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10 key things to know ahead of Inter Milan vs. Liverpool

Liverpool are looking to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the fourth time in five seasons, as they head to Inter Milan for the first leg of their last-16 tie.

The Reds return to European action on Wednesday evening, in what promises to be a tough trip to the San Siro.

Here are 10 things to know ahead of the game.

 

1. Inter flying high in Serie A

MILAN, ITALY - Tuesday, March 10, 2008: FC Internazionale Milano's supporters during the UEFA Champions League First knockout Round 2nd Leg match against Liverpool at the San Siro. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Inter may have experienced a slump after their 2009/10 treble-winning exploits under Jose Mourinho, they have returned as a force again.

The Nerazzurri won the Serie A title last season, ending Juventus’ dominance in the competition, and the second consecutive league crown could still be on the cards.

Inter sit in second place currently, one point adrift of bitter rivals AC Milan, as they have jumped seamlessly from Antonio Conte in charge to Simone Inzaghi this time around.

Liverpool may have to be at their best to progress over the two legs.

 

2. Players to watch

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 1, 2015: Manchester City's Edin Dzeko celebrates scoring the first equalising goal against Liverpool to level the score at 1-1 during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Inter may not have the world-famous names of the 1990s, when Ronaldo ruled the world, they still possess huge quality in their own right.

Milan Skriniar is a formidable centre-back who has been linked with England’s top clubs in the past, while Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic both reached the 2018 World Cup final with Croatia.

In attack, evergreen veteran Edin Dzeko is still a force, scoring 10 league goals in 23 games so far this season, while Lautaro Martinez is a player of huge promise.

Inzaghi also has notable names like Hakan Calhanoglu, Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Samir Handanovic and Stefan de Vrij within his squad.

 

3. Likely Inter XI

Stefan de Vrij of Lazio during the Serie A match between SS Lazio and Udinese Calcio on January 24, 2018 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)

Inzaghi’s side drew 1-1 away to Napoli in a crucial title clash on Saturday, in a game that may have taken its toll.

The enormity of coming up against this Liverpool side means that they will be full-strength, however, in what is surely their biggest game of the campaign.

Inter are without a number of players on Wednesday, though, with Robin Gosens and Joaquin Correa injured and Alessandro Bastoni doubtful.

Nicolo Barella, who won the Euros with Italy last summer, is suspended, in what is a huge blow for the hosts.

Possible Inter XI (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Dimarco; Dumfries, Vidal, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Martinez, Dzeko

 

4. Who’s out for Liverpool?

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 13, 2022: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson shakes hands with manager Jürgen Klopp as he substituted during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Once again, Klopp is afforded the luxury of having no injury problems, with Liverpool’s squad never looking stronger during his tenure.

If only that was the case last season, the Reds would likely be two-time Premier League champions!

A 29-man squad all trained alongside one another on Tuesday, in what was perfect preparation ahead of a huge game.

Jordan Henderson picked up a sore knee against Burnley but he has been described as “fine” by Klopp, having recovered over the last two days.

The biggest headache for the boss currently is who makes his matchday squad, although 12 substitutes are allowed in the Champions League.

 

5. How could the Reds line up?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 11, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and team-mates line-up for a minute's applause in memory of former player Ray Kennedy before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Such are the options now at Klopp’s disposal, Liverpool supporters could predict any number of starting lineups between them on Wednesday and still be wrong.

Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson look like certainties to play, while Joel Matip is favourite to pip Ibrahima Konate to a starting berth.

Fabinho and Thiago should also take to the field at the San Siro, but the third midfield spot could be up for grabs, with Henderson struggling badly for form.

Despite this, the captain’s experience and big-game nous still gives him the edge over Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott.

In attack, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota should be the front three, although Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino are strong options, too.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Jota

 

6. Klopp hints at changes

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp hinted at making alterations to the team, given the depth at his disposal:

“It’s much more important how we play than who is playing, that’s how it is.

“But it helps, of course, that he have solutions for different problems or options for different situations. That’s what we try to use.

“We need fresh legs for this game. Much more important is we have the chance to change five times in the game, which gives just a massive boost for football in general, in a really tough period of the year.

“So it’s good to have the boys around, but the boys have to deal with it as well.

“If I have the opportunity to make more changes, that’s how it is, that means I just cannot play always the same lineup just because we won the last game.

“That’s something we have to learn together, and that’s what we do, because we’ve never had it before, that’s how it is! It’s pretty exciting.”

 

7. Liverpool’s history vs. Inter

MILAN, ITALY - Tuesday, March 10, 2008: Liverpool's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring the opening goal against FC Internazionale Milano with team-mate captain Steven Gerrard MBE during the UEFA Champions League First knockout Round 2nd Leg match at the San Siro. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wednesday’s game will be the fifth time Liverpool and Inter have met competitively, with the two teams both enjoying success in the fixture.

The pair first met in the European Cup semi-finals back in 1964/65, with much controversy surrounding the exit of Bill Shankly‘s side.

Having won 3-1 in a still-legendary first leg at Anfield – Roger Hunt, Ian Callaghan and Ian St John scored the goals – it all went wrong in Italy.

Liverpool were beaten 3-0 on the night, exiting 4-3 on aggregate, with rumours of match-fixing clouding the game after a St John goal was ruled out.

The Reds avenged that defeat in 2007/08, winning 1-0 in Milan and then 2-0 at Anfield, progressing past the Champions League last 16 stage.

 

8. Did you know?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 24, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 5 game between Liverpool FC and FC Porto at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thiago has been one of the best midfielders of his generation, but Liverpool supporters have been robbed of seeing him regularly because of injuries.

Thankfully, the Spaniard is fully fit and in inspired form currently, proving to be a joy to watch in the middle of the park.

Thiago‘s huge influence is outlined by his record this season, with Liverpool winning all 10 matches he has started.

If he can stay fit between now and the end of the campaign, Klopp’s side have a wonderful chance of achieving something special.

 

9. Marciniak takes charge

MADRID, SPAIN - Tuesday, February 18, 2020: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' is spoken to by referee Szymon Marciniak during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg match between Club Atlético de Madrid and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Szymon Marciniak has been confirmed as the referee on Wednesday night, in what will be his sixth time in charge of a Liverpool game in Europe.

The 41-year-old Pole most recently officiated the Reds’ 3-2 win at home to AC Milan in the group stage.

Before that, Marciniak took charge of the 1-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid just before the pandemic halted football, in which he booked Klopp.

On the plus side, that is the only Liverpool match he hasn’t given the Reds a penalty – PSG, Spartak Moscow and Benfica all gave away spot-kicks – which bodes well.

 

10. Live on BT Sport

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 13, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wednesday’s game is live on BT Sport 2 from 7pm (GMT), with kickoff at 8pm.

If you are unable to watch the action unfold, TIA’s matchday live blog will be available as always, with Dan Clubbe keeping you well-informed from 7.15pm.

Come on you Reds!

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