AC Milan (+434) at Napoli (-159), Draw (+295)
Yup, you read that right; AC Milan (1-0-0, 3 pts) are over 4/1 dogs in a Serie A match. Safe to say I Rossoneri aren’t the powerhouse they used to be. After limping to a seventh-place finish domestically last season, Milan are hoping for a resurgence this season; a win over Napoli (0-1-0, 1 pts) on Saturday (2:45 PM Eastern at San Paolo Stadium) would go a long way to re-establishing the team as a Serie A contender.
Milan were able to pick up the full three points in their first fixture, but just barely, needing a save from 17-year-old goalie Gianluigi Donnarumma on a stoppage time penalty to hold onto a 3-2 win over Torino.
Colombian striker Carlos Bacca had all three goals for Milan, picking up where he left off last year when he finished second in Serie A-scoring with 17 tallies.
Bacca was about the only offense Milan had last year as the team recorded just 49 goals in 38 fixtures. New manager Vincenzo Montella is trying to employ a more attacking style of play. It worked against Torino, but will likely result in the team’s goals-against rising from the 43 they surrendered last year.
Montella’s preferred style of play could really come back to bite his new team this weekend. Napoli racked up 80 goals last season (second to Roma’s 83) and started this year with a high-scoring draw (2-2 away) against Pescara.
It’s always nice to pick up points on the road, but the team will feel like it let a couple points slip away against the recently-promoted Pescara.
The good news for Milan is that they won’t have to face Gonzalo Higuain on Saturday. The Argentinian led Napoli in scoring last season (23 goals) and, indeed, was the only player to outpace Bacca in Serie A. But Higuain left for Juventus in the offseason transfer market.
Higuain or not, the trends are all in Napoli’s corner. They went undefeated at home last year (15-3-0) and Milan haven’t won at San Paolo Stadium since 2010, going 0-2-3 in the last five. Napoli are also 3-1-1 against Milan in the last five head-to-head. Milan might be trending in the right direction, but they’re not back just yet. I’ll take the home side, even at that short price.
Pick: Napoli (-159).
Photo credit: Vincent Teeuwen CC BY 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.