After a two-week holiday break, Serie A — the Italian top flight — is back. A slate of Monday matches will be highlighted by surprising leaders Inter Milan visiting Stadio San Paolo in Naples where the team has not won a match over the local side, SSC Napoli, in more than two decades. And even though Inter's last league match was a 4-0 thumping of 19th-place Genoa on December 21, they are more likely to still find themselves feeling the sting of a 2-1 defeat to FC Barcelona.
That defeat ended Inter's UEFA Champions League bid, shifting the focus back to the domestic competition which concludes Matchday 18 on Monday, the halfway mark of the season, with last season's fourth-place finishers standing a highly realistic chance of ending the eight-year dominance of defending champions Juventus over the Italian league.
Heading into Monday's action, Inter and Juve stood level on points at 42, atop the Serie A table. But the Turin club trailed based on goal difference. Inter's 22 positive difference easily outpaces Juve's 14. But if Juventus, as expected, defeats sixth-place Cagliari in an earlier match on Monday, Inter Milan must take the full three points from its rivals from Naples in order to hold the pace-setting position at the halfway mark.Under first year Coach Antonio Conte — who guided Juve to the first three of their current string eight titles — Inter Milan will be facing a familiar face on the opposite touch line. After Napoli sacked Manager Carlo Ancelotti on December 10, the team quickly hired former AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso, who has so far lost one game and won one with his new squad.
As the manager of AC Milan, however, Gattuso did not enjoy great success against the team's Milan rivals, according to Sempre Inter. In four matches, Gattuso's AC Milan teams won only once, with two defeats and a draw against the Nerazzurri.
The former Rossoneri man faces a formidable task in turning Naploli around. The once-perennial top four side is now ensconced in eighth place, with only one win in their last five league matches. Inter, on the other hand, has three wins out of five.
But Napoli has lost just three of its last 17 league matches against Inter Milan, and perhaps as a result, oddsmakers have installed the home team as a slight favorite over the league leaders. Napoli has been given a money line if +145, meaning that a $100 wager would pay off $145 if Napoli wins.
Inter's line, according to Sports Betting Dime, stands at +175.
The SSC Napoli vs. Inter Milan match kicks off at 8:45 p.m. at Stadio San Paolo on Monday. That's 2:45 p.m. EST in the U.S., where the game will be streamed live online via the ESPN+ subscription service. Otherwise, there will be no television broadcast of the game for American audiences.