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Italian Serie A Football

Napoli v AC Milan – Preview, Predictions, and Best Bets

Napoli host AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night.

Napoli v AC Milan

Napoli host AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night. The Rossoneri won 1-0 against ten men six days ago in the first leg. The sides also met in Serie A under three weeks ago as Milan won 4-0 in Naples. The key factor in this match could be the return to fitness of striker Victor Osimhen for the hosts.

Napoli Form

Napoli have had an incredible season and will certainly lift the Serie A title. They’ve also excelled in the Champions League – five wins in the group stage with 20 goals netted in six fixtures. They won 5-0 on aggregate in the round of 16, winning 2-0 away in the first leg and 3-0 at home in the second leg. They followed up the latter result by winning 4-0 at Torino.

A shock 4-0 home defeat to AC Milan followed before they won 2-1 at Lecce to get back on course. The first leg a week ago saw them have a man sent off after 74 minutes but they still outshot their opponents 16-12 and produced 1.34 xG to just 1.13 xG for Milan. Over the weekend, they could only draw 0-0 at home with Hellas Verona. They had 80% possession but only produced 0.41 Expected Goals from 10 shots.

Napoli Team News

Luciano Spalletti has been hit by two significant blows ahead of this second leg. Kim Min-jae will serve a yellow card suspension whilst Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa serves a ban for his red card in the first leg. Tanguy Ndombele is back from a domestic ban and could replace Anguissa, with Eljif Elmas another option. Juan Jesus could cover at centre back.

The key news is that striker Victor Osimhen got about 20 minutes over the weekend. He missed the first leg and is set to start this one. Giacomo Raspadori will drop to the bench. Another striker in Giovanni Simeone is carrying a knock and may not be involved.

Napoli Motivation

The hosts will be hugely motivated to win this match. They’re on the verge of winning the league already so all attention will go on this fixture.

They will attack and look to level things up ASAP with the vocal home crowd behind them.

AC Milan Form

Milan’s last eight matches have seen just two wins (four draws and two defeats). They reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals by beating Tottenham 1-0 on aggregate after a second leg draw in North London. They could only draw 1-1 at home with Salernitana and 3-1 away at Udinese.

A shock 4-0 win at Napoli followed. They only had 39% possession but produced 2.14 Expected Goals. More dropped points followed in a 0-0 home draw against Empoli. They beat Napoli last week in the Champions League first leg, scoring in the 40th minute but only producing 0.72 xG after that. Over the weekend, they rested 10 players in a 1-1 draw at Bologna.

AC Milan Team News

Coach Stefano Pioli rested ten outfield players over the weekend to keep them fresh for this match. Only goalkeeper Mike Maignan kept his place in the first leg. Veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out injured so Olivier Giroud will lead the line as usual.

It’s expected to be the same XI from the first leg. Simon Kjaer is set to partner Fikayo Tomori at centre back in preference to Pierre Kalulu. There are no injuries or suspensions aside from Zlatan’s absence.

AC Milan Motivation

The XI selected by Pioli over the weekend shows where his focus is. Milan will do everything to reach the semi-final in this match.

Their league match against Lecce next weekend won’t enter their thinking at all. Pioli will hope to score a goal to force Napoli to score three times to progress.

Key Stats

Milan have won just twice in their last 8 fixtures (both vs Napoli)

Milan have seen 1 or fewer goals scored in 7 of their last 8 matches

Napoli have won 7 of their 9 UCL matches this season

Napoli’s Osimhen has scored 25 goals this season (21 Serie A, 4 Champions League)

Napoli have produced 23.44 xG in their 9 UCL matches (2.60 per match)

Verdict

Despite Milan’s two wins against Napoli this month already, but came with key man Osimhen out injured. His return to the XI would be massive and makes the hosts favourites to win this match and possibly progress.

Best Bet: Napoli to qualify at 2.10
Alternative Bet: Napoli to win (90 mins) at 1.74
Goalscorer Combo: Napoli win and Osimhen to score anytime at 2.90

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James is a football analyst who writes about the tactics of the PSL and English Premier League. He holds the UEFA A coaching licence and has previously worked for several clubs in analysis roles.Twitter: https://twitter.com/footy_analysis

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