Serie A Round 27: Milan – Napoli Preview and Expected Lineups

In Round 27 of Serie A, Milan will be looking to maintain pressure on Inter in the race for Scudetto as Stefano Pioli’s men take on Napoli at the Stadio San Siro this evening.

In midweek, Milan were busy fighting for European glory as they faced Manchester United in the first leg of Europa League Round of 16. The Rossoneri put up an impressive performance against the Premier League side and managed to return home with a crucial away goal, as Simon Kjaer scored a precious injury-time equaliser at Old Trafford. In contrast, Napoli have exited the competition in the earlier round, having lost 3-2 on aggregate to Granada.

Milan – Napoli

Serie A Round 27
Sunday, 14 March 2021
Kick-off at 20:45 (CET)
Stadio San Siro (Milan)

Recent Form – Milan

After a difficult February and last week of January when Milan lost three times in five matches, the last couple of weeks have been an indication that the Rossoneri are a team with character and personality. Following a 3-0 defeat to Inter on 21st of February, Milan have collected 7 points out of 9 possible since then and are still in contention to catch their cross-city rivals. Pioli’s men are currently sitting in 2ndplace with 56 points, six behind Inter who play Torino this afternoon.

Looking at the most recent Serie A match, Milan were up against one of the best defensive sides in the league in Verona. Goals from Rade Krunic and Diogo Dalot were enough to seal all three points for the Rossoneri in what was a fairly equal match up between the two sides. Verona’s tight defensive block proved to be hard to break down, with Milan creating only one big goal-scoring opportunity throughout the 90 minutes (season avg. 2.7). Out of 11 goal attempts, only 4 were from inside the box as Milan finished the game with 0.77 expected goals (xG) compared to Verona’s 1.17.

Although Milan deserve massive credit for what they have achieved so far this season, they do remain one of the most overperforming teams in Serie A. Pioli’s men have the worst non-penalty expected goals (npxG) record among the top six teams with 39.1 (avg. 1.50 per game), which shows that Milan create fewer high-quality chances in front of goal compared to other leading teams. They are also 6th for goal-creating actions per 90 minutes with 3.23 and have accumulated 8 points more than expected at this stage of the season (xPTS 47.82).

Team News and Expected Lineups – Milan

Milan’s thin squad has been further depleted with injuries to some of their key players. Alessio Romagnoli, Ante Rebic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Mandzukic and Ismael Bennacer will all be missing tonight’s game due to injuries.

Consequently, Pioli is expected to make few changes to his starting eleven following the Europa League clash with Manchester United on Thursday night, with Hakan Calhanoglu, Sandro Tonali and Theo Hernandez coming in place of Brahim Diaz, Soualiho Meite and Davide Calabria.

Expected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Diogo Dalot, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Tonali, Kessié; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Krunic; Rafael Leao

Unavailable: Romagnoli (foot injury); Maldini (muscle injury); Rebic (muscle injury); Ibrahimovic (groin injury); Mandzukic (muscle injury); Bennacer (hamstring injury)

Recent Form – Napoli

Although this season Napoli are not the team we have all been accustomed to when Maurizio Sarri was in charge back in the days, the Azzurri have been showing little signs of resurgence in the last few matches. After suffering four defeats in all competitions in February, Napoli have won 3 of the last 4 matches, including a 2-1 win over Granada in the second leg of Europa League Round of 32. Gennaro Gattuso’s men are currently in 6th place in the Serie A standings with 47 points, five points behind fourth-placed Atalanta, though Napoli do have a game in hand.

In their most recent match in Serie A, Napoli claimed what seemed to be a solid 3-1 home win over Bologna last weekend. Although Napoli scored three goals on the night, the chances they created were of low scoring probability, with all three goals accumulating only 0.17 expected goals (xG). Overall, Napoli had 43% ball possession and 14 goal attempts, of which 7 tested Bologna’s goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski (50% shot accuracy). Despite having 14 shots at goal, Gattuso’s side finished the game with only 0.84 expected goals (xG).

Although not as pretty on the eye as they used to be in the past, Napoli are still one of the most potent attacking forces in the Serie A this season. They lead the way for the highest number of shot-creating actions per 90 minutes in the league with 27.04, leaving Atalanta behind in second place with 26.78, and are the fourth-best team for goal-creating actions per 90 with 3.64.

However, Napoli’s sublime attacking display usually takes a toll when it comes to chance conversion. The Azzurri attempt the most shots per game among all 20 teams this season (16.8), with on average 5.96 shots hitting the opposition’s target – the best result in the league. Nonetheless, it results in only 0.33 goals per every shot on target, which places Napoli outside of the top 10 for this metric. Consequently, it has a negative impact on their non-penalty expected goals (npxG) record that also places them only in 5th in the league (39.5 npxG).

Team News and Expected Lineups – Napoli

Napoli have been a lot more fortunate with injuries over the recent weeks than their opponents Milan, leaving Gattuso with a practically fully fit squad for today’s clash. Andrea Petagna and Faouzi Ghoulam are the only two players sidelined by injuries and will not step onto the pitch against the Rossoneri.

A nearly fully fit squad means Gattuso can tinker with his selection, with Victor Osimhen, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Mario Rui all likely to feature in place of Dries Mertens, Diego Demme and injured Ghoulam.

Expected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Bakayoko, Fabian Ruiz; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; Osimhen

Unavailable: Petagna (muscle injury); Ghoulam (knee injury)

Milan vs Napoli – Previous Meetings

This will be the 152ndmeeting between the two sides, with Milan taking a slight edge over their opponents from Napoli. So far, the Rossoneri have triumphed on 58 occasions (38.4% win ratio), whilst Napoli have celebrated a victory 44 times (29.1% win ratio).

In the first head-to-head clash of the season, Milan beat Napoli 3-1 thanks to the brace from Ibrahimovic and an injury-time goal by young Norwegian forward Jens Petter Hauge. However, it is worth mentioning that 5 of the last 7 meetings between Milan and Napoli have ended in a draw.


With Inter winning their last seven Serie A matches, it is shaping up to be yet another win or die clash for Milan. Nothing else but only a victory can keep the Rossoneri’s title dream alive, with Inter playing earlier this afternoon. Depending on the result, it can act as an additional stimulus or place even more pressure on Pioli’s men shoulders, but one thing is for sure – Milan cannot afford to drop anymore points. On the other hand, Napoli are still within a reaching distance of the top four, and a win tonight would give Gattuso’s men a major confidence boost for the upcoming fixtures.