Match Preview: Milan – Napoli

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TOMORROW night, 20:45 CET Milan will take on Napoli at the San Siro, in what could be a title deciding game. With the teams currently in first and second, this crunch tie will have a big effect on the title race, and so we anticipate would could be a very good night for Milan – or, for Milan’s rivals.

To look forward to this game, we must first look back. When the sides met earlier in the season, it was Milan who came out on top at the Stadio San Paolo, getting a 2-1 despite a lot of pressure, thanks to goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho.

In terms of form, both teams are in fairly good form. Napoli are in the best form in the last 3 games (as they have 3 straight wins) whereas Milan only have 2 wins and a draw from the previous 3. However, looking at the previous 5 games, it’s even closer – Milan with 3 wins and 2 draws, whilst Napoli shade it with 4 wins and a loss – so league position and form are both very close ahead of this tie.

AC Milan-Napoli: The Azzurri squad
AC Milan-Napoli: The Rossoneri squad

These are the squads:

AC Milan
Goalkeepers: Abbiati, Amelia;
Defenders: Abate, Vilà, Jankulovski, Nesta, Oddo, Papastathopoulos, Thiago Silva, Yepes;
Midfielders: Boateng, Emanuelson, Flamini, Gattuso, Merkel, Seedorf, Van Bommel;
Forwards: Cassano, Ibrahimovic, Pato, Robinho.

Napoli
Goalkeepers: De Sanctis, Iezzo;
Defenders: Aronica, Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Cribari, Dossena, Santacroce, Ruiz, Zuniga;
Midfielders: Gargano, Hamsik, Maggio, Pazienza, Sosa, Yebda;
Forwards: Cavani, Lucarelli, Mascara.

And these are the predicted lineups:

Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Van Bommel, Boateng; Robinho; Ibrahimovic, Pato.

Napoli (3-4-2-1): De Sanctis; Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Aronica; Maggio, Pazienza, Gargano, Dossena; Mascara, Hamsik; Cavani

Key Players & Matchups

Cavani vs. Nesta and Silva – This will be the most important matchup. The way Milan have played this season, and the way that Robinho and Ibrahimovic have managed to conjure something from nothing even when playing poorly, the most important job will be for Milan to stop Napoli scoring. Cavani has been excellent this season, and it will be difficult to keep him quiet, but if any center back pairing in Serie A are capable, it’s Nesta and Silva.

Wide areas – It’s probably a good thing for Milan that Napoli are expected to play 3-4-2-1 as it means the wide players won’t be able to expose Milan’s full backs like Tottenham did in the Champions League – with help from Gattuso and Boateng, Milan should be fine in this area.

The middle of the pitch – Whichever team manages to take control of the midfield area will have a huge boost and will be in a much better position to expose other areas. With Van Bommel sitting and dictating, Gattuso breaking up play and Boateng using hi energy, Milan should have too much for Pazienza and Gargano in the middle of the pitch, and stopping them linking up with Mascara and Hamsik will be crucial, as it will also stop the supply to Cavani as long as the defence can handle any pressure from wide.

Ibrahimovic vs. Napoli defence – We’ve seen Ibrahimovic pull out crucial goals to get points in games Milan would almost certainly have lost or drawn last season – and if he can do something similar tomorrow, it will be a very big step towards the Scudetto for the Rossoneri.

Possible Consequences

Vice-President Adriano Galliani recently said that this game would have a big impact on the title race, but ultimately this 1 game wouldn’t be enough to decide it…

If Milan were to win, the impact would be big. It would send a clear message to all title rivals, Napoli would be 6 points behind and Milan’s nearest challengers would then become Inter. More emphasis would be placed on the Milan derby which is yet to come, but the Rossoneri would still have a 5 point lead at the top of the table with another big game out of the way – even if Inter beat Sampdoria tonight. The knock on effect could give Milan a confidence boost too, which might even help turn around the 1-0 deficit to Spurs in the Champions League!

Should Napoli win, the effects would be just as big, if not bigger. It would put Napoli level with Milan on points, though they would remain second unless they get a freak result (such as Udinese’s 7-0 win against Palermo earlier today) This would put Napoli in an excellent position to take the Scudetto too, as their run in is arguably easier than Milan’s. Taking the 3 points from the Rossoneri would also help Inter too, and it may even cause a dip in confidence to further dent Milan’s title hopes in the difficult upcoming games.

Ultimately – Galliani’s thoughts were exactly right, this game will not decide the title once and for all, but it could give a big boost to Milan – or their rivals – so let’s hope the Rossoneri come out on top!

By Hefin Davies, Rossoneri Blog

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TJ56
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TJ56

Excellent article. Milan Should get away with the win but it’s not going to be easy. Forza Milan!!!

Marc
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Marc

I’d still really love to see Milan run a 5-2-1-2 as I think it maximizes their potential best. I’m going to do this as if everyone were healthy.

LWB – Emanuelson
LCB – Yepes
CB – Thiago Silva
RCB – Nesta
RWB – Abata
LCM – Pirlo
RCM – Boateng
CAM – Cassano
LS – Pato
RS – Ibahimovic

Emanuelson and Abate are both attacking defensive players; allowing them to play as wingbacks maximizes everyone’s potential. Over the summer, go for another CB.

Hefin Davies
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Hefin Davies

@TJ56 – thanks 🙂

@Marc – would you really want to leave Robinho out? I’m quite an admirer of his, and if you’ve looked at my twitter you’ll know that I’ve got an article about him in the works 😉

Giancarlo
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Giancarlo

People do not recognize how important Robinho is for this squad. He adds a lot of speed, and precise passing for this team. People will criticize him, but three goals in the last two games is enough for him to keep his starting spot. I do not think Cassano should start. He perhaps has been playing too much lately, and should be on the bench for a substitute impact if necessary. And 5 defenders? Why on earth would we play like that? Not in the San Siro. And not anywhere else. We play with a 4 man backline like any… Read more »

Milan Fan
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Milan Fan

Its time for Milan to come up with a BIG result at the San Siro. All season they have had poor home form in the games against the big teams (ie. Spurs, Juve, and Roma). Milan need to get back to being an unstoppable force at the San Siro. And there’s no better time to start then NOW. FORZA MILAN

Master
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Master

I don’ care how good Milan play in this match. The only thing i care is Milan MUST WIN. If Milan win than we can leave behind Napoli for 6 point (cmiiw) and Inter 5 points. Also, Lazio & Roma got draw.

TJ56
Member
TJ56

Milannews confirmed that FLAMINI will take the place of KPB, and Janku will play as LB: Official formations as stated on Milannews (I though official formations are released an HOUR before the match begins, ?):

—————————-ABBIATI—————————-

———————NESTA———–SILVA———————

—ABATE————————————————JANKU–

——————————MvB——————————

———–GATTUSO————————FLAMINI————–

—————————-ROBINHO—————————-

——————-IBRA—————–PATO——————-

Its a bit defensive dont u think guys? I hope Allegri gets this one right. I dont want the same thing to happen like against Lazio and Genoa, it seems the midfield lacks creativity, I guess we should rely on Abate charging forward more.

Student
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Student

When will Allegri play more attacking games, being so defensive at home isnt making any kind of progress, we are not defending our title , we are on course to win a title after a few years. GOALKEEPER IS THE FIRST LINE OF ATTACK AND LAST LINE OF DEFENCE.
Allegri please learn before its not too late. Ok I am an Inter fan for saying that …

Giancarlo
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Giancarlo

MWAWAWAWAW… Allegri read the game exactly right! HIS FORMATION WAS SPOT ON!

Giancarlo
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Giancarlo

And one other thing, EAT YOUR WORDS SHERVIN. What a complete jokester. Milan was masterclass today! Absolutely dominant! Could have had 4 or 5 goals… should have been 2-0 up to the break.

Master
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Master

Milan win 3-0! 1st half milan plays really bad, but 2nd half…now that’s the spirit! . Surprisingly, Jankulovski play great on this match.

Man of the match: definitely Pato

Giancarlo
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Giancarlo

I thought Milan did well the first half and had chances. But the 2nd half is when we really came to life. Jankulovski was awesome! And yes, Pato was man of the match… but loved how Boateng got his third goal of the season…

TJ56
Member
TJ56

We were simple awesome tonight. Excellent performance. Pato was magnificent, easilt MoM. Did you guys see how happy Cassano was for Pato’s goal. That’s the Milan spirit. Whatcha got now Student??

rossonero23
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rossonero23

Good performance.

Allegri’ still a dummy…lol.

Giancarlo
Guest
Giancarlo

Is he now? His tactics were spot on today. As they usually are. He’s excellent.

Master
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Master

@Giancarlo
well, not really bad, they had a couple of good chance but lacking some finishing.

@rossonero23
are you student / shervin with diffrent names? cause i only knew 2 names, make it 3 with rooney2009, who always bashing Allegri names in here.

rossonero23
Guest
rossonero23

What the hell are you talking about, Master? I have no idea who those individuals are. Stop excusing of nonsense!

Am I not allowed to voice my opinion? Seriously, who do you think you are?