Milan vs Napoli Champions League Betting Preview & Predictions.11.04.2023 12:22:19
- Two Italian giants go head-to-head at the San Siro on Wednesday night as seven-time winners Milan host Napoli in Champions League quarter-final action.
- The visitors will be without star forward Victor Osimhen for the first leg in what is a huge blow for Napoli.
- Milan recently defeated the Neapolitan side 4-0 in Serie A, despite the Partenopei leading the pack by some way in the league this term.
The fitness of Osimhen is the big news heading into the first leg at the San Siro and he is expected to be absent for the first leg here. He has missed the last two games for Napoli due to a thigh injury that he picked up whilst on international duty with Nigeria, which hands Milan a huge boost.
The Partenopei will now be sweating over the fitness of their star striker for the second leg but will hope they have enough to get past the Rossoneri in Milan, before heading back to Naples with the desire that Osimhen will be fit and firing for that one. Giacomo Raspadori started in his place last time out and his return to action has been all the more crucial due to Giovanni Simeone also picking up an injury last time out.
The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been cut short and he has yet again suffered another setback. However, the Swede would not have been available regardless since he was not registered for the Champions League squad.
Pierre Kalulu has also been an injury issue of late due to a calf problem and has missed the past two matches. That leaves either Malick Thiaw or Simon Kjaer to partner Fikayo Tomori at the back.
Junior Messias remains a doubt since he has missed the last five games due to injury, whilst captain Davide Calabria has returned to a traditional right-back role. However, both Kalulu and Messias have returned to training and so they could make a return here.
Stefano Pioli has recently switched back to a four-at-the-back system so it will be interesting to see how Napoli deal with it this time around, considering the disaster at the Diego Maradona Stadium not too long ago.
Champions League Form
Milan edged past Tottenham Hotspur in the previous round with a 1-0 victory at the San Siro, thanks to Brahim Diaz’s goal being enough to get them through the tie. A goalless draw in North London followed in the second leg as Mike Maignan starred in a resolute display.
The Rossoneri have been excellent at the back in Europe of late and have kept four consecutive clean sheets that stretches back to the group stage. Tomori has been ever present at the back and was impressive in the return leg against Spurs so will be hoping for a similar display here.
It all seemed too easy for Napoli in the round of 16 as they put Eintracht Frankfurt to the sword with a 5-0 aggregate victory. Osimhen and Giovanni Di Lorenzo got on the scoresheet in the 2-0 win, before the Nigerian stole the show once more in the second leg by bagging a brace. His fitness will be key to the tie and he will be dreaming of making an inspirational comeback for the return leg.
Luciano Spalletti has already guided the Azzurri further in the competition than they have done in their history, having only previously made it to the round of 16. It will be a tougher task now against Milan in Europe since the Rossoneri have a vast history of success, winning the European Cup / Champions League a total of seven times. However, their last triumph came back in 2007 and this season is only the second time they have made it to the last eight since.
UCL 22/23 Key Stats:
Goals For: Milan 13, Napoli 25
Goals Against: Milan 7, Napoli 6
Both Teams To Score %: Milan 25%, Napoli 37.5%
Over 2.5 Goals %: Milan 50%, Napoli 75%
The two Italian giants meet here for the first time in European competition but of course, they are certainly no strangers. They last met only at the beginning of the month as Milan ran out shock 4-0 winners away from home, going completely against the story of the season thus far.
It all seemed too easy for Napoli at one point but after the emphatic victory at the San Siro, it will likely play a huge factor in the psychology of this Champions League affair, despite it being extremely unlikely to have an impact on the league, especially for the champions-elect.
A return to the four-man defence by Pioli stifled the Neopolitans recently but Napoli still sit atop the Serie A standings by 16 points. It seems no coincidence too that Rafael Leao returned to top form after the move, with the Portuguese winger enjoying his role further wide out on the flank. The Rossoneri remain 22 points off the Partenopei, nonetheless, so it would take a complete collapse for Napoli to be caught by them now.
Nevertheless, it was a huge win for Milan, who had not won in any of their previous four matches, and so a return to winning ways, particularly in that manner, will help set-up a thrilling end to the campaign. However, they were unable to follow that up last time out as they were held to a lacklustre 0-0 draw at home to Empoli. The Milan faithful will be dreaming of a Champions League trophy, whilst also securing a top four finish in the league.
It appears as though Napoli have already wrapped up the Scudetto but two defeats in their last five Serie A games has put a slight bump in the road. After starting the campaign unbeaten, they were finally thwarted by Inter after the return from the World Cup. If Juventus also get their 15 points back, it would reduce the Azzurri’s lead at the summit to 15 points so Napoli must keep their cool if they are to see it through.
After the 4-0 drubbing by Milan, Napoli managed to get back on track with a 2-1 win over Lecce last time out. The win also proved that they could find victory without Osimhen and would have settled the nerves after the shock defeat.
Prediction & Suggested Bets
Milan 2-1 Napoli @ 9/1 Big Champions League nights are tailored perfectly to Milan and they look good value to raise their game on the big occasion. Napoli will be hindered without Osimhen and the San Siro will be rocking in what is a huge match for the Rossoneri. We’re backing a narrow lead for Milan in the first leg to take to Naples.
Rafael Leao To Score or Assist @ 8/5 Milan get the best out of Leao when he’s deployed wider out on the flank and he will be looking to leave his mark on the big stage. He bagged a brace in his most recent meeting with Napoli and could make an impact here.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo To Commit 2+ Fouls @ 7/4 Di Lorenzo will be tasked with dealing with Leao down his side of the pitch and he committed two fouls against Milan in the 4-0 defeat. The defender has also committed four fouls in his last two Champions League matches.
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