The Rossoneri and the Azzurri contest an encounter that could go a long way in deciding the Scudetto...Making Experience Count
Ahead of their Champions League clash with Tottenham Hotspur, Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic claimed that their experience would help them see off the challenge of the Premier League side. While on that occasion the Rossoneri failed to get a grip on things, this time, with Antonio Cassano, Mark van Bommel and Urby Emanuelson available, the former Italian and European champions will hope to make that advantage count.
This season Milan are in real contention of winning the Scudetto for the first time since 2004. With European success looking to have eluded them after their encounter with Spurs in the first leg of the Round of 16 ended in a 1-0 defeat at home, the focus is firmly on the domestic arena, where coach Massimiliano Allegri is aspiring to create a legacy (of sorts) for himself in winning the championship for the Diavolo in his first season in charge.
However, despite holding a three-point advantage over Napoli in pole position in Serie A, Milan wouldn't head into this Monday night's clash at San Siro riding the wave of overconfidence. Last weekend's victory over Chievo in Verona was only their second win in five competitive fixtures and their last match at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza ended in a loss.
Milan won the reverse fixture 2-1 in Naples but survived a late scare when Ezequiel Lavezzi scored, and would be wary of an Azzurri side who have won their last three league fixtures.
History Starts To Whisper
Napoli haven't won the Scudetto since 1990 when a certain Diego Armando Maradona guided the Partenopei to their second championship in four years. Over 20 years have passed and the Neapolitans haven't come close to winning the championship. Until now.
This time there is a genuine chance that Napoli could construct history. With 52 points from 26 matches, the Azzurri are second in the table and a victory at San Siro on Monday will see them draw level with leaders Milan.
Walter Mazzarri's do not have a 'championship-winning mentality' or the experience but they do have the enthusiasm and exuberance as well as the joint second-best defensive record in the Italian top flight this campaign and the joint highest number of wins.
Napoli also have Edinson Cavani, the league's top scorer with 20 goals in 26 appearances. The Uruguay international striker has been finding the target right, left and centre and has been one of the best players this season. The 24-year-old scored both the goals in Napoli's 2-0 victory at Roma and with him on song, Mazzarri will be optimistic of garnering all three points in Milan.
Pirlo, Inzaghi, Bonera, Ambrosini and Antonini are injured and will miss the clash on Monday.
Grava is injured for the Azzurri, while Lavezzi is suspended.