Only four points separate the top four teams in Italy's Serie A, and only three points separate second-place AC Milan and fourth-place Napoli as the two sides meet on Sunday in a crunch fixture.
Paramount+ and CBS Sports Network are bringing their coverage on the road to the legendary San Siro in Milan as Serie A analyst Matteo Bonetti and play-by-play commentator Andres Cordero will be on-site to call the match, alongside former Serie A star Christian "Bobo" Vieri as a special guest analyst.
Ahead of the showdown, Zlatan Ibrahimović sat down with Aaron West to discuss what he sees in the young stars in the sport in an exclusive interview that will air during the coverage on Paramount+ and CBS Sports Network. The 40-year-old Ibrahimović pointed out the intelligence and drive in Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappé and Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland. Their movement is a next-level skill similar to how Zlatan is able to get into scoring positions at his age, which is what makes him a fan of their work.
"I like elegant players, as complete as possible," Ibrahimović told West. "But when you're soccer or football player, you can see the way they think, the way they move, the way they do it. I like those players that predict things before it happens
"I think Mbappé is a reminder of Ronaldo the Fenômeno. He's very elegant in his game. I mean, you have all the other big players but when we talk about young players, we talk Haaland. Haaland is good because I think he's obsessed with goals, and he's not doing more than he needs to do, so you're only focusing on goals. That is also what you can see in a player because you have some players that think they can do more than what they are able to do. That is not intelligence.
"In Haaland, I see this intelligence -- he just wants to score goals and he knows he can score goals and he's only trying to do that."
"Mbappe is a reminder of Ronaldo the Fenômeno. ... In Haaland I see this intelligence, he just wants to score goals."@Ibra_official reveals the two young stars he admires most. 🌟— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) December 16, 2021
Watch the full sit down with @oeste: Sunday at 2pm ET on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+. pic.twitter.com/oYwCQKSqVQ
As for the match on Sunday, Napoli will have a tough time containing Zlatan's movement if he turns back the clock. But if they can, that would be a key to a much-needed victory that would put them level at points with Milan and ahead on goal difference in the race for the scudetto.
Napoli was flying high in the league until injuries to Victor Osimhen, Kalidou Kolibaly and Fabian Ruiz derailed their run of form. Losers of three of their last five, Luciano Spalletti will be looking for a way to freshen things up to get an important result here. But going through AC Milan will be a tough assignment as now that he's healthy, Ibrahimović is creeping up the Serie A top scorers table with seven goals and one assist while Theo Hernandez has been a menace from left back with five assists and one goal over his matches played so far.
How to watch and odds
Date: Sunday, Dec 19. | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
Location: San Siro -- Milan, Italy
TV: CBS Sports Network | Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: AC Milan +128; Draw +245; Napoli +210 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Napoli wishes that this game were coming at a different time as I don't think that they'll be able to contain Milan in a free-flowing match. Pick: AC Milan 3, Napoli 2