Milan-Napoli Preview: Showdown at San Siro

Gattuso's Napoli are heading to the San Siro tomorrow night after a week off of football, having crashed out of the Europa League in the Round of 32. Anxious to make up some points to keep their Champions League hopes alive for next season, they will be rested and ready for battle. Pioli's Milan will be tired, having played in the Europa League Round of 16 on Thursday. Still riddled with injuries, they'll be anxious to keep pace at the top with Inter, who will be playing the almost certainly relegation-bound Torino earlier that afternoon. Two teams in the top six with everything to play for, it will be a showdown at the San Siro.

Bonera's debut against his former teammate ended well, but how will Pioli fare?

The last time we faced Napoli, Bonera was coaching because Pioli and Murelli were COVID-19 positive. Bonera, Gattuso, and Ibrahimovic were all former teammates the last time Milan lifted the Scudetto. That didn't really help Gattuso in November, as Milan won 3-1 with a brace from Ibrahimovic. The Milan midfield legend will undoubtedly want to seek revenge with a team whose injury situation has recently improved considerably.

Napoli come into this match in sixth place, but with a game in hand, which was generously rescheduled for April after Juventus crashed out of the Champions League. The Partenopei defeated Mihajlovic's Bologna 3-1 on Sunday with an Insigne brace and a goal from the returning Osimhen. For that match, Gattuso lined up Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Fabian Ruiz, Demme; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; and Mertens. Ghoulam had a terrible knee injury in that match, and will be out for the rest of the season. Our former youth player Petagna has a muscle injury and is not expected to play tomorrow. Lozano is reported to have recovered from his injury and should be available. Having both Mertens and Osimhen back from longterm injuries gives Napoli the firepower that they have been missing.

Recent returns provide important scoring options

Pioli is not so lucky. He is still missing Ibrahimovic, and although there was hope that both Bennacer and Mandzukic might return for Napoli, that is less likely as of this writing. Rebic is still a doubt due to his hip inflammation, but Calhanoglu could be on the bench after his injury. Theo Hernandez was also back in training after illness this week and expected to play. Romagnoli's availability is unknown as of this writing, and the only mention of Calabria's injury Thursday was inconclusive as to whether or not he will play on Sunday.

The team will be tired from Thursday's match against Manchester United as well as the travel. Leao is likely to be our lone striker once again, but with some potential for support from Rebic and/or Calhanoglu, he may be able to get back to scoring ways. Tonali may have the opportunity to play against his idol and mentor. Hauge played with the Primavera on Wednesday, and his first and only Serie A goal came against Napoli in November, so perhaps Norwegian lightning can strike twice. Milan seem to play best when we have the fewest starters and the slimmest options on the bench. 

Thank you, may I have another?

This will be a chance for whomever is still standing to step up and get a result. With injuries and tired legs against a recently refreshed Napoli side, the cards are stacked against us once again. This will be a vastly different squad than the one that beat Napoli in the first fixture. But if the Sunday Squad show up like they have recently, then anything is possible. It is always hard to face an ex-Milan legend, but for 90 minutes, Ringhio will be the enemy. It's second vs. sixth in a battle for the top four spots. Prepare yourselves for the showdown at San Siro.

This post inspired by the music of Muse's "Knights of Cydonia"

Serie A Week 27
Milan vs. Napoli
Sunday, March 14 • 20:45 CET (3:45pm EDT)*
This match can be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.
*Note the time change for U.S. viewers due to Daylight Savings Time

Milan-Napoli Preview: Showdown at San Siro Milan-Napoli Preview: Showdown at San Siro Reviewed by Elaine on 11:16 PM Rating: 5
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