Milan-Napoli Preview: Shadow Puppets

Napoli arrive at the San Siro tonight a shadow of their Scudetto winning selves, having changed coaches twice since lifting their first league title in 33 years. Milan, on the other hand, seem to be finally gaining some consistent form again after changing nearly half their squad last summer. They are unbeaten in eight league matches, but more importantly will be debuting their insanely popular new fourth kits for this one, a concept called "Out of the Shadows." The kits were designed as a collaboration between L.A. streetwear company PLEASURES and Puma, and feature both a black and a white variation. For this match, Milan will wear the black kits, while Maignan wears the white kit, and next week vs. Monza, the colors will be reversed. I have always said that when the players look good, they feel good, and thus play better. And these are the best kits Puma has ever made for Milan. But this match could be tricky, perhaps more of a performance of shadow puppets.

How il Diavolo celebrates Carnevale when Napoli come to town...

Last season, when they were winning, Napoli fans were beyond intolerable, they were actually criminal. Of course, Milan did face them three times in April, with a 4-0 smackdown in their house in the league, a defeat at San Siro and then a draw to knock them out of the Champions League Quarterfinals. After having multiple clashes with the police, with their owner, with themselves, and abusing and harming our players and fans as well as so many other opponents last year, I have heard pretty much nothing from them this season but some normal moaning about the coaching situation and their poor performances on the pitch. Their fall from grace was somewhat predictable with Spalletti's exit, but they have fallen much harder than I think anyone anticipated.

Napoli manager Spalletti Garcia Mazzarri.

Speaking of the pitch, after Spalletti left them, Rudi Garcia partially destroyed them before Walter Mazzarri was hired mid-November. He currently has them in eighth place in the league, on 35 points, 14 points behind Milan, who are still in third place. Their last match was a comeback win, 2-1 vs. Verona, last Sunday, with a golazzo from Kvaratskhelia late in the game for the winner. For that one, Spalletti Garcia Mazzarri lined up: Gollini; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Juan Jesus, Mario Rui; Zambo Anguissa, Lobotka, Cajuste; Politano, Giovanni Simeone, and Kvaratskhelia. 

The secondary plot, Osimhen and Chukwueze will be playing the AFCON final.

There is a secondary plot to this puppet show, as Napoli's Osimhen and Milan's Chukwueze will represent Nigeria in the AFCON final, which kicks off 15 minutes after this match does and runs simultaneously. Osimhen is a huge miss for Napoli, and should help them when he returns, but luckily for us, he is hanging out with Chukwueze fighting for a trophy. While Mario Rui will be suspended this week, Spalletti Garcia Mazzarri got three important players back from injury this week: Olivera, who has been out since November; Zielinski, who missed last week, and goalkeeper Meret, who has been out four matches with a hamstring injury. This gives Spalletti Garcia Mazzarri almost a full squad, barring Osimhen at AFCON and the one suspension.


Pioli also got a little good news, as Thiaw returned to training with the team after being out for 74 days. However, he will not be available for this match. Pioli will still be missing Chukwueze, as well as Caldara, Kalulu, Tomori, Pobega, and Thiaw to injury. Also missing will be Reijnders, who sits this one out after card accumulation, the first Milan match all year that he will not feature in. Bennacer returned just in time, getting some important minutes last week, so hopefully Reijnders will not be missed too much.

The perfect blend of sport, fashion, art, architecture and even advertising.

Hopefully, the team will also get a boost from debuting the new fourth kits, which are the second fastest selling kits ever, after the kit with the Scudetto patch in 2022. Over half of the early presales were from outside of Italy, as well. The white ones literally sold out before they were even officially unveiled. With the allover print inspired by the gothic architecture of il Duomo cathedral in Milano, everything else about these kits is modern, fashion forward, and best of all wearable. For people of any gender. Like it is an amazing kit for the players to wear, but it is also something you could wear out and not feel awkward or be judged for wearing a football kit. Both colors. The design even makes all of the logos seem almost natural, it's unbelievably well designed. The PLEASURES designers need to work for Puma designing all of Milan's kits in the future. 

Look good, feel good, play well.

There are plenty of distractions today, with the AFCON final being played at the same time, the Super Bowl kicking off about 90 minutes after this match, and the press claiming they are also bored of talking about Pioli's future and potential replacements, but still asking him all the questions. But in spite of all of the noise, our players will look amazing in their new kits. The question is, will they be able to defend against this Napoli, who are a shadow of their former self, and are also without their star striker? Or will Milan play like puppets in a show and forget that on those perfect new kits, they are still wearing the Milan crest? Will Milan continue to emerge from "out of the shadows?" Or will this be yet another game of shadow puppets?

This post inspired by the music of The Last Shadow Puppets' "My Mistakes Were Made For You"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 24
Milan vs. Napoli
Sunday, February 11, 2024 • 20:45 CET (2:45 EST)
In the U.S., you can use a VPN to access a Serie A provider elsewhere
For example, sign up for BeIN Sports in Australia or SuperSport in South Africa,
they both use the World Feed commentary for Serie A, which is fantastic
(*and they also do not sponsor Inter's kits)

Milan-Napoli Preview: Shadow Puppets Milan-Napoli Preview: Shadow Puppets Reviewed by Elaine on 5:30 AM Rating: 5
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