Eight teams remain in the UEFA Champions League as the quarterfinals kick off on Tuesday on Paramount+ and wrap up in the middle of next week. Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich highlights Tuesday’s slate while Benfica will face Inter the same day. Real Madrid and Chelsea meet on Wednesday, while it’s an all-Italy tie on the same day as Napoli take on AC Milan.
Italy have had a resurgence on the continental stage and lead the way with three of the eight quarterfinal teams while England are second with two teams.
Benfica averages 2.9 goals per game in the Champions League with an xG of 17. Joāo Mario (6), Rafa Silva (5) and Goncalo Ramos (3) have been in exceptional form for the Eagles, collectively scoring 14 of their 23 goals in the Champions League.
The defense has been on point for Benfica, making 13.3 interceptions per match and only conceding 8 goals overall. Alejandro Grimaldo has been key with his defensive attacking style, producing three assists and delivering accurate crosses to create 18 big chances for the Eagles.
The main objective for Benfica should be to start the game fast with an early goal against a struggling Inter side. Goals shouldn’t be a problem for Benfica, but penetrating the defense will be difficult as Inter has only conceded four goals in their last five games. Nonetheless, their lack of attacking power should be a relief for the Portuguese.
Benfica’s eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions was ended by a 2-1 defeat at home to Porto on Friday. The home side is aiming to reach the UEFA Champions League semifinals for the first time.
Inter is on a six-game winless streak, and they drew away 1-1 against Salernitana last weekend in Serie A action. For the first time in 12 years, the Italian club has reached the last eight of this tourney.
UEFA Champions League quarterfinal action is nearly here. Eight teams remain in the most storied continental cup competition in the world with some massive clashes taking place across the next couple weeks (you can catch all the action on Paramount+). While some big names have bounce out of the competition most notably Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain, many of the world’s best players remain in the fight for European supremacy.
Romelu Lukaku, forward, Inter
Though the Belgian is not the force he was in his first go round at Inter, there have been signs of stirring in recent weeks. Eight of the 10 goals Lukaku has scored for club and country this season have come since February 18, including the decisive goals that carried Inter past Porto in the round of 16. If he and Lautaro Martinez can click again in the coming weeks then Inter will have an attack to be feared by the rest of Europe even if for the time being the aura of Lukaku is rather more intimidating than the performances.
Dayot Upamecano, center back, Bayern Munich
Finally a fixture for both club and country, the Frenchman is establishing himself as one of the game’s finest defenders. Now 24, Upamecano just excelled at the FIFA 2022 World Cup with Les Bleus as finalists in Qatar and he was instrumental in knocking out PSG in the round of 16. Thomas Tuchel often builds his defenses around imposing figures and Upamecano fits that profile. Seeing him up against Erling Haaland across two legs in the quarterfinals is a mouthwatering prospect.
Joao Felix, forward, Chelsea
Amid the many, many, many signings gone wrong at Chelsea this season, Felix has the look of money well spent, quite something when Atletico Madrid were paid £9.7 million just to loan out a 23 year old who would miss the three games that followed his debut after getting a red card. Felix might be an awkward fit in a frontline that is crying out for a focal point center forward but his vision, darts of speed and finishing qualities have been on full display so far in Chelsea blue
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