AC Milan will be aiming to keep up the pace with Serie A leaders Inter Milan when they lock horns with Napoli at San Siro this weekend.
AC Milan will be gunning to make it six games unbeaten across all competitions when they face off against former manager Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli side at San Siro in Serie A on Sunday night.
Milan are currently undefeated in their last five games in all competitions, most recently pulling off a late comeback to draw 1-1 with Manchester United in the Europa League. However, draws will not do much favour to Stefano Pioli & co. if they are to eat into the six-point lead that rivals and league leaders Inter Milan have opened up on them.
Napoli, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last four matches in all competitions, with their latest contest ending in a 3-1 win over Bologna. Gennaro Gattuso’s men, however, are sixth in the table, five points off of fourth-placed Atalanta and will need to bridge that gap soon if they are to play Champions League football next season.
The reverse fixture played in November last year saw Milan beat ten-man Napoli 3-1 with goals coming from Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2) and Jens Petter Hauge while Dries Mertens scored for the Partenopei. Ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday night, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
🗣️ #MilanNapoli 🗣️
"We must maintain our level of intensity and quality"
Coach Pioli previews tomorrow's San Siro clash
— AC Milan (@acmilan) March 13, 2021
The Rossoneri will once again be without the services of key men Ismael Bennacer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Mandzukic and Ante Rebic while captain Alessio Romagnoli is also set to miss out. There is some good news though, with Theo Hernandez and Hakan Calhanoglu set to be available after missing the midweek clash against Manchester United.
Stefano Pioli will set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation on Sunday night with Gianluigi Donnarumma the undisputed starter in goal. Simon Kjaer, who was Milan’s saviour in midweek, will once again partner up with Fikayo Tomori at the heart of the defence for the hosts.
The returning Hernandez should slot in at left-back while Diogo Dalot, who had an impressive outing against parent club Manchester United should start at right-back at the expense of Davide Calabria. Both players will look to provide attacking impetus on their respective flanks with regular forward forays.
Franck Kessie, who also had a solid game in midweek, is a certain starter in the middle of the park. However, he will be partnered by Sandro Tonali in place of Soualiho Meite, with the Italian set to essay the role of the deep-lying playmaker for the Rossoneri.
Hakan Calhanoglu should be the No. 10 for AC Milan with the Turkish midfielder set to be flanked by Alexis Saelemaekers and Rade Krunic on the right and left sides respectively. Leading the line for the hosts in the absence of Ibrahimovic and Mandzukic should once again be Rafael Leao.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Krunic; Leao
Andrea Petagna, Faouzi Ghoulam, Amir Rrahmani, Kostas Manolas and Hirving Lozano all miss out from the travelling squad to Milan for Sunday’s game. Gennaro Gattuso will also set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation on Sunday, mirroring the formation of his former employers.
📃 | Squad list for #MilanNapoli
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) March 13, 2021
Alex Meret could be set to start in goal as Gattuso continues to rotate him with David Ospina, who featured in the last game against Bologna. Giovanni Di Lorenzo should continue at right-back while Mario Rui is set to replace the injured Ghoulam on the left.
At the centre of the Napoli defence, Kalidou Koulibaly, who is a target for Manchester United and Liverpool, should start again. He will have Nikola Maksimovic as his partner against Milan.
The midfield double pivot for Napoli is likely to see Fabian Ruiz pair up with Chelsea loanee Tiemoue Bakayoko. The former will be tasked with providing the creative essence for the team while the latter will look to disrupt Milan’s gameplay in the centre. Piotr Zielinski will take up the No. 10 slot for the Partenopei.
The threat from the wide areas will come from Matteo Politano and Lorenzo Insigne, who should occupy the right and left flanks respectively. There could be a change at the top of the attack though, with summer signing Victor Osimhen set to be given a chance ahead of Dries Mertens, after the latter scored in the win against Bologna.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Rui; Ruiz, Bakayoko; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; Osimhen
- AC Milan are unbeaten in their last four Serie A matches against Napoli (W1 D3).
- Napoli have failed to win their last five away matches in the league (D1 L4). Their last win on the road in Serie A came in January against Udinese.
- AC Milan are without a home win against Napoli in Serie A since 2014. Two of their last five league meetings at San Siro have ended in defeats for the Rossoneri (D3).
- Napoli have conceded at least two goals in their last 4 away matches in Serie A.
- With 178 recoveries in 25 games, AC Milan’s Franck Kessie has made the third-most number of recoveries by an outfield player in Serie A this season – a tally only bettered by Manuel Locatelli and Jerdy Schouten.
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Highest scoring Italian in the year 2021?
Lorenzo Insigne. 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/6fPpB3BEZm
— Raffaele (@ItalianoCalcio) March 7, 2021
The Napoli captain has been in good form heading into Sunday’s game and his performance could have a major say in the outcome of the contest. Insigne has scored three goals in his last two Serie A games, while setting up one more, taking his total tally for the season to 13 goals and 8 assists from 35 games in all competitions.
With his brace against Bologna last time out, Insigne has now scored the joint-most number of Serie A goals in 2021 (8), level with Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Muriel. The 29-year-old boasts a decent tally of six goals against AC Milan in the Italian top-flight and the Rossoneri will need to ensure that he has a quiet game if they are to come out on top this weekend.
AC Milan 1-1 Napoli
AC Milan seem to be back on the right track after a minor blip. The Rossoneri, despite missing a host of their top players, picked up a win against Verona in the league last weekend and could have easily won in midweek against Manchester United. Napoli, on the other hand, haven’t lost any of their last four games but Gennaro Gattuso’s men haven’t always looked convincing enough.
While the return of Hakan Calhanoglu and Theo Hernandez will be a boost for the Rossoneri, the lack of a proper goalscorer in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic could come back to haunt them against a team boasting the third-best defensive record in Serie A this term. As a result, Milan could end up playing another 1-1 draw on Sunday, potentially losing further ground in the title race.