Inzaghi under pressure as Inter Milan visits Porto in UCL

MILAN (AP) — After another disappointing loss in Serie A, Inter Milan coach Simone Inzaghi is under increasing pressure to deliver in the Champions League as his team visits Porto in the round of 16 on Tuesday.

Inter is carrying a slender 1-0 advantage from the first leg and Inzhagi's long-term future at the club could depend how the team performs this week after falling out of contention for the Serie A title.

While Inter is still in second place in the Italian league, a 2-1 loss at relegation-threatened Spezia on Friday cast further doubts on Inzaghi’s position, with his team 18 points behind Ieader Napoli.

A home game against bitter rival Juventus is up next on Sunday, and Inzaghi's job could come under serious threat if Inter loses both games this week.

Some Inter fans are already clamoring for Antonio Conte’s return, with the Italian coach's future at Tottenham unclear after this season.

“A coach always has all the responsibility, when he wins and when he loses,” former Inter president Massimo Moratti told Italian newspaper Leggo. “(Inzaghi) still has to prove he knows how to keep the team focused with consistency.”

Inconsistency has been a big problem for Inter, with eight league losses this season. Six of those have been in away games and it has only won once on the road in 2023 — a worrying trend ahead of the Porto game.

“We’ve had a few too many defeats this season, especially away from home, and we need to do more,” Inzaghi said after the Spezia loss.

Inzhagi will also have a tough decision to make on whether to start Romelu Lukaku — who scored the late winner in the first leg — or Edin Dzeko up front alongside Lautaro Martinez against the Portuguese team.

Porto, in contrast, has an impressive home record and has won nine of its past 10 matches at the Estádio Do Dragão. The only blip came immediately after its first-leg loss at Inter, when it lost 2-1 to Gil Vicente and had two players sent off.

But the hosts will be without midfielder Otavio, who was sent off in the first leg, while defender Joao Mario is out with a knee injury.

Inter has not been to the quarterfinals since going out at that stage as the defending champion in 2011. Porto has reached the final eight in two of the past four seasons, although it hasn’t gone beyond that since it lifted the trophy in 2004.

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Daniella Matar, The Associated Press