Coming from frustrating stalemates in their previous fixtures, both Napoli and Milan will aim to progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League when they lock horns against each other today evening at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in the 2nd-leg of the two-legged quarter-final.
Napoli approach this match at the back of a 0-0 draw with relegation-threatened Verona. The stalemate disallowed the Neapolitans to increase their gigantic lead at the top of the Serie A table and despite the dropped points, they are a long way clear of second-placed Lazio.
Napoli missed the figure of star striker Victor Osimhen in the first leg of the quarter-final and that rendered them incapable to orchestrate resounding attacks against the Rossoneri. Milan capitalised on their home advantage and midfielder Ismael Bennacer’s 40th-minute strike stood the difference at the San Siro.
The Partenopei are unbeaten in their last 12 Champions League matches, last losing 4-2 to Manchester City back in 2017. They have formidable form at home this season, scoring 3 goals in each of their 4 matches at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Meanwhile, Milan will aim to finish the job by progressing to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
Manager Stefano Pioli will urge his men to hold onto their composure till the final whistle and see the game out as they have a slender lead from the first leg. The Rossoneri have only bowed out of the knockout stages of the competition twice in their history after winning the first leg and they will hope not to add today’s game to that tally.
Milan will have a psychological advantage over their opponents as they have already defeated Napoli twice this month and by a margin of 5-0 over the two games.
Regardless of their inconsistent form in the league this campaign, the Rossoneri possess the historical drive to come out big in the Champions League and they are surely going to exhibit their prowess in today’s match.
Results from their last five matches across all competitions
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Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti will have a job on his hands to retain the desired compatibility in his defence as rock-solid defender Kim Min-Jae joins midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa on the sidelines with a suspension.
After missing the first leg, star forward Victor Osimhen is set to back fully recovered from his injury and he will pair upfront with breakout star Kvicha Kvaratskhelia.
Striker Giovanni Simeone misses with a thigh issue and Hirving Lozano is expected to retain his position on the right flank.
As for Milan, Olivier Giroud will lead the lines as Zlatan Ibrahimovic faces another injury setback.
Simon Kjaer, Sandro Tonali and Rafael Leao should return to the starting line-up. Mike Maignan is set to feature in between the sticks.
Napoli (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Jesus, Rui; Ndombele, Lobotka, Zielinski; Lozano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia
Milan (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Krunic, Tonali; Diaz, Bennacer, Leao; Giroud
Trambak Bhattacherjee | GIFN