When: Friday, December 2nd, 2:45pm ET/ 8:45pm CET
Where: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy.
Last week before the Fiorentina match, Will wrote that this team is a "complete and utter shambles" and this statement, despite the win against the Viola, is still completely true. Yes, we are a shambles with three more points in our bag but the second half meltdowns the Nerazzurri had in the last two matches are a disturbingly concerning matter that Pioli needs to solve as quickly as possible if he wants to transform his bumbling team into a successful one. I expect Inter to make another strong, aggressive start this Friday against the Azzurri to take the early lead like they did last Sunday but without a more solid second half, I don't think they will be able to walk away with a win this time.
Napoli has missed their bomber Arkadiusz Milik a lot. He was a really good fit in Sarri's system and was their most prolific goalscorer and just with his presence he created a lot of space for his teammates to build up play forcing the opposing defense to stay low and not give him enough space to run. Gabbiadini has unexpectedly failed to replace him so far while Mertens doesn't exactly suit the role, either because of his size and his qualities.
Pioli seems to know what he wants from his team and what he can get out of each one of his players. Unfortunately he is not a wizard - well, at least he doesn't look like one - and I think we'll have to bear with him while the team struggles both physically and mentally in the second halves of the forthcoming matches. Having a lot of chances to close the games is not enough if they are not able to convert them but it's a good starting point on which Stefano should work to mold his players' killer instinct.
We will probably see a very similar squad to the one that started the Fiorentina match and for once, I'm not scared to see Ranocchia in the starting XI. The Italian may have finally found the much needed mental stability to become a reliable asset to Inter's defense, also thanks to Murillo's sudden breakdown. Joao Mario is fighting with Banega to earn the place in the starting lineup but his last performance didn't exactly play in his favor, so the Argentinian will probably be on the pitch from the very first minute on Friday too.
Probable Starting XIs
Napoli(4-3-3): Reina; Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Zielinski, Diawara, Hamsik; Callejon, Gabbiadani, Insigne.
Inter (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; D'Ambrosio, Miranda, Ranocchia, Ansaldi; Brozovic, Kondogbia; Candreva, Banega, Perisic; Icardi.
How to Watch:
TV: Sky Sport 1 HD, Sky SuperCalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 HD & Premium Sport HD (Italy); BT Sport 3 HD (UK); beIN SPORTS & Rai International (USA)
(For other countries' streaming and broadcasting options see here)