A stunning weekend for Marco Di Cosmo (@scioltz) and now he tackles the Napoli v Milan Monday night fixture for us.
Napoli v AC Milan | Monday 20:00 | BT Sport Europe
The biggest match of this Serie A round is on Monday evening when second placed Napoli host AC Milan with a chance of getting back to the first spot after Juventus drew at Bologna on Friday.
When these two sides met last time Napoli won with an impressive performance registering an humiliating 4-0 win at the San Siro. It was a far different AC Milan from now though and the Milanese outfit have really improved since the start of the season.
Indeed the rossoneri are unbeaten in their last nine games and have lost just one in the last 16. If you go further back than that they’ve lost just two of 21 since October and that includes a loss to Juventus in Turin.
Napoli have slowed down their excellent run in recent days as they had a narrow win against Carpi before two consecutive defeats against Juventus and Villarreal.
These were very unlucky displays in both occasions; in the first match Napoli were punished by a deflected shot from Simone Zaza in the final minutes in a match which they did not deserve to lose. For me Napoli matched the bianconeri on their ground.
You could say pretty much the same against Villarreal, where they wasted some clear opportunities before being punished by a superb free kick from Denis Suarez.
I am starting from that because I can’t see a Napoli crisis as many suggest. Plus, I think facing AC Milan will be the perfect test for them, as this team suits very well with Napoli strengths. The fact that the rossoneri have improved a lot in recent times makes me think their coach Sinisa Mijalovic will not have a strong defensive approach for this fixture, but will try to play his game face to face.
That is the most encouraging thing for Napoli. They’ve had difficulties against teams who just sit back and defend and try and crush Napoli’s creativity (that’s evident in the many 0-0 draws they’ve had this season). Juventus and Villarreal are another example of that, as they represent two of the best defensive sides in Europe.
The final ingredient which makes me pick Napoli as a winner is the absence of Milan’s best defensive player, Alessio Romagnoli. The Italian youngster has proved to be a key element for this team after a difficult start of the season and his absence will mean a makeshift defensive tandem of Alex and Cristian Zapata, not the best you can have against Gonzalo Higuain!
El Pepita will be my second bet on this match. Backing the Argentinian international to score is almost evens and should be a banker in a Napoli win. He hasn’t scored in last two games, make it three if you don’t count goals from penalties.
Napoli v AC Milan – Napoli to win and Over 2.5 Goals (5/2 William Hill)
Napoli v AC Milan – Gonzalo Higuain to score anytime (Evens BWin)
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