Inter Milan and Napoli will lock horns with each other this midweek in Serie A in a clash that will have repercussions at the top end of the table.
It will be second versus third in Serie A on Wednesday night as Inter Milan get ready to play hosts to Napoli at San Siro in matchweek 12.
Inter Milan’s Champions League campaign may have ended on a whimper, but Antonio Conte’s men have been getting things right in Serie A, as they sit second in the table, three points behind leaders and local rivals AC Milan. The Nerazzurri defeated Cagliari 3-1 at the weekend, which made it four wins in a row and seven matches unbeaten in the league (W5 D2).
Napoli, meanwhile, are just a point and a place behind their midweek opponents, following a 2-1 win over Sampdoria this past weekend. The Partenopei, under the guidance of Gennaro Gattuso, are without a defeat in their last six matches in all competitions (W4 D2) and have lost just two of their previous 14 in Serie A and Europa League combined.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 2-0 win for Inter Milan, with goals coming from Danilo D’Ambrosio and Lautaro Martinez on either side of half-time. And, ahead of their latest meeting on Wednesday night, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Inter Milan will once again be without the services of midfielder Arturo Vidal while Achraf Hakimi is also a doubt for the game with a calf problem. Besides the duo, Matias Vecino, Andrea Pinamonti and Radja Nainggolan are also likely to miss out. There will be a few changes made to the lineup that took the field against Cagliari this past weekend.
There is no looking past skipper Samir Handanovic in goal for the Nerazzurri while there are unlikely to be any changes in the three-man backline as Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni should hold on to their places. Danilo D’Ambrosio, who was on target at the weekend, remains on the bench again.
With Hakimi a doubt, Matteo Darmian should once again start as the right wing-back while Ashley Young should come in for Ivan Perisic on the left side. Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella, who scored against Cagliari, are certainties in the middle of the park, but with Christian Eriksen failing to make an impact, he should make way for Roberto Gagliardini.
Alexis Sanchez started alongside Romelu Lukaku in the two-pronged attack at the weekend. However, the Chilean international should make way for Lautaro Martinez when Napoli come visiting this week.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Brozovic, Gagliardini, Young; Lukaku, Martinez
Star summer signing Victor Osimhem remains out on the sidelines for Napoli, while Elseid Hysaj is also a doubt for the fixture. Apart from that, Gattuso does not have any other major injury concerns ahead of their trip to Milan on Wednesday. The manager could make some tweaks to the side that took the field against Sampdoria last time out.
The first change ought to come in goal, where David Ospina is in line for a return after Alex Meret started in the previous match. Kostas Manolas and Kalidou Koulibaly should pair up at the heart of the Partenopei defence while Giovanni Di Lorenzo continues at right-back. Mario Rui, though, should replace Faouzi Ghoulam on the left.
Fabian Ruiz is a certain starter in one of the two pivot positions for Napoli and will act as the chief source of creativity. The Spaniard should have on-loan Chelsea midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko as his partner in the middle, with Diego Demme dropping out. Piotr Zielinski should take up the No. 10 slot once again on Wednesday night.
On the right flank, Hirving Lozano, who was on target in the win against Sampdoria, should get the nod over Matteo Politano, while there is no looking past Lorenzo Insigne on the opposite wing. With no Osimhen, Dries Mertens is expected to spearhead the Napoli attack against Inter Milan, with Andrea Petagna being an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui; Ruiz, Bakayoko; Lozano, Zielinski, Insigne; Mertens
- Inter Milan won both their league games against Napoli last season. Antonio Conte could become just the second coach in history to win his first three Serie A matches as the Nerazzurri manager against the Partenopei, after Alfredo Foni between 1952 and 1953.
- Napoli have not found the back of the net in their last three away games against Inter Milan in Serie A: the last team to keep a clean sheet in four consecutive home games against the Partenopei were Catania between 1961 and 2008 (six games).
- Inter Milan have scored in their last four Serie A meetings against Napoli, having failed to net in their previous four. This is their longest streak since 2000 when they scored in eight games in a row in the competition against the Neapolitans.
- Napoli have scored 26 goals in Serie A this season. Only in 2017/18 (32) and in 1957/58 (30) did they score more in their first 11 Serie A matchdays.
- Inter Milan have earned 10 points from losing positions in Serie A this season. Only Manchester United (15) have collected more such points in the top five European leagues this term.
Player to Watch
Having started the campaign on a bright note, the Argentine international has seen goals dry up in recent weeks. Martinez has failed to find the back of the net in his last six appearances across all competitions, with his last goal coming in the 4-2 win over Torino last month.
Against a team like Napoli, who along with Inter Milan, are strong contenders for the Serie A title this season, Antonio Conte will need his big players to step up. And Martinez, along with strike partner Romelu Lukaku will be key to the Nerazzurri‘s chances of bagging an important win on Wednesday night.
Inter Milan 1-1 Napoli
Both Inter Milan and Napoli head into the game having registered comeback wins in their previous fixtures in Serie A. Given how close things are at the top of the table, both teams will be keen not to lose on Wednesday which might lead to a cagey affair.
Inter Milan have not had it easy against the big teams this term, having been held to 1-1 draws by Atalanta and Lazio in the league, while losing to AC Milan. And things might not be very different against a Napoli side that boasts the joint second-best defence in Serie A this term. The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts both teams to share the spoils at San Siro.