Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Prediction: Napoli vs AC Milan

Verdict: Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score

Best odds: 7/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

Normal service, or as close it can be under the current circumstances, is resumed this weekend in the Serie A after the international break. It’s round eight and AC Milan will go to Naples to face Napoli at the San Paolo on Sunday evening.

Napoli

Having been the team closest to challenging Juventus for the title for a few seasons, Napoli have started drifting away from the top-end of the table. Last season they finished in seventh place – a hugely underwhelming result which left them without European football this term after several notable Champions League involvements.

Things are, however, looking better for them at the moment. They are in third place with 14 points after seven rounds, three less than Milan at the top, one less than Sassuolo in second, and the same as AS Roma and Lazio in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Gennaro Gattuso’s team are on relatively good form overall, with four wins and two defeats from their last six outings in all competitions.

Team News

The former Milan player and coach will certainly put Kalidou Koulibaly and Kostas Manolas in the heart of defence, but with Amir Rrahmani and Elsaid Hysaj both testing positive for Covid-19 while on international duty, the two trusted centre-backs are likely to be flanked by Mario Rui and Giovanni Di Lorenzo.

Forward Victor Osimhen picked up a shoulder injury and is unavailable for this game. Dries Mertens is likely to lead the line upfront, though Gattuso could opt for Andrea Petagna instead if he goes for a traditional striker.

AC Milan

Unlike Napoli, the Rossoneri are finally in a position fitting for a club which has been crowned European champions seven times, still second only to Real Madrid in that aspect despite the last time they’ve won the Champions League being 13 years ago. Last season, they were the team to have pipped Napoli for the final European spot and finished sixth, but at the moment, they seem unstoppable.

Milan top the table with 17 points from seven games and are one of the three teams to not have tasted defeat in the league this term so far, the other two being Sassuolo and Juventus. Helped hugely by the incredible form of 39-year-old striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Stefano Pioli seems to have finally found a winning formula.

As for Europe, Milan are in Group H with Lille OSC, Slavia Prague and Celtic, and they sit in second place with six points after three matchdays, behind the Ligue 1 side.

Team News

Pioli will have been thoroughly annoyed by the thigh injury picked up by in-form forward Raphael Leao while on international duty. The Portuguese is the only player definitely ruled out from the Naples trip, and will likely be replaced by Ante Rebic who returns from the sidelines after two months out with an elbow problem. Alternatively, Pioli could choose Samu Castillejo instead.

Defenders Mateo Musacchio and Alessio Romagnoli are doubts.

Conclusion

This game should be fun to watch. The duels between Ibrahimovic on one side and the duo of Koulibaly and Manolas on the other will certainly be interesting, though at this particular moment, you cannot bet against the veteran Swede finding the back of the net at least once.

Verdict: Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score

Best odds: 7/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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