Inter Milan vs Bayer Leverkusen Predictions, betting tips, odds & match preview
One of the stand-out ties of the Europa League Quarter Finals sees Italy’s Inter Milan take on Bayer Leverkusen of Germany at Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Merkur Spiel-Arena.
It’s been a progressive first campaign for Inter Milan under the management of Antonio Conte. Having been handed a tough Champions League draw, they were forced out in the group stages by Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund but domestically, they ended the league campaign in second – just one point behind a Juventus side that stumbled to the title in the end.
Having lost out to Napoli in the semi-final stage of the Coppa Italia, the Europa League offers Conte the opportunity to earn some silverware in his first season at the San Siro. Having eased past Ludogorets and Getafe, they’re now favourites to beat German side Bayer Leverkusen and indeed second favourites to win the tournament outright after Manchester United.
But die Werkself will not make it easy for the Nerazzurri on Monday evening. Peter Bosz’s men have endured a frustrating season, missing out on a top four finish by just two points in the Bundesliga and going down 2-4 to Bayern Munich in the final of the DFB Pokal, so if any team has motivation for success in Europe, it’s Bayer.
Having secured their passage through to this stage by beating Scottish side Rangers, Leverkusen will feel they do have some advantages here. Not only do they have a relative ‘home’ advantage with the tournament being played in Germany, but Inter were also knocked out of this competition by German opposition last year in the shape of Eintracht Frankfurt.
There isn’t too much to choose between these two sides, which should make for a fascinating tie in Düsseldorf, but Inter will feel they are rightly pre-match favourites after a run of nine games without defeat in all competitions.
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Inter’s defensive line action areas in Serie A this season show how difficult they are to play beyond in any part of the pitch under Conte.
Inter Milan vs Bayer Leverkusen Predictions
Squawka Stat: Inter Milan have kept five consecutive clean sheets in all competitions.
Under Antonio Conte in the Premier League, Chelsea were always noted for their meticulous defensive organisation and shape. At Inter Milan, it’s taken some time for Conte’s ideas to be executed on the pitch in the same way but now, they appear to be reaping the benefits of their manager’s diligent planning and preparation.
After the 2-0 win over Getafe on Wednesday night, the Nerazzurri have now gone five games in all competitions without conceding, even keeping out the highest scoring team from all of Europe’s top five divisions in Atalanta. They drew a blank themselves in the goalless draw with Fiorentina, showing that they are not unsusceptible to a barren performance in front of goal either despite the firepower of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.
Just the one goal was enough to secure Bayer Leverkusen a result in the second leg of their match against Rangers and that now means that three of the last four matches involving Bayer Leverkusen have seen only one team find the net. The odds may suggest goals at the Merkur Spiel-Arena but recent results involving either of these sides suggest otherwise.
Squawka Stat: Lars Bender has averaged 3.6 tackles per game in his three Europa League appearances so far this season.
Bayer Leverkusen will be relying on skipper Lars Bender to provide some defensive solidity in this one. The 31 year old can play in a variety of defensive positions, but ended the campaign playing at right-back, meaning he is likely to have to keep a close eye on Lautaro Martinez on Monday night, who likes to drift into positions on the left side of the attack as part of a two-man partnership with Romelu Lukaku.
Only two players in the Bayer Leverkusen squad made more tackles than Bender in the Bundesliga this season, but the skipper leads the way in terms of tackles in this competition, winning 11 so far in just three appearances since die Werkself came into the tournament following their Champions League group stage exit.
As you’ve seen with our first tip, we’re expecting the defences to come out on top in this game and one of the key men on that front for Bayer is Bender. A big performance is required of him here and he has the mentality to commit himself and keep winning the ball back for his side even under pressure from perceivably stronger opposition.