Inter Milan stormed back from three goals down to draw 3-3 away to Benfica after Joao Mario’s first-half hat-trick.

The Portuguese international bagged a brace inside the first 15 minutes and netted a third just after the half-hour mark to put Benfica on course for their first win in the group stages.

Inter Milan, who had already qualified, sparked a second-half fightback when Marko Arnautovic pulled a goal back six minutes after the break before Davide Frattesi’s 58th-minute goal gave the away side more hope.

The comeback was complete with 18 minutes to go when Alexis Sanchez netted a penalty before Antonio Silva saw red late on for Benfica.

The Portuguese side opened the scoring in the fifth minute after a looped ball into the box was headed down by Casper Tengstedt into the path of Mario, who lashed home from close range.

Inter almost had an equaliser five minutes later but Kristjan Asllani’s effort from outside the box was well saved by Anatoliy Trubin.

The hosts doubled their lead in the 15th minute when Tengstedt capitalised on some lazy Inter possession and drilled a low ball into the box which fell nicely for Mario to poke home.

Benfica made it three in the 34th minute and Tengstedt was once again the creator, this time he lifted a ball into the six-yard box and Mario was on hand to pounce and hit the first Champions League hat-trick of his career.

Inter started the second period with much more intent than the first and were denied when Carlos Augusto’s powerful effort was turned behind by Trubin and the Ukrainian shot stopper was on hand to push Sanchez’s free-kick over the crossbar a couple of minutes later.

The away side cut the deficit to two goals in the 51st minute when Yann Aurel Bisseck’s header was pushed into the path of Arnautovic who prodded in from close range.

Inter grabbed their second just before the hour mark when Francesco Acerbi’s cross was wonderfully volleyed home by Frattesi to make it 3-2.

The visitors had a chance to equalise after Marcus Thuram was brought down by Nicolas Otamendi inside the area and Sanchez sent Trubin the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick to dramatically level things up at three apiece.

Benfica almost regained their lead in the 82nd minute after Di Maria’s curling effort from outside the area looked to be heading into the top corner but Emil Audero palmed behind for a corner.

The home side were then reduced to 10 men a couple of minutes later. Antonio Silva lunged in late on Nicolo Barella and his yellow card was upgraded to a red after a VAR check.

Inter had a chance to snatch it late on but Barella’s first-time effort from inside the box was lashed against the post before Trubin held on to Federico Dimarco’s second shot as both sides took a share of the spoils.

What the papers say

Arsenal’s attentions are again turning to Douglas Luiz, 25, as Mikel Arteta looks to strengthen his midfield options. The Daily Mirror reports Arsenal are expected to make a fresh bid for the Brazilian in January.

Brazilian Marcos Leonardo is expected to spark interest after his agent said he is keen on leaving Santos in January. The Evening Standard reports Arsenal and Manchester United are among the potential suitors for the 20=year-old forward.

Kylian Mbappe believes “there will be time to talk” about his future at Paris St-Germain, according to the Daily Mail, via Telefoot. The France forward, 24, has been the subject of increased speculation as his contract enters its final few months.

Jadon Sancho’s path out of Manchester United could be helped by Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s imminent investment in the club. The Daily Mirror reports the England winger, 23, is a target of Juventus whose former chief executive Jean-Claude Blanc now works for the Ineos boss and is tipped for a similar role at Old Trafford.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Raphael Varane: Bayern Munich are interested in a January move for the Manchester United defender, 30, according to the Daily Mirror via Sky Sport Germany.

Joao Neves: Benfica have no plans to sell the Portuguese midfielder, 19, despite interest from Manchester United, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Celtic’s loan move for Benfica midfielder Paulo Bernardo was the highest-profile signing of a relatively quiet transfer deadline day in Scotland.

Celtic have an option to buy the 21-year-old, who follows Honduras winger Luis Palma and on-loan Liverpool defender Nat Phillips in arriving at Parkhead this week.

Midfielder Sead Haksabanovic joined Stoke from Celtic on a season-long loan, just days after expressing frustration over a lack of game time.

“I feel like a new experience and challenge will be good for me at this stage of my career,” the 24-year-old told Stoke’s website.

Ismaila Soro earlier left Celtic for Beitar Jerusalem – 19 months after his final appearance for the club – and another out-of-favour player, Albian Ajeti, was set to seal a move to Turkish football although there was no confirmation of his exit come the deadline.

Rangers manager Michael Beale lowered expectations of fans in the afternoon when he declared himself happy with his squad following nine summer signings.

A quiet evening ensued, although reports later claimed the club had rejected Stoke’s bid for centre-back Ben Davies.

“We don’t have any injuries so the squad is looking healthy, the squad size has come down in size and average age so we are good to go,” Beale said.

“Naturally every manager is going to sit here and say they would like one more but if we don’t then I am happy with the squad we have got moving forward.”

Aberdeen signed versatile 26-year-old right-sided Danish defender Stefan Gartenmann from Midtjylland on a season-long loan to make it 13 incoming transfers this summer. Out-of-favour defender Anthony Stewart rejoined MK Dons on a season-long loan.

Dundee had confirmed the first incoming signing of the cinch Premiership on deadline day by bringing in Burnley winger Marcel Lewis on loan until January. The 21-year-old was previously on Chelsea’s books and has played for Union St Gilloise and Accrington.

St Johnstone signed two players – 28-year-old Austrian midfielder Sven Sprangler following a trial period and 25-year-old Charlton winger Diallang Jaiyesimi on a season-long loan.

Motherwell signed 19-year-old left-back Georgie Gent from Blackburn on loan until the end of the season,

Kilmarnock left it late to seal a season-long loan deal for former Rangers youth striker Andy Dallas from Barnsley.

The 24-year-old only joined Barnsley from Solihull Moors in July and netted on
his debut for the Tykes. Dallas has scored more than 60 career goals with the likes of Stenhousemuir, Cambridge, Weymouth, Solihull and Chesterfield.

St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson warned that none of his players would be sold on the cheap after Aberdeen made an approach for Australia midfielder Keanu Baccus.

“There hasn’t been a formal bid, there have been conversations between the two clubs,” said Robinson, who had finished his business ahead of deadline day.

“We are not in a position where we were last year when we had to take offers for players that were below market value. We have steadied the ship and got our finances right.” .”

Ross County signed Scotland Under-21 international midfielder Scott High on loan from Huddersfield.

Manager Malky Mackay told County’s website: “I am delighted Scott has decided to join Ross County. At 22, he is a great age to join the club, and has experience playing in over 60 English Championship games.”

Chairman Roy MacGregor was no doubt delighted at a deal involving English Championship clubs as Ross Stewart’s move from Sunderland to Southampton earned County a seven-figure sell-on fee.

It was a quiet day in the east although Livingston  loaned defender Morgan Boyes to Inverness for the season and Hearts loaned Connor Smith to Scunthorpe and Harry Stone to Queen of the South.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly prepared to submit a €150million bid for star Napoli striker Victor Osimhen in the upcoming transfer window.

Osimhen, 24, is in his third season with Napoli after arriving in a club-record €70m move from Lille, and this time around he has put together one of the best goalscoring campaigns in Europe.

With 21 goals in 24 Serie A appearances, and five goals in six Champions League outings, the Nigeria international has been unstoppable.

Now, the world's best clubs have taken notice.
 

TOP STORY – PSG PREPARED TO MEET MASSIVE ASKING PRICE

While there is also said to be strong interest in Osimhen coming from the deep pockets of Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain are trying to wrap things up early with a serious bid.

Football Insider is reporting the French giants are ready to meet Napoli's enormous €150m asking price, with the hope they can blow Chelsea out of the water as they consider a £100m (€112m) bid of their own.

Osimhen's contract ties him to the club for two more seasons after this one, but with his value at an all-time high, and with Napoli being able to offer the chance at league titles and deep Champions League runs, the Serie A leaders can demand a substantial windfall.


ROUND-UP

– According to GiveMeSport, Manchester United view Valencia's 22-year-old goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili – who is priced around £45m (€50m) – as a potential long-term replacement for David de Gea.

United are also showing interest in 19-year-old Benfica centre-back Antonio Silva, although they face competition from Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, Real Madrid, Juventus and Liverpool, per Ekrem Konur.

– Football Insider is reporting Liverpool and Tottenham are the two teams 23-year-old Eintracht Frankfurt centre-back Evan Ndicka will choose between when his contract expires in a few months.

– According to the Daily Mail, 31-year-old Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino will join Barcelona on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Arsenal sent scouts to Spain to get a closer look at the Real Sociedad duo of 24-year-old midfielder Martin Zubimendi and 26-year-old defender Robin Le Normand, per the Daily Mail.

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi admitted he had only previously dreamt about his team reaching the final four of the Champions League.

The Nerazzurri were drawn into what was considered a 'group of death' earlier in the tournament when they were put in with Bayern Munich and Barcelona, making it through as runners-up ahead of the LaLiga giants.

Inter beat Benfica 5-3 on aggregate following a 3-3 draw at San Siro in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, meaning they will face city rivals Milan in the semis for the first time since the 2002-03 season, while it will also be the first time the two will meet five times in one season.

"There is great happiness," Inzaghi said after the game. "We played a great game against a difficult team.

"We fully deserved this semi-final, which before was only a dream. I'm happy for the boys and for our progress. We started with a very difficult group with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. We work every day to experience these evenings."

Their passage to the semis of the Champions League for the first time since they won the competition in 2009-10 should relieve some pressure on Inzaghi, who has come in for criticism for the team's league form, having not won any of their last five games in Serie A, losing four.

"Critics aren't a problem," he insisted. "I know where they come from. Some speak well, some speak bad."

Federico Dimarco had a productive game down the Inter left against Benfica, providing six open-play crosses – twice as many as any other player – and claiming assists for Lautaro Martinez and Joaquin Correa after Nicolo Barella had earlier given the hosts the lead.

Roger Schmidt's men equalised Barella's goal through Frederik Aursnes, before late efforts from Antonio Silva and Petar Musa levelled things again.

"We're very happy, it's been many years since Inter made it to the semi-finals," Dimarco told Amazon Prime. "There's still one step left to get to the end.

"We played well, apart from some lack of attention for their goals. The assists? I worked all week for this, the important thing is that the team wins.

When asked about the prospect of facing Milan, he replied: "Let's think about the other matches first. I'm calm, there's still one step left for us to move forward."

A Milan derby awaits in the Champions League semi-finals after Inter made it past Benfica with a 3-3 draw on Wednesday, sealing a 5-3 aggregate victory.

Following Milan's passage to the final four after they eliminated Napoli on Tuesday, Inter just had to see out their quarter-final second leg against the Lisbon side having taken a 2-0 lead into the clash at San Siro.

As he did in the first leg, Nicolo Barella gave Inter the lead with an excellent finish, before Fredrik Aursnes equalised for the visitors with a powerful header before half-time.

Lautaro Martinez put Inter back in front, before substitute Joaquin Correa added another with a fine effort, though late goals from Antonio Silva and Petar Musa meant Roger Schmidt's men at least ended their recent losing run.

Barella put the hosts in front in the 14th minute when the determined midfielder battled his way into the Benfica box after a one-two with Martinez, before cutting onto his left foot and finishing splendidly into the top left corner.

Martinez had a goal ruled out in the 33rd minute after his header at the far post squirmed under Odisseas Vlachodimos, with the Benfica goalkeeper relieved to see a foul given against the Argentine for a push on Gilberto.

From nowhere though, Benfica were level in the game after Rafa Silva's perfect cross from the right allowed Aursnes to send a bullet header past Andre Onana seven minutes before the break.

Inter effectively ended their opponent's hopes when they scored a second in the 65th minute. Federico Dimarco played a one-two on the left with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, before crossing for Martinez to finish into the roof of the net

Correa scored a third for Inter just two minutes after coming off the bench as he cut inside from the left and bent an effort in off the far post.

Antonio Silva headed in for the visitors from an inswinging Alex Grimaldo free-kick before Musa swept in a loose ball to equalise, but the Nerazzurri confirmed they will face their city rivals in the semi-finals.

Is there any stopping Erling Haaland?

The Norwegian has hit 47 goals already for Manchester City this season, including one against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final first leg last week.

City ran out 3-0 winners to take a healthy lead to the Allianz Arena, where Bayern must show the right kind of fight this time as they look to claw that deficit back, while also somehow halting Haaland.

Inter's domestic form has dropped off a cliff, having not won in five and lost four of those, including a shock 1-0 home defeat to Monza on Saturday.

However, they hold a 2-0 advantage over Benfica, who also travel to San Siro with perhaps more hope than belief they can turn it around and reach the semi-finals.

With the assistance of Opta numbers, Stats Perform takes a look at Wednesday's two Champions League contests.

 

Bayern Munich v Manchester City: Can Bayern pack the punch to come back against City?

The Bavarians came to blows over their loss at the Etihad Stadium last week, but will be hoping to use that fire more positively in the second leg on home soil.

Bayern have lost their last two meetings with City in the Champions League – the first time they have lost consecutive games against them, and as many defeats as they had suffered in their first five clashes in the competition (W3 L2).

Thomas Tuchel's men are also looking to become just the fifth team to progress from a two-legged Champions League knockout tie after losing by three or more goals in the first leg, after Deportivo de La Coruna in 2003-04 (5-4 v Milan), Barcelona in 2016-17 (6-5 v PSG), Roma in 2017-18 (4-4 v Barcelona, won on away goals) and Liverpool in 2018-19 (4-3 v Barcelona).

Since losing three consecutive games against Tuchel's Chelsea in 2020-21 – the last of which being the 2021 Champions League final – City boss Pep Guardiola has won each of his last three games against the German, without seeing his side concede a single goal. 

Guardiola is just one win away from 100 Champions League match victories, which will make him the third manager/head coach to reach a century of wins in the competition, along with Carlo Ancelotti and Alex Ferguson. He would also be the quickest to reach that figure, with it being his 158th game, with Ancelotti taking 180 games and Ferguson 184.

Haaland has scored 11 Champions League goals for City this season, his best return in a single campaign, and just one behind the season record for a Premier League player in the competition (Ruud van Nistelrooy, 12 in 2002-03 for Manchester United).

He may have ended the first leg with a cut lip for his troubles, but since the start of last season, former City man Leroy Sane has more combined goals (10) and assists (7) in the Champions League goals than any other Bayern player (17). Despite his side failing to score at the Etihad Stadium, Sane was directly involved in eight of Bayern's 12 shots in the first leg (five shots and three chances created).

 

Inter v Benfica: Eagles must make history to get past Nerazzurri

Inter cannot buy a win in Serie A, and may even have to win the competition to qualify for it next season, but their performance in the first leg showed they can still perform. 

The Nerazzurri remain unbeaten in all four of their previous meetings with Benfica (W3 D1), keeping a clean sheet in three of those matches, though the Lisbon side have already won away to Italian opposition in the Champions League this season, beating Juventus 2-1 in the group stage.

Benfica lost the first leg of a two-legged European Cup/Champions League tie by two or more goals for the ninth time, and only once previously have they progressed from such a position, and not since 1961-62 when they beat Nurnberg, losing the first leg 3-1 before winning the second 6-0.

In addition to that, it was also the ninth time Inter have won the first leg of a two-legged European Cup/Champions League tie by two or more goals, and they have never been eliminated from such a position.

Roger Schmidt's side are unbeaten in seven away matches in the Champions League (W4 D3), their longest ever unbeaten run away from home in the competition. They have won their last two away matches, and could win three in a row for the first time since March 1990.

Striker Goncalo Ramos will need to have a big game, having been directly involved in four goals in his last four Champions League appearances for Benfica (three goals, one assist). On top of his attacking contribution, the Portugal international is also important for his team's pressing out of possession, having applied more pressures (674) and pressures in the final third (299) than any other striker in the competition this season.

Romelu Lukaku has scored nine goals in 14 appearances for Inter in the Champions League, with only four players now scoring more goals for the club in the competition – Adriano (14), Julio Cruz (13), Hernan Crespo (11) and Samuel Eto'o (10).

Simone Inzaghi feels his Inter team must repeat their first-leg performance at San Siro after a 2-0 victory at Benfica left them in the ascendancy of their Champions League quarter-final.

Inter headed into Tuesday's contest at Estadio da Luz on a dismal run of form, failing to win in their last six in all competitions.

But second-half goals from Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku mean they are in the driver's seat as they look to get past Benfica and reach their first Champions League last four since they last lifted the famous trophy in the 2009-10 season.

Inter must first ensure they see out the quarter-final, though, and Inzaghi urged his team to replicate their strong first-leg display to seal their progression on home turf next Wednesday.

"I am very satisfied with the match played by the boys," Inzaghi told reporters at his post-match news conference. "We are enjoying the evening and we know we have taken the first step towards the semi-final.

"We will have a return match against a demanding team that was previously unbeaten [in this season's Champions League]. The boys were good; we deserved this victory. But in the Champions League we know that the result is not closed.

"Benfica are a quality team, very strong. We know we have an advantage in the second leg. We will have to repeat the match we played in Lisbon in Milan."

Inter's second-half showing was much better than their first, accumulating just 0.11 xG (expected goals) in the opening 45 minutes while managing only two touches in Benfica's box.

Barella's fine header to put them 1-0 up in the 51st minute was the visitors' first attempt on target, and Inzaghi blamed his team's hectic recent schedule for their lacklustre start, explaining: "Let's not forget that it's the fourth game in a few days, the third in six.

"The calendar is almost impossible, but we are Inter and in these two years we have never left anything behind. We know that there are objective difficulties due to tiredness, but I have tried to alternate a lot. We needed fresh faces."

Inzaghi has faced much criticism for Inter's poor recent form, with the Nerazzurri's failure to pick up maximum points in their last four Serie A matches, suffering three defeats during that time, leaving them out of the Champions League places.

The Inter head coach is focusing on his team, rather than outside noise, saying: "I'm used to it – criticism is part of the job. The important thing is to get answers from my players.

"Despite what was said, I was serene and calm. Sometimes you have to be clear-headed; you have to watch the games and leave aside the results."

Benfica are capable of overturning their 2-0 first-leg deficit against Inter by scoring three goals at San Siro, according to midfielder Chiquinho.

Nicolo Barella's 51st-minute header and Romelu Lukaku's penalty in the 82nd minute earned victory in Lisbon, ensuring Inter are big favourites to advance from the Champions League quarter-final tie.

Benfica outshot Inter (12 to nine) and finished with a higher expected goals value (1.7 compared to 1.6), yet they now have it all to do in next week's return fixture in Italy.

But Chiquinho remains confident the Primeira Liga leaders, who lost for just a fourth time all season – two of those losses coming in the past five days – can still progress.

"We knew it was going to be a difficult game against a team with quality," he told CNN Portugal. "The game was even. We had our opportunities to score and we didn't.

"Inter managed to score twice, but nothing is lost. We're going to Milan and we're going to do our best to win.

"If they've scored two goals here, we're also able to go there and score two or three. That's why we're going there, and we're going to give it all we've got."

 

Benfica finished above Paris Saint-Germain and eliminated Juventus in the group stage, which they went through unbeaten, before thumping Club Brugge 7-1 in the last 16.

The Portuguese side are now without a victory against Inter in four encounters, drawing one and losing three of those.

Substitute Lukaku put the seal on Inter's latest triumph on Tuesday with his late penalty at Estadio da Luz, awarded after Joao Mario handled Denzel Dumfries' cross.

However, Benfica head coach Roger Schmidt felt his side should also have been awarded at least one spot-kick by English referee Michael Oliver.

"Losing at home is of course not perfect, but it's just the halfway mark," he told Eleven Sports. "You always have to believe in yourself.

"We had our moments and were unlucky with the penalty. We could have had one or two in our favour. They were more effective than us and next week we must try the same.

"We stayed in the game and the players gave everything. We created chances but conceded a second goal from the penalty spot. That's the story of the game."

Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku scored as Inter earned a 2-0 victory at Benfica in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.

In a tense affair at the Estadio da Luz, both teams found it hard to create opportunities, though the hosts shaded the first half as they pressed to get their noses in front on home soil.

But a rare moment of attacking quality from Barella put Inter ahead, before substitute Lukaku scored from the spot to clinch the win for the Serie A side.

Simone Inzaghi's men are now very much in control heading into the second leg, set to be played at San Siro next Wednesday.

The first half was a cagey affair with clear-cut chances few and far between, though Rafa Silva nearly punished a defensive mistake when he saw a blasted effort denied by Andre Onana after pouncing upon Federico Dimarco's loose header.

Francesco Acerbi also sent a fierce drive from range just over the crossbar as the game went into the interval goalless, with Inter managing just two touches in Benfica's box in the first half.

But the visitors would take the lead in the 51st minute with their first shot on target, Barella's delightful back-post header nestling in the bottom corner after Alessandro Bastoni's cross picked him out.

The hosts nearly levelled when Rafa saw a shot blocked before an almighty goalmouth scramble ended with Inter finally clearing.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan could, and perhaps should, have doubled his side's advantage after he was played in by Joaquin Correa, but his shot from a tight angle was well saved by Odisseas Vlachodimos.

Inter would add a second goal before the end, though, as Lukaku lashed home a penalty after Joao Mario handled Denzel Dumfries' cross to leave the Portuguese side up against it if they are to reach their first Champions League semi-final in 23 years.

Bayern Munich have reportedly fallen out of love with the idea of Tottenham striker Harry Kane and are instead prioritising Eintracht Frankfurt frontman Randal Kolo Muani.

Kolo Muani, 24, has been one of Europe's breakout forwards this season. After arriving on a free transfer ahead of the current season, he has scored a career-high 19 goals in 38 appearances.

The explosive striker was rewarded with an international call-up by France for the World Cup in Qatar, scoring his first senior goal in the semi-final against Morocco before having his potential tournament-winning strike saved by Argentina's Emiliano Martinez deep into extra-time in the final.

His rise onto the world stage has not gone unnoticed, and now Bayern view him as one of their top targets at the position.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN NOW VALUE KOLO MUANI ABOVE KANE

According to Sky Sports Germany, Bayern are desperate to recruit a new star striker in the upcoming transfer window, but since the departure of Julian Nagelsmann "Harry Kane is no longer very popular" internally.

Another target mentioned is Napoli's Victor Osimhen, but an asking price well over €100million makes that an unrealistic proposition, while Benfica's Goncalo Ramos is also mentioned as a potential alternative.

But Kolo Muani is now supposedly at the top of the list, even though Frankfurt have informed them that they will have to fork out around €100m to pry away the talent after he recently signed an extension – with no release clause – tying him to the club until 2027.

 

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider is reporting Aston Villa have strong interest in 27-year-old Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who would reportedly cost a club-record £45million.

– According to Foot Mercato, Paris Saint-Germain are big fans of 23-year-old Nice centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo and will make a run at him in the next transfer window.

Brighton and Hove Albion are confident 18-year-old striker Evan Ferguson will sign a new contract with the club despite interest from Manchester United and Tottenham, per the Daily Mail.

– Sport is reporting Barcelona's 19-year-old left-back Alejandro Balde is close to signing a new four-year contract that will include a £1billion release clause.

– According to Sport Bild, Arsenal and Chelsea are both investigating the price of 24-year-old Wolfsburg right-back Ridle Baku.

Simone Inzaghi knows Inter must use their "heads and our hearts" against Benfica when the pair meet in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The Serie A heavyweights travel to Lisbon on Tuesday for the first leg of their last-eight clash against the Primeira Liga leaders.

Roger Schmidt's hosts are unbeaten in Europe this season and have lost just three times in all competitions, though they come into the game on the back of a domestic defeat to Porto.

The task in hand for Inter looks a difficult one, particularly amid their own mixed domestic form, but Inzaghi believes they can prevail if they play intelligently.

"We know the importance of this match," he said at Monday's pre-match press conference. "We have had a great, difficult journey [to get here]. They are a quality opponent. It won't be easy.

"It will be a game in which we alternate between attack and defence. Benfica are not obsessed with pressing. We will have to use our heads and our hearts.

"They are a quality team, with technically gifted players. They occupy the spaces well, and they run a lot. We'll have to be good at playing our game.

"They have lost two games this season. They are a team with absolute value. But up against them, there will be an Inter team who know what they want and what they have to do."

Inter arrive looking to break a six-match winless run that includes the second leg of their last-16 win over Porto in the Champions League.

Their indifferent form, including a draw with Salernitana on Friday, has seen them slip to fifth in Serie A and leaves them at risk of missing out on top-tier European competition next season.

Just eight teams remain in the Champions League, and there is every chance one of Tuesday's quarter-finals could yield the eventual winners.

Manchester City and Bayern Munich tussle in arguably the tie of the round, a contest that has seen the intrigue multiply following the latter's dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann and hiring of Thomas Tuchel.

Of course, Tuchel has won this competition before and boasts plenty of quality in his squad, but City probably go into the tie as favourites because of their greater stability and the 'Erling Haaland factor'.

Tuesday's other game, which takes place on the other side of the draw, pits Benfica and Inter against each other, with both sides surely fancying their chances of a shock run to the final given they will come up against either Milan or Napoli in the semi-finals.

But without any further ado, Stats Perform looks at the pick of the pre-match Opta facts for Tuesday's first legs.

Manchester City v Bayern Munich: Haaland out to finally beat Die Roten

There will certainly be a degree of familiarity surrounding this duel between two giants of the European game.

It will be the seventh meeting between City and Bayern in the Champions League, with both sides alternating victories across the previous six (three each) fixtures.

On top of that, City boss Pep Guardiola is of course a former Bayern head coach, with the Premier League side's only loss in their past three home games against Die Roten coming when he was in charge at Allianz Arena (October 2013).

Guardiola will also be going up against Tuchel once again. He may not publicly admit it, but revenge is surely a target.

Tuchel was in charge of Chelsea when City lost their only Champions League final, and the German has won two of the three matches the two coaches have contested in cup competitions. Guardiola's only victory came via a penalty shoot-out in the 2016 DFB-Pokal final.

Still, Guardiola boasts a tremendous record at this stage of the competition.

He has won 54 per cent of his 72 Champions League knockout games, the best win rate of all managers with at least 30 matches under their belt in such ties. Additionally, Guardiola is the only one of these coaches to have won more than half of these games.

 

Erling Haaland will also be tussling with some familiar foes.

The Norwegian striker has a solid record against Bayern on an individual level, scoring five times in seven games against them for Dortmund, but he was on the losing side each time.

He will be keen to break that duck.

Benfica v Inter: Eagles close to 33-year high

For some, Benfica might stand out as being almost out of place at this stage of the competition, but it is the second season in a row they have reached the quarter-finals.

Similarly, while one may associate Inter more closely with deep runs into the Champions League, their six quarter-finals this century is only one more than Benfica.

The Portuguese side will not come into this tie intimidated by their opponents either.

Benfica have already beaten Juventus home and away in the competition this term, overcoming something of a psychological barrier that had seen them win only two of their previous 11 games against Serie A sides in Europe's top-tier competition.

Granted, Inter have dealt with Portuguese opposition this season as well, knocking Porto out in the previous round with a slender 1-0 aggregate win. But there was more than a hint of fortune about that success, with the Primeira Liga side's expected goals (xG) significantly higher than Inter's (3-5 to 2.1).

Nevertheless, Benfica need only to look at their own form to inspire confidence. Victory on Tuesday will see them record five successive European Cup/Champions League wins for the first time since a run of six en route to the 1990 final.

There are also reasons for optimism in how the two teams play.

The average starting distance of Inter's sequences of play in the Champions League this term is 38.2 metres from their own goal, with Simone Inzaghi's side recovering possession the furthest away from the opposition goal – on average – of any side involved in this season's quarter-finals.

That could play into Benfica's hands given they have attempted more shots following high turnovers (within 40m of the opposition goal) than any other side in the competition this season (18), and their five goals from such situations is a joint-high with Napoli.

Inter have ridden their luck already this season – Benfica will hope to get the rub of the green at Estadio da Luz on Tuesday to improve their chances of reaching the semi-finals for the first time in 33 years.

against Inter in a fixture that has historical significance for the two sides.

The teams have been drawn together in the last eight, paired in a wide open half of the bracket that also sees Inter's Serie A rivals Napoli and Milan meet.

Any one of those four teams might hope to go all the way to the final – a stage where Benfica have played Inter previously.

The only prior clash between the sides in the European Cup was in the 1965 final, which Inter won 1-0 at San Siro.

Benfica will return to Milan next week but must first play the first leg in Lisbon against an Inter side winless in six across all competitions.

It was put to Schmidt that Inter's form might make Benfica favourites, but the gravity of the game was his primary focus.

"We'll see if it's favourable or not. The draw is the draw," said the Benfica coach. "Both teams have quality and deserve to be here, there's no doubt.

"Just look at their squad. They are experienced players with so much quality.

"It's a very special game, also for the players. What I hope is that my players will be more motivated because it's a big game, but I also expect that of the Inter players.

"They will be ready, they will cause difficulties, and we have to find solutions and accept the history of the game.

"We have to try to play a good game tomorrow and in the second leg in Milan."

Both Benfica and Inter will be boosted by having seen how their opponents fare against domestic rivals. Benfica won home and away against Juventus in the group stage – only their third and fourth European Cup wins against Italian teams – while Inter eliminated Porto in the last 16.

"Of course we considered the games against Porto," Schmidt said. "We analysed the team in their game but not only in those two games.

"Inter are a team with a lot of experience, who know how to play both attacking and defensive football.

"They won the first game [against Porto] at home 1-0 and then came to defend the result in the second leg. It's a bit of the Italian style, and I know they can change that style.

"We are prepared for anything, and we want to play at our best."

Benfica themselves played Porto on Friday, beaten 2-1 at home for just their second Primeira Liga loss of the season, but Schmidt has no concerns.

"It's part of football to lose games," he said. "On Friday, we lost an important game, but I think we had won a lot before.

"We grow with victories and defeats. We can use defeats to grow and create something positive. I saw my team leave behind what happened very quickly, and in the last few days we have been concentrating on Inter."

Schmidt will be without Nicolas Otamendi, but Alex Grimaldo is fit to play, although that was as much information as the Benfica boss was willing to part with at his press conference.

"I'm not going to announce the XI," he said. "If you tell me Inter's starting XI, maybe I can say mine."

Chelsea and Manchester United are reportedly both in discussions with Benfica about a potential deal for striker Goncalo Ramos – although he is said to be neither team's top choice.

Ramos, 21, has enjoyed a breakout season in Portugal. After scoring eight goals in 46 appearances in the previous campaign, Ramos has replaced Darwin Nunez as Benfica's main man up top and netted 25 goals in 38 games.

He also shone on the world stage, scoring a hat-trick in Portugal's round-of-16 World Cup clash against Switzerland after replacing Cristiano Ronaldo, and despite his contract tying him to Benfica until 2026, the club are willing to listen to substantial offers.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA JOIN UNITED IN MAKING RAMOS THEIR BACKUP PLAN

According to Football Insider, Chelsea's top priority up front is Napoli's Victor Osimhen, while United have Tottenham's Harry Kane at the top of their shopping list, but both view Ramos as the ideal consolation prize.

Kane is expected to fetch a fee in the range of £100million, and Osimhen's asking price is even higher, but while Ramos has a £105m release clause in his contract, the report states Benfica will accept bids around £70m (€79m).

Improving Chelsea's chances is the fact Ramos is represented by the same agency as Joao Felix, who is on loan at Stamford Bridge from Atletico Madrid.

ROUND-UP

– Cadena SER is reporting Paris Saint-Germain have joined the race for Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham and would be able to pay him more than any other club.

– After recently making his senior debut for Italy, 23-year-old Argentine-born striker Mateo Retegui will make a move to Europe at the end of the season, with Eintracht Frankfurt and Inter showing the most interest, per Fabrizio Romano.

– Football Insider is reporting Newcastle United, Arsenal and Barcelona are all expected to make a run at signing Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season.

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