Both AC Milan and Napoli will be looking to return to winning ways when they clash against each other at the San Siro on Saturday evening.

AC Milan will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways when they welcome Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli to the San Siro this weekend, as the 2019-20 Serie A returns to action after a two-week layoff due to the international break.

Milan find themselves languishing in the 14th place in the Serie A table after 12 matches, having collected just 13 points till date. The Rossoneri have just won one of their last five matches in the league (D1 L3), with their most recent fixture ending in a 1-0 defeat to champions Juventus. And manager Stafano Pioli will be hoping to pick up just his second win since taking over the club last month.

Napoli also come into the game on the back of a poor run of results. The Partenopei are without a win in their last five games in all competitions (D4 L1), which has seen them slip down to the seventh position in the Serie A standings, 13 points behind Juventus. Manager Ancelotti is under pressure to turn things around and take the spotlight away from the recent row between the owner and the players.

The corresponding fixture last season ended in a goalless draw, but Milan went on to defeat Napoli 2-0 in the Coppa Italia quarter-final three days later at the San Siro. And ahead of the latest meeting between these two giants of Italian football, we take a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

AC Milan star Hakan Calhanoglu is suspended for the tie (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

AC Milan star Hakan Calhanoglu is suspended for the tie (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

AC Milan will have to make do without the services of Ismael Bennacer and Hakan Calhanoglu, both of whom are suspended for the weekend clash. Samu Castillejo remains sidelined with an injury, while Mateo Musacchio is a doubt for the fixture as well.

Ricardo Rodriguez is also likely to miss out, having picked up a knock while on international duty, while Mattia Caldara is still not ready to return to the first-team setup. Pioli will continue to set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation and having seen signs of encouragement against Juventus last time out, he will be hoping that his side do one better against Napoli.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is the undisputed starter in goal for Milan, while Andrea Conti and Theo Hernandez are set to line up as the two full-backs on Saturday. Leo Duarte and captain Alessio Romagnoli ought to form the central defensive partnership once again for the Rossoneri.

With Bennacer suspended, Lucas Biglia is expected to replace him at the base of the three-man midfield this weekend. On either side of him, Pioli will once again opt to go with Rade Krunic and Lucas Paqueta, meaning Franck Kessie will miss out once again.

Suso is a guaranteed starter on the right flank and will be key in creating goal-scoring opportunities for main striker Krzysztof Piatek against Napoli. In Calhanoglu’s absence, the spot on the left flank is up for grabs with Rafael Leao, Ante Rebic and Giacomo Bonaventura vying for the place. Rebic, though, is likely to get the nod on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Conti, Duarte, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Paqueta, Biglia, Krunic; Suso, Piatek, Rebic

Napoli

Arkadiusz Milik and Kevin Malcuit remain sidelined for Napoli, while Mario Rui, Faouzi Ghoulam and Lorenzo Tonelli will also miss out. Ancelotti has preferred to use a 4-4-2 formation during his stint at Napoli and is expected to stick with the same setup despite results not going his team’s way in recent games.

In goal, Alex Meret is expected to feature ahead of David Ospina and Orestis Karnezis. Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Elseid Hysaj are likely to slot in as the full-backs on the right and left sides respectively, with Nikola Maksimovic partnering Kalidou Koulibaly at the heart of the defence ahead of summer arrival Kostas Manolas.

Jose Callejon is a certainty to feature on the right flank while captain Lorenzo Insigne is another surefire starter on the left-side of the midfield four. Fabian Ruiz will bring the creative presence from the middle of the park, playing alongside Piotr Zielinski. Brazilian international Allan will miss out for the Partenopei.

Dries Mertens is one of the first names on the teamsheet for Ancelotti. He will be partnered by marquee summer signing Hirving Lozano against Milan, with veteran forward Fernando Llorente providing an option from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Hysaj; Callejon, Ruiz, Zielinski, Insigne; Lozano, Mertens

Key Stats

  • AC Milan have won none of the last four matches at San Siro against Napoli in Serie A (D2 L2) – their longest winless streak on home soil against Napoli since the ‘80s.
  • Napoli have lost just one of their last 16 matches against AC Milan in Serie A (W9 D6): a 0-2 defeat in December 2014.
  • Milan have lost seven of their opening 12 matches in a Serie A season, for the first time since 1941-42. They have never lost eight of their first 13 matches in the league.
  • Napoli are winless in their last five games across all competitions (D4 L1), their worst streak since February 2016. The Partenopei last went six matches without a victory in March 2013 (run of seven).
  • Napoli attacker Lorenzo Insigne has scored six goals against Milan in Serie A, against no side has he scored more – only Domenico Berardi (8) and Paulo Dybala (7) have netted more against the Rossoneri among the players currently in the competition.

Player to Watch

Hirving Lozano

Time for Lozano to pull his socks up and perform for Napoli (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Time for Lozano to pull his socks up and perform for Napoli (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old Mexican attacker completed a high-profile move to Napoli from PSV Eindhoven in the summer transfer window, but hasn’t been able to live up to the expectations that came along. Till date, Lozano has featured 12 times for his new club in all competitions, but has produced a paltry return of just 2 goals and a solitary assist.

There are no doubts over the talent that Lozano possesses, but the forward needs to step up and start performing for Napoli, who are facing a difficult time with results not going their way and the internal tiff between the players and the owners of the club.

Prediction

AC Milan 1-1 Napoli

AC Milan have won just one of their five matches under new boss Stefano Pioli, but there were a lot of positives in their narrow defeat against Juventus prior to the international break. Napoli, on the other hand, are on a downward spiral as far as results are concerned, while the club has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late.

Both teams are in dire need of a turnaround at the earliest, but Napoli have failed to win on their last two visits to the San Siro. And given their current form, a win on Saturday seems an unlikely prospect. Milan will hope to capitalize on their opponent’s struggles, but they are yet to become a cohesive unit under the new manager and hence we are predicting this one to end in a 1-1 draw.

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