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Napoli-Milan Preview: Adding Insult to Injury

It’s been a tumultuous season so far. The injuries are starting to stack up, too, despite the new physical trainer, Mario Innaurato, finally being made official midweek. Then you add the woes of Italian football by not qualifying for Russia, sacking Ventura, and everyone calling for Tavecchio to resign, and it’s been a tough week. But just when you thought the pain was coming to a close, Milan have a trip to the San Paolo tomorrow to face the league leaders, who are in great form. It’s like adding insult to injury.

Yep. It's kinda like that.

Going to the San Paolo is always fear-inducing. It’s more than a fortress, their fans are rabid, possessed zealots who have their own “we can talk about you, but you can’t talk about us” FIGC rule now in ‘territorial discrimination.’ Additionally, I’ve always felt the team is lucky to escape Napoli alive. I mean look at Gigio: his whole family are Napoli fans, and he had to grow to be 6’5” tall to be bigger than them so he could be a Milan fan and play for Milan. It’s enough to make anyone shudder.

Enough about the fans and the atmosphere, though. Sarri has transformed his team into the darlings, not only of Serie A, but of Europe. They have played together for years, and have been forged mentally by those psychotic fans of theirs. Their 10-2-0 undefeated record with 32 goals scored and only eight against doesn’t help, either. Despite a shock 0-0 draw with Chievo before the break… correction: especially because their shock 0-0 draw with Chievo before the break, they will be impossible to beat. And Insigne was given the confidence of every human being in the universe but Ventura over the break, and thus not given a chance, so he will be even more motivate to overcompensate for his tiny little frame.

Sarri will not leave this tiny terror on the bench tomorrow

For their fateful draw vs. Chievo, Sarri lined up Sepe; Koulibaly, Albiol, Mario Rui, Hysaj, Jorginho, Hamsik, Zielinski, Mertens, Insigne, and Callejon. Sarri will be missing two great players to long term injuries in Milik and Ghoulam, with Jose Reina and Maksimovic also not likely to be fit, Sarri has a strong team - a beautiful machine, if you will - at his disposal. He also has the “you may enter, but no one leaves alive” mentality of the San Paolo backing he and his team, too.

Montella has basically replaced the injured Conti with Borini. And no matter how great people think Borini is, he’s not Conti. Improved mediocrity playing out of position is never as good as the real deal. Additionally, Montella has said he will not risk Biglia starting yet, Calhanoglu is likely to be out, and Calabria, too. Storari is suffering from being old (aka a back problem,) which should clear a spot on the bench for a Primavera keeper to watch the game from. There is a little bit more good news, as Bonaventura looks set to return.

Exactly how we feel about having you back, Jack

Honestly, if this team were all fit, all in form, and winning, I still wouldn’t bet my bus fare on them to win this match. I may love this team more than is natural to love a team, but I need my bus fare to go places. And so we head in the direction of Napoli (don’t say “South,” that’s territorial discrimination,) where the best we can hope for is a good match and no new injuries. As if this team hasn’t had enough misery already. But here we are, adding insult to injury.

This post inspired by the music of Morrissey’s “I Spent the Day in Bed”

Serie A Week 13
Napoli vs. Milan
Saturday, November 18 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

This match will be shown LIVE on RAI in the U.S.