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Napoli vs AC Milan: All-Italian European Affair Reaches Conclusion

Written by: Greg Lea
Published April 17, 2023
11 min read
  • AC Milan lead 1-0 from the first leg after their victory at the San Siro last week
  • Napoli are the Serie A champions-elect but they have work to do in Europe
  • This tie is the most finely balanced of the four taking place across Europe this week

Napoli vs AC Milan Odds

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Napoli

+110
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AC Milan

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Napoli vs AC Milan Pick

Back Napoli to qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League this week. AC Milan may hold the aggregate advantage, but there is a long way to go in this last-eight tie.

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Napoli vs AC Milan Prediction

Napoli Must Demonstrate Why They Are the Best Team in Italy

Of the four Champions League quarter-final second legs taking place this week, this tie is the most finely balanced. Inter and Real Madrid hold 2-0 leads over Benfica and Chelsea respectively, while Manchester City are 3-0 up against Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

AC Milan are ahead in this encounter, but their lead is a relatively slender 1-0. The best online sportsbooks have them down as the favorites to go through, as the odds above indicate, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion. Napoli will still back themselves to secure passage to the last four on home turf.

And for good reason. Luciano Spaletti’s side have been the strongest side in Italian soccer this season, and that is not up for debate. Despite a disappointing 0-0 draw with Hellas Verona on Saturday, Napoli are still 14 points clear of the chasing pack in the Serie A title race. It is a matter of when, not if, they win the championship for the first time since 1990.

Napoli have gone through a wobble of late, however. The Partenopei have failed to win half of their last six games in the league. Throw in the 1-0 defeat by Milan at San Siro last week and Napoli’s recent record is, by the high standards they have set for themselves in 2022/23, distinctly average.

Yet there were certainly positives to take from their display at San Siro. Napoli edged the expected goals and the shot count, while Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan was one of the standout performers on the pitch. 

Bear in mind, too, that Napoli were without their top scorer Victor Osimhen, who is expected to be fit for the return match. All is not lost, then, provided Napoli do not dwell on the final scoreline last week.

AC Milan Will Lean On Experience - Both Historic and Recent

Napoli will still be confident of making it through, but Milan will be too. They have lost only one of their last seven matches in all competitions. Moreover, last week’s 1-0 victory over Napoli was not the only time in recent weeks they have beaten Spalletti’s side.

An even more symbolic result was Milan’s stunning 4-0 triumph at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona in March. It was by far Napoli’s biggest defeat of the campaign to date - in fact, their two other defeats in Serie A were both by a one-goal margin.

Spalletti will no doubt have assured his players that the 4-0 shellacking was a one-off, but it could play on their minds on Tuesday. Milan will certainly hope so. As well as that recent experience, they will also look to draw on the club’s historic know-how.

Milan are seven-time continental champions. Real Madrid are the only team with more Champions League triumphs to their name. The Blancos have used that record to their advantage in recent years, overturning seemingly insurmountable deficits and launching several unexpected comebacks.

Napoli, by contrast, do not have much in the way of Champions League pedigree. That is true both institutionally and among the current squad, many members of whom were signed from other clubs just last summer.

In his pre-match team talk, Spalletti will remind his players that they have been Italy’s best team this season. It is no coincidence that they are 22 points better off than Milan, the defending champions in Serie A. 

But that domestic advantage counts for nothing in the Champions League. On Tuesday, Napoli will need to demonstrate their qualities all over again.

Tie Will Be Tight but Home Advantage Could See Napoli Through

It would not be a surprise if this tie went all the way to extra time and even penalties, although neither team would particularly relish that prospect. Both will want to get the job done within 90 minutes, but it is hard to see either securing a decisive victory in that time.

On balance, though, we favor Napoli to go through. With Osimhen back in the starting XI, Milan will find it difficult to keep the home team’s attacking unit under wraps. After all, this is a team that has averaged 2.2 goals per league game in 2022/23. 

Roared on by a partisan and passionate home crowd at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Napoli will be even harder to contain. They will look to make a fast start in a bid to wipe out Milan’s aggregate lead as quickly as possible, while their opponents will aim to dig deep and weather that early storm.

The longer the match stays at 0-0, the more Milan will grow in confidence. But Napoli must keep cool even if they are unable to make an early breakthrough. 

Unlike the other Champions League quarter-finals, it would not be a surprise if either of these teams progressed. But taking everything into account, we reckon Napoli will do it.

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How to Watch Napoli vs AC Milan

  • Teams: Napoli vs AC Milan
  • Location: Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy
  • Date and Time: Apr. 18, 2023, 3 p.m. ET 
  • How to Watch: Paramount+
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AUTHOR

Greg Lea

787 Articles

Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]

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