Napoli vs Milan: Preview and Prediction
The high-profile caravan of Serie A 2022-23 enters into its April segment where the battle between the top side to barge into the Top 4 and the survival of bottom-placed teams will get even more intense.
The undisputed table-toppers Napoli will be returning to the battlefield to take on the defending champions AC Milan for an action-packed saga of football. Matchday 28 encounter of the Italian top-flight league will be underway at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona of Naples this Monday.
The Naples-based outfit has occupied the top-most spot of the Serie A standings after having fetched 71 points and suffering a losing outcome only on two occasions to date. The gaffer Luciano Spalletti and his Blue Boys are thriving on an invincible run and have destroyed the competitive race for Scudetto which is considered one of the toughest among the European leagues. It is projected that the Parthenopeans who have held the table-toppers crown in 25 out of 27 matchdays can extend their stay at the top until the 33rd matchday even after losing straight six matches from here.
The defending Italian top-flight champions are on verge of losing their title-defense challenge to the opponents with whom they are going to share the battlefield up next. Milan is currently seated in the fourth position with 48 points and has been indulged in a mini-battle with their arch-rivals Internazionale to make it to the Top 3. The Red and Blacks need to somehow attain points from this forthcoming clash in order to ensure their ultimate aim of retaining the UCL qualification.
One of the only two losses for Napoli just occurred in the first week of March when they suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Lazio on the home turf. It was a bittering outcome for the Azzurri as their winning streak of eight fixtures was also broken as a consequence of a 0-1 defeat. However, the Parthenopeans quickly staged a turnaround and went on to register convincing triumphs over Atalanta and Torino before turning up for this game.
Meanwhile, the Rossoneri side is suffering from poor form as they could not register a single league win in the entire March month. The most recent winning outcome for the Milan Reds came in the final week of February when they crushed down Gli Orobici at a packed San Siro arena. It was followed by three winless games for the defending champions including two defeats which came in away conditions.
Milan has a rich history of dominating the Sky Blues over the years however, the recent record of this rivalry goes in the favor of the Parthenopeans. Napoli has thoroughly outclassed the Italian heavyweights in the last decades and has won 13 of their previous 30 Serie A encounters while the Red and Blacks could triumph only on six occasions.
We witnessed the Naples-based club demolishing the years-long domination of the Milan Reds after finishing above them for seven straight seasons between 2012 to 2020. However, the Rossoneri side has bounced back and staged their resurgence in a thumping way for the past three seasons.
The Red and Blacks lost the season’s first encounter with the Azzurris at San Siro in a 1-2 clash where all three goals of the night came in the second half. Oliver Giroud from the Milan camp levelled the scoreline in the 69th minute however, the roaring Giuseppe Meazza crowd was silenced by the Argentine striker Giovanni Simeone with a 78th-minute headed breakthrough.
Stefano Pioli is likely to consider multiple changes in the starting eleven to end a month-long win drought and adopt a refreshing approach while clashing against the table-toppers. The Red and Blacks will be gracing the battlefield without the services of defender Pierre Kalulu who is expected to stay out of action for at least two weeks. The 22-year-old French robust defender has sustained a calf injury that occurred during his time with France U21 national team and will be toiling hard for a speedy recovery.
On the other hand, Napoli admiral Luciano Spalletti may not consider any changes to the lineup which was fielded against Torino to protect the winning combination. The 25-year-old Mathias Oliver is expected to retain his place in the starting XI despite the availability of the Portuguese left-back Mario Rui on the bench. The goal-scorers of the previous face-off, Matteo Politano and Giovanni Simeone will be seen on the Sky Blues’ bench while waiting for their turn through substitution.
Predicted Starting XIs
Napoli (4-3-3): Alex Meret; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Kim Min-Jae, Amir Rrahmani, Mathias Olivera; André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Stanislav Lobotka, Piotr Zielinski; Hirving Lozano, Victor Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia
AC Milan (3-4-2-1): Mike Maignan; Simon Kjaer, Malick Thiaw, Fikayo Tomori; Davide Calabria, Ismael Bennacer, Sandro Tonali, Fode Ballo-Toure; Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao; Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The kind of form the Parthenopeans are having and the way they have performed throughout the 2022-23 season, it is quite evident that they are favorites to win this contest as well. It is going to be a tough challenge for the Milan defensive department to battle out the Napoli offense that has scored nine goals in the last three games.
The Red and Blacks are not having the title-defense campaign they must have planned but their roster is capable enough to stun the in-form Sky Blues side.