Date: Monday, November 30, 2015
Time: 3:00pm ET/ 21:00 CET
Venue: Stadio San Paolo; Napoli, Italy
Going into the season most Inter fans would not have expected to see their team sitting at the top of the table after the first 13 rounds, but that's exactly where they are. Mancini has created a pragmatic and powerful Inter side that relies on a strong defense in order to stifle opponents. While the manager has repeatedly said that the team is not aiming for the title, only Champions League places, some analysts, and even a few of the players, are beginning to picture Inter lifting the title that has eluded their grasp since Mourinho left the club.
On Monday Inter travel to take on one of the other contenders to the throne, Maurizio Sarri's Napoli. The southern club has a similar defensive record (conceding eight goals compared to the Nerazzurri's seven), but combines it with the third best attack in the league (scoring 24 goals so far versus Inter's 16). Both teams have taken scalps from other title contenders; Inter defeated Roma while Napoli have beaten Fiorentina and Juventus, so they will both be eager to add another big win and show off what they are capable of this season.
Sarri will likely be missing winger Dries Mertens and striker Manolo Gabbiadini for this match. Though they played on Thursday in the Europa League a number of their key players were rested so tiredness might not be as much of a factor. Mancini will not be able to call upon Davide Santon and Geoffrey Kondogbia. The French midfielder has not been in great form so far so his absence will not be missed too much.
After finally getting a multiple goal win last week against Frosinone, Inter is coming into this match in a confident mood. The team's attack might finally be starting to click at just the right moment because this might be a match where one goal is not enough. While Inter has a rock-solid defense, Napoli has a deadly attack that can and will punish the slightest mistake. The back line, and the protecting midfield will have to be at the top of its game in order to keep out an in-form Higuain and company. I would love a win in this match but I would also be entirely okay with a draw. Either way it looks like this will be an exciting game and we should all be looking forward to it.
Official Starting XIs
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Higuain, Insigne
Inter: Handanovic; D'Ambrosio, Murillo, Miranda, Nagatomo; Guarin, Medel, Brozovic; Ljajic; Icardi, Perisic