What: Italian Serie A
Who: AC Milan vs Napoli
When: Sunday 5th February, 2012, at 14:00 UK time
Where: Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

Needed Win

A single point off Juventus’ mark in Serie A, Milan are aiming for reconciliation with their fans in this match. The Rossoneri are hoping to put their 2-0 loss to Lazio behind them and continue their quest to retain the league crown. To do so, a hard meeting versus Napoli awaits, in a clash that has developed a special derby over the past two years.

The loss at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to Lazio has put the Rossoneri in a tough situation, trailing foes Juve by one point having played a game more. However, coach Massimiliano Allegri believes that this could be a blessing in disguise for his side as it may serve as a lesson for the team.

“We just played a bad game against a team that has given us very little”, declared Allegri. “The championship is still long, however, with so many games remaining. This defeat will surely do us good. Lately, even in victory, we have not had the right level of meanness required win the championship.”

Disappointing So Far

One of the few teams touted as potential champions at the start of the season, Napoli’s campaign has been hugely poor so far, drawing one too many times – they are the side with the most draws in the league – and slipping down the pecking order to seventh place. An awakening is needed for the southern Italians to salvage their Serie A season.

The team suffered another setback in the league in the form of a 3-2 defeat to Genoa recently. After the game, Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri criticized the officials for what he believed were bad calls that ultimately cost his side.

“We were penalised by a bad day from the referee. We deserved to win for the obstinacy with which we tried to score. The goal arrived [that of Goran Pandev] but was inexplicably disallowed. We lost two points because of a wrong interpretation by the referee”, blasted Mazzarri.

Napoli must shrug off that though because a late season surge is needed if the side want to continue to taste Champions League football next year.

Recent form

AC Milan:
AC Milan 3-1 Lazio (26/01; Coppa Italia)
AC Milan 3-0 Cagliari (29/01; Serie A)
Lazio 2-0 AC Milan (01/02; Serie A)


Napoli 2-0 Inter (25/01; Coppa Italia)
Genoa 3-2 Napoli (29/01; Serie A)
Napoli 0-0 Cesena (01/02; Serie A)

Key absences

AC Milan: Alexander Merkel; Rodney Strasser; Kevin-Prince Boateng; Alexandre Pato; Alberto Aquilani; Mario Yepes; Antonio Cassano; Gennaro Gattuso; Mathieu Flamini; Luca Antonini (doubt)

Napoli: Gokhan Inler (doubt); Paolo Cannavaro (doubt)

Players to watch

AC Milan – Thiago Silva: The Brazilian has been an integral man for both club and country ever since he set foot on the peninsula from Fluminense. Against Cavani and co. much will be expected from the stopper, who many perceive as a legitimate heir to Lucio’s national team armband.

Napoli – Marek Hamsik: Once touted to join Napoli’s opponents, Hamsik stayed to try and elevate the side amidst Europe’s big boys. One of the best playmakers in Europe, Hamsik will pull the strings from the middle as his team attempt to usurp Milan.

Match Prediction

Both sides will be looking for a high profile performance, but Milan’s luck appears to be better at the moment. Napoli are losing motivation and could easily surrender against the reigning Serie A champions. Expect a 2-0 score in favour of Milan.


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