After Cristiano Ronaldo hogged all the limelight around the return of Serie A, the Italian football returned to the serious business with the hint of sadness due to Genoa bridge collapse disaster.
The unfortunate incident forced Serie A to postpone two first week matches. Which means, Genoa, Sampdoria, AC Milan and Fiorentina will all be playing their first league game this weekend.
Titleholders Juventus had to work hard in their first game against Chievo and will need Ronaldo and co. in the top form against Lazio. Inter Milan suffered a 1-0 defeat to Sassuolo and will look to get back on track against Torino. But the biggest game of Serie A in the second matchday and the first direct fixture between title contenders for this season will be AC Milan vs Napoli.
It's almost time! ⏳#NapoliMilan: are you ready? ??⚫️
Watch the game LIVE on @DAZN_IT ️⚽️: https://t.co/zQJYXwQt8b
Manca sempre meno alla sfida del San Paolo! ⏳
Siete pronti, rossoneri? ??⚫️
Guardatela su DAZN ⚽️: https://t.co/zQJYXwQt8b pic.twitter.com/j0uwcsYLzQ
— AC Milan (@acmilan) August 23, 2018
When and Where to watch the game:
AC Milan will travel to Naples for their first game of the season on Sunday, 26th August at 12:00 AM IST. For the Indian viewers, the game will be broadcasted live on TV on Sony Network and will be streamed on sonyliv.com.
The team from Naples finished second in 2017-18 despite being on the top of the table for most of the season and they will look to change it this time around. AC Milan had a great transfer window and will be hoping to do better than last season’s 6th place finish.
Napoli started their season with a 2-1 victory against Lazio where they came from behind. Insigne scored the winning goal after Milik canceled Immobile’s opener. As mentioned before, AC Milan’s game against Genoa was postponed after the Genoa bridge collapse incident. So, Gonzalo Higuain will now debut for Milan against his former club Napoli. That is not the only reunion though, as Napoli’s new manager, Carlo Ancelotti played at AC Milan for five years before coming back to manage the club from 2001 to 2009, winning all available trophies in the process, including two Champions League titles.
AC Milan has not managed to win a game at San Paolo since 2010 and they will be itching to change that record on Sunday.
Carlo Ancelotti’s time as a Napoli manager started with Ciro immobile toying with Napoli defenders to score the first goal for Lazio. But the experienced tactician managed to come from behind to win the game. Although Sarriball is no more a part of Napoli’s team, the attacking threat in the form of Milik, Insigne, and Mertens continues. Hamsik continues to hold the midfield together and managing to keep Koulibaly away from various European clubs is the best thigh that could happen to Napoli’s defense. The club also signed David Ospina on a loan which could be crucial for their chances in the league.
Gonzalo Higuain looks all set to start for Milan after his loan move from Juventus. The Argentine will be helped in the attack by Suso and the free-kick specialist Çalhanoğlu. It will be interesting to see if Gennaro Gattuso decides to start Bakayoko after the Frenchman’s loan move from Chelsea. Bonucci left the club after just one season and his defensive abilities will be definitely missed. But the Rossoneri have the likes of Romagnoli and Musacchio in the center of the defense.
Expected Line-Ups and Formations:
During Sarri’s time, Napoli was known for the fluid football with the 4-3-3 formation and Ancelotti has not changed that. With Koulibaly and Albiol in defense, Hamsik in the midfield and an attacking firepower which is impossible to stop, Napoli will start with their best Xi for sure.
Ospina (GK), Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Rui, Allan, Hamsik, Zielinski; Callejon, Milik, Insigne
The Milan club also looks set to start with 4-3-3. Higuain will be in front of the goal, with Suso and Çalhanoğlu on the wings. Another Argentine, Lucas Biglia is back from the injury and should be ready to start with Kessie and Bonaventura.
Donnarumma (GK), Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez, Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura, Suso, Çalhanoğlu, Higuain
Napoli has a squad which has played together for some time now and the club also started the season with a 2-1 victory. As for Milan, they have a few new faces in the team and after missing out on the first game, they might need some time to settle in, giving Napoli’s attack enough time to strike. 2-1 to Napoli!