Heading into Serie A matchday 14, only two points separate the top two squads, Napoli and Inter Milan with 28 and 30 points respectively. This Monday will be a key match in deciding who can claim top spot in the table as the winter break approaches.
Napoli have been dangerous this season in the attacking third, recording the highest average shots in Serie A with 17.85 per game. Although Inter have struggled against Napoli in the recent past, they have had a number of impressive performances against other Serie A giants including Roma and Milan in recent weeks.
Both teams have been defensively sound, Napoli not conceding a goal in their last 5 matches while Inter have kept a clean sheet in their last 4 matches. So what will be the deciding factor in Monday’s match? The Argentine Strikers – Higuain for Napoli and Icardi for Inter.
NAPOLI – Gonzalo Higuain
Serie A Appearances: 13
Goals Scored: 10
Minutes Played: 1,082
Since having a man-of-the-match performance against Juventus in late-September, Higuain has been on a roll in Serie A. The 27 year old had a 4-game scoring streak in the month of October and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. His ability to dribble, hold onto the ball and make key passes to open up space for himself has been critical to find the back of the net 10 times this season.
Inter’s backline will likely enforce an offside strategy to frustrate Higuain’s runs from long-balls. The center striker will have to use creative runs to break through Felipe Melo and Miranda.
INTER – Mauro Icardi
Serie A Appearances: 11
Goals Scored: 4
Minutes Played: 864
Overall, Inter have not scored a vast amount of goals per match this season. The nerazzurri have worked to prove their critics wrong of that stat by putting 4 goals past Frosinone last week, one of which came from Icardi as Inter displayed a commanding attack.
While Icardi hasn’t found his scoring touch similar to last season, which earned him the joint-capocannoniere title, he has remained an important asset for Inter’s offense. We have seen in the past his ability to step up when he is needed most. This week will be a key match for the 22 year old to show his qualities up front if Inter hope to keep their top-spot in the league. Icardi must work to increase his chances on net, as his average shots per game currently sits at 1.6 while Higuain records 4.1 per game.
Looking ahead, a critical factor to either Inter or Napoli securing three points will be the Argentine’s performances for both sides and ability to frustrate their opponent’s backline. Who will be the hero, Higuain or Icardi?