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Benitez’s boys Napoli can make Mancini’s men miserable

Napoli have lost just two of their last 12 meetings in all competitions with Inter Milan, winning six, and Rafa Benitez already has a home victory over his former club in the Coppa Italia this term.

Those facts justify the Neapolitan team’s status as odds-on 10/11 match favourites with Coral as they clash with the Nerazzurri in Serie A this Sunday evening on BT Sport 1.

Inter have failed to beat any of the sides occupying the five European places in Italy’s top-flight so far this term, so Roberto Mancini has his work cut out for him. Couple this with their poor recent record against Champions League chasing Napoli, and punters can see why the Nerazzurri start as 3/1 outsiders to win.

A draw, which was the result in the reverse fixture in the San Siro in October, is 5/2, with a repeat 2-2 scoreline a 12/1 shot.

If Inter, 10 points shy of the Champions League places going into this weekend, are to make a late surge, then they need something here, and a recent feature of their play under ex-Manchester City manager Mancini must continue.

That is goals from midfield to support the striking exploits of Nerazzurri top scorer Mauro Icardi (15/8 in the anytime market), who will want to outshine compatriot and opposite number Gonzalo Higuain here.

Winter window signing Xherdan Shaqiri and Mateo Kovacic (both 10/3 chances) have been given licence to get forward by the inclusion of either former Cardiff City and Sevilla star Gary Medel or Marcelo Brozovic acting as an anchorman in Inter’s diamond formation.

Such a system employed by Mancini has certainly got the best out of box-to-box player Fredy Guarin. The Colombia international, long linked with Tottenham, has struck four times in his last six matches, including a spectacular Europa League last 32 tie winner against Celtic.

Guarin is outstanding value at 11/4 to grab another goal anytime in Naples. There is, however, likely to be a styles clash here, with ex-Liverpool and Chelsea boss Benitez favouring the progressive 4-2-3-1 formation and sending his side out with genuine width up against a narrow Nerazzurri.

Spain winger Jose Callejon has already hurt Inter on more than one occasion, after scoring three times in four Serie A outings against them. He is 6/4 in the anytime market, and 11/2 to grab the opener.

Argentina striker Higuain, meanwhile, got the winner in the Coppa Italia last month, and is 7/2 to net last again. Fellow forwards Manolo Gabbiadini (15/8 to score anytime after four in his last seven) and Duvan Zapata (6/4) are alternative attacking options open to Benitez.

Backing third-place Napoli to win with both teams scoring at 15/4 looks a worthy investment.