LISBON: Inter Milan and Benfica will meet in the quarterfinals of the Champions League having to rebound from recent setbacks.
Inter have not won in more than a month while Benfica is coming off a tough loss to its biggest rival.
The first leg will be on Tuesday in Lisbon at the Stadium of Light, where on Friday Benfica lost 2-1 to rival Porto in the Portuguese league to dent their almost perfect season.
On the same day, Inter were held by Salernitana to a 1-1 draw in the Italian league to extend its winless run to six matches in a difficult stretch in all competitions.
The Italian side is hoping to turn its fortunes around in the Champions League so it can reach the last four for the first time since it won the title in 2010.
Benfica are hoping the loss against Porto was a one-off and it can stay on track to make it past the quarterfinals for the first time since losing the final to Inter rival AC Milan in 1990.
The loss to Porto came as a surprise as Benfica had been thriving domestically and in Europe. It was only their second defeat following a setback at Braga 17 matches ago. They had won 13 of its last 15 matches in all competitions since then.
“The game against Porto didn’t go how we expected,” Benfica attacking midfielder Chiquinho said. “Now our focus is on Tuesday’s game. It’s an important match and we need to find a way to get the victory in front of our fans.”
Benfica are playing in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. They were eliminated by eventual runner-up Liverpool last year. Inter, in the last eight for the first time in 12 years, had drawn with Juventus in the Italian Cup before the tie with Salernitana. They had lost to Fiorentina and Juventus in the Italian league prior to that. Their last win was against Lecce in the league on March 5.
Benfica, European champion in 1961 and 1962, have been one of the surprises of the Champions League this season after starting in the third qualifying round. They went on an unbeaten run to win a difficult group that included powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, then easily eliminated Belgian champion Club Brugge in the round of 16.
Only Napoli have scored more than Benfica’s 23 goals, while no quarterfinalist has registered fewer than the 11 netted by Inter, which got past Benfica rival Porto in the last 16.
Benfica will try to win five consecutive Champions League games for the first time since 1989-90, when they won six in a row on route to the final against AC Milan.
Benfica coach Roger Schmidt will need to make changes to the defense as right back Alexander Bah was injured against Porto and Nicolas Otamendi is suspended. Gilberto is set to replace Bah while Brazilian central defender Morato is likely to come in for Otamendi.
It will be the fourth meeting between Benfica and Inter in European competitions, with Benfica winless in the previous three after two losses and a draw.
The second leg will be next week in Milan.
The winner faces AC Milan or Napoli in the semifinals.