Serie A Preview: Week 13

Serie A

Italy’s failure to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958 has dominated the headlines.  The post-mortem continues and in the aftermath Giampiero Ventura has been sacked and Carlo Ancelotti is said to have been approached as his potential replacement.  The Italian game is in mourning, leading sports newspaper La Gazette dello Sport described the teams failure as the apocalypse and there are numerous theories as to what exactly went wrong.

Fortunately for us, Serie A returns this weekend and a mouthwatering set of fixtures come as a welcome distraction for those still disillusioned by Monday nights events.  The Derby Della Capitale is upon us, Roma take on arch rivals Lazio this Saturday at 17:00 (UK time).  The two sides are separated by a single point and both boast 9 wins from 11.

Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi is forging a real reputation for himself having turned his side into realistic title contenders and striker Ciro Immobile continues to impress having scored 14 league goals this season.  Lazio haven’t had any issues finding the back of the net so far but they’ll face the leagues most stubborn defence in Eusebio Di Francesco’s Roma.

Much of the talk about Roma this season has centred around their defensive capabilities but you’d be foolish to overlook the quality they possess in an attacking capacity.  Stephan El Shaarawy and Edin Dzeko have been in impressive form of late and therefore Roma are a far more balanced team than most would give them credit for.

Radja Nainggolan’s fitness is in doubt and that could see Daniele De Rossi return to the heart of the midfield, a player who you could argue is on the decline and Lazio will be pleased with that.

Two relatively evenly matched sides and a red hot atmosphere expected in the Stadio Olimpico, you’d be brave to call this one.

Napoli welcome Milan to the Stadio San Paolo later on that same evening and they’ll be keen to get back on the right track having dropped points just prior to the international break.  Should Maurizio Sarri’s men fail to register a victory questions will be asked regarding their title credentials.  Milik and Ghoulam remain sidelined but the Partenopei should still have enough to trouble Montella’s struggling Milan.

The visitors start to the campaign has been far from ideal, there were high hopes for them during the summer and given their stuttering start there is no doubt their loyal supporters and the management will have been disappointed so far.

If Milan are to trouble Napoli, Spanish attacker Suso will need to be at his very best.  It’s hard to see Milan keeping the hosts out for 90 minutes, Leonardo Bonnuci has struggled to rediscover the form he showed at Juventus since his move during the summer and has been blamed by sections of their support for their defensive instability.

Napoli are the bookmakers favourites and rightly so in my opinion.

Juventus face a potential banana skin as they travel to in form Sampdoria.  Marco Giampaolo’s men have a perfect home record so far and given that Juventus don’t look quite the force they have been in previous seasons the possibility of a potential upset is real.

Both managers have full squads to choose from with neither having any injuries or suspensions to cause concern.  Juventus and Allegri must keep a close eye on Colombian striker Duvan Zapata who has been in excellent form this season.  He’s a player performing at the top of his game and finally fulfilling his potential.

Another derby taking place this weekend is the Lombardy Derby between Inter and Atalanta.  The visitors have had to cope with the demands of a Europa League campaign this season but manager Gasperini has done well to find the correct balance between domestic and European competitions.

Mauro Icardi is set to feature despite missing Argentina’s midweek fixture and Atalanta will likely be without Josep Ilicic and Leonardo Spinazzola.

Elsewhere Benevento take on fellow strugglers Sassuolo as they bid to register their first league points of the season.  This might just be their week!

Other fixtures:  Crotone vs Genoa, Spal vs Fiorentina, Torino vs Chievo, Udinese vs Cagliari and Verona vs Bologna.