Napoli vs Inter Milan
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Saturday, 13-06-2020 @10pm
Ref: Gianluca Rocchi
Italian football has been on hold for three months as the country feels the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, but the Coppa Italia promises to serve up some tasty semi-final clashes between four of Serie A’s most successful sides.
Juventus and Milan’s second-leg showdown on Friday marked the return of football in Italy, and Napoli are in a good position to book their spot in the final a day later.
Gennaro Gattuso’s men lead 1-0 from the first leg at the San Siro courtesy of a Fabian Ruiz winner, and Gli Azzurri certainly have the advantage in the tie following that crucial away goal.
Napoli have triumphed in the Coppa Italia five times in their history – their last success coming in the 2013-14 campaign – but they were knocked out by AC Milan in last year’s quarter finals.
The Naples faithful will be hoping for a different story this time around, however, with Napoli overcoming Serie B’s Perugia and reigning champions Lazio to reach the last four, and Gli Azzurri are yet to concede a goal in the competition.
It has been a less-than-ideal Serie A campaign for Gattuso’s men, though, as they lie sixth in the table ahead of the league’s resumption on June 20 – 15 points behind Inter prior to their meeting on Saturday.
Nevertheless, Napoli enjoyed a strong run of form before the shutdown as they picked up seven wins from their last nine in all competitions.
With regards to Inter, Antonio Conte’s side are facing an uphill battle to overturn a 1-0 deficit in Napoli’s backyard.
The seven-time Coppa Italia champions triumphed two years on the bounce in 2010 and 2011, but Inter have not reached the final since.
As is the case with Napoli, Inter’s run in the 2018-19 competition ended at the quarter-final stage as they were knocked out by eventual champions Lazio on penalties.
Conte’s men overcame Cagliari and Fiorentina to go at least one better this time around, and it has been a strong season overall for I Nerazzurri.
Inter are on course to qualify for the Champions League once again as they sit third in Serie A after 25 matches, and Conte witnessed his side advance to the last 16 of the Europa League just before play was halted.
I Nerazzurri had embarked on a 16-game unbeaten run in Italy’s top flight between October and February, but that run was cut short prior to the postponement as they suffered back-to-back defeats against Juventus and Lazio respectively.
Gattuso will likely be without the defensive duo of Kostas Manolas and Kevin Malcuit for the visit of Inter, but other than that the Napoli manager has a fully-fit squad to pick from. Highly-coveted centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly sat out the first leg but the Senegal international should make the starting lineup for this one.
Daniele Padelli will be unavailable for Inter through suspension, but the 34-year-old was never likely to trouble Samir Handanovic for a spot in goal. Alexis Sanchez has recovered from an ankle problem and is available for selection, but the strike partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez seems the most likely option from the first whistle. Diego Godin is reportedly struggling to hit match fitness and could sit this one out, while midfielder Matias Vecino has also suffered injury setbacks.
The other Coppa Italia semi final
-Juventus 0-0 AC Milan (Agg: 1-1, Juventus progress on away goals)