Only one fixture is left to decide in the Round of 16. Inter Milan trail by 2 goals after being defeated at Anfield in the first leg. However, Liverpool could be without a vital component of their midfield for the second-leg of their Champions League tie away to Inter next Tuesday as Javier Mascherano appears to be losing his race for fitness.
The Argentinian central midfielder has a “dead leg” type of injury after coming up hurt in a clash with West Ham’s Mark Noble. “I will need to speak to the doctors before we decide about Inter Milan but he will not be available this weekend against Newcastle,” Benitez told the club’s official website.
Mascherano was indeed absent for today’s 3-0 win over Newcastle and Lucas Leiva took his place in midfield, though he plays more like Steven Gerrard. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of lineup Benitez puts out on Tuesday. I look for a conservative, counter-attacking game from Liverpool. Gerrard and Torres have been on a tear as of late and their chemistry and raw talent is a big reason that Liverpool have been cruising in recent league matches.
Inter Milan will need a massive effort to overturn the 2-0 deficit but the fixture is not out of reach for them yet. They also won today, claiming a 2-0 win over Reggina with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring his 16th league of the season to keep close to Serie A’s leading scorer, Marco Borriello of Genoa. Ibrahimovic was buzzing for most of the afternoon and nearly had a second goal with a beautifully-taken free kick that rattled off the cross bar. Inter will need goals from Zlatan on Tuesday if they hope to advance. One worrying point from today’s match is that Zlatan’s usual strike partner Hernan Crespo came off with a knock in the second half.