Serie A Preview: Week 16

Serie A

Juventus vs Inter

The Derby D’Italia is without question this weeks standout fixture, 3rd versus 1st and just 2 points separate the old lady and the Nerazzurri.  Having earned a crucial victory at Napoli last time out Juventus will be looking to gain a psychological advantage over yet another one of their title rivals.  Allergy’s men have found their form of late and are brimming with confidence however they will be without Mario Mandzukic, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Benedikt Howedes and Marko Pjaca but we can expect to see the return of club legend Gianluigi Buffon in between the sticks.

Inter are without any injury problems of their own affording Luciano Spalletti the luxury of being able to pick his strongest XI.  The Nerrazzuri have had the whole week to prepare for this clash and many see that as a crucial advantage.  Neither side will want to concede early on and I expect to see a chess like contest unfold before our eyes orchestrated by two fine tacticians in Allegri and Spalletti.

Juventus are expected to line up with the midfield pair of Miralem Panic and Sami Khedira despite them coming under some criticism against top opposition in recent times.  Inter will feel they can come away with a positive result but they’ll need to protect their back four against the threat of Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado.

Inter’s style poses a very different threat to that of Napoli last week but on the biggest of occasions you’d never bet against the Bianconeri to turn up.  This result could shape the title race going into the winter break and this fixture will give us the clearest indication yet of just how serious Inter are this season.

Napoli vs Fiorentina

Napoli have come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks and they face a nervous wait to see whether Lorenzo Insigne will be available.  The manager himself has eluded to the fact their forward line is suffering from fatigue and we’ve seen a drop in the intensity of their attack – something thats been a key element in their success.

Having crashed out of the Champions League on Wednesday night they find themselves suffering from an untimely dip in form.  Perhaps slightly fortunately for the Partenopei their opponents this week haven’t exactly set the division alight so far.  Stefano Pioli has a full squad to choose from and is likely to start Federico Chiesa, a player Napoli have openly expressed their interest in.

Fiorentina haven’t beaten Napoli since 2014 and i don’t expect them to improve their record this coming weekend.  Victory for the hosts is vital and would go along way in silencing those accusing them of having lost their bottle.

Chievo vs Roma

Having qualified for the last 16 of the Champions league in impressive fashion Roma will be looking to return to the capital with all three points.  They’ve won four of their last five Serie A fixtures and are yet to lose an away game this season and if you are a betting man you’d expect this outstanding run to continue.

De Rossi remains suspended but Roma should still have more than enough to get the job done. Chievo come into this one having won just one of their last five league outings, suffering a heavy defeat at Inter last weekend and were recently knocked out of the Coppa Italia by their local rivals Hellas Verona.

I can’t see the Serie A strugglers being able to cope with Roma’s array of attacking talent and therefore predict a comfortable victory for the Giallorossi.

Milan vs Bologna

Having conceded a last minute equaliser at Benevento in week 15 Gennaro Gattuso will be desperate to register his first win as manager.  A midweek defeat at the hands of Croatian side NK Rijeka didn’t help matters and the pressure is well and truly on as the his side fall further and further behind the leading pack.

Milan and Gattuso need to steady the ship as defeat this weekend could send them into free fall.  Roberto Donadoni’s Bologna come into this one under practically no pressure and you feel if they can strike early on the atmosphere in the San Siro would become something close to toxic.

Romagnoli, Conti and Calhanoglu are all still sidelined for the hosts whilst Bologna will be without Andrea Poli and Federico Di Francesco.

Victory for the Rossoneri is vital but given Bologna’s recent improvement I wouldn’t be shocked if they left the San Siro with at least a point.

Other Fixtures:

Cagliari vs Sampdoria, Genoa vs Atalanta, Lazio vs Torino, Sassuolo vs Crotone, Spal vs Verona & Udinese vs Benevento.