Preview: AC Milan vs. Napoli 

Preview: AC Milan vs. Napoli 

A heavyweight contest between two of the three sides locked together atop Serie A sees champions AC Milan and southern rivals Napoli convene at San Siro on Sunday.

In the final match of the seventh round, just before international football intervenes, Milan aim for a third straight victory, while their visitors arrive in the second city having posted four wins on the spin.

Still unbeaten this season – and, beyond that, in their last 22 Serie A games all told – Milan have made an excellent start to their defence of the Scudetto they won in May after so many years of failure.

Following successive domestic wins over the past fortnight, as they followed derby day victory against Inter with a 10-man comeback away to Sampdoria, the Rossoneri are separated from the summit of the standings only by a goal difference inferior to that of both Atalanta and their latest opponents.

Demonstrating great character in Genoa last week, Milan overcame the loss of star man Rafael Leao at the start of the second half, after the winger received a second booking for raising his boot dangerously high; veteran striker Olivier Giroud later stepped up to steer home the penalty that secured a 2-1 win.

In midweek, Stefano Pioli saw his side claim a first Champions League victory of their Group E campaign, as they saw off the challenge of Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb at San Siro – Giroud again scoring from the spot, before Alexis Saelemaekers and Tommaso Pobega also found the net.

Not only did Milan make the most of home advantage to get their first three-point haul in Europe, but they have also won their last six Serie A games at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza; keeping four clean sheets in the process.

The last time they enjoyed a longer such streak was back in 2013, but their recent record against Napoli does not read nearly as well: they have lost their last two league fixtures against the Azzurri as hosts – both by a 1-0 scoreline.

When they file out at San Siro on Sunday, Napoli will aim to avoid suffering consecutive defeats to their Rossoneri rivals for the first since the 2010-11 campaign – and with confidence sky-high in the camp, they will certainly expect to do so.

After a comprehensive 3-0 win at Ibrox, in which goals from Matteo Politano, Giacomo Raspadori and Tanguy Ndombele earned victory over 10-man Rangers, the Partenopei have maximum points from their first two Champions League matches and have already scored seven times in Group A.

Just days earlier, summer signing Raspadori had snatched victory for his new club with an 89th-minute winner against Spezia; moving Luciano Spalletti’s men top of the pile in Italy.

Clearly blessed with a potent attack, Napoli have also kept six clean sheets in their last nine league games stretching back to the end of last season – as many as in their previous 25. Furthermore, the focused pressing of their forwards has helped them achieve more high turnovers (60), and more shots following such turnovers (13) than any other team.

Also top scorers in Serie A so far, the Campanian club had to reshape their squad after a series of senior players left Naples once last term’s Scudetto challenge suffered a faltering finish.

If anything, though, new boys Raspadori, Kim Min-jae and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (also known as ‘Kvaradona’) have helped them reach new highs under the wily Spalletti, and they are now well-placed to tackle one of their chief title rivals.

AC Milan Serie A form:
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AC Milan form (all competitions):
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Napoli Serie A form:
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Napoli form (all competitions):
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We say: AC Milan 2-1 Napoli
Despite the disappointment of Leao and Osimhen having to watch on from the stands, both sides have numerous routes to goal and should both score at least once. The Rossoneri may inflict Napoli’s first defeat of the season, though, thanks to the winning mentality that made them champions in May.

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