Udinese vs Napoli
Massimo Oddo couldn’t have asked for a tougher start to his managerial reign at Udinese. The league leaders are coming to town and will be full of confidence having beaten AC Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk in the space of a week. Udinese have struggled this season and Gigi Del Neri’s sacking after last week’s home defeat at the hands of Cagliari was no surprise to anybody. Udinese face the real possibility of being sucked into the relegation fight and the Friulani will hope Oddo’s appointment can provide the spark they’ve been missing thus far. Napoli will be the overwhelming favourites ahead of this fixture but you can never underestimate the impact a new manager can have. Veteran goalkeeper Albano Bizzari is suspended for the home side but other than that neither boss has any new injury concerns.
Cagliari vs Inter
Having overtaken Juventus last week Inter could temporarily go top of the table with a victory at Cagliari. The home side have found a bit of form in recent weeks under Diego Lopez winning 3 of their last 5. The Rossoblu have a full squad of players to select from with the exception of midfielder Alessandro Deiola who is facing a late fitness test. Luciano Spalleti has a fully fit squad to choose from and his side pretty much picks itself as it has done all season. Mauro Icardi will be the one to watch, undoubtedly one of the leagues deadliest forwards, Cagliari will have to be watertight defensively if they are to keep the Argentine at bay.
Juventus vs Crotone
The champions have come under heavy criticism of late and they’ll be looking to get back on track with a victory over 15th placed Crotone. Having suffered defeat at Sampdoria last weekend boss Max Allegri is expected to recall Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli and Paulo Dybala to the starting XI. The two Italians were left out due to their fragile mental state having failed to qualify for the world cup with the Azzurri just a few days prior, make of that what you will. Juventus’ draw versus Barcelona midweek didn’t go down too well with their supporters and their chances of progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League took a huge blow. Crotone are yet to beat Juventus throughout their entire history and it’s not likely that will change this weekend. The Old lady will be keen to get back to winning ways ASAP and I expect them to, especially with a trip to Naples around the corner.
Genoa vs Roma
The Giallorossi go into this encounter having won 5 on the bounce including a victory over local rivals Lazio. A huge confidence boost no doubt but their midweek defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid may have halted their momentum temporarily. The question is can Genoa take advantage? Having won just twice this season it’s a tough ask but you cannot deny they possess the talent amongst their ranks to hurt even the division’s top sides. The likes of Goran Pandev and Adel Taarabt are expected to spearhead the Genoa attack but you’d be a brave person to bet against Roma. The hosts will be without Bulgarian international Andrey Galabinov and Roma are missing Patrick Schick, Emerson Palmieri and long-term absentee Rick Karsdorp.
Lazio vs Fiorentina
Lazio will be keen to put their derby woes behind them and traditionally the visit of Fiorentina has proven to be a difficult fixture. The Viola have picked up two wins and a draw from their last five visits. Lazio’s injury worries continue with Wallace, Di Gennaro, Felipe Anderson, Caicedo and Nani all unavailable this weekend. Fiorentina are not without injury problems of their own and will be missing influential playmaker Milan Badelj. Given Fiorentina’s uninspiring away record so far Lazio will be the favourites but it’ll be interesting to see how they respond to last weekend’s setback. Could we see an upset here? Perhaps, Stefano Pioli’s side are due a big result and now is as good a time as ever to meet the Romans.
Milan vs Torino
We’ve been saying it for weeks but a defeat could cost Vincenzo Montella his job. The Rossoneri sit in 7th place, a huge 7 points behind 6th placed Sampdoria who also have a game in hand. Milan’s hopes of securing a European place continue to fade and for a club of their stature and taking into consideration the summer investment the position they find themselves in is simply not acceptable. This weekend’s opponents Torino are just a point behind Milan and will be looking to leapfrog their opponents whilst inflicting further pressure on Montella and his players. The boss’ methods have come under fire with many feeling his team selections make no sense and are bemused by the fact he has persisted with Nikola Kalinic as the lone striker in domestic competition. Torino have plenty of quality amongst their own ranks with Andrea Belotti, Adem Ljajic and Iago Falque are expected to lead the line and that can bring problems as Inter found out just a few weeks ago. In my opinion, this one could go either way and if it was to go against Milan it could have seismic repercussions.
Atalanta vs Benevento, Bologna vs Sampdoria, Chievo vs Spal & Sassuolo vs Verona.