Napoli seeking to sink Inter Milan in Coppa Italia tussle
Holly Thackeray | January 18, 2016
Napoli v Inter Milan
- Coppa Italia quarter-final
- Tuesday, January 19th
- Kick-off: 19:45
- Stadio San Paolo, Naples
- Live on Sky Sports 2
More than just cup at stake in San Paolo scuffle
Tuesday evening’s much anticipated Coppa Italia quarter-final meeting between first and third spots in Serie A, Napoli and Inter Milan respectively, carries meaning beyond it’s knock-out competition confines.
Having slipped up in the Scudetto race at Atalanta this weekend, the Nerazzurri are now four points behind leaders the Little Donkeys, and a morale-boosting victory (priced at 3/1 with Coral) could work wonders for restoring the Milan men’s league bite.
While, there is also the allure of a semi-final two leg scrap with one of Lazio or Juventus, and a potentially dramatic Derby della Madonnina grand finale against already qualified AC Milan, who have a much kinder semis draw against either Spezia or Alessandria.
Though, Naples-born and boyhood Napoli fan Maurizio Sarri’s extraordinary work this season means Roberto Mancini has his work cut out. Just two defeats all term have banished the memory of previous San Paolo boss Rafa Benitez, while the Campania club’s unbeaten home record makes even a draw at 12/5 look a tricky prospect.
“Higuain is the best centre forward in the world”
Central to this storyline, as Napoli reach for the stars, is leading Serie A hitman Gonzalo Higuain, who has struck 20 times already this term, almost double the haul of closest competitors Paulo Dybala and Eder Citadin Martins.
Should he feature in this feisty midweek fixture, alert Argentine Higuain is easily Napoli’s most likely to score, after he bragged a fantastic fifth brace of the season to scupper Sassuolo. Notably, the dangerman has already notched a double against Inter for good measure as recently as November, hitting four in his past four against them, including a winner in their last Coppa clash.
Tactician Sarri certainly still sees even potential in his prolific striker, telling press:“If [Higuain] attacked the goal more the way he did in his first goal, he’d be even better. He doesn’t make that movement often, but he has everything it takes and if he made more of his characteristics he could do even better.
“Having said all that, I remain confident at this moment Higuain is the best centre forward in the world.”
While, the compliment was repaid by the Argentine attacker, who said of his coach: “I am working, I have confidence thanks to the coach, my teammates and the club. Sarri has a lot to do with my form, a lot. I thank him.”
This type of team spirit has been essential to the Neapolitan side’s superb season, with Spanish schemer Jose Callejon and Italian attacker Lorenzo Insigne also in fine form. While, Swansea City-linked forward Manolo Gabbiadini has found it difficult to grab gametime from that formidable trio, but could get a cup chance here to prove his worth.
Plum prices for Napoli success
This scoreline is made even more tempting by the fact that Napoli have not kept a clean sheet in four, though in that case customers might prefer to take a punt both teams to score, which is odds-on at 8/11.
Inter actually have a woeful recent record against bogey team Napoli, with no win in the previous seven meetings either at home or away, and no victory on enemy turf since 1997.
Icardi worth a wager
While, the Nerazzurri have been far from emphatic in front of net this term, with 1-0 wins a regular occurrence. Still, away from the pressure of the Serie A title chase, Mancini’s men may express themselves a little more.
Main marksman Mauro Icardi enjoys playing this opposition and was last, own goals aside, to get on the scoresheet for Inter. Compatriot Rodrigo Palacio was only a sub last time out, so could get the nod here, with Ivan Perisic also due a run out, proving Inter have plenty of potent potential.
Read more on Italian football on our Serie A page.
Coral’s top tip: Back a 2-1 result in Napoli’s favour at a superb 7/1