Here it is, the derby. Not from Milan, but Italian. Milan-Naples will be the spring game, which will last throughout April: the two teams will face each other three times, the first in the league on Sunday, April 2, then the double challenge of the Champions League: first leg (April 11 or 12) in San Siro, return (April 18 or 19) in Maradona.
Here Milan: the first stage not to fail
He would have preferred a foreigner, Stefano Pioli, but the draw chose Naples: the best in Italy and one of the best in Europe. Milan, for its part, has history. But the seven champions of the past do not go onto the field, in football, in the end, only one verb counts, the indicative present tense. So the Rossoneri will now have to raise their level to get the best out of themselves in April. Bring back Leao, who can make a difference, if the real one comes back. Bringing on the field the European version, the one that made it possible to reach the quarter-finals, with merit. The level of difficulty is high. Especially since the return will be in Maradona.
Pioli: ‘I always celebrate after games, not before’
Said Pioli about the draw: «Do they celebrate the draw in Naples? I always prefer to celebrate after and not before competitions. However, any opponent would have been difficult. We are in the quarterfinals, they are all strong. We want to move forward. Napoli are strong, they dominate the league, but the Champions League is the Champions League and Milan is Milan.”
Baresi: “Let’s think positive”
Therefore, the first leg in San Siro will be of fundamental importance. Said Franco Baresi, from Nyon: «Napoli are very tough opponents, they do it an extraordinary vintage, he plays really well. We will have to be good at raising the level. The Champions League is different from the championship, Napoli impresses there. We have to respect it, but we have a European history, we will play it to the end. How does Osimhen stop? He’s a great striker, a great finisher, he scores in every way, he should be kept away from the box. But everyone creates chances, they have quality, Kvara on the outside, Politano, everyone. We want to think positively and keep dreaming». So instead the Rev Ricky Massara on TV in Milan: «The highest level performances are needed. Three races in 20 days doesn’t help, they make the challenge even more complicated for both of us. We take it with courage and in the hope of playing great matches. It will be spectacular matches, Milan and Napoli have shown that they can build a beautiful game».
Here Naples: the weight of the favorite roll
It will be an intense month of April, three challenges with Milan, twenty days of fire ahead Spalletti’s team who at that time or at least close to this period can also imagine celebrating the Scudetto beforehand. Even though the European crossing so close can require a surplus of strength and energy, both mentally and physically. The crossing in the Champions League explains the only Italian derby, and it’s a challenge for both teams. There is about a month to go and Napoli can be considered a favorite on paper for now, but there are a lot of variables. The club posted the handshake emoticon on social media, a gesture of respect and sportsmanship. Kvara challenges Leao, Osimhen who scored 4 goals in the Champions League from 5 games played. But Napoli is strong in its group: seven wins out of eight, 25 goals scored and 6 against: Napoli goes to the quarter-finals with this calling card. Never, in 97 years, had the Neapolitan club made its name among Europe’s big eight. Where he couldn’t Diego Armando Maradona, in fact, Luciano Spalletti’s team, which already dominated the league, succeeded. Two days ago the last game against Eintracht. “Everyone found this challenge easy – says Spalletti today – and that’s why it turned out to be more difficult. Afterwards, the luck was of course enormous and the achievement historic. But in these competitions it won’t take long, until the next round».
Spalletti: “I would have preferred a foreign team”
Napoli, now 20th in the table, had not met Milan in a head-to-head match in the cup since the 1990 Italian Cup. And that is now repeated in the Champions League. Luciano Spalletti takes away the weight of the role of favourite: «I would rather not have met the Italians – he says-. Football incompetent people speak good luck to us. In the Champions League, history is also and above all valid. Maldini alone won 5 European Cups, the Rossoneri seven. Milan have a lot of experience, they kicked Tottenham out, we have to be objective in our assessments. It’s all in balance, the results are not given in words but on the field». Milan three times in 20 daysSpalletti added: «We already know each other well, they are past the difficult moment, the team is healthy and growing. Due to the quality and expertise of Pioli, it has found a new structure. He is a very important opponent for us, whoever is better on the field will win».
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