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Napoli-Milan Preview: Volcano Advisory

In the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius lies the Stadio San Paolo. It is one of those stadiums that I would call “hostile” – heavy on the fans, light on hospitality, and very difficult to get a win there. The inhabitants of that stadium are Serie A’s new brute squad, and have just recently slipped from second on the table to third after keeping up with Juventus point for point for the first part of the season. After a slight dip in form, they are ready to explode back into the Scudetto chase. And we are their next victims. Consider this an official volcano advisory. On Saturday, Vesuvius is gonna blow.

Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 1944, and it's going to erupt again tomorrow


Mazzari has also seemed emotionally volcano-esque this season, I think he was jonesing for the unofficial title of “most likely to snap under pressure” amongst the Serie A coaches. But the vast, cavernous disparity between Milan management’s habitual votes of confidence and Milan’s results (as well as the fans’ vitriol) have left Allegri stretched like a blister of molten lava. And Allegri has shown numerous signs of cracking already, so Mazzari is just going to have to go back to managing the squad most likely to challenge Juve for the Scudetto.

With a record of eight wins, two draws, and two losses, they find themselves just one point behind a lucky Inter and only five points behind Juventus. After a great start and having lost only to Juventus, they were stunned at the end of October by a 1-0 loss away to Atalanta. Since then, they stumbled back to their winning ways, with Genoa being a tasty 4-2 appetizer for them last Sunday ahead of us. Like a volcano ready to explode, we can only hope and pray that we are able to find safe shelter from their fiery hailstorm.

Cavani is like Vesuvius herself, goals simply erupt from his feet

They have struggled a bit in the Europa league, with a 2-0-2 record. But their most recent match was a 4-2 win last week against Dnipro, with Cavani scoring all four goals. They have also quickly gained a reputation for being the most physical team in Serie A, or as I call them, “the Brute Squad.” So we will need to be aware of cards and injuries against us, too. Also, that I am aware, they are only missing Behrami to yellow card suspension and possibly Pandev to injury, and have a full strength squad to call upon beyond that.

And what a full-strength squad it is. Against Genoa on Sunday, Mazzarri lined up De Sanctis; Cannavaro, Gamberini, Campagnaro; Dzemali, Behrami, Hamsik, Dossena, Maggio; Cavani, and Pandev. Two of their four goals came from subs, too, with Mesto, Inler, and the young Insigne called from the bench. Even on our best day, our squad is not even equivalent, it will take mountains of luck to escape their brilliant goalscoring ways.

Allegri also about to erupt

Now to address the elderly and feeble with this volcano advisory. Allegri is rumored to be considering trying a 4-3-3 formation, which we’ve proved time and time again we do not have the right players for. It’s like he’s dangling the team and all of us fans inside the mouth of the volcano, playing with our hearts. To be fair, he is stretched thin on defensive options this week. Bonera, Antonini, and Abate are all injured, which makes 3 of his favorite 4 defenders. Plus, Yepes and Zapata featured for Colombia on Wednesday in the U.S. and will not return until Friday. To make matters worse, in front of the defense, he’s got Ambrosini suspended for yellow card accumulation, too.

I don’t like my heart being dangled inside an active volcano that is ready to erupt. But I also have completely given up trying to guess what that man will do. Apparently, according to your votes, the theory is that he is either running gerbil races or getting his masters degree and testing the butterfly effect to determine his lineups each week, and who could accurately predict those things? The only thing we know for sure is that the lineup will be unique. And it is most probable that Boateng will play, although if he goes with the 4-3-3, that leaves him out of Allegri’s favorite trequartista spot, so maybe not. Bojan is healthy again and should be available. So see? It is impossible to guess what he’ll do.

Please don't injure... well, okay, maybe just this one...

With Mount Vesuvius looming like Mount Doom, and the invitation to the San Paolo calling, all we can do is try to cope and give our boys courage to do their best. A draw would be like winning the Scudetto… or even a treble. A win… like Antonini winning the Ballon d’Or, although less probable than that. When a volcano erupts, your only real hope is to be as far away as possible when it actually does. Since Milan are travelling into harms way, we can only hope they escape with some dignity. We will hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and keep on bleeding red and black.


This post inspired by the music of the Lord of the Rings Soundtrack


Napoli vs. Milan
Saturday, November 17 • 20:45 CET (2:45 ET)
This match will be shown LIVE on RAI in the U.S.
Check the comments for streams prior to the match