Napoli vs AC Milan – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Tuesday 18th April 2023
Diego Armando Maradona Stadium
As part of our Champions League predictions, we take a look at the second leg of Napoli’s clash with AC Milan. Milan defeated high-flying Napoli for the second time in a row in the first leg – can they see it through? Read on with our Napoli vs AC Milan prediction.
Napoli vs AC Milan Match Preview
Napoli come into this game having stalled a little. After a sensational season, they have only won one of their previous four games. They drew 0-0 with Verona at the weekend, which was disappointing. However, they will win their first Serie A title in 33 years as they are well clear at the top of the league. They have won all four Champions League home games by a combined score of 14-3 and can feel proud of their season so far.
Milan travel south also in mixed form. Indeed, the Rossoneri have only won twice in their last eight games – though those two wins were against Napoli. They come into the match having drawn 1-1 with Bologna and have won one, drawn two and lost one of their four Champions League away games this season. Sitting in fourth place with 53 points from 30 games, they still face a battle to qualify for the Champions League next season (unless they win it this season).
The first leg was a fascinating encounter. Napoli came into the game harbouring some doubts due to the nature of the 4-0 hammering Milan gave them in early April in Naples. Milan executed their counter-attacking plan perfectly in that game, and we will touch on it later. The first leg of this tie was more controlled as the possession was almost even. Both teams had numerous goal attempts, and Napoli had slightly higher expected goals. However, a Bennacer left foot finish just inside the box just before half-time gave the home side the win – this arrived after a mazy Diaz run where he took out two Napoli players in midfield. Anguissa was sent off late for Napoli, and Kim Min-Jae is also suspended for this match.
It was a good game of football, and Milan were good value for their win. They will now hope to finish the job away, but Napoli are wounded animals and know they must win to keep their hopes alive.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Min-Jae, Anguissa, Simeone
Might Not Play: Kjaer
Will Not Play: Ibrahimovic
Napoli vs AC Milan Lineups (Predicted)
Napoli (4-3-3): Meret; Rui, Jesus, Rrahmani, Di Lorenzo; Zielinski, Lobotka, Ndombele; Kvaratskhelia, Osimhen, Lozano
AC Milan (4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3): Maignan, Hernandez, Tomori, Kjaer, Calabria; Krunic, Tonali; Leao, Bennacer, Diaz; Giroud
Napoli vs AC Milan Analysis
Napoli Must Control Proceedings And Try To Get Back In The Tie
As stated in the preview for the first leg, Napoli have tended to have much more possession on average in Serie A than Milan have had. Coupled with the fact that Napoli are a goal behind in the tie, it is clear what the game’s pattern will likely be – Napoli will take control of the ball and try to break down a Milan side playing in a low block and looking for transitional opportunities.
With Anguissa out, we expect either Ndombele or Elmas to start in midfield. We have gone with the former, as he has ample energy and running power – something Napoli have been lacking recently. The athleticism and dynamism of Ndombele, allied with the buzziness of Lobotka and the inventive passing of Zielinski should provide Napoli with some steel and bite in midfield.
These three must try to play through Milan and control the game. They must be tidy and careful in possession; if they lose it, Milan can be threatening. If they can keep it and play expansive football from the back and midfield, Napoli will create situations where they can find their forwards.
Napoli’s Attacking Threat And The Return Of Osimhen
A massive plus for Napoli is that Osimhen is fit again. Their crucial number 9 will lead the attack – using all of his strength to try to bully Kjaer and Tomori. He will hold the ball up, try to link well with the wingers and get into position in the box where he can get on the end of crosses and through balls to make attacks count. If he gets one-on-one with Maignan, it should be a good battle, as the Milan keeper is an excellent shot-stopper and has been in great form recently.
The wide players also have their part to play. Di Lorenzo is a massive threat from right-back with his marauding runs – though he may have to be more careful given Kim Min-Jae’s suspension at centre-back as well as the absence of Anguissa. However, he will get forward when possible to support the tricky, hard-working Lozano on the right. Down the left, the maverick Kvaratskhelia must use all his pace, trickery, dribbling, crossing and passing ability to be inventive and try to create chances for himself or his partner in crime, the already mentioned Osimhen. Raspadori and Elmas are possible reinforcements from the bench.
Milan’s Protecting of Their Lead, And Playing On The Counter Attack
Having won the first leg, Milan now have a lead to defend and can play this game similarly to the 4-0 match in Serie A earlier this month. In that match at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Milan played an incisive and dangerous counter-attacking style that utilised the threats of Bennacer, Diaz and particularly Leao on transitions. They only had 39 per cent possession that night, but they also had eight shots on target and an xG of 2.26. Therefore, they will again be direct.
Milan must ensure the midfield three is compact and tight, giving nothing away and leaving no gaps for Napoli to exploit. The back four must also concentrate, and Kjaer and Tomori must repel any crosses coming in from Napoli. Tomori’s speed could be vital against Osimhen, too, as he might have to make recovery challenges. Milan must try to win the ball in the two deeper thirds and then spring into action with the pace of their forwards as they did in the 4-0 match.
Milan’s Crucial Player Leao, And The Other Forwards
As stated last week, Leao is the key man for Milan. His pace and dribbling have been on show in the recent two games against Napoli, and indeed he almost scored last week, too, after a mazy dribble saw him shoot just past the post. His trickery, speed and explosiveness are other factors to make Di Lorenzo think twice about getting forward, and he could be a vital weapon for Milan on the counter.
The tricky Diaz and energetic Bennacer will also be threats running forward (especially Diaz with his dribbling and passing), as will the full-backs when they get the opportunity. Giroud will again sacrifice himself and do much of the donkey work that allows the others to prosper. However, he is a great finisher and threat in the air and can score himself against Meret if he gets a sniff of a chance. Inventive Belgians Saelemaekers and De Ketelaere are potential replacements, as are dynamic forwards Rebic and Origi.
As with most matches at this stage of the Champions League, this game and tie are so tough to predict. It is the tightest of all four ties after the first leg, and Napoli have gone off the boil recently, having won only one of their last four. Milan haven’t been in good form either, winning only two of the previous eight (though those were against the Neapolitans). Therefore, this game really could be any of the three results.
However, with Osimhen’s return, we will predict a Napoli one-goal win and extra-time transpiring. The Nigerian will likely give Napoli fresh impetus and bring Kvaratskhelia back onto a game too. The tactical setup suits Milan as they can concede possession and play on the counter as they did in the 4-0, but we don’t see a repeat of that game. We believe Napoli can get a win after a close match.
In extra time anything could happen, but we will predict the home side to win it. Bear in mind, though, that we are not terribly confident in this prediction as it’s such a challenging game to call and could hinge on moments of magic, bad luck or a refereeing error. As seven-time European champions, Milan also have history on their side. However, we are going to back Napoli regardless.
Napoli 2-1 Milan (After 90 Minutes)
Napoli 3-1 Milan (After Extra Time)
Napoli 3-2 Milan (On Aggregate, Napoli Progress)
Napoli vs AC Milan Betting Tip – Napoli Odds:
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