The matches in Italy are coming hard and fast now, as European competitions give way to three games in eight days time of the year. Those who had to travel across Europe and return back to Italy, many of whom have players who also were away on international break, have to balance workload and tired legs early in the season. What helps this week is a lack of high-profile, made-for-television match-ups. Rather, we have some good matches that calcio purists will enjoy and could begin to separate clubs into the various spheres in the standings.
Rather than use movie quotes to define each match, we are trying something a little different. All ten matches will be ranked and placed into one of three categories based on how interesting they are. Those three categories this week will be defined by an Italian defender – the better the match-up, the better the defender. I add the caveat that of course almost any Serie A match is better than most other matches in other leagues, so this is an internal comparison.
Fabio Cannavaro Division: Best of the best this weekend
Roma v. Verona: This match is fascinating because of the desperation of Roma. Despite getting the weekend off due to weather, Saturday was a loss for Roma due to falling further behind the league leaders. In addition, star striker Edin Dzeko has been talking in the press about his “isolation” in the new 4-3-3 system. This match could be a tonic to cure the disease, as Verona are entering a brutal stretch of schedule and are coming off a 5-0 defeat to Fiorentina. Yet they need points desperately.
Sassuolo v. Juventus: Someone finally exposed the weakness of the Juve defence, although having Barcelona do it is not exactly a disgrace. Rather, Juventus are now facing some injuries and have shown their mortality to the calcio world. This weekend they could get Giorgio Chiellini back which would be a massive boost. Keep an eye on Sassuolo who could trot out again a 3-5-2; they tested it out last week against Atalanta and it gave Berardi and the other attacking players more space.
Torino v. Sampdoria: If Sampdoria had played their match against Roma last week, we would have a better sense of who they are as a side. We will have to settle for now with a match-up against Torino to measure themselves against. Both sides look like legitimate contenders to surprise and grab a Europa League spot, so this match will allow us to learn a bit more about where these two clubs stand.
Daniele Rugani Division: Best matches that hold promise, but could be duds
AC Milan v. Udinese: Milan crashed down to earth in the league last week but recovered nicely midweek in Europe. Will the Rossoneri machine be firing on all cylinders again in the league? Udinese earned a tough victory over Genoa last week but will be without Giuseppe Pezzella.
Chievo v. Atalanta: The Atalanta we saw against Everton on Thursday was the Atalanta we’ve hoped to see all season. Traveling to Chievo will be a good opportunity for them to right the ship in the league as well. The visitors should have Josip Ilicic back. Chievo are looking to take advantage of a tired Atalanta as well as grab points after two tough league fixtures prior.
Napoli v. Benevento: Despite the gap in the standings, this match moves up a level due to it being the first ever Campania Derby played in Serie A. These two sides have not played in over ten years with the last time being in Serie C1. Napoli performed poorly in the Champions League this week, but will it impact their play in the league. Benevento desperately need points.
Genoa v. Lazio: Lazio continues to impress with a tough Europa League victory on Thursday. Currently sitting in fifth, if they can take all three points against a Genoa side that is already embracing the Walter Mazzarri as manager rumour. The one positive for the home side is Marco Parolo will be suspended this match.
Francesco Coco Division: Best to forget these happen
Crotone v. Inter: This match feels a little like a trap. Inter are playing too well and Crotone, well, have not scored a goal this season and no better time than the present. Plus, the last time these two sides met, Chievo emerged with all three points. That said, injuries and a good form for the visitors makes this a tough match-up for the home side.
Fiorentina v. Bologna: Raise your hand if you saw The Viola’s 5-0 win coming last weekend? Now put them down because you are all liar. After so much turmoil and a poor start to the season, the big victory could be a spark to push Fiorentina on a positive run. Many of the same issues they had prior remain, however. For Bologna, if they want to stay away the relegation fray, as they seem to have set themselves to do this season so far, a point in this match is critical.
Spal v. Cagliari: Spal have been pretty good so far, but Cagliari won their first match of the season last week. This match could be sneaky interesting. Of course the major talking point will be Marco Boriello, who bolted the visitors for Spal this summer.