Milan vs Napoli Preview and Lineups – Serie A Round 18

Stadio San Siro is the venue as current runners-up Milan take on third-placed Napoli in a mammoth Serie A top-four six-pointer. After Inter hammered Salernitana 5-0 on Friday, neither side can afford to drop the points here if they are to stay within touching distance of the leaders.

Milan needed another Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late acrobatic strike to eke out a 1-1 draw at Udinese last time out, seeing their two-game winning Serie A streak come to a halt. Despite blowing hot and cold in recent times, the Rossoneri are four points adrift of top-placed Inter and will be desperate to make the most out of this game-in-hand.

In the meantime, Napoli have lost momentum following an impressive start to the season. The Partenopei have gone from a 12-game unbeaten streak to suffering three defeats from their last five Serie A fixtures, dropping to fourth in the table. Manager Luciano Spalletti has already admitted he sees his side’s trip to the San Siro as a possible turning point.

Milan vs Napoli Head-to-Head

Milan will hope history goes out of the window in these mouth-watering, high-octane affairs. Since the start of the 2015/16 season, they have won fewer Serie A games versus Napoli of all sides they’ve faced at least three times.

Indeed, the Rossoneri have picked up just one win from their last 13 Serie A matches against Napoli (D5, L7), courtesy of a 3-1 victory at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in November 2020. Matteo Politano’s 49th-minute goal gave the Partenopei a narrow 1-0 win in their most recent league visit to the San Siro.

Since recording a 2-0 triumph under Filippo Inzaghi in December 2014, Milan have gone winless in their subsequent six home league meetings with Napoli (D3, L3). They have failed to get on the scoresheet four times during that run of fixtures, suggesting goals could be in short supply here.

Milan Form Preview

After winning back-to-back Serie A games by 2+ goals ‘to nil,’ Milan could only manage a low-scoring draw at Udinese, scoring from the only shot on target. Stefano Pioli’s men can ill-afford another similar showing if they are to go toe-to-toe with Napoli despite the visitors’ recent drop-off in form.

Only three of Milan’s eight Serie A home matches so far this season have featured over 2.5 total goals, suggesting entertainment could be relatively sparse here. 

Against this backdrop, 62.5% of their top-flight fixtures at the San Siro have seen the opening goal scored within the first 15 minutes of play. Delivering action from the get-go, the Rossoneri go into proceedings as one of just four Serie A teams to have hit first-half double digits in home league matches this season.

Even if they conceded the opener here, Milan should have enough character to bounce back and grind out a positive result as they’ve only lost one of five Serie A games when falling behind this term (W1, D3). 

Napoli Form Preview

Napoli followed up a 3-2 defeat to Atalanta with a heartbreaking 1-0 home loss to newly-promoted Empoli last time out despite attempting 30+ shots on goal in that encounter. Another reverse at the San Siro would see the Partenopei lose three Serie A fixtures on the trot for the first time since January 2020 under Gennaro Gattuso’s tenure.

However, current head coach Luciano Spalletti has seemingly had Milan’s number during his extensive managerial experience in Serie A. The 62-year-old has avoided defeat in his last 13 top-flight games against the Rossoneri (W10, D3) and is unbeaten in eight Serie A clashes against Pioli (W6, D2). 

Though they remain the best defensive Serie A team ahead of the kick-off with 13 goals conceded from 17 league outings, Napoli have shown some signs of weakness lately. Spalletti’s players have conceded 2+ goals in three of their last five top-flight matches, facing a whopping average of 5.6 shots-on-target per game.

Milan vs Napoli Predicted Lineups

Milan (4-2-3-1): Mike Maignan; Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori, Alessio Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Sandro Tonali, Franck Kessie; Alexis Saelemaekers, Brahim Diaz, Junior Messias; Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Napoli (4-2-3-1): David Ospina; Giovannni Di Lorenzo, Amir Rrahmani, Juan Jesus, Mario Rui; Diego Demme, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa; Matteo Politano, Piotr Zielinski, Hirving Lozano; Dries Mertens.