AC Milan-Napoli Preview: Champions League-chasers collide at San Siro
It is third versus second at the Giuseppe Meazza, as the Rossoneri look to bounce back after their draw with 10-man Fiorentina by closing to within a point of the Partenopei
By Mark Doyle
Abate, Mexes, Zapata, Constant
Boateng, Montolivo, Muntari
Niang, Pazzini, El Shaarawy
Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Britos
Maggio, Behrami, Dzemaili, Zuniga
AC Milan must make do without the services of star striker Mario Balotelli for their crunch Serie A clash with Napoli at San Siro on Sunday evening.
The Italy international was hit with a one-game suspension after collecting his fifth booking of the season in last weekend’s disappointing 2-2 draw at Fiorentina before being banned for an additional two games for insulting the match officials at the Artemio Franchi.
Consequently, Giampaolo Pazzini will lead the line against the second-placed Partenopei, with the former Inter forward set to be joined in Milan’s usual three-pronged attack by Stephan El Shaarawy and M’baye Niang, whose recall should see Kevin-Prince Boateng drop back into midfield.
Elsewhere, Kevin Constant is expected to return on left-hand side of the defence, leaving Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio to battle it out for the right-back berth.
As for the visitors, Walter Mazzarri has a full squad to choose from and the Partenopei coach is only expected to make one change to the side that saw off Genoa last weekend, with Juan Camilo Zuniga set to get the nod ahead of Pablo Armero on the left wing.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
AC Milan have won their last nine home games in all competitions.
The Rossoneri have not drawn a single game at San Siro this season.
- Massimiliano Allegri's men have conceded just 12 goals in their own backyard - only leaders Juventus have shipped fewer (9).
- Stephan El Shaarawy (right) is Milan's top scorer but he has netted just once since the tail end of January.
- Napoli midfielder Blerim Dzemaili has scored four goals in his last two Serie A outings.
The Partenopei were held to a 2-2 draw when these two sides met at San Siro earlier in the season.
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Top 3 Predictions
AC Milan 2-0 SSC Napoli
- 24.04 %
AC Milan 2-1 SSC Napoli
- 19.59 %
AC Milan 3-1 SSC Napoli
- 10.65 %
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Sep 22, 2013||AC Milan 1 - SSC Napoli 2|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Apr 14, 2013||AC Milan 1 - SSC Napoli 1|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Nov 17, 2012||SSC Napoli 2 - AC Milan 2|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Feb 5, 2012||AC Milan 0 - SSC Napoli 0|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Sep 18, 2011||SSC Napoli 3 - AC Milan 1|
|Dec 11, 2013||AC Milan 0 - Ajax 0||UCL|
|Dec 7, 2013||Livorno 2 - AC Milan 2||ITA1|
|Dec 1, 2013||Catania 1 - AC Milan 3||ITA1|
|Nov 26, 2013||Celtic 0 - AC Milan 3||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||AC Milan 1 - Genoa 1||ITA1|
|2||Mattia De Sciglio||Defender|
|92||Stephan El Shaarawy||Striker|
|26||Morgan De Sanctis||Goalkeeper|
|5||Miguel Angel Britos||Defender|
|7||Omar El Kaddouri||Midfielder|
The former Inter striker slipped down the striking pecking order at Milan following the much publicised arrival of Mario Balotelli in January. However, he has continued to perform with great aplomb whenever called upon and it is worth remembering that he has still managed to rack up 13 goals during a stop-start season. This is now an excellent opportunity for him to prove his worth to Massimiliano Allegri while the suspended Balotelli is left kicking his heels on the sidelines.
The Uruguay international is by some distance the most deadly marksman currently operating in Serie A, as evidenced by his five-goal cushion at the top of the scorers' list. However, he has only recently got back amongst the goals after a dreadful barren spell that cost Napoli dearly. Yes, the Partenopei are overly reliant on Cavani but that is simply how it is, and the striker needs to deliver a big performance at San Siro if Napoli are to solidify their stranglehold on second spot.
Last week's trip to Florence proved extremely costly for Milan, as they not only threw away two precious points, they also lost Mario Balotelli to suspension for what has become the biggest game of their season. Their recent home record is immense, so expect a spirited backlash but a resurgent Napoli should be able to do enough to claim the draw they need to maintain their grip on second place.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed