Milan-Napoli Preview: One More Game

Much is being made of this matchup. Both Milan and Napoli are undefeated this season, both on 14 points, with only goal differential putting Napoli ahead of Milan coming into this one. There will be over 70,000 fans at the San Siro, 5,000 of those being traveling Napoli supporters. Oh, and in case any Milan fans have forgotten, the last time this fixture was played, a very bizarre referee call changed the outcome of the match in Napoli's favor. Napoli were contenders for the Scudetto up to a certain point last season, but were unable to keep up in the end. So both teams with young, exciting players, both teams in great form, and both teams with something to prove. Oh, and it is also the last league match before the International break. But if the managers have done their jobs well, for the players, it will be just one more game.

One more game for our stellar center backs, even if they will be tested

After a stunning 4-1 decimation of Liverpool in the Champions League the previous week, Napoli stuttered a bit away to Rangers midweek, with a scoreless first half, having a penalty saved after Rangers went down to 10 men, then scoring the rebound, then having to retake it due to encroachment, then having it saved again. But they finally found their form and came back and beat the Scottish side in their house 3-0. It took 89 minutes and 28 shots for them to finally get one past Spezia's Dragowski last weekend, but Raspadori finally did, scoring his first for Napoli and winning it for them 1-0

For the midweek match vs. Rangers, Spalletti lined up: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Min-Jae, Mario Rui; Zambo Anguissa, Lobotka; Politano, Zielinski, Kvaratskhelia; and Simeone. Notably, he will be missing Osimhen to injury, as well as Demme. He got some good news, though, that Lozano is fit again and available for this match. However, Spalletti got himself sent off vs. Spezia after two yellows, so he himself will actually not be on the bench for our match. A shame, because Pioli had such lovely things to say about him in his prematch Press Conference.

No Spalletti, no party? We can only hope.

Pioli received a single yellow midweek against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League, but only the one, and that will not affect his ability to be on the bench for this one. However, he is missing a lot more pieces when facing the Partenopei. Obviously, Ibrahimović is still out, as are Florenzi and Origi. While Rebić is reported to be making progress of late, he is not expected to be fit for this one, either. 

The player that everyone is talking about Milan missing is Leão, who will be suspended for this match after some questionable referee calls last weekend vs. Sampdoria. Leão even retweeted a clip from a fan in which a very similar foul occurred in Salernitana-Lecce yesterday, when Mazzocchi attempted the overhead bicycle kick in the 14th minute and caught the Lecce player in the face, but no card was given. 

Giroud is not taking contact from defenders lying down this year

This highlights once again the inconsistency in refereeing in Serie A, something Giroud may be thinking about after last year's home match vs. Napoli, too. But the bottom line is that Pioli is left to try to replace last season's Serie A Most Valuable Player for this one, which is virtually impossible. The media has pushed the narrative all week that it will be Saelemaekers, who is really vocal on social media about his career being all about God's will. Despite his shockingly impressive Champions League performances, I have been praying all week that the gods of football have a different will. Speaking of prayers, there will also be a minute's silence ahead of this and all other Serie A matches to honor the victims of the heavy flooding in the Marche region of Italy. Some things are bigger than football.

Kjaer was interviewed and highlighted the importance of Milan playing the Milan way at the San Siro for this fixture. This was reiterated by Pioli in his Press Conference when he was questioned about potentially changing formation, he said that Milan needed to continue playing with our system and qualities. So much energy has been put into trying to guess who will be lined up, who will replace Leão, and how the game will play out. But at the end of the day, the players know that they will all need to be available if called upon to give their best. They know inherently that it is not a Scudetto showdown, as it is being overhyped. It is literally just one more game.

This post inspired by the music of She Wants Revenge "These Things"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 7
Milan vs. Napoli
Sunday, September 18 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This match can be streamed LIVE on Paramount+ in the U.S.

Milan-Napoli Preview: One More Game Milan-Napoli Preview: One More Game Reviewed by Elaine on 1:30 PM Rating: 5
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