Rafael Benitez has said that he is looking forward to two “exciting” Champions League clashes between Liverpool and Inter and offered his prediction.
The two sides face off in the last 16 of European football’s premier competition this month and in March. Indeed, Liverpool travel to Milan for the first leg on Wednesday before the second leg at Anfield.
The Reds had initially drawn RB Salzburg and Inter were due to face Ajax, but UEFA officials made errors in the original draw in December.
As a result, both teams will declare the re-run a tougher task as they look to reach the quarter finals.
Liverpool come into the clash in impressive form following a fantastic start to 2022. While they drew with Chelsea to start the year, they have only drawn one other game since then, winning the rest.
Furthermore, they have kept two clean sheets in their last two Premier League games. Inter are also in strong form overall, but a 2-1 loss to arch-rivals AC Milan stands out in their recent record.
Benitez, who has managed both Inter and Liverpool, has insisted that possession will prove vital between two well-matched teams.
The recently-sacked Everton boss told Football Italia: “For the strength of the Premier League, I say Liverpool 51% and Inter 49%.
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“It’s a more balanced game than what many think. Inter didn’t qualify for the Round of 16 by chance.
“They always know what to do and are good at making the most of the opponents’ shortcomings.
“Their 3-5-2 can create trouble to teams that are not accustomed to facing it. On the other hand, Liverpool play with an offensive and aggressive 4-3-3. They have intensity and I expect two exciting matches.
“The team that will be able to keep the ball possession for a longer time will prevail. Both have the technical abilities to make the opponents run.”
Benitez also hailed the “great job” done by Inter manager Simeone Inzaghi. The Italian replaced Antonio Conte in the dugout for this season.
Di Canio fires Inter, Liverpool warning
However, former Serie A star Paolo Di Canio has warned Inter that they face a pummelling by Liverpool if they play as they did on Saturday.
Inzaghi’s men drew 1-1 with Napoli in a crunch clash at the top of the table.
Despite taking a point from the crucial match, Di Canio has warned that Inter left themselves too open, something Liverpool can exploit if it happens again.
“If Inter lose the balls they lost against Napoli against Liverpool, and isolates five times one against one, [Mohamed] Salah with [Alessandro] Bastoni or [Federico] Dimarco and [Sadio] Mane with [Milan] Skriniar, then bye bye, bye bye,” Di Canio said.
“Let’s pray. Bastoni and Skriniar are very strong but five times one on one with those, bye bye.
“Liverpool are the worst opponent I could find, not only in terms of quality but also in terms of the team’s principles and dynamism.”
Liverpool head into the match after putting themselves at risk against Burnley. The Clarets could well have turned the tide despite eventually losing 1-0 to the Reds at Turf Moor.