Liverpool v Inter Milan: Reds to march on at Anfield
Liverpool defend a 2-0 first leg lead in their last-16 Champions League clash against Inter Milan at Anfield on Tuesday night. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
Liverpool extend unbeaten streak
Liverpool extended their unbeaten streak to 15 after seeing off West Ham 1-0 at Anfield on Saturday evening. Sadio Mane's first-half goal was enough to give the Carabao Cup champions victory, as well as move the Merseysiders back within three points of Premier League leaders Manchester City, keeping dreams of an unprecedented quadrupole alive.
Jurgen Klopp's men deserved top honours but it did not come without the odd scare as Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini both wasted excellent chances to equalise for the visitors. Liverpool had made eight changes to the team that beat Norwich in the FA Cup in midweek as only Alisson, Ibrahima Konate and captain Jordan Henderson kept their places in the XI.
Speaking post-match, Klopp said: "We could have done better. We did pretty well first half, but in the second half if you are not better, you need quick legs, big heart and passion and that's what we needed to get the result. In the end it was open, we needed a bit of luck, but you cannot win as many games in a row as we have without a bit of luck."
Inter return to winning ways
Inter Milan bounced back to winning ways by thrashing rock-bottom Salernitana 5-0 at San Siro on Friday night. Lautaro Martinez broke his goal drought in style - the Argentina without a goal in 2022 grabbed a hat-trick, whilst Edin Dzeko bagged a double as the Nerazzurri pocketed their first Serie A success for over a month (W1-D2-L2).
Head coach Simone Inzaghi fielded a first-choice side - bar the injured Ivan Perisic - and was rewarded with a strong display. Speaking post-match, assistant manage Massimiliano Farris believed the result should give Inter the 'spark' required to reenergise their campaign and highlighted a few changes to the Nerazzurri's style and system ahead of the second leg.
With both Milan and Liverpool man-marking Marcelo Brozovic, Farris said: "In the last two games, we tried to change our style and make it a quicker vertical passing move. We worked on going back to our strengths, controlling the midfield and getting those passes through our ball players." However, the guests will be without the suspended Nicola Barella here.
Reds a fair price to succeed
Liverpool had to dig deep in the first leg at San Siro. The Reds looked set for a goalless draw in Italy until Roberto Firmino got on the end of Andrew Robertson's corner 15 minutes from time, and Mohamed Salah added a second with a deflected effort late on. But Inter had looked the more threatening side before and after the half-time interval without reward.
Liverpool 1.61 are unbeaten in 15 (W12-D3-L0) and have suffered only two defeats across all competitions this term. The Merseysiders have won all seven of their Champions League matches in 2021/22 and haven't been beaten at Anfield since March 2021. The Reds have always progressed after winning the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie away.
Inter Milan 5.90 arguably deserved a share of the spoils at San Siro but Simone Inzaghi's side have earned a reputation as flat-track bullies. The Nerazzurri have proven almost flawless against sides in seventh and below in Serie A but have fallen short against top-six rivals domestically and have been turned over home and away by Real Madrid this season.
Liverpool to seal the deal
Over 2.5 Goals is a 1.70 shot at Anfield and it's easy to see why punters might be keen to get involved. Four of Liverpool's six Champions League group games produced three or more goals, whilst second leg knockout ties have historically seen an increase in goals output as teams release the shackles in hope of battling their way back into contention.
But Inter came up short in both fixtures with Real Madrid and have displayed an inferiority complex in the big matches that matter over the past 18 months. With that in mind, a more appealing play is to support Liverpool to win and Under 4.5 Goals, available to support at 1.80 on the Bet Builder via the Sportsbook.
There's a reasonable chasm between the Premier League and Serie A right now and the Reds have the ability to expose those fault lines in midweek. However, it's difficult to see Jurgen Klopp's charges running riot - 19 of the Reds' 26 league and Champions League victories have arrived alongside Under 4.5 Goals (including 11 of 13 at Anfield).
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