Napoli vs AC Milan
Italian Serie A.
Date: Saturday, 27 August 2016,
Kick-Off: 19:45 UK,
Venue: Stadio San Paolo (Napoli).
Both Napoli and AC Milan will be seeking further improvement as they clash at the Stadio San Paolo this Saturday.
The Partenopei started this season off on less than the ideal footing. Although they did not lose their season opener, it surely will feel more like two points dropped than one won. Still, there were some positives from their 2-2 draw with newly promoted Pescara. Dries Mertens was in particularly inspired form as his brace helped to salvage some dignity for Maurizio Sarri’s side. After all, for a team hoping to be among the challengers for the Scudetto this season, losing to a team who were in Serie B last term is obviously not the best way to kick-start a campaign.
Mertens, who came on as a second-half sub for Lorenzo Insigne, appeared to be very determined to prove a point to his manager. Well, two goals within ten minutes of one’s arrival to secure a point from a losing position certainly will do just that, and the Belgian will be rewarded with a starting berth for Saturday’s encounter. In addition, the departure of Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus has left a huge void within the team. Whilst new man Arkadiusz Milik had a solid season with Ajax last year, there will be nonetheless an air of unease among Napoli fans until the team gets firing on all cylinders.
Meanwhile, AC Milan will be coming into this game having secured a 3-2 win over Torino. For a team who again failed to make the grade – and missed out on European football as a result – this was a much needed victory. Currently under the leadership of Vincenzo Montella – their sixth new coach since Massimiliano Allegri’s sacking – the Rossoneri are aiming to finally end their self-imposed hiatus from continental football.
Carlos Bacca in particular was especially impressive. Then again, grabbing the game winning hat-trick on matchday one is always going to be a good thing. Despite not having the best supporting cast, the Colombian nonetheless managed to score 18 league goals last term, and with a hat-trick under his belt, more is expected of the ex-Sevilla man this year. Another excellent performer was young shot-stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who came up big to save the Granata’s spot-kick attempt.
There are still some major concerns, namely how the Rossoneri nearly threw away a much-needed win due to a lack of focus. This is something that Montella will be keen on modifying if they want to have any chance at making a push for a European football berth.
Meanwhile, AC Milan have not beaten Napoli since December 2014. And it been nearly six years since the Diavolo last trounced the Partenopei at the Stadio San Paolo back in October 2010. The last time they met on matchday two was during the 1962/1963 season and fans were treated to a glut of goals. In fact, six were scored between the two sides: five for AC Milan, and one for Napoli.
Napoli: Team News
Mertens’s excellent performance will surely give him a spot in the starting XI and possibly relegate Lorenzo Insigne to the bench. Meanwhile, Kalidou Koulibaly is very much still a Partenopei player – despite Chelsea’s aggressive pursuit – and will again feature in the heart of Napoli’s defense.
New signing Emanuele Giaccherini is still out injured, as are Lorenzo Tonelli and Omar El Kaddouri. Jorginho will re-claim his spot in midfield after serving his suspension, relegating Mirko Valdifiori to the bench.
Napoli: Expected Starting Line-up (4-3-3)
Reina – Hysaj, Koulibaly, Albiol, Ghoulam – Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik – Callejon, Milik, Mertens
AC Milan: Team News
Alessio Romagnoli, another Chelsea target, appears to be going nowhere this summer. The young Italian defender will slot into Montella’s starting line-up alongside new signing Gustavo Gomez. Gabriel Palletta will miss out due to a red card picked up on matchday one, whilst Andrea Bertolacci is still on the treatment table.
AC Milan: Expected Starting Line-up (4-3-3)
Donnarumma – Abate, Gomez, Romagnoli, Antonelli – Kucka, Montolivo, Bonaventura – Suso, Bacca, Niang
Napoli vs AC Milan: Head-to-Head Stats
- Napoli have only lost one out of their last ten games against AC Milan across all competitions
- Four out of their last five meetings resulted in over 2.5 goals
- Since 1993, the Partenopei and the Diavolo have met 30 times. Napoli’s overall record stands as W8 D12 L 10
- Napoli are undefeated in their last 19 home games and have scored at least three goals in five out of their past six home matches in league action
Napoli vs AC Milan: Prediction
Despite their disappointing draw with Pescara, Napoli nonetheless still do have the firepower to trouble AC Milan, who will be missing key man Palletta in the heart of defense. Furthermore, it’s been nearly six years since the Rossoneri defeated the Partenopei in Naples. They are very much still a side in transition, despite Bacca and Donnarumma’s excellent showings against Torino. As such, Sarri’s side should be able to edge out their opponents to pick up their first win of the 2016/2017 season.
Napoli vs AC Milan: Tips
1.Over 2.5 goals
2.Both the Partenopei and the Diavolo to score