Napoli vs AC Milan: Serie A Preview and Prediction
The battle for European spots continues as Napoli and AC Milan clash on Sunday evening. Gli Azzurri have been in decent form recently with two consecutive wins and things are certainly clicking well under Gennaro Gattuso.
The Napoli manager will be against his former club this weekend and this does nothing but adds more spice to the fixture.
The visitors though have been putting up some inspiring performances and their latest victory against Italy’s best at the moment, Juventus was a commendable one. Milan came from a two-goal deficit and defeated the Old Lady 4-2 at home. Stefano Pioli’s men are yet to taste defeat after winning their last five games comfortably.
The win against Juventus makes them the most in-form side in Italy at the moment and they will be aiming of picking up another three points and overtake their opponents in the table.
Head to Head
Napoli are the leaders when it comes to the head-to-head battles recently, winning nine and losing four with seven draws in the last 20 games played between the two sides. However, if the entire fixture history is considered, the Rossoneri come on top with 54 wins and 42 losses, having drawn 47.
Napoli are unbeaten against AC Milan since 2014 and have won six out of the last ten meetings with four draws too.
AC Milan have scored at least two goals in each of their last five Serie A games and scoring twice in their sixth in a row will make it the first time since 2012.
The most important statistic is that Napoli have won their last three games against AC Milan at the Stadio San Paolo but they have never won four in a row at home against the Rossoneri.
Napoli lost to Atalanta by a margin of two goals but since then, they have shown some quality in the game and have won twice back-to-back with wins against Roma and Genoa respectively. With another seven games to be played this season, Napoli will be looking to confirm their spot for the Europa League at the earliest, one of the biggest reasons being their opponent’s closeness to them in the table.
Milan have been one of the few teams in Italy’s top-flight to have restarted their season brightly. As mentioned before, they are unbeaten in their last five games but the eye-catching fact is that two out of their last five wins have been against second-placed Lazio and leaders Juventus.
Another promising game would help them leapfrog both Napoli and AS Roma by the end of the weekend. Napoli have won four out of their last five games in all competitions while Milan have also won in four of their last five but with a draw involved.
Napoli have a fully fit squad and have a good amount of options to select from. Both Kalidou Koulibaly and Diego Demme will return from suspension and are expected to be starting this weekend. Piotr Zielinski and Jose Callejon were benched in Napoli’s previous game and thus, are expected to make the starting XI too.
On the contrary, the Rossoneri will be missing several players for the upcoming clash.
Samu Castillejo is expected to miss due to a muscle problem while Leo Duarte and Mateo Musacchio are also unavailable due to a muscle and ankle problem respectively.
Giovanni di Lorenzo vs Ante Rebic
With both Napoli and AC Milan being in great form recently, it will be a tough battle between the two 26-year-olds.
Ante Rebic has been an excellent loanee, firing ten goals and assisting one in the 20 games he's played.
Lorenzo has two goals and three assists and those are some good numbers as a right-back. Apart from his contributions in goal, the full back has been exquisite with his defensive duties too. Lorenzo is strong with his crossing, tackling, interceptions and clearances on and off the ground.
Rebic has been wonderful since the Coppa Italia semi-final against Juventus where he was sent off. Since then, the Croat has scored four goals and set up one in the last five games he's played. His performance specifically against Juventus was a brilliant one and was something that can cause serious problems for Lorenzo and Napoli
Kalidou Koulibaly vs Zlatan Ibrahimovic
This battle will be the highlight of the game as we all know how physical both players are.
Since Zlatan's return he has done well and proved how good a leader he is.
Koulibaly, who will be returning in the game after a suspension, will have push himself as much as he can as the Swede will be a constant aerial threat.
Having played only 11 games for Milan this season, the legendary striker has scored five and assisted three and that is very impressive for a 38-year-old.
Both teams are desperate for the three points and thus, the game will be full of tackles, clearances and most importantly goals.
The game will be a very tight one and picking the favorite for this fixture may not be the best idea. Both teams have established a winning form lately and are playing their best football.
Koulibaly and Demme’s return makes Napoli tougher defensively but the Rossoneri’s red-hot form is something that cannot be ignored too. A lethal attack with a beautiful and creative midfield pairing of Bennacer and Kessie has helped the backline a lot. Pioli’s team has been doing well in their away games too.
The game will definitely witness a good amount of goals and will probably end in a draw at the Stadio San Paolo.
Predicted scoreline: Napoli 2-2 AC Milan