Inter are back in the Champions League where tonight, they’ll face Portuguese side Porto in the the first leg of the last 16 at San Siro.
It has been a heroic campaign so far for the Nerazzurri as they got through the group stage thanks to two great performances against Barcelona, beating the Blaugrana 1-0 at San Siro and drawing 3-3 at the Camp Nou.
Coach Simone Inzaghi has always taken pride in his European results and he has never been shy in remembering that last season, he was the first Inter manager to get to the last 16 in ten years and now he aims to drive Inter to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2011.
Numbers back up this belief. Since the restart of the season, Inter have lost only one game in all competitions. In this same period they have beaten Napoli in the league – the only Serie A side to do so, and they have beaten Milan twice, including the 3-0 win in the Supercup.
Their opponent, though, is a tricky one. Porto have won all their last four Champions League games and they’re unbeaten in their last 22 games among all competitions. Their last defeat came against Benfica on October 21st.
On top of that, two times over the last five seasons they have eliminated an Italian side from the competition – Roma in 2018/19 and Juventus in 2020/21, both in the last 16 stage.
Their coach is a familiar face: Sergio Conceicao. He played 137 Serie A games and he has been teammate with Simone Inzaghi at Lazio, where they won the Scudetto in the 1999/00 season.
Results from their last five matches in all competitions:
W D W W W
W W W W W
The big question mark concerns Romelu Lukaku: will he be a starter?
The Belgian scored his first Serie A goal since August against Udinese on Saturday and for the first time in this season, he’s playing consisten minutes as he has struggled with injuries.
There are high chances he will be Lautaro Martinez’s partner with Edin Dzeko starting from the bench but the doubt will be solved just before the kick-off.
There are no other line-ups concerns – Francesco Acerbi will be playing in the back three rather than Stefan de Vrij and Matteo Darmian is likely to be playing from the start rather than Denzel Dumfries.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan fully recovered from the blow to the foot received on Saturday and he’ll be starting with Marcelo Brozovic on the bench.
Inter (3-5-2): Onana; Skriniar, Acerbi, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez.
Porto (4-4-2): Diogo Costa; Joao Mario, Pepe, Marcano, Zaidu; Pepê, Uribe, Eustaquio, Galeno; Toni Martinez, Taremi.
Andrea Agostinelli | GIFN