Roger Schmidt was asked if Benfica are now the favorites to win the European Cup after suffering a painful defeat the last time they met Inter
Inter and Benfica have been drawn to face each other in the quarter-finals of the tournament, which is considered an open half of the bracket.
Napoli and Milan, two of Inter’s Serie A rivals, are also set to face each other. It is believed that any of these four teams could potentially make it to the final. Benfica has previously met Inter at the final stage.
In the European Cup history, the only encounter between Inter and Benfica was in the 1965 final where Inter emerged as winners with a 1-0 scoreline at San Siro.
Now, Benfica is set to play against Inter in the quarterfinals, with the first leg taking place in Lisbon. However, Inter is winless in their previous six matches across all competitions.
Despite this, Schmidt emphasized the importance of the upcoming game and did not comment on whether Benfica is the favorite or not.
Schmidt can’t yet decide if the UCL draw is favorable to them
“We’ll see if it’s favorable 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.”
Benfica and Inter will have gained confidence by observing the performances of their opponents against other teams in their respective domestic leagues.
Benfica secured victories in both legs against Juventus during the group stage, which was only the third and fourth time they have won against Italian teams in the European Cup.
Meanwhile, Inter progressed to the quarter-finals after eliminating Porto in the previous round.
“Of course we considered the games against Porto,” Schmidt said. “We analyzed 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 boss tells of importance of learning from losses
Schmidt is not worried despite Benfica’s 2-1 home defeat to Porto on Friday, which was only their second loss of the season in the Primeira Liga.
“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.”
At his press conference, Schmidt stated that Alex Grimaldo is available for selection, but did not disclose any further information. However, he did mention that Nicolas Otamendi will not be available for the match.
“I’m not going to announce the XI,” he said. “If you tell me Inter’s starting XI, maybe I can say mine.”