Inter Milan will look to continue their recent resurgence this evening as they travel to Napoli for an intriguing Coppa Italia quarter-final clash.
The Nerazzurri’s shocking start to the season has been well documented, but they head to the imposing San Paolo on an impressive run of eight straight victories in all competitions.
A recent 1-0 success over city rivals Milan propelled them into the Serie A title race for the first time this term and they now sit just six points behind leaders Juventus.
Inter also venture south looking to defend a proud Coppa Italia record which has seen them reach six of the last seven finals, winning the trophy on four occasions.
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However, they start as 23/10 outsiders to win inside 90 minutes in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with the draw also available at 23/10 and Napoli priced at 23/20.
The hosts are rated as 13/20 favourites to advance to the semi-finals, whether it be in normal time, extra-time or via penalties, while Inter are at 11/10 to do likewise.
It would be wrong to read too much into Napoli’s 3-0 win over Inter at the San Siro in October. The Nerazzurri will be a far sterner proposition on this occasion and with Ranieri likely to adopt a cautious approach, I’m expecting a very tight affair this evening.
Visiting boss Claudio Ranieri has a handful of absentees, as Diego Forlan, Yuto Nagatomo and Dejan Stankovic are ruled out through injury, Coutinho and Christian Chivu are rated as doubtful and Sulley Muntari is at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana.
Still, the ‘Tinkerman’ is set to name a strong line-up featuring the likes of Maicon, Lucio, Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti and Wesley Sneijder, who will play in the hole behind one of Diego Milito, Giampaolo Pazzini, Mauro Zarate or Luc Castaignos.
Napoli will also be near full-strength, spearheaded by 16-goal Edinson Cavani and ex-Inter star Goran Pandev, with Ezequiel Lavezzi set to deputise for Marek Hamsik if the Slovak playmaker is rested.
It could be argued that the tie will be taken more seriously by the hosts as they currently sit nine points adrift of the Champions League qualification places in Italy’s top flight.
On top of that, they have lost just three of their past 28 matches on home soil – while also suffering just one defeat in their last 13 games in all competitions – so it is easy to see why they have the edge in the betting.
However, it would be wrong to read too much into their 3-0 win over Inter at the San Siro in October, when the former European champions’ were reaching the nadir of their troubles.
The Nerazzurri will be a far sterner proposition on this occasion and with Ranieri likely to adopt a cautious approach, I’m expecting a very tight affair this evening.
Napoli v Inter: Last seven meetings at San Paolo
Date Competition Result
15/05/11 Serie A Napoli 1-1 Inter
26/01/11 Coppa Italia Napoli 0-0 Inter
14/02/10 Serie A Napoli 0-0 Inter
26/04/09 Serie A Napoli 1-0 Inter
02/03/08 Serie A Napoli 1-0 Inter
18/02/01 Serie A Napoli 1-0 Inter
18/10/97 Serie A Napoli 0-2 Inter
Perhaps a better indication as to how the two teams will fare is their meeting at the same stage of the Coppa Italia last year, also at the San Paolo, which resulted in Inter winning on penalties after a goalless stalemate.
A similar outcome here would be no surprise and the 23/10 on a draw – which, incidentally, has been the result in the last three meetings between the sides in Naples – looks to offer the best value of the 3Way prices.
Punters can receive a free £25 bet for joining bwin.com and placing this on Napoli and Inter to draw would bring returns of £82.50 if extra-time is indeed required.
And while correct score predictions such as 0-0 (15/2) and 1-1 (21/4) offer decent variants on the same theme, there is one short-priced bet which, according to the formbook at least, looks an absolute banker.
Amazingly, the last seven meetings between Napoli and Inter at the San Paolo have all featured less than three goals – so I’ll be wasting no time in getting stuck into odds of 4/5 on a repeat tonight.
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