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Napoli-Milan Preview: Cauldron of Heartache



I don’t know how I’m going to get through this match. Carletto was one of my favorite coaches, and I think that seeing him coach the opposition will be like finding my husband in bed with my sister or something. Under any other circumstances, I would be thrilled to see him reunite with Gattuso, Leonardo, and Maldini. I would probably tear up… no, I’m pretty sure I would be a blubbering mess. But I don’t even know how to process these conflicting emotions. And going into the Stadio San Paolo makes it even more stressful. Instead of simply playing a match, this week we are going into the cauldron of heartache.

It's all like a very bad dream...

That heartache begins with Ancelotti having turned down Milan, then the Italian national team, and then choosing Napoli. Like that ex that you will always love shacking up with someone way below their level. Not that Napoli are a bad team, just very poorly run, and with a gigantic territorial discrimination chip on their shoulder. Milan will always be better, sexier, and have more trophies. But whatever. Sometimes people settle when they get older, and clearly that is the case here.

That aside, no game ever goes well for a visitor at the San Paolo. And Napoli only finished 4 points below the heartless machine that is Juve last season. They aim to fight for the title again, I guess, having reluctantly replaced Sarri and also given up Jorginho, but without really reinforcing properly. That didn’t stop them from winning last week against Lazio, though. For that match, Ancelotti lined up Karnezis; Koulibaly, Albiol, Rui, Hysaj, Hamsik, Zielinski, Allan, Milik, Insigne, and Callejon. It is rumored that he will be starting Ospina in goal this week instead. That would be partially because their golden signing, Meret, broke his arm and will be out for a while longer. Also out long term are Younes and Ghoulam.

The coach who loved me...

For Gattuso, his soldiers have yet to be tested in a competitive battle. And then this is their first test. And what a test it will be. For all of the hype surrounding Milan this summer, they have eight new players, many of whom have never played in Italy. There are rumors of possibly Castillejo and maybe Bakayoko starting on Saturday, But Gattuso could go with the tried and true, he’s pretty conservative that way. To that end, the rumor is that Musacchio, the more experienced center back, will be given the start next to Captain Romagnoli, rather than the young Caldara. He will still be without Conti until the end of September, and Abate is doubtful. Calhanoglu is suspended for the match. Also, Strinic is out indefinitely due to a heart problem they recently found. I believe they put Montolivo on the “You injured our team” list indefinitely as well, since he refused to leave in the transfer market.

Why can't things just stay the same as they were?

So what does all of this mean? Napoli have played together longer, have already played a Serie A match, and are playing in front of their fans at the cauldron which is the Stadio San Paolo. Oh, and they finished second to our sixth last season, too. So with a more reinforced team, I suppose there is a chance that the student (Gattuso) could teach the master (Ancelotti). But there is also always a chance that pigs could fly, too. I don’t know, I’m too busy stocking up on the Kleenex. Because when I see all of those ex-Milan people together on Saturday, I’m going to be a mess. The only result that would make me happy would be a Milan win. But even then, I’ll probably just be trying to process the cauldron of heartache.


This post inspired by the music of Eon’s “The Spice Must Flow”


Serie A Week 2
Napoli vs. Milan
Saturday, August 25 • 20:30 CEST (2:30pm EDT)
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