, the fact that Bayern have claimed a result from five of their last seven away games against English opponents should boost hopes (W3, D2, L2), as will the fact that they progressed from 63% of their UCL quarter-final ties (W20, L12).
📋 Players to watch: Two players who swapped the Bundesliga for the Premier League (and vice versa) could run the show! City’s Erling Haaland scored five goals from seven losing H2Hs with Bayern as a Dortmund player and he even struck five goals in City’s latest UCL game against Leipzig. As for Bayern, Sadio Mané scored ten times across his 19 meetings with City whilst at Southampton and Liverpool (W7, D5, L7), including four goals across his last three H2Hs.
⚡ Hot stat: City have previously knocked out Schalke, Dortmund, Leipzig and Mönchengladbach from the UCL - Bayern are the fifth different German club they’ll face in the knockout phase.
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