Inter Milan will be aiming to strengthen their hold on the second spot in the Serie A table, when they host Napoli at San Siro this midweek.

The 2019/20 Serie A enters its last phase as teams play their penultimate fixtures of the season this midweek. The headliner on Tuesday night will be second-placed Inter Milan taking on Napoli at San Siro, with both teams still having a lot left to play for.

Juventus’ victory over Sampdoria on Sunday confirmed them as champions of Italy once again, slashing any slight glimmer of hope that Inter Milan had. However, with Atalanta and Lazio just a point behind the Nerazzurri in third and fourth respectively, Antonio Conte’s men, who beat Genoa 3-0 last time out, cannot slip up if they are to finish as the runners-up this season.

Napoli, following their 2-0 win over Sassuolo this past weekend, are currently seventh in the table, a point below AC Milan in sixth. With the Europa League qualifying spot up for grabs, Gennaro Gattuso & co. have a great chance to move into the sixth place with a win on Tuesday and put pressure on Milan, who will be playing Sampdoria on Wednesday.

The reverse fixture, played at the San Paolo back in January, saw Inter Milan thrash Napoli 3-1. However, Napoli did exact revenge by beating the Nerazzurri 2-1 on aggregate in the Coppa Italia semi-finals, on their way to lifting the trophy. Ahead of their latest meeting on Tuesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Conte has a couple of injury concerns ahead of Tuesday's game (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Conte has a couple of injury concerns ahead of Tuesday’s game (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Midfielder Roberto Gagliardini will miss out on the game due to suspension, but at the same time Nicolo Barella returns after having served his ban. Matias Vecino and Stefano Sensi are still sidelined with injuries.

Stefan de Vrij was not risked in the last game despite having recovered from a knee complaint. However, the Dutchman is expected to return to the starting XI, slotting at the centre of the three-man backline, comprising of Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni. They will shield captain Samir Handanovic in goal.

Victor Moses and Cristiano Biraghi started in the wing-back roles against Genoa, but are set to be replaced by Antonio Candreva and Ashley Young respectively on Tuesday night. Marcelo Brozovic is a certain starter in the middle of the park, with Barella partnering him in place of the suspended Gagliardini.

Christian Eriksen should continue as the No. 10 for Inter Milan and look to pull the strings in the final third, although Borja Valero is also in contention to feature against Napoli.

Romelu Lukaku scored a double last time and should start again, but could be in for a change of partners with Alexis Sanchez, who was also on the scoresheet against Genoa, likely to be picked ahead of Lautaro Martinez.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Candreva, Barella, Brozovic, Young; Eriksen; Lukaku, Sanchez

Napoli

Napoli will be without defender Kostas Manolas, who picked up a rib injury during the game against Sassuolo. Forward Dries Mertens is also set to miss out on the contest as he is suspended for accumulation of cards. Gattuso will set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation, but with some changes to the side that beat Sassuolo last time out.

Mertens is suspended for Napoli (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Mertens is suspended for Napoli (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

The manager has rotated his goalkeepers game after game of late and with David Ospina starting last time out, Alex Meret is in line to feature from kickoff against Inter. Giovanni Di Lorenzo should get the nod at right-back, while Elseid Hysaj’s goal against Sassuolo should ensure a starting berth on the left ahead of Mario Rui.

Kalidou Koulibaly, who continues to be linked with a summer exit, should continue at the heart of the Napoli defence. Nikola Maksimovic ought to replace the injured Manoloas alongside the Senegalese defender.

Stanislav Lobotka could once again feature as the midfield enforcer ahead of Diego Demme, while Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz are also likely to be retained in the three-man midfield unit. This would mean Allan will miss out of the starting XI, despite scoring against Sassuolo after coming on from the bench.

Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne are pretty much certain starters on the wings, although Matteo Politano is an option that may be considered in place of the former. With Mertens unavailable, Arkadiusz Milik ought to continue as the centre-forward for the Partenopei.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Hysaj; Ruiz, Lobotka, Zielinski; Callejon, Milik, Insigne

Key Stats

  • This will be the 148th meeting between Inter Milan and Napoli in Serie A. The Nerazzurri have won 65 of these matches, while the Partenopei have come out on top on 46 occasions (D36).
  • Inter Milan have won two of their last three matches against Napoli in Serie A (L1), as many as they managed in their previous 13 meetings.
  • Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso is yet to win a game against Inter in his managerial career (D1 L3).
  • Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku has already scored 29 goals in all competitions this season. Samuel Eto’o was the last player to score 30+ goals in a single campaign for the Nerazzurri (37 in 2010/11).
  • Only Manchester City (26) have hit the woodwork more than Napoli (24) so far this season across Europe’s top five league competitions.

Player to Watch

Alexis Sanchez

Proving a point. (Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images)

Proving a point. (Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images)

After a frustrating start to life in Italy, Alexis Sanchez has looked a man reborn since the season resumed after lockdown. The on-loan Manchester United star has been Inter’s best player post-lockdown, which has now prompted them to consider making his transfer permanent this summer.

Of his overall tally of four goals and nine assists in Serie A, three goals and seven assists have come since the league returned last month. The 31-year-old was on the scoresheet in the previous game against Genoa after having come on as a substitute. Set to be handed a start, the Chilean is likely to cost quite a few problems to the Napoli backline this midweek.

Prediction

Inter Milan 2-1 Napoli

Inter Milan are coming on the back of an impressive win over Genoa this past week. Napoli, too, defeated Sassuolo, but had to be bailed out by VAR three times after they had conceded goals, indicating that they can be porous at the back.

Given the form that Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have been in, coupled with the fact that Antonio Conte can call upon Lautaro Martinez from the bench, the scales are slightly tilted in favour of the hosts. Thus, The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the Nerazzurri, which should help them consolidate their position in the second place.

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