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Preview: Serie A Round 2 – Napoli vs. AC Milan
By Nikita Fesyukov -

After a long wait, Milan return to the stage of Serie A football. The Rossoneri‘s opening match against Genoa at the San Siro was postponed and thus Gennaro Gattuso’s men will kick off the new campaign on Saturday against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo.

The team will want to build on an impressive second half of the season under Gattuso. The atmosphere and game plan improved significantly under the former Milan midfielder and with several additions to the squad, the players and coach will look to return the club back to the Champions League.

THE TEAM

Coach Gattuso will mostly build on the foundations from last season in terms of lineup. Gianluigi Donnarumma is set to start off the season as the number one, with Pepe Reina covering his back on the Milan bench.

The defense against Napoli will be very similar to the one the coach used last season, with one change – Mateo Musacchio is set to replace the departed Leonardo Bonucci in the starting lineup. Alessio Romagnoli will accompany the Argentinian with the captain’s armband, while Davide Calabria and Ricardo Rodriguez are expected to operate on the flanks.

Milan

The team midfield will also have a similar pattern to last season’s. Franck Kessie and Lucas Biglia are almost certain to start, while new signing Tiémoué Bakayoko should complete the midfield trident.

In the attack Milan will have to cope with Hakan Calhanoglu’s suspension, which will likely move Giacomo Bonaventura to the left wing spot. The Italian will be accompanied by Suso on the other wing and new arrival from Juventus, Gonzalo Higuain, in the middle.

Likely AC Milan XI (4-3-3): G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli (C), Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bakayoko; Suso, Higuain, Bonaventura.

THE OPPONENTS

Napoli have had a very turbulent summer, as their coach and Jorginho left the club for Chelsea. The Partenopei also welcomed several new arrivals such as Simone Verdi, Fabian Ruiz or Alex Meret.

Above all, they replaced Sarri with former Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti, who will look to build on a successful 2017/18 campaign in which Napoli finished second, only four points behind title winners Juventus.

Gattuso Ancelotti

It is likely that Ancelotti will start a very similar line-up to the one that played against Lazio in round 1 at the Stadio Olimpico where Napoli managed to prevail 2-1.

Likely Napoli XI (4-3-3): Ospina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Rui; Allan, Hamsik, Zielinski; Callejon, Milik, Insigne.

LAST TIME OUT

As mentioned, Milan’s opener against Genoa was postponed and thus the Rossoneri‘s last match was at the Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu against Real Madrid. Milan lost 1-3 in Madrid, with Gonzalo Higuain netting his first goal for the club.

Meanwhile, Napoli already played their opening match and managed to defeat Lazio away 2-1 thanks to goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Lorenzo Insigne.

KEY PLAYERS

Milan will look to Gonzalo Higuain to try and make the difference at the San Paolo. The Argentinian striker has scored 5 career goals against his former team and will be looking to improve this tally on Saturday. As a whole, Higuain has scored 111 Serie A goals in his career, which makes him a guarantee in front of goal.

Higuain Milan

Meanwhile, Lorenzo Insigne will be Napoli’s point of reference. The tiny Italian has scored 6 career goals against Milan and will want to build on this impressive record. The player has also already opened his account for this Serie A campaign, scoring a fantastic goal last week against Lazio.

PREDICTION

Milan are in for a very difficult match-up. The Rossoneri have not won against Napoli since December 2014, which amounts to 7 games without a win against the Partenopei. Milan’s last away win against Napoli dates back to October 2010, in the season when Massimilliano Allegri’s men lifted the title at the end of the season.

Thus said, Napoli have always been a difficult opponent for the club, but with new arrivals at the club, a better and more secure atmosphere and some much needed stability, Gennaro Gattuso’s men may be capable of taking a positive result home. Perhaps not a win, but even a draw would definitely be considered a good result.

Napoli vs. AC Milan: 2-2

 

 

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