- The Serie A season approaches halfway and Matchday 18 concludes with Napoli vs Inter
- Inter Milan head the table on goal difference ahead of Juve
- Get the odds, our pick, and all the info you need to bet the game below
As the Serie A season approaches its halfway stage, there could be some belated New Year fireworks in Naples on Monday (January 6, 2:45pm ET) when Napoli host league leaders Inter Milan at the Stadio San Paolo.
For the home team, it’s been a disappointing league season – one that has seen them part company with manager Carlo Ancelotti and replace him with Gennaro Gattuso – but they have qualified for the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League. They’ll be looking to improve on their lowly position of eighth in 2020, starting with a win over the current leaders.
Napoli vs Inter Milan Odds
|Napoli||pk (-123)||+145||O 2.5, 3 (-105)|
|Inter Milan||pk (+103)||+175||U 2.5, 3 (-115)|
All odds taken Jan. 4.
Napoli’s Home Form Key?
Despite Inter being league leaders, Napoli start this one as slight favorites, but oddsmakers have found it hard to split them. This is a tough call. In their two meetings last season, Napoli went 2-0 up in the San Siro before being pegged back to 2-2 and in Naples, in the penultimate game of last season, Gli Azzurri ran out comfortable 4-1 winners.
Overall, Napoli’s record against Inter is a good one, even putting aside that 4-1 victory, so they’ll be hopeful of a win here. Gattuso will have them fired up. They’ve only lost three of their last 17 league games against Inter, including six wins and two draws in their last eight at the San Paolo, and Inter haven’t won there since 1997.
Inter Need to Bust the Hoodoo
But if Inter are to take Juve all the way in this season’s title race, wins in games like this one are crucial. Winless runs, like theirs at the San Paolo, have to be ended. They also need to get back to winning ways after drawing two of their final three fixtures in 2019. Luckily for them, due to Juve losing to Lazio they lost no ground in the title race.
So they stayed top, albeit only on goal difference, but Inter’s level has been consistently higher than Napoli’s all season and, unlike their opponents on Monday, the Milanese have not found goals hard to come by. With ex-Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez offering a joint goal threat, the Nerazzurri look well set to end their barren run in Naples if they can hit their rhythm early on.
Napoli vs Inter Milan Head-to-Head
|6 /17||No. of Serie A wins in 2019/20 / No. of games played||13 / 17|
|5||No. of Serie A defeats||1|
|8th||Position in Serie A||1st|
|27 / 1.59||Goals scored / Per game||36 / 2.12|
|340 / 103||Shots / Shots on target||283 / 97|
|22 / 1.29||Goals conceded / Per game||14 / 0.82|
In terms of team news, Inter have fitness doubts over Alexis Sanchez and Nicolo Barella, while Kwadwo Asamoah definitely misses out. Gattuso, by contrast, looks likely to have a full squad to pick from.
Ruthless and Clinical Inter
The stats offer up an intriguing picture of the two teams’ respective seasons. Despite Inter topping the league, they have had fewer shots than Napoli and have completed fewer passes, the conclusion being the Nerazzurri’s success has been, at least in part, due to them being more ruthless and clinical in front of goal.
Inter have scored 36 goals from their 283 shots – at a rate of 7.86 shots for every one goal – compared to Napoli’s 27 from 340, at a rate of 12.59 – a significance difference.
Mertens vs Lukaku Matchup Could be the Decider
For Napoli, all eyes will be on Dries Mertens, who is entering the final six months of his contract and has been linked with a move away from Naples. The 32-year-old Belgian international continues to be his team’s main attacking threat and will be one who Inter will have to keep quiet.
The Nerazzurri’s biggest goal threat, as alluded to earlier, comes from Lukaku, who trails only Lazio’s Ciro in the Serie A goalscoring charts, after scoring twice against Genoa in Inter’s final fixture of 2019. If they are to maintain their challenge, Inter need this rich vein to continue.
So, expect a tight one at the San Paolo, with both teams starting the game cautiously. The opening goal will, for me, be what ultimately decides the destiny of the points. While a 1-1 draw is tempting, I’m going for a narrow, low-scoring win for Inter
Pick: Inter to win (+175)