AC Milan vs. Napoli – prediction, team news, lineups


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In the final match of the seventh round, just before international football intervenes, Milan aim for a third straight victory, while their visitors arrive in the second city having posted four wins on the spin.

Match preview

Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring for AC Milan on September 14, 2022© Reuters

Still unbeaten this season – and, beyond that, in their last 22 Serie A games all told – Milan have made an excellent start to their defence of the Scudetto they won in May after so many years of failure.

Following successive domestic wins over the past fortnight, as they followed derby day victory against Inter with a 10-man comeback away to Sampdoria, the Rossoneri are separated from the summit of the standings only by a goal difference inferior to that of both Atalanta and their latest opponents.

Demonstrating great character in Genoa last week, Milan overcame the loss of star man Rafael Leao at the start of the second half, after the winger received a second booking for raising his boot dangerously high; veteran striker Olivier Giroud later stepped up to steer home the penalty that secured a 2-1 win.

In midweek, Stefano Pioli saw his side claim a first Champions League victory of their Group E campaign, as they saw off the challenge of Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb at San Siro – Giroud again scoring from the spot, before Alexis Saelemaekers and Tommaso Pobega also found the net.

Not only did Milan make the most of home advantage to get their first three-point haul in Europe, but they have also won their last six Serie A games at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza; keeping four clean sheets in the process.

The last time they enjoyed a longer such streak was back in 2013, but their recent record against Napoli does not read nearly as well: they have lost their last two league fixtures against the Azzurri as hosts – both by a 1-0 scoreline.

Giacomo Raspadori celebrates scoring for Napoli on September 14, 2022© Reuters

When they file out at San Siro on Sunday, Napoli will aim to avoid suffering consecutive defeats to their Rossoneri rivals for the first since the 2010-11 campaign – and with confidence sky-high in the camp, they will certainly expect to do so.

After a comprehensive 3-0 win at Ibrox, in which goals from Matteo PolitanoGiacomo Raspadori and Tanguy Ndombele earned victory over 10-man Rangers, the Partenopei have maximum points from their first two Champions League matches and have already scored seven times in Group A.

Just days earlier, summer signing Raspadori had snatched victory for his new club with an 89th-minute winner against Spezia; moving Luciano Spalletti‘s men top of the pile in Italy.

Clearly blessed with a potent attack, Napoli have also kept six clean sheets in their last nine league games stretching back to the end of last season – as many as in their previous 25. Furthermore, the focused pressing of their forwards has helped them achieve more high turnovers (60), and more shots following such turnovers (13) than any other team.

Also top scorers in Serie A so far, the Campanian club had to reshape their squad after a series of senior players left Naples once last term’s Scudetto challenge suffered a faltering finish.

If anything, though, new boys Raspadori, Kim Min-jae and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (also known as ‘Kvaradona’) have helped them reach new highs under the wily Spalletti, and they are now well-placed to tackle one of their chief title rivals.

Team News

AC Milan's Rafael Leao celebrates scoring their third goal on September 3, 2022© Reuters

Rafael Leao’s red card in Milan’s win over Sampdoria last week means the Portuguese forward will now be missing on Sunday evening due to suspension. Without Leao in their side, the hosts have a win rate of 50% and average 1.8 points, down from 70% and 2.3 points with him on the pitch.

As Ante RebicDivock Origi and long-term absentee Zlatan Ibrahimovic are also out of commission, Stefano Pioli will have to rejig his resources up front, with Alexis Saelemaekers potentially switching to the left and Charles De Ketelaere returning to support lone striker Olivier Giroud.

Junior Messias and Rade Krunic both appeared from the bench in midweek and are strong contenders to feature too, but Milan’s defensive department and engine room should remain unchanged.

While their opponents must overcome the loss of an integral attacker, Napoli will also have to do the same, as Victor Osimhen remains sidelined by his latest in a long line of injuries.

In better news for Luciano Spalletti – who serves a one-match touchline ban – Mexican winger Hirving Lozano returned to full training this week and Diego Demme is also closing in on a comeback but will have to wait until after the international break for a recall.

In Osimhen’s absence, Giacomo Raspadori and Giovanni Simeone go head-to-head for one place up front; meanwhile, Mario Rui and Mathias Olivera compete to start at left-back.

AC Milan possible starting lineup:
Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Kalulu, Hernandez; Bennacer, Tonali; Messias, De Ketelaere, Saelemaekers; Giroud

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Kim, Rrahmani, Rui; Anguissa, Lobotka, Zielinski; Politano, Raspadori, Kvaratskhelia

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