Inter 'deserve' last-16 tie as Inzaghi tells his side to face Liverpool with freedom

By Sports Desk February 15, 2022

Liverpool must be considered favourites for the Champions League last-16 tie with Inter, but the Nerazzurri deserve to be back in the latter stages of the competition, according to Simone Inzaghi.

Inter finished second behind Real Madrid in Group D, progressing to the last 16 of the competition for the first time since 2011-12.

This will be the fifth meeting between Inter and Liverpool. Each of the previous four have been in the knockout stages of the European Cup/Champions League, with the Serie A side progressing over two legs in the 1964-65 semi-finals – a year in which they went on to lift the trophy – and the Reds emerging from the last 16 in 2007-08.

Inzaghi knows his team cannot be considered favourites, given the strength of Liverpool, yet he wants his team to play with freedom on their return to the knockout stages.

He told a news conference: "Liverpool are one of the best teams in Europe, but our players deserve to play these kinds of games.

"We haven't played in the round of 16 for many years and although it will be very difficult, we'll try to make it.

"On paper, Liverpool are the favourite, but the games must be played. I'll ask the lads to go on the pitch and play our football with a free mind, showing our ideas. Determination will make the difference.

"The first step was to reach the round of 16. We'll face a top club with strong players, but all games start from 0-0. In some games, you must take care of every detail.

"We watched Liverpool's matches, the ones against Milan and the most recent ones.

"They have a deep squad, a great coach, they are intense, so we need to do well every time, both when we have the ball and when we defend."

Inter head into the clash having lost their grip on top spot in Serie A following a derby defeat to Milan and a 1-1 draw with their other title rivals, Napoli.

"I am not satisfied with the results, I didn't expect them," the former Lazio coach added.

"But I think we played two great games against two great teams who, along with Juventus, will be title challengers."

Inter have been eliminated from two of their previous three two-legged knockout ties against English opponents. All three of these have been at the round-of-16 stage, losing out to Liverpool in 2007-08 and Manchester United in 2008-09, before eliminating Chelsea a year later en route to winning the Champions League under Jose Mourinho.

They have, however, won their past two home games in the Champions League, one more than they had managed in their previous nine between November 2018 and September 2021 (D5 L3). The last time they recorded three consecutive home wins in the competition was between December 2009 and November 2010.

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