Nigeria striker could ignite the defending champion’s Serie A revival of the season with a famous win over the favorites
By Ed Emeanua
Napoli could restore Victor Osimhen to their starting XI in place of Giovanni Simeone in the hope of upsetting high flying Inter Milan who are on the road to Naples on Sunday.
The Napoli striker and last term’s Capocannoniere has been out of sorts since copping a hamstring injury in the colors of his country last month.
Defending champions Napoli are set to host Scudetto standouts Inter Milan at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in a potentially mouth watering faceoff tonight.
Osimhen was introduced from the bench into Napoli’s defeat of Atalanta last weekend a little after the hour mark and helped his side notch an assist in the winning strike.
Georgia international Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is also expected to play an important role in the attack of Walter Mazzarri’s side this weekend, having scored four times in as many games for club and country.
The crucial victory in Bergamo marked Mazzarri’s initial match in charge in his second spell at Napoli, with Eljif Elmas scoring late off the bench to seal a 2-1 victory.
The Little Donkey currently lie in fourth place in the table, eight points behind their second-placed visitors. Inter will enter Sunday’s game with an unbeaten streak that stretches into their past seven league games in which they boast of five wins and two draws5.
So far, the Nerazzurri have lost only once in this term’s Serie A, recovering in huge way after witnessing their sublime start crashed down to earth by Sassuolo in their sixth game of the season.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Natan, Jesus; Anguissa, Lobotka, Elmas; Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia
Alessandro Bastoni is the big injury absentee for Inter after a calf injury, which saw him miss Italy’s recent internationals, ruled him out for a month. That was yet another defensive injury for Simone Inzaghi to deal with after Benjamin Pavard’s gruesome knee problem sidelined him.
So, Matteo Darmian, Stefan de Vrij, and Francesco Acerbi should continue in the central defensive unit in front of Yann Sommer. Inter will field the same starting XI that faced Juventus last week in a 1-1 draw, with various starters benefiting from rest against Benfica in midweek.
Attacking wing-backs Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco could come back into the starting lineup and will be required to bomb up-and-down to offer width and potentially deliver high-quality crosses into the box.
In midfield, Kristjan Asllani, Davide Frattesi, and Carlos Augusto might make way for the returning trio of Nicolo Barella, Hakan Calhanoglu, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Turkish playmaker will operate at the heart of Inter’s 3-5-2, looking to instigate his side’s build-up and circulate the ball around the park.
Finally, in attack, 13-goal top scorer Lautaro Martinez is a guaranteed starter and will be refreshed after being handed a rest in midweek. He could be partnered by Marcus Thuram, who will replace Marko Arnautovic in the central striker role.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Sommer; Darmian, De Vrij, Acerbi; Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Thuram, Martinez
- Inter Milan are undefeated in their last seven Serie A matches.
- In fact, the visitors have suffered just a single defeat from their first 18 appearances across all competitions.
- Napoli have failed to win any of their last five straight home fixtures across all competitions.
- Inter Milan have kept the highest number of clean sheets this Serie A season (8).
- Inter Milan have won nine of their last 11 Serie A games, but one of the failures was a defeat to Napoli.