After suffering a shocking defeat to Spezia in their last outing, Inter will aim to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League when they lock horns with Porto today evening at the Estadio do Dragao.
The Nerazzurri took a huge blow to their stride in the Serie A in their previous fixture against La Spezia when they went down 2-1. Daniel Maldini opened the scoring for the Ligurians in the 55th minute and late drama ensued in the game. Romelu Lukaku who is slowly returning to form equalised the scores through his penalty in the 83rd minute but the visitors soon conceded a penalty and this time M’Bala Nzonla sent the ball home, thus sealing the three points for the hosts.
The Belgian striker was also on point against Porto in the home reverse as his only goal stood the difference between a composed Inter and a frustrating Porto side. Though Simone Inzaghi’s side still holds second place in the league standings, the loss certainly shook their position and now remains vulnerable to the top four battlers like Lazio, Roma and Milan.
Meanwhile, today’s hosts, Porto fared well in their last match in the Portuguese Primeira Liga when they completed a resilient comeback and kept the pressure on the league leaders Benfica.
Sergio Conceicao’s men tried their level best to score a goal at San Siro but Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana was left unbeaten that day. Midfielder Otavio got sent off during the match for his foul on Hakan Calhanoglu and the incident dented the Dragaos’ efforts.
Porto could rebound from the defeat at Italy and followed it up with a show of excellent resurgence in the game against Estoril Praia. Marko Grujic gave the hosts a slender lead in the 9th minute and it was soon cancelled out by Tiago Gouveia in the 27th. Andre Franco restored Porto’s lead but a 67th-minute goal in favour of the visitors equalised the scores. The final breakthrough ultimately came in the 73rd minute as star man Mehdi Taremi executed an incredible penalty as 10-men Praia went down fighting.
The Portuguese side will aim to have their home fans on their back as they attempt to break down the Inter fortress while the Nerazzurri will hope to secure quarter-final qualification after going out of the tournament at this stage last campaign.
Results from their last five matches in all competitions
W W L L W
L W L W W
Manager Sergio Conceicao will miss midfielder Otavio with a suspension. Andre Franco is expected to cover for him.
Stephan Eustaquio sustained a minor heel injury during Porto’s last match but he is expected to be in the starting lineup after fully recovering from it.
Mehdi Taremi and Matheus Uribe are set to lead their team from the front.
As for Inter, Andre Onana will return in between the sticks and hope for a reversal of the first-leg performance.
Romelu Lukaku has been great in recent games and that poses competition for Edin Dzeko to start alongside Lautaro Martinez at the front.
Defender Milan Skriniar is ruled out of this fixture with a back issue. Hakan Calhanoglu and Federico Dimarco are expected to start the game.
Porto (4-2-3-1): Costa; Mario, Pepe, Cardoso, Sanusi; Grujic, Uribe; Franco, Pepe, Galeno; Taremi
Inter (3-5-2): Onana; De Vrij, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Martinez, Dzeko
Trambak Bhattacherjee | GIFN