Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 3/4
There will be a couple of high-profile matches in Italian Serie A this weekend and the clash between top 3 rivals AC Milan and Napoli steals the show on Saturday. The Rossoneri trail their next opponents four points, but they also have a game in hand, so there are no doubts that there will be plenty at stake when the two sides square off at San Siro.
It’s been a while since AC Milan last mounted a serious challenge for Champions League positions and, in all fairness, the Rossoneri fans did not have high hopes for the current season, as the club were unable to attract high-profile footballers in the summer. Nevertheless, talented coach Vincenzo Montella did well to get the absolute maximum out of what is not exactly a star-studded squad, and he did that during the season when most Italian top sides have enjoyed a real resurgence. In most other campaigns, AC Milan would now sit comfortably in top 3, but the reality is they are now four points behind third-placed Napoli, albeit with a game in hand. Following the impressive start, the Rossoneri have suffered a dip in form of late, winning just one of their last four league fixtures, although the Italian Super Cup triumph over Juventus and Coppa Italia win against Torino would suggest otherwise. AC Milan players showed a real character to come from two goals behind in the league clash against Granata and earn one point, with wonderkid Gianluigi Donnarumma saving a first-half penalty and pulling off few more excellent saves. However, it is the four players in front of him who will have to show considerable improvement if they want to have any chance of keeping the likes of Mertens, Callejon and Insigne quiet for large periods of the game.
Starlets Alessio Romagnoli and Manuel Locatelli are both banned, whereas Mattia De Sciglio faces a fitness test ahead of the Napoli game.
Meanwhile, midfielders Matias Fernandez, Riccardo Montolivo and Andrea Poli remain in the treatment room.
With Manolo Gabbiadini struggling for form and still a long way to go until the January transfer window, Napoli officials and fans alike lamented the injury of red-hot Arkadiusz Milik, but that may very well prove to be the best thing that has happened to the Azzurri this season. We are obviously not speaking about the qualities of the Polish striker, who will be an asset to the squad, but pointing out to the fact that said injury prompted head coach Maurizio Sarri to play Dries Mertens as false nine. The Belgian winger has been absolutely amazing since he was handed the new role and he now has no fewer than 10 goals in last 6 appearances, and his total of 12 goals in Serie A this term is just one short of traitor Gonzalo Higuain’s tally. Even if the back line has not been on top of their game of late, conceding 9 goals in last 5 matches, Napoli have won seven of last eight fixtures in all competitions to climb to third in Serie A and make it to the Coppa Italia last 8. The Azzurri still hope to challenge Juventus and AS Roma for the league trophy, but also want to cement their top 3 berth and eventual triumph at San Siro can be an important step towards said goal.
January recruit Leonardo Pavoletti has yet to play his first Serie A game in a Napoli shirt, while free-scoring defender Lorenzo Tonelli keeps his place.
Raul Albiol should start despite battling a bout of flu, but Arkadiusz Milik is injured and Faouzi Ghoulam, Kalidou Koulibaly and Omar El Kaddouri are away on international duty.
Key Factors to Consider
- Their last 9 meetings produced 30 goals
- Napoli won three of last four matches vs AC Milan (D1)
- AC Milan won just one of last five home games vs Azzurri (D2 L2)
- Both teams scored in each of Napoli’s last five fixturs
- The Azzurri won seven of last eight games on all fronts (D1)
Previous meetings between the two sides have been quite eventful affairs with plenty of goals scored and we definitely expect the trend to continue. While Napoli are on top of their game and chasing leaders Juventus, AC Milan need a win to keep their Champions League hopes alive, meaning that over 2.5 goals is a good option here.
Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 3/4
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