A coveted spot in the Europa League semi-finals will be on the line Monday afternoon as Inter Milan battles with German side, Bayer Leverkusen in a single-legged showdown.
For those that are unfamiliar with the Europa League, it represents a tier down from the Champions League. Still though, there is great financial incentive and prestige associated with winning this title, as well as a berth in next year’s Champions League.
Inter Milan finished their domestic season strong in Serie A, knowing they’d still have meaningful games to play after. Last week, they disposed easily of a pesky Getafe side out of Spain. They’re unbeaten in their last 9, and this talented club seems to be finally hitting their stride after the restart.
But Leverkusen are a tough side and really should be a worthy adversary to the Serie A runner-ups. They crushed Rangers last week, showing their impressive form and no ill-effects of a lengthy layoff following the early completion of the Bundesliga season. Also worth noting, manager Peter Bosz knows that this might be his squad’s last chance at glory – with key departures looming later in the summer.
One benefit of this compacted sports return schedule is the staggered events throughout the day. Before all of the big North American sports get going in the late afternoon/early evening, the Europa League represents great entertainment and betting value. For more insight and a betting prediction on Leverkusen v. Inter, continue reading below. Enjoy the match!
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Inter Milan Betting Odds:
Inter Milan (+109)
Bayer Leverkusen (+245)
Over 2.5 (-150)
Under 2.5 (+120)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Inter Milan Pick:
One thing worth noting before delving into analysis is explaining the scenario of Monday’s Europa League clash. It is a single-leg tie, and if there isn’t a winner after 90 minutes, they will proceed into extra time, followed by penalties.
The betting odds listed above, are factored in after 90 minutes.
For today’s clash, look for Inter Milan to enter with relatively little injury concerns or doubts. Antonio Conte’s men are in fine form, and there aren’t expected to be any changes to the squad that easily disposed of Getafe last week.
Look for Conte to go with a 3-4-1-2 formation, and that three-man back-line has been stellar in recent contests. Stefan de Vrij has emerged as one of the game’s best centre backs, and he’ll play a key role in stifling Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz in this contest.
In the attack, the Nerazzurri boast rapid play and shifty ball movement from their wide players. Both Ashley Young and Antonio Candreva can be counted on for dangerous runs and telling through-balls up top. Their three attackers are as formidable as most trios in Europe, as Denmark’s Christian Eriksen provides excellent service to Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku. For a Leverkusen side that struggled keeping goals out in the Bundesliga, Inter Milan’s attacking options should be feared.
This is certain, because the young Havertz is the engine that continues to drive this Leverkusen side. He’ll play up front in a central role, and is immensely dangerous in the box and through the air. This is a German side that can score and be formidable when on the ball, but it remains to be seen if they can consistently win midfield battles against Inter. If Havertz isn’t scoring, usually Leverkusen is not winning.
Where Leverkusen does have weakness, is at the back. Their defense showed continued lapses in the Bundesliga, and the duo of Lars and Sven Bender aren’t quick enough to shadow Alexis Sanchez, or strong enough to fend off Romelu Lukaku.
Expect a tight match, with both teams playing to their offensive strengths. I’m in favour of the prop bet ‘both teams to score’ in this quarter-final showdown. However, the strongest pre-match bet has to be on Antonio Conte and Inter Milan. This is an elite side that finished just behind Juventus in Serie A, are in excellent form, and are quite likely too good for this competition. Expect Inter Milan to routinely catch Leverkusen on the break, and should have no difficulty scoring come Monday afternoon.
Pick: Inter Milan 3-1