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Football

Milan, Roma clash on Serie A match-day three as Ronaldo looks to get off the mark

AC Milan vs AS Roma

Stadio San Siro, Milan

Friday, 31-08-2018 @09:30pm (Super Sport 9)

The pressure is already mounting on these two sides after last week’s thrillers, as Milan fumbled a 2-0 lead and Roma recovered from a similar defici to draw 3-3 at home to Atalanta.

This has been a rough start to the season for both teams in Serie A. The Giallorossi scraped a last-gasp win at Torino and then fought back from 3-1 down to snatch a point against Atalanta in Monday’s astonishing encounter. Week 2 was a round of comebacks and Milan were on the wrong end of a spectacular one, leading 2-0 at the Stadio San Paolo only to trail Napoli 3-2 within 30 minutes.

Many changes are expected for Milan, Hakan Calhanoglu is available again after missing the Napoli trip through suspension, so Fabio Borini drops to the bench. The defence should be revamped with Mattia Caldara and Ignazio Abate replacing Mateo Musacchio and Davide Calabria, while Cristian Zapata, Andrea Conti and Ivan Strinic are still unavailable.

For Roma, Alessandro Florenzi went off injured during that game and is likely to miss out, so either Davide Santon or Rick Karsdorp will take over at right-back. Steven Nzonzi can get his first start, having received his Serie A debut as a substitute with Atalanta, but above all there’s a change of shape in the air.

Roma are unbeaten at San Siro since a 2-1 result in May 2015, emerging with three consecutive victories in which they scored nine goals and conceded two.

Bologna vs Inter Milan

Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna

Saturday, 01-09-2018 @07:00pm (Super Sport 9)

Both Bologna and Inter are heading into the third round with a sole point to their name and it’s already a must-win for the visitors. The Nerazzurri have been largely disappointing so far this season, losing to Sassuolo and throwing away a 2-0 at home to Torino last week. Bologna are yet to score after a defeat to SPAL and stalemate with Frosinone.

Playing Bologna provides Spalletti the perfect opportunity to iron out the problems at the back and find more of an identity going forward. Also, the reports that Radja Nainggolan may be ready for Saturday’s match provided Inter tifosi with something to be happy about. For Bologna, the loss of Simone Verdi to Napoli has taken a toll. The Rossoblu have lacked creativity going forward and lost Rodrigo Palacio to injury too. The absence of a young striker, somewhere in the 24-25 years old age range, who can score week in and week out is going to be a constant issue for Coach Filippo Inzaghi.

Inter are unbeaten against Bologna since a 1-0 result at San Siro in March 2013, managing four wins and as many Serie A draws. The last defeat at the Dall’Ara was all the way back in February 2002, emerging with nine wins and three stalemates.

Parma vs Juventus

Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma

Saturday, 01-09-2018 @09:30pm (Super Sport 9)

Parma take on Juventus on Saturday as The Old Lady aim to continue their perfect start to the new Serie A season. Max Allegri’s men had a shaky start in the season opener against an unlucky Chievo side when Federico Bernardeschi’s 93rd minute strike was enough for a 3-2 win. Last weekend they saw off a disappointing Lazio after Miralem Pjanic and Mario Mandzukic struck for a 2-0 victory. They will this week be aiming to continue their winning streak as Cristiano Ronaldo will be hoping to get off the mark in Serie A.

Meanwhile, Parma are winless in their return to Serie A following their opening round draw with Udinese and last week’s 1-0 defeat against SPAL. It has been a difficult start to the campaign for them, however they will be hoping to snatch a result at home this weekend.

Parma will be without a number of players – most notably Amato Ciciretti and Jonathan Biabiany as they recover from their respective injuries. Emanuele Calaio is obviously still suspended, however they are expected to be given a boost in their final third with the addition of Gervinho to their attack, who is expected to start his first game for his new club. Juventus have a near clean bill of health heading into the game, as Leonardo Spinazzola is their only absentee. Paulo Dybala is expected to slot back into the starting line-up for the Bianconeri and Allegri may try him in the middle of their attacking trident.

This fixture last took place in 2015, where the Crociati surprisingly defeated Juventus 1-0 thanks to Jose Mauri’s strike.

Fiorentina vs Udinese

Stadio Artemio Franchi, Firenze

Sunday, 02-09-2018 @07:00pm (Super Sport 9)

Fiorentina had to wait an extra round to get their season going, but once the Viola finally took to the pitch, they really got moving. Stefano Pioli’s side cruised to a very comfortable 6-1 win over a hapless Chievo side to pick up their first win of the season and will be hoping to continue onwards and upwards as they welcome Udinese on Sunday. The hosts will have to make do without Jordan Veretout due to suspension, whilst Pjaca could be possibly rotated in favor of Valentin Eysseric.

Meanwhile, Udinese will be missing Rolando Mandragora after he was found guilty of apparently uttering “blasphemous” phrases following Udinese’s narrow victory over Sampdoria. In Italy, that’s the highest order of offence – even worse than saying other forms of curse words – so as a result, he has been given a one-match ban for his folly. The Zebrette have had a mixed start to the season under new manager Julio Velázquez. They had to fight from 2-0 down to secure a draw against a newly promoted Parma side, then earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sampdoria thanks to a goal from Rodrigo de Paul, who so far has scored two of the team’s three goals this season. Although they are still unbeaten, worrying for the visitors is their poor track record against Fiorentina, where they have won just five times at this ground and lost a whopping 27 times in the past.

Udinese have won just five times at Fiorentina’s home ground (compared to 27 wins for the Viola and 10 draws).

Atalanta vs Cagliari

Stadio Atleti Azzuri d’Italia, Bergamo

Sunday, 02-09-2018 @09:30pm (Super Sport 8)

Atalanta will be looking to get over their Europa League heartbreak against relegation favourites Cagliari. They huffed and they puffed, but they couldn’t blow FC Copenhagen down. La Dea were the vastly superior team over both legs against their Danish opponents, but it came to penalties and luck wasn’t on their side.

Cagliari on the other hand claimed their first point of the new season in a 2-2 draw with Sassuolo last week. Serie A cult hero Leonardo Pavoletti netted twice for the hosts in a game they probably should have won considering they had more attempts and the Neroverdi finished with 10 men.

Both are missing key men, with Josip Ilicic struggling with an illness and Joao Pedro still suspended for failing a doping test, but on the plus side we will likely get to see Emiliano Rigoni from the start. The Argentina international found the net twice last week in an impressive debut performance against Roma.

The Rossoblu’s 2-1 victory last season was their first win in Bergamo since October 1991, ending a run of four draws and 13 defeats here in all competition.

Chievo vs Empoli

Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, Verona

Sunday, 02-09-2018 @09:30pm (Super Sport 4)

Empoli have had a very impressive start to the season and visit a Chievo side reeling from two painful defeats.Chievo were unlucky to drop their lead and lose 3-2 to champions Juventus, but followed that up with an embarrassing 6-1 result away to Fiorentina.

The Azzurri on have had a mixed enough start on their return to the top flight, beating Cagliari at home 2-0 thanks to goals from Rade Krunic and Francesco Caputo, then losing 2-1 away to Genoa in a very hard-fought clash. Alejandro Rodriguez, who is on loan from Chievo, misses out through injury and is joined on the treatment table by defenders Domenico Maietta and Lorenzo Polvani.

Empoli have never won here in Serie A, managing only five draws from seven attempts. Their lone victory was 1-0 in Serie B in April 1997.

Lazio vs Frosinone

Stadio Olympico, Rome

Sunday, 02-09-2018 @09:30pm (Super Sport 3)

Lazio’s poor end to last season seems to have spilled into the start of this campaign and they face Frosinone in a local derby. Simone Inzaghi will be very keen on picking up their first three points of the season following defeats to Napoli and Juventus. Valon Berisha, Luiz Felipe and Jordan Lukaku are expected to miss out for the hosts, so Wallace can again take over in defence.

Frosinone travel to the capital after picking up their first point of the season on Sunday with Bologna. Following on from their 4-0 thumping away to Atalanta on the opening day, the Canarini will now be hoping to pick up more points here with a difficult run of fixtures coming up against the likes of Juventus, Roma, Sampdoria and Genoa. They are missing the likes of Daniel Ciofani, Federico Dionisi, Edoardo Goldaniga and Emil Hallfredsson.

These two sides have only ever played twice, back in the 2015-16 season, where Lazio were victorious at home and played out a draw in the reverse fixture.

Sampdoria vs Napoli

Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genova

Sunday, 26-08-2018 @09:30pm

Sampdoria are always a tough nut to crack on their own patch and this is their first home game of the season. It’s a tough ask against an in-form and confident Napoli outfit. Last season, Samp were defeated just four times in front of their own fans with the Partenopei just one of the quartet of sides to leave Stadio Luigi Ferraris with maximum points. They have won each of their last three visits here and will be looking to continue that fine record. They’ve had to come from behind in both of their matches so far this season with 2-1 and 3-2 wins over Lazio and AC Milan earning them maximum points so far. The hosts were defeated 1-0 at Udinese but managed nine shots on target during their opening Serie A game and should put up plenty of fight.

Two of Napoli’s last three visits to this ground have ended with a 4-2 success for the Naples outfit and we can expect Sampdoria to test their defence throughout the 90 minutes. The hosts are searching for their first goal of the season and with Carlo Ancelotti’s side leaking goals in their opening two matches, this looks like the idea chance to get on the scoresheet. They are never shy about going forward and should be able to find a way past the slow-starting visitors.

Sassuolo vs Genoa

MAPEI Stadium-Citta del Tricolore, Reggio nell’Emilia

Sunday, 02-09-2018 @09:30pm

Sassuolo have enjoyed a strong start to the new campaign, following their win over late equaliser at Cagliari last weekend. The Neroverdi are making progress after a poor start last term, and they have got points on the board early on. They host Genoa on Sunday night, and this represents a chance for Sassuolo to continue their strong start. Genoa have a perfect record after starting their league campaign just last weekend, and now they head out on the road for the first time, looking to improve on a tough season last time around.

The Rossoblu have one win from one game after beating new boys Empoli on Sunday, a result which at least got their season off to a bright start. Genoa’s 2017/18 campaign started with them fighting relegation, before they eventually climbed the table to secure a mid-table finish. The visitors face a tough test here as they look to build on their opening weekend win, especially since they’re coming to a ground where they’ve lost three times since 2014.

Genoa have failed to score in their last two visits to Sassuolo.

Torino vs SPAL

Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, Torino

Sunday, 02-09-2018 @09:30pm (Super Sport 11)

SPAL are surprisingly top of the table with a perfect record, but visit a Torino side who feel they deserved more. After one loss and one draw, Torino may not have had the best starts on paper, but following their two-goal comeback last weekend against Inter, they will have the confidence to put SPAL to the sword in their own back yard and finally get three points on the board. However, SPAL will not be pushovers and will have just as much confidence – if not more – after two wins from two. The only other sides with a 100 per cent record after two games are Juventus and Napoli.

Cristian Ansaldi and Lyanco are expected to be out for several weeks, so Ola Aina can again shine on loan from Chelsea.

SPAL have only ever conquered Torino on their own turf once in Serie A, all the way back in 1963, along with two draws and 13 defeats.

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