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Napoli 0 - 0 Inter Milan: match report, goals, how it happened

The top two in Italy's Serie A played out an intense goalless draw at the Estadio San Paulo, which allows the chasing pack to close the gap in the league.
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Naples (Italy), 21/10/2017.- Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne reacts during the Italian Serie A soccer match between SSC Napoli and Inter Milan at San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy, 21 October 2017. (Nápoles, Italia) EFE/EPA/CESARE ABBATE

Matchday nine in Serie A saw the top two, Napoli and Inter Milan, meet at the Estadio San Paolo, in a game many expected to have goals, but none were forthcoming. The visitors were well organised throughout and kept Mertens, Callejón, Insigne and Hamsik at bay, ending the only 100% record in Europe's big five.

Napoli vs Inter Milan online: match report

The game had the billing of a classic and despite there not being the goals that many would want to accompany the hype, this game delivered an intense affair where the takeaway is that the two best defences in the league won out.

100% record gone for Napoli

A good win against Roma in the capital followed by a stirring second half performance in Manchester had Napoli coming into this confident of keeping up their early push to be the dominant side this term. The impactful Insigne had been a doubt in the days leading up the the weekend but took his place alongside his talented teammates, and it was the home side that did much of the threatening in the first half.

The area where they looked most dangerous was down the left as Hamsik supported the diminutive Italian to good effect but while chances came, few were clear cut. The best of them presented itself to Mertens, who latched onto the initial block from Callejón's effort, and the stadium let out a collective sigh as Handanovic prevented the Belgian notching his eighth goal of the season.

Inter defence holds firm against top scorers

Napoli had more of the ball, and importantly often had it in the opposition third to create openings. However, Spalletti had his Inter team drilled to close down space and seemed happy to soak up the pressure and hit on the break. Playing the ball out of the back, holding onto it rather than launching it aimlessly, even hopefully, forward when under pressure from Napoli's frontline continued throughout, and effectively so. The home side did find gaps, but rarely, and the shots from distance could have caused problems, but didn't.

Around the hour mark there was a sense that a point for both teams would be acceptable, although when opportunities arose the winner was chased. This served up an intriguing contest and one that ensures they will keep their position at the head of the pack, and remain unbeaten after nine games.

Napoli vs Inter Milan online: how it happened live

Napoli vs Inter Milan live online: match preview

There are some games in world football that get you excited long before the ball is even kicked and the encounter on Saturday evening in Naples is just one such occasion. Last season saw Napoli finish third, just five points off eventual winners Juventus, while Inter were a further 24 points behind, in seventh. What makes this clash so appealing to football fans around Europe is that they meet as the current top two sides in Italy, both in a great vein of form, and both looking to maintain their unbeaten records.

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Gareth CopleyGetty Images

Napoli team news

Napoli return to domestic action after their European setback on Tuesday as Maurizio Sarri's side lost 2-1 at Manchester City. But confidence will still be high after they showed great determination to almost pull back the deficit from a blistering start from the Premier League leaders. 

Napoli are flying high with a perfect 24 points from eight games - two ahead of second-placed Inter - and a win would give the southerners a five-point cushion on their pursuers.

"We were defeated on the pitch but not in spirit," warned Amadou Diawara, who scored his maiden goal for Napoli in Manchester. "I'm happy with the goal in Manchester. It was pity about the result, but the mind is only focused on Inter now," the Guinean midfielder continued.

"We will play in San Paulo, in front of our people and the fans will give us a great boost. But we also know that we're meeting a team in great shape."

Sarri knows that the home side will be without Arkadiusz Milik, but other than that the manager will have a full strength squad to pick from. Lorenzo Insigne has three goals and four assists to his name this season and along with José Callejón (4 goals, 2 assists) and Dries Mertens (7 goals, 2 assists) will be looked at by the Partenopei faithful to provide the attacking threat after an impressive start to the season. 

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Inter Milan team news

Inter come into this early top-of-the-table meeting on the back of a hugely positive result in the Milan derby. A Mauro Icardi treble took them past city rivals AC Milan and now they are looking to keep up the momentum against high-flying Napoli knowing a win at the San Paolo stadium would be their first in two decades.

The Milan side should be fresher - seventh place last year means there was no European action midweek - and in Icardi have one of the hottest strikers of the moment. He already has nine goals to his name this campaign and has the highest shots on target ratio of all of the leading Serie A scorers hittting the space between the three pieces of metal on 17 of his 20 attempts (85%).

Inter's former Newcastle defender Davide Santon spoke ahead of the game and made it very clear that last Sunday's derby excitement was already far behind the team urging them to have "the right ruthlessness" as they target a serious title challenge this year.

Napoli vs Inter Milan live online: betting odds

The home side are rightly favourites with the bookmakers who will give decent 5/1 odds on Inter getting that elusive win here that we mentioned above.  If you expect a goal-fest, then 9/1 may tempt you for both teams to score in each half. Now that would be fun!

Check out all the odds and bet on Napoli vs Inter Milan


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