clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Inter Milan v. Napoli: Once More, Unto The Breach

Napoli have a chance to lock in their ticket to the Champions League qualifying rounds this weekend, but have to come out victorious in a tough trip to the San Siro to guarantee it.

Claudio Villa

The season's second meeting between two managers facing their last Italian club is loaded with meaning for both sides, with European qualifications at stake. Both sides have injury issues, though, which could make this a messy affair.

Inter Milan v. Napoli:4/26/13 2045 CET, 1445 EST Stadio San SiroMilan, Italy
Pushing On For Relevance

Walter Mazzarri has his Inter Milan side fighting hard for fourth place and a guaranteed trip to the Europa League group stage, and will overtake Fiorentina for that spot if Inter win and Fiorentina fail to beat Bologna. While it's certainly short of where Inter fans want their team to be, it's still a good sign of progress after the dumpster fire that was Andrea Stramaccioni's tenure.

Complicating matters for Walter will be the absence of four key members of his squad: Rolando and Walter Samuel are suspended for yellow card accumulation, while Ricky Alvarez and Jonathan will miss out via injury. The three missing defenders will necessitate a major re-shuffling of Inter's back line, with some theorizing that we could see Esteban Cambiasso shifted to center back. That seems an extreme measure, but with Walter around you never can quite tell.

One Last Push

The "why" is pretty simple for Napoli for this one: win the match to tie up third place and make the rest of the season meaningless other than the Coppa Italia final. Removing all remaining stress for the rest of the season would be nice after this past couple of months.

As we covered this week, the squad is a bit thin for Rafa Benitez this weekend. Federico Fernandez is suspended for his sending-off against Udinese, and Christian Maggio is still out after his emergency lung surgery despite hope that he might return in time for the Coppa Italia final. Jose Callejon and Henrique Buss are both in the squad, but aren't locks to start after picking up injuries this week.

Fortunately, Gonzalo Higuain should be fine to go after missing the Udinese match with his own training injury. Also of note is that Miguel Britos made the squad after sitting out with his own injury last week and not being fully certain to be fit during the week.

Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong

Inter Milan (3-5-2): Handanovic; Campagnaro, Ranocchia, Jesus; Zanetti, Guarin, Cambiasso, Hernanes, Nagatomo; Icardi, Palacio

Napoli (4-2-3-1): Reina; Henrique, Britos, Albiol, Ghoulam; Jorginho, Inler; Mertens, Hamsik, Insigne; Higuain

At a glance

Inter Milan: 5th; 14W 14D 6L; League Form: WWDDD

Napoli: 3rd; 20W 8D 6L; League Form: DWLWW

Reverse Fixture

A crazy, five-goal first half gave way to a breakneck second half, but two quick yellows for Ricky Alvarez shifted the momentum firmly in Napoli's favor, and a late goal for Jose Callejon sealed the deal for the partenopei.

All match long, it seemed like neither defense particularly wanted to play well, with Christian Maggio and Hugo Campagnaro having particularly poor days for their sides. That match also heralded the end of Saphir Taider as a starter for Mazzarri, as he's started just twice since then after being a regular part of the rotation earlier in the season.

Watch It

The match will start Saturday at 8:45 PM CET/2:45 PM EST. Television coverage will be on Sky Calcio 1 in Italy, BT Sport 1 in the UK, and beIN Sports in America. Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, we'll have a match thread live here for discussion of the game at hand. You can also follow along with us live on Twitter.