AC Milan vs. Napoli, preview: Rossoneri need a win against in-form Napoli

Claudio Villa

As strange as it might sound, Milan are not the favorites for this clash at the San Siro. With their long injury list, coupled with poor performances, it will take something special for the rossoneri to beat Napoli.

Despite it falling in the shadow of the Rome Derby, the meeting between AC Milan and Napoli is undeniably a "big" match. Considering the ambitions of both sides, and the comparative quality, it may even overshadow that game in the capital. With Milan's poor start, they will have to do everything possible to get a result here, but the partenopei are perhaps the most in-form team in Serie A at the moment. Milan have the home advantage, but the task might still prove very hard for Massimiliano Allegri's injury ridden team.

It's no secret that the rossoneri aren't playing well. They've already lost dropped points that a side with scudetto ambitions shouldn't have lost. Despite not playing any of the top sides, Milan taken just one point from two away matches -- and they can count themselves very lucky to have that point. The only win for Allegri's team came at home against Cagliari.

Injuries at Milan barely make the news at this point. The rossoneri will go into this match without several key players, including Riccardo Montolivo, Kaka, Mattia De Sciglio and Stephen El Shaarawy. At least Allegri can count on Andrea Poli again, who will take his place in a very creative midfield alongside Nigel De Jong and Sulley Muntari. Milan will almost certainly play in 4-3-1-2 formation, although it's still unknown whether Urby Emanuelson or Kevin Constant will be chosen as the starting left back, and whether either Valter Birsa or Robinho will be available.

Napoli travel to Milan in much better shape, with no players on the physio table. The atmosphere around the team is fantastic after winning every game this season - three in Serie A and the great midweek win in Champions League against Borussia Dortmund. Perhaps for the first time in who knows how many years, Napoli is coming to the San Siro as a favorite.

Rafa Benitez might rest a couple players that started in the win against Dortmund. Blerim Dzemaili is the favorite to slot in alongside Valon Behrami in the defensive midfield duo, replacing Gokhan Inler, while captain Paolo Cannavaro might take Miguel Britos' place in defense. It is expected that the front line will look the same, even though there are some reports that Goran Pandev might be back in the starting 11 instead of Lorenzo Insigne, but that's hard to imagine after the Italian's magnificent performance in the Champions League.

Milan injuries and suspensions

Mattia De Sciglio, Daniele Bonera, Riccardo Montolivo, Kaka, Giampaolo Pazzini, Matias Silvestre (injured)

Napoli injuries and suspensions

none

Projected line ups

Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant; De Jong, Poli, Muntari; Robinho; Matri, Balotelli

Napoli (4-2-3-1): Reina, Maggio, Albiol, Cannavaro, Zuniga; Behrami, Dzemaili; Callejon, Hamsik, Insigne; Higuain

Match date/time

Sunday, September 22 at 8:45 p.m. local / 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue

San Siro, Milan

TV

beIN Sport en Español, RAI Internazionale (USA), BT Sport 2 (UK), Premium Calcio HD, Premium Play, Premium Calcio, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia, Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)

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