AC Milan vs Napoli – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Wednesday 12th April 2023
As part of our Champions League predictions, we take a look at AC Milan’s quarter final clash against Napoli. The Rossoneri won 4-0 in the last encounter between these two teams – was it a one off? Read on with our AC Milan vs Napoli prediction.
AC Milan vs Napoli Match Preview
Serie A sides Milan and Napoli meet in the San Siro for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash. Milan come into the game in mediocre form. Indeed, the Northern Italy club have only won once in their previous six games in all competitions. That victory was a stunning and highly unexpected 4-0 away dismantling of their opponents here. Through counter-attack, they shocked Napoli. However, in fourth place in Serie A with 52 points, they still have much work to ensure Champions League qualification for next season (through the league).
Milan came through a round-of-16 tie against English club Spurs to make this all-Italian encounter possible. They attained a narrow victory through a Diaz goal in Italy in the first leg. Then, in the return fixture, Spurs offered little threat in attack as the game finished goalless. This game arguably sealed ex-Spurs coach Antonio Conte’s fate, as he was sacked several days later. Regardless, Milan came through the tie – they have won three of their four home games this season in the Champions League.
Napoli travel north, having experienced an outstanding season so far. They have stuttered a little in recent weeks, having lost two of their last six in Serie A (a 1-0 defeat by Lazio and Milan’s rout). However, they have still practically sealed their first Scudetto since 1990. With a 16-point lead over Lazio in second place and only 27 points for which to play, it would be a miracle if they aren’t soon crowned Italian champions.
Napoli have had good times against Milan in the San Siro, having won their last three games against them there. Napoli topped their Champions League group with five wins and 20 goals and have won all of their games in the competition this season other than a defeat against Liverpool at Anfield. They had no problems dispatching German club Frankfurt 5-0 on aggregate in the previous round. They have their eyes on a semi-final here, most likely against Inter Milan.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Kalulu, Ibrahimovic
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Osimhen, Simeone
AC Milan vs Napoli Lineups (Predicted)
AC Milan (4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3): Maignan, Hernandez, Kjaer, Tomori, Calabria; Krunic, Tonali, Bennacer; Leao, Giroud, Diaz
Napoli (4-3-3): Meret; Rui, Kim Min-Jae, Rrahmani, Di Lorenzo; Zielinski, Lobotka, Anguissa; Kvaratskhelia, Raspadori, Lozano
AC Milan vs Napoli Analysis
The contest for the midfield should be quite intriguing in this match. In Serie A this season, Napoli have averaged 61 per cent possession and Milan 54 per cent. Furthermore, Napoli have completed over 15,700 passes, whereas Milan have almost 11,400. Therefore, both teams enjoy holding onto the ball, though Napoli undoubtedly dominate games more. Napoli are in the driving seat in Serie A and are the better team, which accounts for their superior statistics – they also had 61 per cent possession in the previously mentioned home game, where Milan won 4-0. Hence, despite the game being in the San Siro, we envisage Napoli taking the game to this Milan side and seeking revenge.
Lobotka will be his usual busy self in the defensive midfield area – he will receive the ball from the centre-backs and do his utmost to be buzzy and nippy and evade the press triggered by the Milan midfield. He must dribble out of tight situations and wriggle away from opposition players. If he can, he can link up with Anguissa and Zielienski. The former is very good at driving forward from midfield. The latter possesses penetrative, incisive passing, which can be good for getting the ball quickly into the front three. Generally, the Napoli players must try to control play.
As stated, Milan will likely play more on the counter despite being at home, as this suits them. Tonali, Bennacer and Krunic must operate as a unit and press the Napoli midfield, giving them no time to pick pretty passes and gain a foothold. In fact, the entire Milan team must pressure and try to disrupt Napoli’s rhythm. If the Milan midfielders can win the ball in the centre of the pitch, they can find the front three. There will also be occasions where Milan do have some ball dominance, and their midfielders must be brave and try to pass between the lines.
Both sides have plenty of firepower in their team. Napoli have scored 66 goals in Serie A and 25 in the Champions League, so they like to be direct and get on the scoresheet. However, the big news coming into this game is the absence of star striker Osimhen – the Nigerian has been superb all season in leading the line, registering 25 goals for the Blues. His loss to injury (as well as the absence of fellow striker Simeone) is a massive blow for the club. Raspadori is a talented forward in his own right and a worthy deputy. Nevertheless, Napoli’s threat is blunted somewhat without Osimhen.
Napoli are fortunate that they still have plenty of creativity and firepower. Raspadori has a high work rate and good shooting. The previously mentioned passing, crossing and set pieces of Zielinski and the dribbling of Anguissa are also weapons for breaking the lines and finding gaps. Di Lorenzo is a marauding full-back on the right who will get forward to supplement the attack and aid the tricky, pacey Lozano on the right. However, Kvaratskhelia is the main threat with Osimhen out – the Georgian has shown signs this season of developing into one of the best players in the world. He must showcase his pace, trickery, dribbling, crossing and powerful shooting if Napoli are to get a result.
Milan did very well in the 4-0 match earlier this month; they hit Napoli on the break as the Naples side tried to take the game to them. We foresee them trying this again. Calabria and Hernandez will support the wingers from full-back, and Bennacer will try to be a creative outlet in midfield. However, Milan will seek to find their goals in the front three. Giroud is a very powerful player up front, even in advancing years. He will try to win direct balls played up to him high and low. He and the midfield can then feed the ball to the wingers – Leao and Diaz. The latter is a tricky and nimble player who is good at evading tight spaces, and his passing and crossing are vital and could feed Giroud in the air.
However, Leao is the star of this Milan side. The young Portuguese winger has much energy, pace and dynamism – he is a very direct threat and a massive nuisance. His ability to dribble at speed and get into shooting positions when he comes onto Di Lorenzo will be paramount. This battle should be a good one. In many ways, Leao is the spark of genius or ‘wild card’ in this Milan team, like Kvaratskhelia is in the Napoli side. Indeed, we look forward to seeing who shines more brightly.
Napoli can bring in Ndombele as more presence in midfield or Politano as a creative threat out wide. Milan can introduce the tricky young Belgians Saelemaekers and De Ketelaere and powerful forwards Origi or Rebic.
This is a challenging match to predict. On the one hand, Napoli have had a much better season and are well on their way to being crowned Italian champions. Milan are a bigger club, but they have a weaker team and have had a topsy-turvy season. Yet what sets the cat among the pigeons is Milan’s 4-0 win in Naples just eleven days ago. Milan offered a blueprint for playing against this Napoli side – relinquish possession, soak up pressure, and hit fast and hard into the spaces Napoli leave when you can win the ball. Milan will do this again.
However, Napoli are four games unbeaten against Milan in the San Siro. If anything, the 4-0 game was an outlier – indeed, it shocked us. We doubt it would happen again if the teams played the game another nine times. Not to take anything away from Milan, but we cannot see that score being replicated by them in either leg of this tie. However, we think Milan will be competitive, particularly with Osimhen absent for Napoli. Hence, we will predict a high-scoring draw. We would go for 1-1, but we actually fancy more goals in this game. If it turns out this way, all will still be to play for next week.
AC Milan 2-2 Napoli
AC Milan vs Napoli Betting Tip – Draw Odds:
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