Before the wheels fell off against Roma on 4 March, few would have given Inter Milan much of a chance against Napoli ahead of their 11 March showdown. Riding a four-game winning streak and only one Serie A defeat this season, Napoli looked every bit like future league champions.
But, with Edin Dzeko scoring twice as Roma ran riot to win 4-2, Napoli turned out to be decidedly frail on that occasion. What’s more, with Juventus winning at Lazio, the title race has been blown wide open. Naturally, for Inter, the recent turn of events will be seen as a positive.
Although league success might be a bit of a stretch at this point, Napoli’s loss will give Luciano Spalletti’s men a boost heading into the match. According to the latest odds from our top-rated bookmakers, Inter will step out in front of their home fans as the 5/2 underdogs.
For a slightly better price than the 5/2 offered by William Hill, Betway has posted opening odds of 11/1, which means a £10 punt would return you £37.50 if Inter win. Of course, if you fancy the away side to avenge their recent defeat and continue their positive momentum, 21/10 is the price across at Ladbrokes and Coral, while NetBet is offering a touch more value at 23/20.
At this point, it could be argued that this will be a 50/50 contest. Inter have the advantage when it comes to recent form (they beat Benevento last time out), but Napoli are favoured by the oddsmakers. To break the deadlock, it’s worth looking at how these two Italian teams have fared against each other in the past.
Going back to 1993, Inter and Napoli have met 37 times in all competitions, with the former notching up 14 wins. As for Napoli, well, they’ve also won 14 matches against and, if that wasn’t enough, there have been nine draws. Based on the results alone, it’s almost impossible to separate the two teams.
In fact, even when you burrow down into the specifics such as goals scored and conceded, things don’t differ too wildly. Inter’s strike rate is 1.35 goals on average per game, while Napoli’s is 1.24. Now, we could look to the last clash between these two for a point of deviation.
On that occasion in 2016, Napoli ran out 3-0 winners after a dominating performance that saw the team aim in 19 shots and get 11 on target. That was back in December 2016, though, and a lot has changed since then. So far this season, Inter have gone from heroes to zeroes. Back in December, Spalletti’s side were unbeaten in 16 league games and sitting top of Serie A.
By the time festive break was over, however, it seemed like a different team had returned to action. Three draws and a lose since the end of January have only been punctuated by two wins, meaning Inter will start the game in fifth place. In contrast, Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli surged ahead in 2018, winning four of their last six to move into pole position and one point clear of Juventus.
Although Napoli have looked far from invincible during their recent run, there’s no doubt they are the team on form. But, and this could be the important point, Inter are a strong side. Mauro Icardi has netted 18 in 22 games this season and has been the subject of much transfer speculation.
Antonio Candreva has also been solid, pinging in eight assists and firing in 48 shots from the right win. To put it another way, Inter have some talent in the side and, even if there are rumoured tensions in the dressing room, the players are capable of winning.
If Inter can play to their strengths and Napoli come in on a negative note, expect a home victory (possibly 1-0 or 2-1). However, if both sides stay true to form, we could be looking at a draw here. All the available data suggests there isn’t much between the two sides and both have had their ups and downs recently.
If that proves to be the case, 5/2 on a draw with William Hill is likely to be the best price you’ll see and possibly worth a punt. Of course, if you check out our recommended bookmakers, you'll find plenty of alternative offers which could pique your interest ahead of Inter vs. Napoli on Sunday.