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AC Milan vs Napoli Preview

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Everywhere you go…take a look at the log again, between first and fifth it’s ten with a scudetto still to be won.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Everywhere you go…action is in store. But the prettiest sight won’t be, a very large angry Swede but a win on their on front lawn!

Was that my rendition of Bing Crosby’s “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”? Yes. Would it have been better in Italian? Probably. Did it make sense? Not really. But did you enjoy it? Yes!

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Italian Serie A
Sunday 19 December
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
21:45

To Win
AC Milan 13/10
Draw 49/20
Napoli 39/20

AC Milan

AC Milan are out of European competition…whether this was unforeseen and accidental, or by design, is irrelevant. Inevitably their focus now will squarely shift to their domestic Serie A challenge.

The Rossoneri are still well and truly in the scudetto, but their inconsistent form will hurt them should it continue. I haven’t been convinced of AC Milan when they are the side playing with a degree of pressure or expectation, they just flatter to deceive in those moments and are costly to get behind.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an incredible footballer (nobody would be able to ever dispute that) but the Swedish talisman can also be a distraction at times. Playing with his back to goal is just yet another element of his game that is glorious to watch; bringing other players into the action, holding off defenders and then almost basketball-like pivots to roll into space and want the ball back bearing down on goal. My only concern is that as good a player as he is, passing him the ball seems to be more of a priority than anything else.

They simply must get comfortable playing with a degree of urgency and quality in games where the onus rests with them. Brahim Diaz can complement Ibrahimovic with incredible effectiveness upfront – but such a dynamic relies almost entirely on individual confidence being married to the ball being serviced in the final third.

I suspect Napoli will adopt a similar approach at the San Siro. They will be happy to sit in and counter – forcing Milan to be creative and live up to their assumed ascendency. To do so gives them the best chance for success. Just three points split these two sides, Milan have already been spoken about in a championship sense and whilst I agree it is premature, it could be the reason for their flat and toothless approach to games recently.

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Napoli

This might not be a popular opinion, but I don’t think Napoli’s recent results do justice to their performances or potential. Last time out they were shocked at home by Empoli, but they dominated large portions of the game and continue to be on the front foot every time they play.

Much like Leeds in the Premier League, Napoli are comfortable in their identity and confident in their ability. They aren’t afraid of playing an open and almost defenseless game of football at times and given the conservative underpinning usually associated with the Italian league – I find it quite refreshing.

We shouldn’t overlook the fact that the visitors will travel to Milan still riddled with injury and not being able field their best side. However, as ridiculous as this is going to sound, I think that only adds to their potential!

It further takes the pressure off Luciano Spalletti and his men since they have absolutely no expectations. They are lying in fourth place in the league, they can only ‘boast’ one win from their last seven fixtures in all competition and are now up against supposed serious title contenders. A Napoli side playing with no inhabitation or fear could be exactly what they need to come away with a result.

Prediction: AC Milan/Draw + Under 3.5 (1/1)
AC Milan can ask imposing questions of this Napoli defence. I think player for player on Sunday evening, AC Milan have the superior quality. This game comes at a good time for Napoli in terms of where Milan will be on the confidence spectrum…but the injury list on the visitor’s side is just crippling.

I think a cagey game will follow on from a cautious and apprehensive AC Milan approach – so goals might not be on the menu – but ultimately, I wouldn’t suggest going against the hosts.

Backing Milan on the Win/Draw Double Chance with less than 3.5 goals makes sense, and the fact that we can get as much as even money seals the deal!

Written by Ryan Liberty