After what was a positive outing against Man Utd, eventually earning a 1-1 draw thanks to a late Simon Kjaer equaliser, Milan will be looking to pick up another good result on Sunday evening. However, it won’t be easy for the Rossoneri as they will take on 6th-placed Napoli at San Siro.
Milan secured an important away win against Hellas Verona at the weekend and the result against Man Utd has only boosted their confidence. Tomorrow evening, therefore, it will be important for them to continue their positive run and also improve their home record, which hasn’t been great.
Napoli are three points behind Roma in 5th and they will need to grab a win tomorrow in order to re-enter the Champions League. Having said that, they also have a game in hand although it’s against a tough opponent in the shape of Juventus. The clash with Milan could be very deciding for their season, in other words.
Stefano Pioli has been forced to deal with several injuries since the start of the year and he certainly travelled to England with a decimated squad. The likes of Ismael Bennacer, Hakan Calhanoglu, Theo Hernandez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Mandzukic, Ante Rebic and Alessio Romagnoli all missed out on the game.
Despite this, Milan managed to get the crucial away goal ahead of the second leg and the injury situation is starting to look better. Calhanoglu and Hernandez are back in training and will play from start tomorrow, while Ante Rebic is also expected to recover but only for the bench.
Davide Calabria has been added to the injury list be he, along with the other injured ones mentioned, could all be back as early as next week. For tomorrow’s game, therefore, the situation is looking much better than Milan fans could have imagined just a few days ago.
Per the latest reports, Pioli will make four changes to the starting XI as Hernandez will slot in at the back again, with Diogo Dalot moving to the right. Sandro Tonali got some rest against Man Utd and will start alongside Franck Kessie, who has been absolutely stunning in the last few games.
In the attacking trio, Samu Castillejo and Calhanoglu will replace Alexis Saelemaekers and Brahim Diaz respectively, while Rade Krunic will keep his spot. There should be a total of four changes, in other words. As for Napoli, they are also struggling with a few injuries, above all in defence.
Gennaro Gattuso only has Nikola Maksimovic and Kalidou Koualibaly to rely on for the centre-back positions as both Kostas Manolas and Amir Rrahmani are injured. On the attacking side of things, Hirving Lozano and Andrea Petagna will also miss out so it will certainly be an interesting game.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Tonali, Kessie; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Krunic; Leao.
Probable Napoli XI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koualibaly, Rui; Ruiz, Demme; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; Osimhen.
- AC Milan are unbeaten in their last four Serie A matches against Napoli (W1 D3) – they last had a longer run against them in 2011 (six).
- Napoli are winless away from home since January 10th, when they won against Udinese (D1 L4). They last had a longer run without a single away win in all competitions in September 2015 (seven).
- AC Milan last won both season meetings against Napoli in Serie A in the 2010/11 campaign, when they eventually lifted the trophy.
- Lorenzo Insigne has scored the joint-most Serie A goals in 2021 (level with Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Muriel) — the Napoli captain has netted eight goals this year, while he has netted six career goals against AC Milan in Serie A (three at the Meazza).
- Only Manuel Locatelli (185) and Jerdy Schouten (179) have made more recoveries than AC Milan’s Franck Kessie among outfield players in Serie A this season: 178 in 25 appearances, while his average of seven per game is his most in a Serie A campaign.
As mentioned, Milan are in a better position than they were just a few days ago and this speaks in their favour, especially since Napoli also have some heavy injuries. Having said that, the Rossoneri’s record at home isn’t exactly flattering and it’s been a long time since they won both clashes against the Partenopei.
Both clubs need the win to stay in line with their respective goals and that is what makes tomorrow’s clash so exciting. However, it’s also hard to deny that Milan could be considered favourites with the return of Calhanoglu and Hernandez, especially with Napoli’s thin defence.
AC Milan 1-0 Napoli