AC Milan host Napoli at the San Siro on Sunday evening in a Serie A top of the table clash of titans.
Reigning champions AC Milan currently sit third in the Italian top-flight, only behind league-leaders and the weekend’s opponents Napoli. The Rossoneri, under the management of Stefano Pioli, have won four and drawn two of their opening six games. Milan’s unbeaten run in the league carried over to the UEFA Champions League where they sit top of their group.
Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli side have an identical record to Milan at the start of the season. Napoli sit at the summit of Serie A, albeit on goal difference. Gli Azzurri’s form in the UCL has been electric as well, currently sitting top of Group A after a stunning victory over Liverpool and Scottish side Rangers.
Sunday’s fixture sees just the second of numerous Serie A title-clashes this season, after the Milan Derby a few weeks ago. Both teams head into the fixture invincible, playing the most attractive football in Italy.
The match sees a battle of two of the most in form wide players in Europe, namely Rafael Leao of Milan and Kvicha Kvaratskhelia of Napoli.
Leao won Serie A’s Most Valuable Player for the 2021/2022 season. The Portuguese International started the current campaign in the same vain, scoring three goals and laying on six assists in eight appearances across all competitions. Leao’s stock carries on rising after his performances over the last two seasons led to him being linked with a move to Chelsea and Manchester City in the summer past. However, offers were immediately rejected according to Paolo Maldini, the Milan director of football. Kvicha Kvaratskhelia, affectionately known as ‘Kvaradona’, is a Georgian International that made the switch from his local club Dinamo Batumi to Napoli in July this year. The 21-year-old has found the net four times and assisted twice this season across all competitions. Kvaratskhelia’s nickname is given to him off the back of devastating performances, including destroying Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez during Napoli’s win over Liverpool last week.
The winner of Sunday’s clash will send a statement to the rest of Serie A by taking on the label of ‘favourites’ for the title. Given that a draw does not benefit either team majorly, although it may prove to be better for Napoli, both team’s unbeaten starts will be in jeopardy.
However, a victory for either team will be a massive boost to their confidence and may be the catalyst to continue their unbeaten run throughout the next few months.
AC Milan 1 – 2 Napoli
Despite the San Siro being a difficult place to play for an away side, Napoli’s form and style of football may prove too strong for Milan’s relatively young defence. The battle between Milan’s centre backs Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu with Napoli forward Victor Osimhen should be a fascinating duel. The Nigerian striker may not have had the most prolific start to the season in terms of numbers, even though Napoli have scored more than any other team in Italy, but his influence on Spalletti’s side through his movement and holdup play, has propelled his reputation to ‘borderline world class’. Defensively, new Napoli centre back Kim Min-Jae has adapted to life in Italy swiftly, with many fans suggesting the South Korean as the bargain of the summer in Serie A. Napoli have the joint-second best defensive record in Italy thus far, showcasing how difficult it is to break down Spalletti’s team. Despite Rafael Leao’s quality, the forward will have a tough task trying to penetrate the Napoli defence.