AC Milan vs Napoli preview
The Serie A title race is shaping up to be one of the closest ever in recent history. This comes after the title race went down the wire last season. In the end, AC Milan won the league after beating Inter by two points on the final matchday. Currently, the top five clubs are only separated by one point, with the top three level on points.
And now third-place AC Milan welcome league leaders Napoli to the San Siro with the top spot on the line. A win for any side will be important in the title race. Milan have already made their intentions clear by beating Inter in the Milan Derby.
Milan and Napoli are currently tied on points, only separated by goal difference. Milan started the season with two wins and two draws but have since won back-to-back matches. Stefano Pioli’s men have been impressive in attack, scoring the second-most goals in the league. They have also completed the most dribbles in the league and are fifth in terms of Field Tilt and Passes Per Defensive Actions (PPDA).
The defending champions have also started their UEFA Champions League campaign brilliantly, taking four points from two matches.
On the other hand, Napoli have been the most in-form team in Serie A. Their attack has been impressive, with new signing Khvicha Kvaratskhelia at the centre of it. The Georgian has already scored four goals, the second-most in the league. In midfield, Piotr Zielinski has been the creator-in-chief. The Pole has created 20 chances, the most by any player in the league.
In defence, Min-Jae Kim has filled the void left by Kalidou Koulibaly, who signed for Chelsea. He has been given support by his defensive partner Amir Rrahmani while right-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo has been solid too.
AC Milan vs Napoli team news
AC Milan’s most significant loss is talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is recovering from an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery. To make matters worse, new signing Divock Origi has also struggled with injuries. In their absence, the responsibilities have been taken by Olivier Giroud.
Right-back Alessandro Florenzi has also suffered a hamstring injury and is expected to be out for at least two months. Winger Ante Rebic joins him on the treatment table. However, their greatest loss will be Rafael Leao, who is suspended after being sent off against Sampdoria.
Predicted AC Milan Lineup: Maignan; Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer, Tonali; Saelemaekers, De Ketelaere, Messias; Giroud
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia – 22/23 so far
— 𝓢𝓮𝓷𝓪 (@fcbsena_) September 11, 2022
Napoli have been in pristine form this season which has got them the top spot. They have scored the most league goals and have almost an injury-free squad to choose from. Napoli’s only concern is striker Victor Osimhen. The striker suffered a second-degree lesion in his right femoral bicep against Liverpool in the Champions League.
However, apart from that, the squad is injury-free, which will be music to manage Luciano Spalletti’s ears. The fully-fit team will also come in handy if Napoli want to win their first Serie A title in three decades.
Predicted Napoli Lineup: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Min-Jae Kim, Mario Rui; Anguissa, Lobotka; Politano, Zieliński, Kvaratskhelia; Simeone
With all the injuries, AC Milan need all hands on deck if they want to defend their title. With the injuries to Ibrahimovic and Origi, Giroud has been the leading man scoring three goals till now. And he has been ably supported by new signing Charles De Ketelaere. Brahim Diaz has also been highly effective.
However, the defence will be the key to AC Milan’s Serie A title race bid. And it is here that Fikayo Tomori and Theo Hernandez will be the key, especially against an in-form, free-scoring Napoli attack.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic on his retirement: "If I see a player stronger than me, I will be ready to retire. But I haven't seen any player stronger than me yet…", tells Gazzeta. 🇸🇪 #Ibra
"AC Milan have signed a top player with Charles de Ketelaere – give him some time", he added. pic.twitter.com/hgBifK7JGW
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 14, 2022
For Milan, it is hard to look past Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who has been one of the best players across Europe. Fans have already compared the Georgian to Diego Maradona. He, along with Zielinski and Tanguy Ndombele, form a solid midfield that keeps Napoli in control of the game.
AC Milan vs Napoli predictions
Napoli have the perfect opportunity to come off with a win at San Siro. The absence of Rafael Leao will also be good news for Napoli’s defence. And with the attack they have, Milan’s defence and midfield will have their hands full during the match.
The team from Naples look the more balanced and in-form side, but the San Siro stadium could act as a source of inspiration for Milan.
FootTheBall predicts a 1-1 draw for the match.