San Siro, Milan, Italy
March 1,2011, 01:30 am , IST
The top two teams in the Serie A clash with each other on Monday night in a crucial fixture, one which is bound to have a huge impact on both Milan’s and Napoli’s title aspirations.
After 2004, this is the first time the Rossoneri are favorites to lift the title and their opponents – the side from Naples – have not won the league since 1990. Expect a high voltage clash when both the teams face off against each other in round twenty seven.
The Azzuri coach Mazzarri has said that he is treating this match as the final, further adding that
“We will go there without any fear, trying to impose our play and take home a very important win.”
A win will see them join hosts Milan at the top of the league table and would also go a long way in erasing from their minds, the disappoint of their exit from the Europa league, suffered midweek at the hands of Villarreal.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Having picked up a win in the first half of the season at the Stadio San Paolo, Milan will go into this match with a slight edge over the visiting team.
Nicola Legrottaglie- who has been named in the squad for the match, makes a comeback for Milan after he suffered a severe head injury in his very first appearance for the Rossoneri against Lazio earlier in January.
Allegri is expected to go in with a 3 men midfield comprising of Gattuso, Van Bommel and Emanuelson. Cassano who had a game to forget against Chievo might sit on the bench and could be replaced by the Brazilian star Pato.
Formation: 4-3-1-2 (Milan)
Possible Lineup: Abbiati, Abate, Nesta, Silva, Oddo, Emanuelson, Van Bommel, Gattuso, Pato, Robiniho, Zlatan.
It has been observed that teams playing a defensive brand of football have succeeded in choking off Milan, while those who have tried to take the game to Milan have generally been at the receiving end of a humbling lesson. So the side from Naples might rely on a counter attacking style of play, this Monday evening.
Mazzarri is hopeful that league’s top scorer— Cavani, will carry forward this sublime form which has seen him score 20 goals in the season so far, into the match against Allegri’s men.
Lavezzi’s suspension opens the door for Hamsik to play along side Cavani. Pocho will be sorely missed by the visitors as he has been leading the assists table for Napoli with as many as ten assists in this season so far.
Formation: 4-3-3 (Napoli)
Possible Lineup: Sanctis, Hugo Armando, Cannavaro, Aronica, Dossena, Maggio, Pazienza, Gargano, Mascara, hamsik, Cavani
TheHardtackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan): His presence in the team itself is enough to send the chills down the spine of the opponents. This season he has faired well in both scoring as well as in assisting in front of the goal and will have to play at his best if Milan are to walk out of this fixture with maximum points.
The Ibra-Robinho-Cassano trio has worked really well for the red and blacks, chiefly due to the selfless display by both Zlatan and Cassano. He is known to score from the most challenging of positions, something which he has shown time and again this season as well. Considering that Napoli will play defensive, his Midas touch will be even more important.
Milan 1-1 Napoli
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST
The mind games have already started with Cassano making a mockery of the journalist who asked him to compare between his team mate Zlatan and Serie A top scorer Cavani.
“Ibrahimovic – Cavani, the strongest? Let’s not joke. What question is this? Cavani is a good player, but Ibrahimovic is from another category,” said Cassano.
With Inter breathing down their neck, Napoli will look to come out of this fixture with much needed three points. Moreover, Milan would be hoping to retain their 5 points gap once the final whistle blows, over the Nerazzurri who came out on top with a 0-2 away win over Sampdoria in the last 20 odd minutes.