Conte Vs Gattuso: Crunch time for Napoli
Inter Milan host Napoli in the penultimate Serie A fixture for these two heavyweights. The visitors have the most to play for, sitting one point and one place behind AC Milan in sixth, taking up the final Europa League qualification spot in the division. Stefano Pioli’s men also have a much kinder last two matches against Sampdoria and Cagliari compared to Inter and Lazio for Napoli, giving Milan a great opportunity to finish above their former manager Gennaro Gattuso. Inter are the stronger side and currently take up second place, but with both sides looking towards Europa League and Champions League action in August, this one is tough to call.
Napoli’s last six away trips to Inter have seen at least one goalless half. The game showcases two potent attacking contingents with Antonio Conte’s men finding the net in 11 of their last 12 matches, Napoli eclipsing that by scoring in 20 of their last 21. Inter Milan are unbeaten in their last six, picking up three wins in that time since a home defeat to Bologna.
Ones to watch
With the fading talent of 33-year-old Dries Mertens it is crucial for Napoli that Lorenzo Insigne can step up to fill the void. The Italian winger is not a similar player to the Belgian who has converted with experience into a central striker, but in terms of goals and assists The Blues need to find another source of goals. Arkadiusz Milik has been good in rotation in the last few seasons if yet to post an impressive tally, he needs other contributors. Napoli are the seventh highest scoring team in Serie A, not up to scratch compared to recent seasons, bettered comfortably by the likes of, Sassuolo, Lazio and Roma. All of whom do not boast fiercer frontlines than their own.
Insigne has provided 11 goals and eight assists in all competitions this term is the key man to drag them over the line towards qualification for next season’s Europa League, he possesses the greatest ability to do so. However, Gattuso may enjoy the freedom to concentrate on domestic interests in what will be a hectic 2020/21 campaign.
Conte’s iconic three at the back system has produced the best defensive unit in the division, with Milan Skriniar, Stefan De Vrij and Diego Godin standing firm. The former Milan by name, Milan by nature, Slovakian centre back Skriniar has had a huge impact on the club since signing from Sampdoria in 2017. A key man in sealing Champions League qualification under Luciano Spalletti in 2018/19, the 25-year-old has already amassed 40 appearances this term and will play an important role in their final Serie A and Europa League endeavours.
There is more on the line for Napoli, the impetus is on them, though that might play into Inter’s hands.