Champions League preview: Napoli vs. AC Milan – Team news, opposition insight, stats and more

By Oliver Fisher -

Napoli and AC Milan will face off for the fourth time this season when they play in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Everything is still to play for in Naples but Milan do take a slender advantage into the game having won the first leg at San Siro on Wednesday night thanks to Ismael Bennacer’s goal in the latter stages of the first half.

Stefano Pioli spoke about all of the qualities that his side need to show in order to complete the job and make the semi-finals for the first time in 16 years, but it is much easier said than done.

Game date: Tuesday, April 18
Kick-off time: 21:00 (CEST)
Venue: Stadio Diego Armando Maradona
Referee: Istvan Kovacs (VAR: Fritz)

Team news

Milan come into the game against Napoli having won the two meetings that have taken place between the two sides in the past three weeks, with the first being a 4-0 win at the Maradona and the other being in midweek.

In terms of injury news, the latest is that players present in the UEFA squad list were there for the squad’s departure from Malpensa Airport on Monday afternoon including Olivier Giroud, Simon Kjaer and Malick Thiaw.

It is good news regarding the French forward in particular given that he missed the training session on Sunday after reporting Achilles discomfort following a challenge with Kim Min-jae on Wednesday.

Kjaer meanwhile does not have any worries either despite the fact that he was not a part of the trip to Bologna at the weekend and instead stayed in Milano to manage his workload. Thiaw did individual training today having come off before the end of the game at the Renato Dall’Ara, but is seemingly fit enough for the trip.

According to what is being reported by MilanNews among other reliable sources, Pioli should got back to the line-up that won the last two games versus the Partenopei having made 10 changes for the draw against Bologna at the weekend.

That means Mike Maignan will be between the posts again and he will have a defence of Davide Calabria, Simon Kjaer, Fikayo Tomori and Theo Hernandez in front of him.

Sandro Tonali and Rade Krunic should be the double pivot in midfield with Ismael Bennacer slightly ahead of him as the disruptor to Lobotka.

Brahim Diaz and Rafael Leao should reclaim their places on the right and left side of the attack respectively, and Giroud is down as the centre-forward presuming that he is not bothered by any late pain.

Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Krunic, Tonali; Brahim Diaz, Bennacer, Leao; Giroud.

The opponents

There appears to be some bad blood developing between Milan and Napoli after the argument between Luciano Spalletti and Paolo Maldini in the 4-0 game plus the many flash points on the field in midweek.

It seems as though both sides are unhappy with how the first leg at San Siro went on Wednesday night, with Milan feeling that they should have had two penalties after Rade Krunic was hauled down during a corner and Alexis Saelemaekers was tripped.

Napoli meanwhile lost two players to suspension, the first being Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa who received two yellow cards in quick succession and was sent off, and the second being Kim Min-jae who was booked for dissent. Giovanni Simeone is out injured.

The build-up to the game has been dominated by the return of Victor Osimhen, who came off the bench in the second half of Napoli’s game against Hellas Verona at the weekend having missed both recent matches against the Diavolo.

The Nigerian looked sharp and hit the bar with a shot that looked like it was going to be the winner, but the Azzurri were instead forced to settle for a goalless draw against a side battling the drop.

As per multiple sources, it will be Juan Jesus who steps in for Kim in the defence, and he had some interesting things to say about Milan’s first leg approach. Giovanni Di Lorenzi, Amir Rrahmani and Mario Rui should complete the back four in front of Alex Meret.

Tanguy Ndombele is expected to be the man who comes in for the suspended Anguissa, joining Stanislav Lobotka and Piotr Zielinski in forming the midfield trio. Meanwhile, in attack it is Matteo Politano and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia expected to be either side of Osimhen.

Probable Napoli XI (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Juan Jesus, Mario Rui; Ndombele, Lobotka, Zielinski; Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia.

Head to head

Milan have played against Napoli 172 times in their history across all competitions, winning 69 of those games with 52 draws and 51 losses. Among teams they have played over 100 times, there aren’t many against whom the Diavolo have a lower win percentage.

The Rossoneri’s record against the Neapolitans is better when it comes to knockout ties however as the teams have squared off 17 times in the Coppa Italia, with Milan winning nine games, losing four and drawing four.

The most recent one-off game resulted in a 2-0 home win for Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan in 2018-19 in the quarter-finals of the cup (brace from Piatek), while over two legs it was back in 1989-90 when the Diavolo reached the final with a 3-1 aggregate win.

Match facts:

➤ Napoli have already lost twice to Milan in April, losing 4-0 in Serie A at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium and 1-0 at San Siro in the first leg of this tie. The last side to beat them three times in one season was Lazio in 1994-95.

➤ Milan have won their last three away matches against Napoli, all in Serie A, their joint longest away winning run against them, including a 4-0 victory earlier this month. The last team they beat twice away from home in a season was Sampdoria in 2015-16.

➤ Milan hold a 1-0 lead from the first leg against Napoli, last reaching the UEFA Champions League semi-final in 2006-07. They’ve only been eliminated twice after winning the first leg of a knockout tie – in 2003-04 vs Deportivo de La Coruia in the quarter-final (4-1 first leg, 0-4 second leg) and 2012-13 vs Barcelona in the last 16 (2-0 first leg, 0-4 second leg).

➤ Napoli are unbeaten in their last 12 home Champions League matches (W9 D3) since a 4-2 defeat to Man City in November 2017. They’ve won their four home games this season, scoring at least three goals in each victory.

➤ Milan have kept a clean sheet in their last five Champions League matches, the best run by a side since Man City in 2020-21 (seven in a row). The Rossoneri have only had one longer run in the competition, going seven without conceding during the 2004-05 campaign on their way to reaching the final.

➤ Napoli have been eliminated from their last 10 European knockout ties after losing the first leg, last progressing to the next round after suffering a first leg deficit in the 1988-89 UEFA Cup quarter-final vs Juventus, overturning a 2-0 first leg defeat to win 3-2 on aggregate and go on and win the tournament that year.

➤ Piotr Zielinski has been involved in five goals in four home Champions League appearances for Napoli this season (3 goals, 2 assists), scoring or assisting every 49 minutes. The only Napoli player with more goals and assists at Diego Armando Maradona in a Champions League campaign was Edinson Cavani in 2011-12 (4 goals, 2 assists).

➤ Olivier Giroud has been directly involved in six goals in nine appearances in the Champions League this season (four goals and two assists) — the most by a Milan player in a single campaign since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2011-12 (9 – five goals and four assists).

➤ Stanislav Lobotka has completed 352 passes under pressure in the Champions League this season, which is 95 more than the Napoli player with the next-most (Giovanni Di Lorenzo, 257). Lobotka’s pass completion rate under pressure (90.3%) is also the best of any Napoli player to have played 300+ minutes in the competition this term.

➤ Only Vinicius Junior (36) has completed more dribbles than Milan’s Rafael Ledo (33) in the Champions League this term, however Ledo has completed more than any other player in the knockout stages of this season’s tournament (18). Ledo’s 33 completed dribbles are the most by a Milan player in a single season since Kaka in 2004-05 (37).

Ones to watch

There will be a number of key battles that take place across the field at the Maradona, and for Milan it is obvious that Ismael Bennacer, Rade Krunic and Sandro Tonali will be crucial in once again limiting how much their opponents – particularly Lobotka and Zielinski – can dictate the tempo of the game.

It is well known that the left flank is the main threat for Pioli’s side with Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao useful weapons when countering, but when the former pushes up from left-back there will need to be cover.

Meanwhile, Spalletti and Napoli will rely on the vertical runs from the fit-again striker Victor Osimhen, who has 25 goals in all competitions this season scoring just about every way imaginable.

Victor Osimhen-Khvicha Kvaratskhelia duo shine against Torino again - Get Italian Football News

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia will look to provide for the former Lille man but also play off him with inside runs to drag Milan’s defence all over the place. Matteo Politano and Mario Rui will push up to provide overlaps and crosses.

At the other end, a lot will depend on how Ndombele sticks to his task in the midfield and how Juan Jesus deals with Giroud and Leao in the moments that Milan do get forward, which is easier said than done.


It feels as though everything depends on how Milan start the game. If they come under serious pressure like they did in the first leg it feels as though they might not be as lucky in keeping them out this time, especially with Osimhen back.

However, if they settle into the game well and cause just enough panic in Napoli’s half then it could be tight. This one is so hard to call that any prediction feels like a bold one.

Napoli 2-1 AC Milan (AET – Milan win on penalties)

Tags AC Milan Khvicha Kvaratskhelia Napoli-Milan


  1. I think an important thing in this game is not to concede early. If we concede early Napoli will smell blood and then the floodgates might burst open.

  2. Bold prediction that Napoli will win. Still we lead 1 0 with more powerfull attack of Napoli. We managed to keep quite Kvaratskheila and our defence is more stronger than theirs. If we manage to score and not miss the opportunities, we will win again.

    Napoli Milan 2:3

  3. Oh alright, since everyone else is doing it, I say 2-2, and it will be us taking the lead and Napoli pegging us back each time. 3-2 us on aggregate.

  4. If you’re telling me on January that we will progress to QF and meet Napoli three times on April, and we’re going to win just 2 matches out of 3, I’d probably take it and kiss your hand in gratitude.

    However, stranger things have happened. We did win those two games and evem in a position to do the ‘three-peat’. We kinda found the squad that won Scudetto last season while pummeling Napoli 0-4, and still keep the clean sheet during the second victory. IMHO, it’s far less likely for this game to end scoreless, as Napoli would try to prove a point that they’re the champion-elect and two embarassing defeat against us should definitely galvanize them.

    However, that’s exactly what I’d expect and Napoli would hopefully shows a lot of crack when we counter. Especially that the impressive Kim would be unavailable to marshall their defence. What it boils down to, might just be how clinical our strikeforce would be? Napoli also showed a lot of frustration last week, and I don’t think they’re ever in this kinda pressure since the beginning of the season.

    If we can hold their early assault and hit them hard on the counter. I believe we could even win this one. As the game progresses, the longer time it takes for Napoli to breach our defence, they would grow frustrated and might lose their head yet again.

    1. I agree with you. Remember that Final game against Sassuolo? Clinical was on the order of the day. Everything we hit toward the goal resulted in a goal. I have never seen Milan soo fired up. Yes Sassuolo weren’t really in the game but the determination to win that much was impeccable. I hope we see the same Milan Tonight. Forza Milan

  5. I think Napoli could score atleast a goal against Milan tonight. But one thing both cannot keep clean sheet. Duely, there will be a send of tonight.

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.