Ismael Bennacer’s winning goal decided the first leg at San Siro between AC Milan and Napoli, but there is all to play for in Tuesday’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg. The Rossoneri come to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona with a 1-0 lead and on the brink of the semifinals. It was also Milan’s fifth successive clean sheet in the competition as they claimed a 1-0 home win for the second consecutive round, while Napoli ended with ten men after Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa was dismissed for a second yellow card in the 74th minute. The winners of this tie will face Benfica or Inter Milan in the semifinals. Here’s what you need to know:
How to watch and odds
Date: Tuesday, Apr. 18 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
Location: Stadio Diego Armando Maradona — Naples, Italy
TV and live stream: FIFA+
The first leg of this tie was the clubs’ first meeting in UEFA competition. Napoli were 2-1 winners in Serie A at San Siro in September as Matteo Politano’s 55th-minute penalty opened the scoring for the visitors before Olivier Giroud leveled 14 minutes later, but substitute Giovanni Simeone struck with twelve minutes left to give Napoli victory. That was the third in a sequence of eleven successive Serie A wins for Napoli, setting a new club record. But lately, it’s been all Milan.
Milan turned the tables in style in Naples on April 2, recording a 4-0 victory thanks to two goals from Rafael Leao and one a piece from Brahim Diaz and substitute Alexis Saelemaekers. That was Napoli’s biggest defeat in all competitions since a 5-1 Serie A loss at Atalanta in 2007 and their biggest home loss since they went down 5-1 against Bologna, also in Serie A, back in 2000.
How they got here
This season, AC Milan picked up ten points in Group E to finish third behind Chelsea, who beat them 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and 2-0 at San Siro, clinching second place thanks to 4-0 victories in each of their last two games, at Dinamo Zagreb and at home to Salzburg. They then edged past Tottenham in the round of 16, Brahim Díaz’s seventh-minute strike in the first leg at San Siro proving to be the only goal of the tie.
Napoli, on the other hand, kicked off with an impressive 4-1 win at home to the 2021-22 runners-up Liverpool, before two wins against both Rangers Rangers and Ajax. A 2-0 defeat at Anfield on Matchday 6 ended Napoli’s 11-game unbeaten run in UEFA Champions League group games (W8 D3) but was not enough to prevent them from finishing top of Group A after they had ended level with Liverpool on 15 points. Eintracht Frankfurt were then defeated in Germany (2-0) and Italy (3-0) in the round of 16, with Victor Osimhen scoring three goals across the tie.
What to know
Napoli will have striker Victor Osimhen back in the squad, but Luciano Spalletti’s side will have to deal with two key absences: defender Kim-min Jae and midfielder Zambo Anguissa are both suspended and will miss the second leg on Tuesday.
Napoli are unbeaten in 12 home UEFA Champions League games (9-3-0), since a 4-2 defeat by Manchester City on Matchday 4 in 2017-18. The Italian club won only two of their four home games in last season’s UEFA Europa League, however, losing the others.
AC Milan have not conceded in 506 minutes of Champions League football, since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 34th-minute goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at San Siro on Matchday 4.
Player to watch
Napoli: Victor Osimhen. After missing the last three weeks due to a muscular injury, Napoli can count again on the Nigerian striker. He has 21 goals in 24 league games this season and has already equaled Samuel Eto’o’s record for an African player in Serie A set while playing for Inter in 2010-11. He is also one goal shy of the record for goals in Serie A for an African player, only behind George Weah’s total of 46.
Before ending his streak against Lazio, Osimhen had scored in each of his previous eight Serie A games with Napoli, ten goals in total. By finding the net in a 2-0 victory at Empoli in February, he became the first player to score in eight consecutive Serie A games since Cristiano Ronaldo for Juventus between December 2019 and February 2020.
Napoli XI: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Juan Jesus, Mario Rui; Ndombele, Lobotka, Zielinski; Lozano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia.
AC Milan XI: Maignan; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Krunic, Tonali; Diaz, Bennacer, Leao; Giroud.
Napoli’s key absences will determine the clash and the Azzurri won’t be able to overturn the result of the first leg. Pick: Napoli 1, AC Milan 1.