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Milan vs. Napoli Preview: Just Desserts


After a string of poor performances, a couple of wins, as well as some okay performances coupled with losses or draws, Milan will now be tested by the team just above us on the table. Coming off of defeating Juventus and also a win in the Europa League yesterday, they will certainly be coming to the San Siro for three points. And after last season’s loss at the San Siro in December, then their 3-0 “Snack Time” revenge on us in the San Paolo, they are probably ready for some red and black dessert right about now. So if Napoli crush Milan’s souls on Sunday, know that it will probably be our just desserts.

Can he inspire a San Siro victory against this team? Or will we get what we deserve?

Most people seemed to agree that Benitez’ Napoli underperformed. There was so much hype over Sarri taking over, but six games in, that enthusiasm has largely quelled. Sitting in 10th with only two wins, three draws and a loss may be the reason for that loss of enthusiasm. Their two wins were spectacular, a 5-0 thumping of Lazio and last weekend’s 2-1 defeat of Juve. However between them was a lackluster scoreless draw with Carpi. So it’s difficult to know what to expect.

For the Juve match last week, Sarri lined up Reina; Hysaj, Koulibaly, Ghoulam, Albiol; Loureiro, Jorghinho, Hamsik; Callejon, Higuain, and Insigne. Yesterday, they played Legia Warsaw in the Europa League, and Sarri wisely rotated many players, with only Koulibaly, Ghoulam, Callejon as repeat starters. (It is also of note that our own Gabriel played as keeper in that 2-0 win for Napoli.) Additionally, Sarri has only one doubt as to injury. That player is Insigne, who was back in training this week and should be fit to travel to the San Siro.

He's been key for Napoli this season, if he's fit, we should be scared

Mihajlovic will definitely be missing Romagnoli to suspension. Additionally, Niang, Menez, and Abate are all ruled out due to injury. Mexes could be fit finally, while Honda is battling the flu and could miss, while Balotelli is struggling with a minor muscle injury and is still in doubt as of this writing.

While offering a refreshing blend of consistency in lineups with some rotation, too, Mihajlovic will need to make a few key choices for this match. Romagnoli’s suspension leaves a center back spot available, although with his substitution last week, it seems obvious that Ely will be that choice. The regista position, as we discussed in the last post, is like heads or tails with Montolivo or De Jong. After saying that he was really liking the “qualities” that Montolivo brought, he also subbed him off early in the last match. So will he give De Jong another chance at that spot or will he continue to play him out of position?

Our two biggest doubts, both could be game changers

That brings us to another position of a lot of speculation, the trequartista position. Obviously, Honda’s fitness is the biggest question there, but even if he is fit, will he try Bonaventura there again? Or maybe give someone like Suso a chance, even if he has expressed a lack of faith in him? And finally, assuming Balotelli is fit, which striker does he start alongside him? Bacca is quick and cunning, while Adriano is powerful and does a lot to create chances. And of course, with all of these choices, he’ll be considering Napoli’s personnel and playing style, too. This is one of those matches where a coach absolutely must get the starting eleven right to give his team a chance of winning.

However, Mihajlovic also needs to continue to demonstrate his ability to learn from his mistakes. Sure, he is fighting the quagmire of poor mentality and lack of support from both management and fans. But the best way to escape both of those is to produce results. Well, and good performances if possible, too. So if he is unable to inspire his starting eleven to do that, then we get what we deserve. I’m sure Napoli would be more than happy to give us our just desserts.


This post inspired by the music of Muse


Milan vs. Napoli
Sunday, October 4 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This match will be shown live on RAI in the U.S.