With Inter set to face Benfica within the first leg of the quarterfinals of the Champions League, central-defender Alessandro Bastoni gave his input on the enticing match-up.
Despite the Nerazzurri reaching their first quarterfinal appearance for the first time in over decade whilst surviving the group of death, eliminating Spanish giants Barcelona from the tournament, it has been quite an underwhelming and disappointing season for the Milanese club.
As it stands, Inter have been win-less throughout the last six fixtures across all competitions and have slipped outside of the top four, one point behind of the Rossonerri.
With the Benemata facing an immense amount of pressure ahead of their quarterfinal blockbuster, Bastoni previewed the match against Benfica at the Estadio Da Luz in an interview, as relayed by Milanese based journal La Gazzetta dello Sport:
Bastoni, you are four games away from the Champions League final. In its history, Inter have reached the final of the top European competition five times. Do you believe in the possibility of going all the way?
“There’s the awareness of having a great opportunity, for 12 years Inter hadn’t reached a quarter of the Champions League. There’s tension, there’s agitation, but the match against Benfica remains a match and we have to face it with all love and joy for this sport”
You did well in the Champions League, you eliminated Barcelona in the group stage and Porto in the round of 16. In the championship you have suffered various difficulties.
“The championship and the Champions League are two different competitions. In the championship we put in good performances that weren’t supported by the result, we wasted several opportunities, but we’ve never taken the wrong approach to the match. We’ll have to put in malice and competitiveness.”
Benfica have the second best attack in the Champions League. He has a center forward like Gonçalo Ramos that everyone is talking about, a dangerous player like Rafa Silva. How did you prepare it from a defensive point of view?
“In today’s football, the defense is made up of the whole team. It’s important for us that the forwards press well, the defensive phase starts with them. Benfica have great quality with players like Joao Mario, Rafa Silva and Gonçalo Ramos, but we don’t fear them. We’ll have to be tight and compact all together to put them in difficulty”.