Napoli vs. Milan, preview: Three points there for Napoli's taking

Gabriele Maltinti

Just in case you haven't been paying attention this season, the odds are on Napoli, not Milan, to take all three points. But Napoli have ways of failing that haven't even been contemplated by mere mortals.

This match should go the way of the hosts. Napoli will be flying high after last week's come from behind win over Genoa, having resurrected Mazzarri-time to score two goals in the final five minutes. They're within a point of Inter Milan in second, and had no pesky Europa League matches to deal with this week. Edinson Cavani is fit and Mazzarri will have to use Lorenzo Insigne, who was impressive in his substitute appearance against Genoa. In other words, conditions are ideal.

That means Napoli will find a way to screw it up somehow. Massimiliano Allegri received yet another vote of confidence from Milan, despite the fact that he's now just throwing numbers against a board to determine his tactics. It's not all Allegri's fault, of course. He's got no money and his players shatter upon contact with air molecules. The rossoneri are overly reliant on young Stephan El Shaarawy. To be fair, he's been excellent, but he's got to be getting tired, and there's no one to replace him with, as it seems the latest injury to Alexandre Pato sucked away his footballing talent.

But Allegri and his merry band can find comfort in the fact that Napoli seem scared of true success. Their first half performance last weekend was one of the worst put on by the partenopei since Mazzarri took the helm. If it's that Napoli that appears at the San Paolo this weekend, Milan have a very real chance of getting a significant win, and possibly even pushing up into seventh. But if it's the Napoli of the second half, well, that's the side that was meant to be challenging for the scudetto -- which is more than Milan can contend with this season.

Napoli Injuries and Suspensions

Goran Pandev (injured), Valon Behrami (suspended)

No biggie. Pandev is not "impressive", he's not "revitalized." He's an average player who contrives to miss at the worst possible times. Walter Mazzarri will be better off being forced to use Lorenzo Insigne. As for Behrami's suspension, it only means it will be Gokhan Inler and Blerim Dzemaili in midfield. Just think of the partenopei as a squad of interchangeable Swiss, differentiated only by their hair (or lack thereof).

AC Milan Injuries and Suspensions

Ignazio Abate, Luca Antonini and Daniele Bonera (injured)

Mattia De Sciglio for Abate, but as for the rest? Allegri has a bit of a defense issue here. Mario Yepes and Cristian Zapata were both away on international duty for Colombia, leaving the two central defenders on very little rest. Philippe Mexes will be included, but it's uncertain as to whether there will be a three-man or four-man backline. Wait and see, I suppose.

Match Date / Time: Sunday, November 18 at 8:45 p.m. local / 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples

TV: Sky Calcio 1, ESPN UK, RAI Internazionale

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