This week Serie A throws up a mouth watering top of the table clash in matchday 14 of the 2015/16 season as Inter travel to the Stadio San Paolo to face Napoli on Monday 30th November 2015 (kick off 21:00 CET).
Inter come into this game on the back of their biggest win of the season last weekend against Serie A newcomers Frosinone 4-0 which was Inter’s fourth win a row after wins against Torino (0-1), Roma (1-0) and Bologna (0-1).
Inter dominated the game against Frosinone and had four different goalscorers on the day in Jonathan Biabiany, Jeison Murillo, Marcelo Brozovic and most importantly Mauro Icardi who is now Inter’s top goalscorer on four goals, giving the Argentine a confidence boost ahead of this game.
Roberto Mancini seems to have fixed the problems that haunted Inter’s defence last season in bringing in Jeison Murillo and Joao Miranda, and along with the dependable Samir Handanovic, Inter have the best defensive record in Serie A this season with only 7 goals conceded with Handanovic keeping 9 clean sheets out of the 13 matches played far.
Coming into this weekend’s fixtures Inter sit top of Serie A on 30 points, with Napoli in joint 2nd place with Fiorentina on 28 points with Roma in fourth on 27 points.
Napoli come into this game in tremendous form in Serie A and in the UEFA Europa League where they have a 100% winning record with 5 wins out of 5 in Group D.
In Serie A things didn’t start so great for ex Empoli coach Maurizio Sarri with a loss on day one against Sassuolo (2-1) followed by two draws against Sampdoria (2-2) and Empoli (2-2), then a thrashing of Lazio (5-0) which seemed to have turned the tide before another disappointing draw against new boys Carpi (0-0) in their first five games which even drew criticism from Napoli legend Diego Maradona.
Since then however the Partenopei have been excellent with a draw against Genoa (0-0) and seven impressive wins against Hellas Verona (0-2), Udinese (1-0), Palermo (2-0), Chievo (0-1), Fiorentina (2-1), Milan (0-4) and Juventus (2-1).
Here is the Inter team news and probable line up as reported by the Corriere dello Sport:
Samir Handanovic starts in goal with Danilo D’Ambrosio expected at right back as Davide Santon is still unavailable with an Achilles injury.
In central defence the dependable partnership of Joao Miranda and Jeison Murillo is expected to start while at left back there is a three way run off between Juan Jesus, Alex Telles and Yuto Nagatomo with Juan Jesus the current favourite.
In a three man midfield Gary Medel should start alongside Felipe Melo and Fredy Guarin, who is favourite over Marcelo Brozovic. Geoffrey Kondogbia will miss the game after picking up a muscle problem this week in training.
In an attacking trident Ivan Perisic is expected to start along with last week’s man of the match Adem Ljajic, who is favoured over Jonathan Biabiany and Rodrigo Palacio while the central striking role is a run off between captain Mauro Icardi and Stevan Jovetic.
Probable Inter line up (subject to change): (4-3-3) Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Miranda, Murillo, Juan Jesus; Medel, Melo, Guarin; Perisic, Ljajic, Icardi (C)
Bench: Carrizo, Berni, Dodo, Telles, Montoya, Ranocchia, Nagatomo, Gnoukouri, Brozovic, Palacio, Jovetic, Biabiany, Manaj
In Serie A Inter and Napoli have faced each other 72 times at the Stadio San Paolo with Napoli leading the stats with 35 wins to Inter’s 18 wins with 19 draws.
In the overall Serie A records (home and away), Inter lead the stats in the meetings with 66 wins to Napoli’s 43 wins with 35 of the 144 matches drawn.
In last season’s corresponding fixture in Naples on 8 March 2015, Napoli were 2-0 up through goals by Hamsik and Higuain before Inter mounted a comeback with goals from Palacio and Icardi for a 2-2 draw.
Inter’s last win against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo in Serie A came 18 years ago on 18 October 1997 in a 0-2 win with goals from Fabio Galante and an own goal from Turrini.
Gonzalo Higuain and Lorenzo Insigne have scored 17 of Napoli’s 24 Serie A goals this season, that’s one more than the great attacking partnership of Carreca and Maradona after 13 rounds in the 1988/89 season.
Inter have scored in their last 10 away matches in Serie A.
Player to Watch: Samir Handanovic – One of Inter’s players of the season so far. He will need to be in top form to stop the league’s third best attack.
My Prediction: Napoli 0-1 Inter
Officials: Referee: Daniele Orsato Assistants: Manganelli, Meli
Fourth Official: Di Liberatore Additional Assistants: Mazzoleni, Celi
Author’s Note: This will be a very difficult match against an in form Napoli, not only that but for Inter’s record at the San Paolo which isn’t the greatest but that is in the past. I would be happy with a draw but I think we can sneak a win in this game.