Monday, September 25, 2023

Big Match Feature: Inter v Liverpool

Two of European football’s most famous names meet at San Siro as Inter welcome fellow former champions Liverpoolfor the round of 16 first leg.

This is one of two ties in the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League round of 16, along with Benfica-Ajax, to bringtogether two former European Cup winners, although this is only these sides’ fifth competitive fixture.

Inter are in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds for the 11th time but the first in ten years having finished runners-up to Real Madrid in Group D, while Liverpool, with a Matchday 6 win at San Siro against AC Milan, became the first English club to win all six games in a UEFA Champions League section as they ended Group B 11 points clear.


The most recent of the sides’ two ties came at this stage of the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League, Liverpool winning 3-0 on aggregate.

Late strikes from Dirk Kuyt (85) and Steven Gerrard (90) earned the home side a 2-0 win at Anfield on 19 February2008, Fernando Torres’ 64th-minute effort for the visitors the only goal of the San Siro return on 11 March.• Liverpool went on to lose 4-3 on aggregate to Chelsea in the semi-finals.

Inter had recovered from a first-leg deficit to progress at Liverpool’s expense in the 1964/65 European Cup semifinals en route to retaining the trophy. Roger Hunt’s fourth-minute opener at Anfield was cancelled out by SandroMazzola six minutes later before Ian Callaghan (34) and Ian St. John (75) gave the home side the win.

The Italian side were level on aggregate ten minutes into the San Siro return through Mario Corso (8) and JoaquínPeiró (9) before Giancinto Facchetti settled the tie on the hour.

Inter went on to beat Benfica 1-0 in the final, also at San Siro, to claim the second of their three European Cups.



The Nerazzurri took only one point from their first two Group D games, losing 1-0 at home to Real Madrid on Matchday 1, but two 3-1 wins against Moldova’s Sheriff and a 2-0 victory at home to Shakhtar Donetsk in the penultimate round of matches was enough to secure progress despite a closing 2-0 loss in Madrid.

Despite victories against Sheriff on Matchdays 3 and 4 and Shakhtar on Matchday 5, Inter have still won only six of their last 22 UEFA Champions League matches (D7 L9).

The victories against Sheriff and Shakhtar at San Siro are two of only three Inter successes in their last 11 UEFA Champions League home games (D5 L3), the other a 2-0 defeat of Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 3 in 2019/20.Victory against Sheriff ended a five-game run without a home win (D2 L3).

Inter are the last Italian team to win the UEFA Champions League, in 2010 – their third European Cup triumph, and first in 45 years.

Inter’s record in the round of 16 is W4 L4, with four defeats in their last six ties.

This season was the 15th time Inter took part in the group stage and the fourth in a row having missed out for six consecutive years between 2011/12 and 2018/19.

Inter’s previous three UEFA Champions League campaigns ended in the group stage; they last progressed in2011/12, when they were beaten by Marseille on away goals in the round of 16 (0-1 a, 2-1 h). Last season, Antonio Conte’s side won only one of their six games to finish fourth in Group B on six points.

The Nerazzurri responded to that early European exit by finishing first in Serie A, 12 points above runners-up Milan;it was their first title in 11 years and their 19th overall.

Conte left Inter in the summer to be replaced as coach by Simone Inzaghi, who moved to Milan after guiding Lazio tothe 2020/21 UEFA Champions League round of 16.

This is Inter’s first game against an English club since the 2018/19 group stage, when they beat Tottenham 2-1 athome before a 1-0 loss in north London. Christian Eriksen, later of Inter, scored both of Spurs’ goals in those contests.

That made it five successive home wins for Inter against Premier League visitors. They have won 11 of their 16home games against English clubs (D3 L2).

Inter’s last two-legged knockout contests against an English side came in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League roundof 16, when they lost on away goals to Tottenham (0-3 a, 4-1 h aet). That made the Nerazzurri’s aggregate record inthose ties W6 L5.


The Reds are at San Siro for the second successive European game having won 2-1 against Inter’s city rivals ACMilan on Matchday 6 to conclude their perfect Group B campaign. Liverpool had opened with a 3-2 win at home toMilan before beating Porto (5-1 a, 2-0 h) and Atlético de Madrid (3-2 a, 2-0 h).

Liverpool are one of three teams who won all six group games this season, along with Ajax (Group C) and Bayern München (E). Milan (1992/93), Paris Saint-Germain (1994/95), Spartak Moskva (1995/96), Barcelona (2002/03), Real Madrid (2011/12, 2014/15) and Bayern (2019/20) have all previously recorded six wins from six in a UEFA Champions League group stage, although only Bayern went on to lift the trophy.

This season was Liverpool’s 14th UEFA Champions League group appearance; they have only failed to progress tothe last 16 or further three times.

This is Liverpool’s fifth successive campaign in the UEFA Champions League proper, all under Jürgen Klopp; runners-up to Real Madrid in the 2017/18 final, they claimed their sixth European Cup at the expense of Tottenh am with a 2-0 victory in the 2018/19 final.

Liverpool’s last two UEFA Champions League campaigns have ended in defeat against clubs from Madrid.Dethroned by Atlético in the 2019/20 round of 16 (0-1 a, 2-3 h aet), they lost to Real Madrid in last season’s quarterfinals (1-3 a, 0-0 h).

Klopp’s side had finished first in Group D on 13 points, ahead of Atalanta, Ajax and Midtjylland, before beatingLeipzig 2-0 in both legs of their round of 16 tie with both games played in Budapest.

The Merseyside club are in the round of 16 for the fifth season in a row and the tenth overall; their record is W7 L2.Both defeats have come as holders: against Benfica in 2005/06 (0-1 a, 0-2 h) and Atlético two seasons ago.• Champions of England for the 19th time in 2019/20, their first league title since 1990, Liverpool finished third in the2020/21 Premier League.

Liverpool have won nine of their last 12 UEFA Champions League matches away from Anfield (D1 L2).• Last season’s 5-0 win at Atalanta ended the Reds’ run of three successive defeats in Italy, although they have beenbeaten in only four of their last 12 away games against Italian clubs, winning five.

Liverpool’s overall record in two-legged knockout ties against Italian clubs in UEFA competition is W5 L2. They have won the last four, most recently against Roma in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League semi-finals (5-2 h, 2-4 a).• Liverpool have met Italian clubs in four European Cup finals, winning two (against Roma in 1984 and Milan in 2005)and losing two (against Juventus in 1985 and Milan in 2007).


Robin Gosens scored Atalanta’s second goal in a 2-0 win at Liverpool in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions Leaguegroup stage.

Have played in Italy:

Alisson Becker (Roma 2016–18)

Mohamed Salah (Fiorentina 2015 loan, Roma 2015–17)

Salah faced Inter five times during his time in Italy, winning three and scoring the only goal for Fiorentina at San Siroin 2014/15.

Thiago Alcántara was born in Italy, where his father Mazinho was playing in 1991.

Have played in England:

Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal 2014–18, Manchester United 2018–19)

Edin Džeko (Manchester City 2011–15)

Andrea Ranocchia (Hull City loan 2017)

Matteo Darmian (Manchester United 2015–19)

Felipe Caceido (Manchester City 2008–09)

Sánchez faced Liverpool nine times in England, winning twice (D4 L3) and scoring two goals.• Džeko scored three goals in 11 games against Liverpool in all competitions, adding two more for Roma in the2017/18 UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

International team-mates:

Stefan de Vrij, Denzel Dumfries & Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands)

Thiago converted in the shoot-out as Nicolò Barella’s Italy beat Spain on penalties in the UEFA EURO 2020 semifinals on 6 July 2021. The Azzurri defeated England in the final with Jordan Henderson coming on as a substitute, bywhich time Barella had already been replaced.

Have played together:

Edin Džeko & Alisson Becker (Roma 2016–18)

Alexis Sánchez & Thiago Alcántara (Barcelona 2011–13)

Ivan Perišic & Thiago Alcántara (Bayern München 2019/20)

Edin Džeko & James Milner (Manchester City 2011–15)

Alexis Sánchez & Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal 2014–17)

Andrea Ranocchia & Andrew Robertson (Hull City 2017)

Liverpool goalkeeping coach Cláudio Taffarel played in Italy with Parma (1990–93, 2001–03) and Reggiana(1993/94).



UEFA Champions League squad changes

In: Robin Gosens (Atalanta, loan), Felipe Caicedo (Genoa, loan)

Out: Aleksandar Kolarov, Stefano Sensi (Sampdoria, loan)

Inter’s record in all competitions since Matchday 6 is W8 D2 L1. They drew 1-1 at Napoli on Saturday, Edin Džekoscoring Inter’s equaliser early in the second half to make it three goals in four games in all competitions.• On 11 January the Nerazzurri lifted the Italian Super Cup by beating Juventus 2-1 after extra time, Alexis Sánchezscoring a last-minute winner. It was the first time they had lifted the trophy since 2010.

Inter also needed extra time to beat Empoli 3-2 in the Coppa Italia round of 16 on 19 January.• Inter then defeated Roma, and former coach José Mourinho, 2-0 on 8 February to reach the semi-finals. They willface AC Milan in the last four, with the away first leg on 2 March and the home return on 20 April.• A 2-1 defeat in the derby against AC Milan on 6 February was only Inter’s second in Serie A this season, and a firstsince the 3-1 reverse at Lazio on 16 October. Their league record in between those two losses was W11 D3.

Simone Inzaghi’s side have won 16 of their 24 Serie A games this season (D6 L2).

The Nerazzurri boast the best attack in Serie A after 24 games with 55 goals scored.

Inter won 32 Serie A games in 2021, one fewer than Juventus’s record set in 2016. Nineteen of Inter’s victories cameat home, behind only Juve (2016) and Torino (1948), who both managed 20.

Inter’s final tally of 104 Serie A strikes in 2021 was the first time in their history they had scored more than a centuryof goals in a calendar year. Only Milan and Torino (both twice) and Juventus had previously managed 100 or moreSerie A goals in a single year.

A 1-0 win against Torino on 22 December was Inter’s sixth successive Serie A victory with a clean sheet, a club first.They managed 17 goals in those six matches.

A 0-0 draw at Atalanta on 16 January ended Inter’s run of scoring in 39 successive Serie A games; they had lastdrawn a blank against Udinese on 23 January 2021, another goalless draw.

Alessandro Bastoni limped off in the first half against Roma after twisting his right ankle.• New signings Felipe Caicedo and Robin Gosens are yet to make their Inter debut as they are recovering from thighinjuries, although the former was an unused substitute at Napoli on Saturday.

Joaquín Correa has not played since the draw against Atalanta due to a thigh injury.

On 23 December left-back Federico Dimarco signed a three-year contract extension, keeping him at Inter until 2026.Liverpool

UEFA Champions League squad changes

In: Luis Díaz (Porto)

Out: Nathaniel Phillips (Bournemouth, loan)

Matchday 6 was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 50th appearance in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final.• Liverpool’s record in all competitions since Matchday 6 is W9 D4 L1.

The Reds have won their last six games, scoring 14 goals and conceding only two. They were 1-0 victors at Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday, Fabinho scoring the only goal to make it five in his last seven LiverpoolBappearances in all competitions.

A 1-0 Premier League loss at Leicester on 28 December is Liverpool’s only defeat in their last 20 games in all-competitions (W15 D4).

Jürgen Klopp’s side have suffered only two defeats in their 24 Premier League games this season (W16 D6).• Diogo Jota has five goals in his last five Liverpool appearances.

Liverpool are in the League Cup final for a record 13th time, and the first since 2016, having beaten Leicester 5-4 on penalties after a 3-3 draw in the quarter-finals and Arsenal 2-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals (0-0 h, 2-0 a).• The Reds, who are level with Manchester City on a record eight League Cup wins, will play Chelsea in the final atWembley on 27 February.

Liverpool have also reached the FA Cup fifth round with home wins against lower-league sides Shrewsbury (4-1)and Cardiff (3-1).

The Merseyside club will be at home to Norwich in the last 16 of the FA Cup in the week beginning 28 February.• Luis Díaz made his Liverpool debut as a substitute against Cardiff on 6 February and started in the 2-0 PremierLeague win at home to Leicester four days later.

Sadio Mané converted the decisive penalty as Senegal beat Egypt 5-4 on penalties after a goalless draw in theAfrica Cup of Nations final on 6 February to take the trophy for the first time. Mané scored three goals in his seven appearances in the finals in Cameroon.

Mohamed Salah, who was in the Egypt team beaten in the final by Mané’s Senegal, also made seven appearances,scoring twice.

Divock Origi has not played since Matchday 6 due to a knee injury, although he returned to full training on 3February.

Joe Gomez has been sidelined with a virus since 5 February.

Harvey Elliott scored Liverpool’s third goal against Cardiff; it was his first appearance since suffering a fracturedislocation of his left ankle in a 3-0 win at Leeds on 12 September.

Thiago Alcántara came on as a late substitute against Cardiff, his first appearance since 16 December; he had beensidelined by a hip problem. He started against Leicester.

Jordan Henderson missed the win against Leicester with a back problem but started at Burnley.

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