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No repeat of Napoli thumping in Champions League derby, says Milan’s Pioli

Milan forward Rafael Leao scores against Napoli in their previous meeting in Serie A. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Stefano Pioli said Tuesday that he is not expecting a repeat of his Milan team’s devastating Serie A display against Napoli when the pair face off in their all-Italian Champions League quarter-final.

Milan smashed four goals past Italy’s runaway league leaders without reply earlier this month, but Pioli doesn’t think there is any chance of Napoli being rocked by that defeat in Wednesday’s first leg at the San Siro.

“The match in the league will obviously give us an idea, but there’s no way it will be the same match again,” said Pioli.

“They’re the highest scoring team in this Champions League and after Bayern Munich the team which has won the most matches so they’re a really good team with great quality.

“I think both teams have the same chance of going through. I’m expecting two very balanced matches… I think we can expect something different from Napoli so we need to be aware whether we need to make changes from the match in the league.”

Latest reports in Italy suggest Napoli will be without star striker Victor Osimhen, who did not take part in team training on Tuesday.

Osimhen, who has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season, also missed the league encounter with a thigh injury picked up on international duty.

“It doesn’t make a difference, Napoli have great players, they’re all good,” added Milan’s France full-back Theo Hernandez.

“Whether he plays or not, whoever is out there tomorrow will play their part.”

Napoli will be playing their first ever last-eight tie in the Champions League at a stadium which has seen a raft of memorable European nights.

Milan have been crowned continental kings more times than any other team bar Real Madrid and Pioli believes that playing such a huge game at a packed San Siro will have a positive impact on his team.

“San Siro will be on the pitch with us tomorrow and that gives you a better chance of both giving your best and of winning,” he said. 

“Our fans will push us on to give our very best.”

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