Picking a Combined XI of Inter & Napoli Players Ahead of Saturday’s Crunch Serie A Clash

Saturday sees a clash of the top two over in Italy, as league leaders Napoli host Internazionale in what is set up to be a brilliant game.

Both sides have flown out of the traps this season, and have some excellent players in their ranks.

The form of star men Mauro Icardi and Dries Mertens makes it simply impossible to choose between the two and therefore dictates that a combined XI needs a formation of 4-4-2, but who are the supporting cast.

12. GK: Samir Handanovic – Inter

There hasn’t been much to separate Samir Handanovic and Pepe Reina so far this season – both keepers have been ever-presents and conceded just five goals apiece.

Handanovic sneaks in on the basis of being the slightly better keeper overall. The Slovenian is a reliable shot stopper, and has largely been underrated during his time at Inter. 

11. RB: Elseid Hysaj – Napoli

Elseid Hysaj is an integral part of Napoli’s attack-minded side. He is always keen to take the game to the opposition by bombing forward, and can often be the danger man teams forget about as they focus on the likes of Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne.

The Albanian makes it on over Danilo D’Ambrosio, who has performed reasonably for Inter this season.

10. CB: Miranda – Inter

Inter Milan’s Brazilian defender is strong as an ox, and reads the game impressively, despite his lack of pace and technique.

The star, formerly of Atletico Madrid, can be a formidable opponent when on his game and would make up a frightening partnership with the next man on the list if they ever played for the same team.

9. CB – Kalidou Koulibaly – Napoli

Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly is highly-sought after and for good reason – he is definitely one of the best defenders in Serie A.

The man-mountain is probably even stronger than Miranda and unlike his hypothetical teammate is pretty quick for his size, making him a pain to get past.

He is also particularly threatening from set pieces, so it’s little wonder the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea have been linked with his name in the past.

8. LB: Faouzi Ghoulam – Napoli

Faouzi Ghoulam is arguably the best left-back in Serie A at the moment, and he could be leaving soon if Napoli don’t pull something out of the bag.

The Algerian is out of contract next summer, meaning he could be poached in January in a cut-price deal, or for free on expiry of his current deal.

If he does leave, then whoever gets him is snagging an utter bargain – Ghoulam is a superb crosser of the ball and is particularly attack-minded, as demonstrated most recently against Manchester City in the Champions League. He has four goals in Serie A already this season.

7. RM: Lorenzo Insigne – Napoli

Lorenzo Insigne has become one of Napoli’s most important players under Maurizio Sarri – the diminutive forward has that low centre of gravity and rapid dribbling that makes defending against him a complete nightmare.

He suits their brand of football perfectly and is fantastic to watch when in full flow.

6. CM: Matias Vecino – Inter Milan

Matias Vecino has been quietly impressive for Inter since his summer move from Fiorentina.

The Uruguayan is smooth operator in midfield – tidy in possession, recycling it well, and recently helped the Nerazzurri beat Roma at the Stade Olimpico for the first time in nine years.

5. CM: Marek Hamsik – Napoli

Marek Hamsik has been one of the apex attacking midfielders for several years and still has quality in abundance. He is arguably still Napoli’s main man and is one of their most creative sparks.

The Slovakian can thread passes through the eye of a needle and possesses a wicked shot from distance in his arsenal.

4. LM: Ivan Perisic – Inter Milan

Ivan Perisic is a seriously underrated winger. The Croatian was maligned over the summer for his links to Manchester United, but he is perhaps showing what they are missing.

He has hit four goals and three assists and has played every minute of every game so far, signalling his importance to Inter’s cause.

He is skilful, unpredictable and industrious, and has a strong weak foot which sets him apart from your average winger.

3. ST: Mauro Icardi – Inter Milan

Inter’s talisman gained plaudits recently for his fabulous hat-trick against rivals AC Milan, but in truth, Mauro Icardi has been going under the radar for a while now.

The Nerazurri captain is super clinical, whether that be with his right foot, left foot, head or instinctively, and his goal record absolutely speaks for itself. A top 10 striker.

2. ST: Dries Mertens – Napoli

Napoli’s answer to Icardi comes in the form of Dries Mertens, who has emerged as  Partenopei’s main danger man over the past year.

The 30-year-old has made a seamless transition into the role of central striker as a result of Arkadiusz Milik’s injury troubles and Gonzalo Higuain’s departure. Last season he scored an incredible 28 league goals and he is off to a flying start this campaign after notching seven in eight.

1. Manager: Maurizio Sarri – Napoli

Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli really do play some scintillating football, which is highlighted by their 31 goals in all competitions already this season.

The studious coach ran Juventus close to the league title last season, and many are tipping him to go all the way this time around.

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Napoli vs Inter Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battles, Team News & More

?Saturday brings a very tasty clash in Serie A between the teams in first and second place.

League leaders Napoli have got everybody talking this season with their attacking brand of football under Maurizio Sarri, which is a continuation from their 2016/17 campaign.

AS Roma v SSC Napoli - Serie A

They have surged to the top of the table with eight wins out of eight, scoring 26 goals and conceding just five, and the feeling is that they could genuinely end Juventus’ domestic dominance come May.

Inter are going pretty well themselves and are just two points behind their opponents, and they will feel confident of becoming the first team to take points off Napoli in Serie A this season.

Luciano Spalletti has done a terrific job so far since his summer arrival from Roma, and there have been whispers that Inter too could challenge for glory under his guidance this season.

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It’s been a strong start for both teams and it promises to be a fantastic game, one that the wounded Juventus will no doubt be keen to see end in a draw.


Classic Encounter

Napoli 4-2 Inter (December 2013)

Napoli recorded a great result over their opponents a few seasons ago at Stadio San Paolo,  winning 4-2.

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Goals from Gonzalo Higuain, Dries Mertens, Blerim Dzemaili and Jose Callejon handed them the three points and condemned 10-man Inter to their second defeat of the season. 

It could have been and even sweeter margin of victory but Goran Pandev failed to convert from the penalty spot.


Key Battles

Dries Mertens vs Miranda

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The Belgian is hot right now, and will give Miranda a lot to think about on Saturday night. 

Mertens’ movement is so tricky to deal with, and the Brazilian will need to be on his game to stop him from scoring.

Mauro Icardi vs Kalidou Koulibaly

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Essentially, this is the same battle as the previous one – Icardi is to Mertens what Koulibaly is to Miranda. The Argentine isn’t as nippy as Mertens but certainly knows just where to be in order to score goals. He will be a tough opponent for Koulibaly, who has been impressive thus far.


Team News

Manchester City v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League

Sarri will have the majority of his players to choose from for the game, but he is currently sweating on the fitness of Lorenzo Insigne, who hobbled off against Manchester City in midweek. 

Arkadiusz Milik remains a long-term absentee, as does Lorenzo Tonelli.

Benevento Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A

Marcelo Brozovic isn’t ready to come back from his calf injury, but Davide Santon and Joao Cancelo could both be available.

Predicted Napoli XI: Reina, Hysaj, Koulibaly, Albiol, Ghoulam, Hamsik, Allan, Diawara, Callejon, Mertens, Insigne.

Predicted Inter XI: Handanovic, D’Ambrosio, Miranda, Skriniar, Nagatomo, Vecino, Gagliardini, Candreva, Valero, Perisic, Icardi.


Prediction

Inter will try to neutralise the attacking threat of Napoli and catch them on the break. Their possession game has been sublime so far this season and Inter will be aiming to disrupt that. 

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Sarri will implore his side to fly out of the traps, something they were prevented from doing in midweek by Manchester City. Whatever happens, it should be a fascinating game.

Prediction: Napoli 2-2 Inter

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Picking the Best Potential Line Up for Inter to Face Napoli on Sunday

?Inter have the chance to lay down a marker to their title rivals by toppling the mightily impressive Napoli on Saturday.

The Nerazurri ran out 3-2 winners over rivals AC Milan last weekend, and there likely won’t be too many changes to a winning side…

Goalkeeper

  • Handanovic

    Handanovic1

?Samir Handanovic is the undisputed number one at Inter and will keep his place.

Defence

  • D'Ambrosio

    D’Ambrosio33

  • Miranda

    Miranda25

  • Škriniar

    Škriniar37

  • Nagatomo

    Nagatomo55

?Danilo D’Ambrosio and Yuto Nagatomo should be set to keep their positions as the full-backs. The former has started every Serie A match so far, and Nagatomo has been selected for the previous two.

At centre-half, Miranda and Milan Skriniar have been ever-presents in the Italian top flight this season, and have been solid enough to have only conceded five goals so far.

Midfield

?Inter are unlikely to change their midfield too much after their result in the derby. The impressive Antonio Candreva will provide pace and width, and Ivan Perisic crossing and industry.

Matias Vecino has been in decent form since his summer move to San Siro and could again partner Roberto Gagliardini in defensive midfield. Gagliardini came in for the injured Marcelo Brozovic against Milan and should keep his place.

Borja Valero will support Mauro Icardi in the number 10 role.

Forwards

  • Icardi

    Icardi9

?Icardi wowed last weekend with his hat-trick against AC Milan, but he has been in impressive form for most of the season so far.

Inter’s talisman should take up a lone striker’s role once more and seek to gobble up any opportunities that come his way on Saturday – with Napoli’s goalscoring exploits of late it will be crucial for him to be take even the half-chances.

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West Ham Forward Marko Arnautovic Reveals Why He Still Has Jose Mourinho’s Watch

?West Ham forward Marko Arnautovic has revealed that Jose Mourinho once presented him with his watch, after the Austrian arrived for training five hours early.

The gesture reportedly happened when Arnautovic was at loan at Internazioanle from FC Twente back during the 2009/10 season, Mourinho’s last in charge of the San Siro club.

Arnautovic claimed in an interview with the ?Daily Mail that he was desperate to avoid a telling off from Mourinho following a succession of punctuality issues during a pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi.

The Austrian striker claimed: “We were at Abu Dhabi for pre-season with Inter in 2009. I overslept for Breakfast. Late number one.

“Then there was the team meeting. The hotel was huge and my room was on the 75th floor. I am waiting for the lift and I press and I press and still I have seven minutes so I am okay. But then I still didn’t make it. Disaster. Number two.

“Then, before we meet for the game, it was happening again and I was like: ‘He is going to kill me’. So then we fought a little bit and I was out of the team that day, training on my own.”

Inter Milan's Portuguese coach Jose Mour

It appears that string of incidents had an effect on Arnautovic in the aftermath of the pre-season tour, and in his desperation to avoid another confrontation with Mourinho, the Austrian claims he arrived at Inter’s training ground for a morning training session, rather than the scheduled afternoon one.

“Back in Milan, I thought we were training in the morning and I went in just perfect. There were no cars there. We were actually training in the afternoon that day!” he revealed.

“Mourinho is there with his staff and he stands up and starts applauding and laughing. He said: ‘You are my man. You come here five hours before training. I love you! Here, take my watch’. I still have that watch in my house.”

Despite his dedication to impressing Mourinho, Arnautovic would make just three appearances for Inter, who declined to take up a permanent deal on the Austrian, with Mourinho describing him as ‘a fantastic person. with the attitude of a child.’

Instead, Anrautovic moved to Werder Bremen, where he spent three seasons before moving to Stoke in 2013, where he remained until this summer, when West Ham paid a club record £20m to bring him to the London Stadium.

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Arnautovic’s watch hasn’t provided him with much luck yet at his new club, and he has failed to find the net in six outings.

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Report Claims Long-Term Inter Target Arturo Vidal Is Keen on Return to Italy

?Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal is reportedly open to a return to Italy, with Inter long term admirers of the Chilean.

According to Football Italia, the 30-year-old was the subject of serious interest from Inter in the summer, but Carlo Ancelotti refused to sell what he considered one of Bayern’s star midfielders. 

However, with Ancelotti’s dismissal and Jupp Heynckes since taking over the helm, Vidal’s position – along with that of some of his teammates – isn’t necessarily guaranteed a starting berth.

With Bayern starting this season in rather uncharacteristic fashion, the midfielder might see this as the right time to call an end to his career in Germany. Most recently, Vidal was left out of Bayern’s starting eleven during their 3-0 victory over Scottish champions Celtic on Wednesday night.

However, the Nerazzurri would likely have to sell players in January, if they are serious about signing Vidal and reports have suggested that Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic could be the man to make way.

Earlier this month, the Chilean backtracked on retiring from the national side after they failed to qualify for the World Cup next summer. 

His frustration with the national team has seen him in the news frequently over the past month, after leaving fans and officials in the dark as to whether he would continue to add to his 90 caps for Chile.

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