PREVIEW: NAPOLI VS INTER MILAN, CAN GATTUSO'S MEN STOP THE WELL-OILED INTER MACHINE?
Italian champions elect Inter Milan can take a huge step towards securing the title when they travel to Napoli on Sunday. Inter have an 11-point lead with eight matches left to play and Napoli away is one of their toughest fixtures left. Gennaro Gattuso’s men meanwhile need three points to stay in the race for Champions League qualification.
Napoli come into the match in good form having won six of their last eight league matches. They beat Sampdoria away last weekend 2-0 with goals from Fabian Ruiz and Victor Osemhin. The win left them just two points off Atalanta in fourth
Inter are the most in-form team in Europe. They have won their last 11 consecutive matches and are unbeaten since the first week of January in Serie A. They continued their run with a 1-0 win last Sunday with Matteo Darmian grabbing the winner.
For Napoli, the main absence is that of Hirving Lozano who is suspended after getting his fifth yellow card of the season against Sampdoria. Goalkeeper David Ospina misses out due to injury and left-back Faouzi Ghoulam is a long-term absentee.
Napoli are one of only two teams in the Top 5 European leagues to boast six players whom have scored at least 5+ goals this season. The other team is Manchester City.
— SSC Nap⚽️li News (@SSCNapoliNews_) April 11, 2021
Predicted Napoli Lineup: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui; Demme, Ruiz; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; Mertens
Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte will be without the services of Arturo Vidal and Aleksandar Kolarov who miss out with a knee injury and muscle problem respectively. Ivan Perisic may return to the bench after recovering from an injury.
Predicted Inter Milan Lineup: Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Eriksen, Young; Martinez, Lukaku
Gattuso has relied upon Lorenzo Insigne in the attacking department and the winger will again be key. He has the pace and experience to trouble a dominant Inter Milan defence. Insigne will be up against Achraf Hakimi on the wing. Hakimi will definitely concede some space and Insigne has the tools to make him pay.
For Napoli, the unenviable task of keeping Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez quiet falls on Kalidaou Koulibaly’s shoulders. His performance can single-handedly determine the outcome.
2020-2021 🇮🇹 Serie A Shot-Creating Actions Leaders
Rodrigo De Paul (140)
Hakan Çalhanoğlu (135)
Lorenzo Insigne (113)
Luis Alberto (107)
Domenico Berardi (100)
Lorenzo Pellegrini (99)
Filip Đuričić (97)https://t.co/CZ3jPfI90j
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Conte’s on-field general Nicolo Barella has been the best midfielder in Serie A this season. He has been the metronome and will be looking to dominate proceedings again on Sunday. Barella has also increased his final output, scoring three and assisting six goals.
Inter’s fearful strike duo is an ever-present threat. In an era where Liverpool and Manchester City are dominating without a proper centre forward, it is refreshing to see a somewhat old-fashioned pairing. The two feed off of each other and no team in the league has come up with an answer to stop Lukaku and Martinez.
Conte has done an exceptional job since taking over at San Siro and a first title in 10 years is inevitable. However, Napoli are in good form and perhaps have higher stakes given how comfortable Inter are. The Nerrazzurri are too good to lose right now so FootTheBall predicts Napoli 2-2 Inter Milan