Serie A Preview: Napoli - Milan
The Rossoneri will have to win to maintain their Scudetto challenge after Lazio won on Sunday...
By Subhankar Mondal
Moving Into The Top Four
Napoli’s domestic season is going from strength to strength as Walter Mazzarri’s side are now genuinely challenging for a place in the top four in Serie A. Currently placed sixth with 12 points from seven matches, the Partenopei could actually climb into the top three and go level on points with second-placed Inter if they win in Naples on Monday night.
Napoli are unbeaten in their five matches in all competitions and have lost just once in the league all season. However, the Neapolitans were held to a 1-1 draw by Catania in Sicily last weekend and failed to regain momentum on Thursday evening when despite playing well the Azzurri had to settle for a goalless draw with Liverpool in Naples in the Europa League.
Napoli’s record at home in the Italian top flight isn’t exceptionally great as they have won one, drawn one and lost one in their three matches at the Stadio San Paolo. However, the former Italian champions have done well against the bigger clubs in the peninsula as they have emerged victorious against Sampdoria and Roma and drew with Fiorentina.
Recovering From The Bernabeu Burning
It’s not that Milan were pathetic against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the Champions League last week, it’s that their failure opened a whole can of worms as a number of worries previously sidelined because of their good run of form in Serie A came to the fore.
Milan’s experienced but ageing midfield severely failed against their youthful and balanced Madrid counterpart and their attackline too couldn’t conjure up much. A defeat in the Spanish capital isn’t, of course, a bad result – if anything, it was expected – but it now remains to be seen how Massimiliano Allegri’s side recover from that result.
The Rossoneri headed into Week 8 level on points with city-rivals and Italian champions Inter but with Rafael Benitez’s side drawing 1-1 with Sampdoria on Saturday evening, Milan will have a great chance to leapfrog them into second and close the gap on leaders Lazio, who are five points ahead of them at the moment.
Milan, though, are on a high as far as winning in the league is concerned as their 3-1 win against Chievo last weekend was their third Serie A victory in a row. However, the Diavolo have a modest away form as they have drawn one, lost one and won one in their three matches away from home.
Cristiano Lucarelli is out injured for the home side and Paolo Cannavaro is suspended. Mazzarri is most likely to deploy a 3-4-2-1 formation that will see Edinson Cavani line up as the lone striker upfront with Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi just behind him.
Massimo Ambrosini, Marek Jankulovski, Thiago Silva, Ronaldinho, Ignazio Abate and Gianluca Zambrotta are unavailable because of injuries. This means that Allegri may just have to alter his usual 4-3-3 formation slightly and shape it into a 4-3-1-2 system with Alexandre Pato and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the two strikers and Robinho sitting just behind them as the playmaker-in-chief.
Kevin-Prince Boateng, Andrea Pirlo and Mathieu Flamini will be the three midfielders playing behind Robinho and Sokratis Papastathopoulos will replace Thiago Silva at centre-back.
|Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Top 3 Predictions
SSC Napoli 1-2 AC Milan
- 20.4 %
SSC Napoli 0-2 AC Milan
- 20.29 %
SSC Napoli 0-1 AC Milan
- 11.24 %
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Feb 8, 2014||SSC Napoli 3 - AC Milan 1|
|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|
|Mar 13, 2014||Porto 1 - SSC Napoli 0||EL|
|Mar 9, 2014||SSC Napoli 1 - Roma 0||ITA1|
|Mar 2, 2014||Livorno 1 - SSC Napoli 1||ITA1|
|Feb 27, 2014||SSC Napoli 3 - Swansea 1||EL|
|Feb 24, 2014||SSC Napoli 1 - Genoa 1||ITA1|
|26||Morgan De Sanctis||Goalkeeper|
|8||Gennaro Ivan Gattuso||Midfielder|
Edinson Cavani has been arguably Napoli’s best player so far this season. The Uruguay international has found the net six times in seven league appearances and is also the joint top scorer in the Italian top flight with Inter’s Samuel Eto’o. Milan’s defence has shown itself to be vulnerable and the 23-year-old will look to take advantage of that.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Milan’s main goalscorer so far this season and he will have to step up his game to lead the Rossoneri to a win in Naples. The Sweden international striker has scored just twice in six league appearances but he has also provided two assists. The 29-year-old will be Milan’s main targetman against Napoli and his stature and class will be crucial against the high-flying Neapolitans.