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Feb 12, 2022 at 5pm UK
Inter MilanInter Milan
Insigne (7' pen.)
Insigne (37')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Dzeko (47')
Brozovic (60')

Preview: Napoli vs. Inter Milan - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Napoli vs. Inter Milan - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Napoli and Inter Milan, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

In a reversal of roles from the last time the clubs met, Serie A leaders Inter Milan look to keep fellow Scudetto contenders Napoli at arms length when the top two convene at Stadio Maradona on Saturday.

After losing the Milan Derby last weekend, Inter are just a point clear of both their Rossonero rivals and this week's hosts, who won 2-0 at Venezia to record a fourth successive league victory.

Match preview

Following a destabilising period bedevilled by injury and illness, in which they won only two of their previous nine, Napoli have now won each of their last four Serie A matches, with their latest success coming at the expense of relegation-threatened Venezia last Sunday.

Taking advantage of a favourable fixture list, and the chance to let their squad recover both physically and psychologically during the winter break, Luciano Spalletti's side have also kept a clean sheet in three of those wins - as many as in their previous 10 games in the league.

As a result, the Partenopei have retained their status as Serie A's most difficult defence to breach, and an impressive total of just 16 goals conceded surpasses even Inter's tally of 19.

Such a well-drilled unit, which managed to cope admirably without defensive lynchpin Kalidou Koulibaly while he was away helping Senegal to AFCON glory, has helped keep alive Napoli's attempt to match both Milan clubs in the title race, in which they trail this weekend's opponents by a solitary point having played one game more.

Unbeaten in 14 of their last 15 Serie A home games against Inter, with their only defeat during that time being a 3-1 reverse in January 2020, that specific precedent stacks up well as they attempt to return to the summit of the standings with victory on Saturday evening.

However, after enjoying a scintillating run of home form over much of the past year, Napoli have lost three of their last five Serie A home fixtures. Not only that, but ahead of Inter's arrival in Naples, the Azzurri have won only one of their last nine league meetings with their Nerazzurri counterparts too.

Since their 3-2 win over Napoli when the clubs met at San Siro late last year, Inter have gone from strength to strength, and only experienced their first league loss in nearly four months when relinquishing a lead to suffer Derby della Madonnina defeat last weekend.

A pair of late Olivier Giroud strikes consigned the champions to a 2-1 loss against Milan - who closed to within a point of the leaders as a consequence - but they were quickly back on track with a Coppa Italia quarter-final win in midweek.

Alexis Sanchez's top-corner rocket sealed safe passage to the last four of the cup - where, like last year, Inter will clash with their city rivals for a place in the final - as an insipid Roma side were sent packing.

The relentless demands of the fixture schedule, then, mean that Inter will continue to face some significant hurdles in the coming weeks, as after visiting Napoli they then enter the Champions League knockout stage against Liverpool before their two-legged Coppa clash with Milan.

Though the club's unbeaten run of 28 home matches in Serie A (featuring 25 wins) may now have been brought to a halt - incidentally their previous league loss at the Meazza came back in October 2020, also to Milan - they remain a formidable force on the road.

Just one defeat and a scoring rate of two goals per game make Simone Inzaghi's side one of the hardest to beat when they visit venues across the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula, so Napoli will surely be made to fight until the final minute if they are to prevail.

Before November's win over the Azzurri, Inzaghi's highest loss percentage in Serie A had been against the Neapolitan side - having been beaten by them seven times out of 10 while managing Lazio - but he will hope to again get the better of his opposite number Spalletti, who once endured a brief and unsuccessful spell as Inter head coach.

Napoli Serie A form:
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Napoli form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W

Inter Milan Serie A form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

Inter Milan form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Team News

Inter's deep squad has been largely free of injury or illness for several weeks now, and they have a similarly strong selection available for the trip south on Saturday.

Of their regular first XI, only Alessandro Bastoni is unavailable due to suspension, following his late sending off in the Derby, while back-up forward Joaquin Correa and new signing Robin Gosens are still sidelined as they continue to recover from thigh injuries.

Recent arrival Felipe Caicedo - signed on loan from Genoa last month - may make his debut from the bench if passed fit to feature, while a midweek wonderstrike has helped Alexis Sanchez press his claims to retain his starting role up front: Lautaro Martinez has failed to score in his last five Serie A outings, and after finding the net seven times in his first nine league games this season, Edin Dzeko has scored just twice in his last 13.

Having featured in the Coppa Italia win, meanwhile, Danilo D'Ambrosio is favourite to deputise for Bastoni in the back three of the visitors' familiar 3-5-2 formation. The versatile Federico Dimarco would be an alternative option.

Napoli's star defender Kalidou Koulibaly returns to action for the home side, having returned to Italian soil from Senegal, where he and his national team colleagues received a rapturous welcome as AFCON champions. On-loan Ivory Coast midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa is available too.

While wingers Adam Ounas and Hirving Lozano face fitness tests and Axel Tuanzebe is still troubled by a back problem, all three could ultimately be included, but Luciano Spalletti has no other expected absences for Inter's visit to the Maradona and should name an unchanged side.

Clad in a special protective mask, Victor Osimhen is set to start up front, with Dries Mertens and Andrea Petagna offering options from the bench.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Rui; Lobotka, Ruiz; Insigne, Zielinski, Politiano; Osimhen

Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, D'Ambrosio; Darmian, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Martinez, Dzeko

We say: Napoli 0-1 Inter Milan

Recent Serie A encounters between the top sides have tended to be tight affairs, as caution starts to kick in on the approach to the most crucial phase of the season.

With both teams capable of shutting up shop in defence, a low-scoring affair is on the cards - in contrast to the five goals produced in the entertaining reverse fixture - and Inter could just edge it due to their greater array of options from the bench when legs begin to tire.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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