AC Milan (+500) at Napoli (-175), Draw (+300)
Napoli recently saw arch-rival Juventus jump them for first place in Serie A, but the Little Donkeys can retake top spot with a win this Monday when they host AC Milan at San Paolo Stadium (3:00 PM Eastern).
Napoli were atop Serie A a week ago heading into their match at Juventus, but a late goal by Zaza gave their rivals a 1-0 win along with a one-point league lead.
Napoli caught a break on Friday when Juventus drew against Bologna. Juve are now two up on Napoli, but Napoli have a game in hand and can put themselves back at the apex if they get the full three on Monday.
Their recent performance in the Europa League doesn’t bode well. Facing Spanish side Villarreal on Thursday, Napoli again lost 1-0 on a late goal.
“It’s a shame, as once again we conceded a goal right at the end,” midfielder Marek Hamsik told Sky Sports Italia. “We created chances and it’s just a pity we didn’t convert them.”
Unlike Napoli, AC Milan are not fighting for the Serie A title. The Rossoneri are in sixth at the moment, 15 points back of Juventus. Their focus is on finishing in the top-five and getting back to a European tournament for next season.
Though they’re still well back in the table, Milan have showed decent form lately; they haven’t loss since January 6, going 4-3-0 in their last seven. They could be without centre-back Alessio Romagnoli on Monday, though; the defender is suffering from flu-like symptoms and is listed as doubtful.
The Rossoneri have become a defensive minded team this season, averaging just 1.48 goals per game (versus 2.12 for Napoli). When striker Carlos Bacca isn’t converting, Milan doesn’t have much of an attack. The Colombian has scored 13 of Milan’s 37 goals this season.
This week, it was revealed that unnamed Chinese clubs offered Bacca $60M to leave Milan, but the striker opted to stay.
“[H]e sacrifices himself for the team. Winning the Coppa Italia is an objective for Carlos and the club, it’s not a coincidence he chose Milan,” explained Bacca’s agent Sergio Barila to Radio Crc.
However, even with Bacca playing at a high level, Milan’s attack pales in comparison to Napoli. That’s been evident in their last two matchups, which Napoli have taken by a combined score of 7-0 (including a 4-0 victory at San Siro Stadium this season).
There’s not much value on Napoli at -175. But, playing at home and needing a win to get back into first, expect them to pull out the full three.
Pick: Napoli (-175).
(Photo credit: Football.ua [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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