Juventus vs Udinese
Allianz Stadium, Torino
Friday, 08-03-2019 @10:30pm
Juventus are 16 points clear of Napoli and have all but guaranteed themselves their eighth Scudetto in a row, so there’s the risk of underestimating a desperate Udinese.
The Old Lady are still haven’t lost in the league this season and go into this game knowing that while they may not be playing the most scintillating football of late, they remain an almost unbeatable force. The champions remain unbeaten at the Allianz Juventus Stadium since Napoli won 1-0 last April and have a massive match with Atletico Madrid coming up next week.
Coach Max Allegri could possibly rotate with that Champions League second leg game in mind, but will also have to do without suspended Joao Cancelo and Miralem Pjanic, while Sami Khedira, Juan Cuadrado and Douglas Costa remain on the sidelines.
Udinese, on the other hand, have won their last two games in a row and have moved away from the relegation zone, where they now sit in 15th position on 25 points – seven ahead of Bologna in 18th, who they beat 2-1 at home last weekend.
Those two wins, the first of which came against Chievo, halted a run of four games without victory, but the Zebrette still have only six successes all season. Only one of those wins was on their travels back in September, followed by three draws and five defeats. They even failed to score in their last five away games.
Coach Davide Nicola will know that anything picked up in this game will be a bonus and will send his men out with the idea that they have nothing to lose. He will have to do without the services of winger Marco D’Alessandro, midfielders Valon Behrami and Emmanuel Badu, who are all out for a few more weeks yet, while Antonin Barak faces a late fitness test.
Rolando Mandragora is suspended and won’t be available to face his ex-club after signing for a whopping €20m in the summer.
Expect this game to be potentially a one-sided affair, although there is a small possibility that the Bianconeri’s recent poor play could encourage Udinese to try get something out of this game and follow in the footsteps of Parma and Genoa, who both managed to nick a draw off the champs in their home ground.
This fixture hasn’t been a draw since March 1990, followed by 19 home wins and five for the visitors.
Parma vs Genoa
Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma
Saturday, 09-03-2019 @8pm
It’s a head-to-head for position, as both teams are locked together on 30 points, but Parma are without a win in six and Genoa unbeaten in the same period.
The Ducali have conceded 16 goals in the last six rounds, picking up points only in 3-3 thrillers away to Juventus and Empoli. Their home form has to be a huge concern, as their last victory at the Tardini was 2-1 over Sassuolo on November 25.
Matteo Scozzarella, Fabio Ceravolo and Leo Stulac could all be available for Roberto D’Aversa. Both Ceravolo and Scozzarella trained with their teammates and on Monday Stulac received treatment for right calf injury.
Antonino Barillà was also on the treatment table with a knock to his right thigh, although he is expected to be ready for the weekend clash.
D’Aversa is likely to stick with Luca Siligardi ahead of Jonathan Biabiany in the attacking trident, along with danger-men Gervinho and Roberto Inglese.
The Ducali are bitter following the 3-3 draw at Empoli, however the Coach believes it was important they came away from that game with some sort of result, as survival is the main aim this season after returning to the top flight.
Miguel Veloso and Luca Mazzitelli should be at Cesare Prandelli’s disposal, with Gianluca Lapadula and Andrea Favilli still out of action for at least another couple of weeks. Antonio Sanabria and Christian Kouame hope to end the Rossoblu’s goalscoring drought after drab back-to-back draws away to Chievo and at home to Frosinone.
In midfield Esteban Rolon will be desperate to play from the beginning, however Daniel Bessa and Darko Lazovic will likely be ahead of him in the pecking order.
Prandelli was very disappointed his side couldn’t capitalise against a Frosinone team who went down to 10 men in their previous fixture. This is nonetheless Genoa’s longest top flight unbeaten run since nine in 2014.
In the 2014-2015 season, Parma players refused to travel to Genoa to play the fixture due to financial issues. At the risk of boycott and a 0-3 automatic loss, the match was ultimately rearranged to a few weeks later where they lost 0-2.
Chievo vs AC Milan
Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
Saturday, 09-03-2019 @10:30pm
Milan will look to further strengthen their grip on a Champions League berth as they take on the worst-performing side in the division on Saturday evening.
The Rossoneri have been in resurgent form lately, and now have moved up into a very impressive third place after winning their last four games on the spin. With cross-town rivals Inter stumbling and stuttering, this game presents a golden chance for Milan to widen the gap over the Nerazzurri and fifth-placed Roma.
Given the way they have been playing as late – with three goals in three of their last four league games – coupled with the fact that Chievo have been simply awful all season, one would be totally daft to bet against them making it a fifth straight league win this weekend. They will want to take advantage of this fixture and pick up all three points – especially as they have a crunch showdown with Inter in the Derby della Madonnina coming up next round.
It’s hard to believe that only three months ago, Gennaro Gattuso’s job was on the line after Milan were dumped out of the Europa League group stages and had fallen into a rut. However, the start of 2019 has really seen the team revitalised, and in fact, not only have they improved offensively in leaps and bounds with the addition of Krzysztof Piatek up front, but they have also tightened things up at the back.
How much so? Well, since the current year, Milan have conceded just three goals in their last 11 games across all competitions, and never more than one per match. Impressively, that includes shutting out Napoli in two straight meetings (2-0 in the Coppa Italia and 0-0 in Serie A), and so far in the league, only Roma and Atalanta have been able to breach their defensive wall. And the only team to beat them since the turn of the year? Juventus, who earned a narrow 1-0 victory during the Supercoppa Italiana in Saudi Arabia.
The visitors will still be missing Giacomo Bonaventura, whose season was ended prematurely following knee surgery, whilst Cristian Zapata misses out due to fitness problems and Ricardo Rodriguez serves a ban.
Meanwhile, having lost 3-0 to Torino recently and picked up just two points from their last five league games, Chievo are looking set for a return to Serie B. It’s not a matter of if, but simply when. They may have changed managers, but it hasn’t helped one bit.
With just one win all season, coupled with having the worst defence in the league, they have been at the mercy of all the other teams and sit a whopping 12 points from safety with just over a third of the campaign remaining. Barring an epic collapse from Empoli, it’s hard to see Chievo pulling off a Crotone and sneaking into 17th place at the 11th hour like the Squali did a couple of seasons back.
The hosts have failed to score in their last four games, and obviously if you can’t score, you can’t win games. The absence of veteran striker Sergio Pellissier, who with five goals is the Flying Donkeys’ all-time top goal-scorer in clashes with Milan, certainly will not help their case either.
Moreover, Chievo have the dubious honor of boasting the weakest attack in the division, with a paltry 15 goals scored. That’s less than one per game for their last 26 matches, whilst defensively, they have shipped a dismal 51 goals, and that awful record is set to rise this weekend.
Chievo have beaten Milan just twice in 33 prior meetings (L25 D6), and both of those wins have been on home turf. However, they haven’t tasted success against the Rossoneri since a 2-1 result in December 2005, followed by 21 defeats and three draws.
Bologna vs Cagliari
Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna
Sunday, 10-03-2019 @2:30pm
It’s a relegation dogfight at the Stadio Dall’Ara and Bologna will be feeling confident, especially as Cagliari are decimated.
The Sardinians made a leap away from the drop zone thanks to their surprise victory over Inter last week, but a loss here would reduce the gap from the bottom three to just six points.
Before deciding to back Rolando Maran’s men to cause an upset, it’s also worth noting they are without an away victory since September at Chievo and have a squad reduced to the bare bones. Luca Cigarini and Paolo Faragò sit out bans, with Lucas Castro, Ragnar Klavan, Valter Birsa, Alberto Cerri and Filippo Romagna injured.
Alessandro Deiola and Filip Bradaric therefore have to bolster the midfield ranks, with ageing Darijo Srna doing overtime at right-back.
Bologna have improved considerably since Sinisa Mihajlovic took over, but remain in the relegation places, four points off possible safety. It’s true they have managed only one point in the last four rounds, losing three on the bounce, but two of those games were hard-fought and unlucky defeats to Roma and Juventus.
This is the type of fixture the Rossoblu need to win if they are to survive in Serie A for another season. Mattia Destro and Federico Mattiello are still out of action, but Riccardo Orsolini has been increasingly impressive in support of Rodrigo Palacio and Federico Santander. Erick Pulgar returns from his ban in the middle of the park.
With 14 defeats in the opening 26 rounds, this is Bologna’s worst start to a season since 1990-91, when they were eventually relegated.
Sampdoria vs Atalanta
Stadio Comunale Luigi de Ferraris
Sunday, 10-03-2019 @05:00pm
Sampdoria and Atalanta go head-to-head for European ambitions, with only two points separating sixth and ninth.
This game promises to be one of, if not the most exciting games not containing one of the traditional top seven. The two teams have scored 97 goals in 26 rounds between them, with Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta boasting Serie A’s second best attack, only one goal behind Juventus’ star studded 55 goals. However, it’s worth pointing out the Orobici scored 43 of those from open play, at least six more than any other side. Marco Giampaolo’s Sampdoria are of course no chumps, with the fifth best rated attack, scoring 43, including current joint Capocannoniere Fabio Quagliarella.
Scoring goals has clearly been no problem, but keeping them out at the other end is what has stopped both of these clubs from challenging for a top four spot convincingly. Giampaolo’s side have conceded 33 goals, whilst Gasperini’s have allowed 37, far too many compared to the top four, who have conceded in the 16-22 range.
One deciding factor in the game could be Atalanta’s away form, which ranks as the fourth best in Serie A whilst Sampdoria are finding Marassi is no longer the fortress it used to be.
Fabio Quagliarella, Manolo Gabbiadini and Gregoire Defrel have shaken off injuries, but Lorenzo Tonelli joins Gaston Ramirez and Gianluca Caprari on the treatment table.
Atalanta need fitness tests for Rafael Toloi and Andrea Masiello, so Jose Luis Palomino is expected to start in defence. Timothy Castagne has shaken off a knock.
Atalanta have not beaten Samp at Marassi since November 2012, losing eight of their last 10 visits.
Inter Milan vs SPAL
Stadio Guiseppe Meazza, Milan
Sunday, 10-03-2019 @05:00pm
After losing third place and stuttering in the Europa League, Inter cannot afford another slip-up against SPAL.
Luciano Spalletti’s side are looking for anything positive from this game, as it’s the last chance to at least stay within touching distance of rivals Milan ahead of next week’s Derby della Madonnina. They’ve won just two of their last five league matches and the defeat to Cagliari saw them slide out of the top three. Had it not been for Roma’s capitulation in the Derby della Capitale, Inter might not even be fourth right now.
There was a Thursday trip to Germany, drawing 0-0 with Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League, even though Marcelo Brozovic saw his penalty saved. Lautaro Martinez is looking tired and Ivan Perisic limped off during that Round of 16 tie with a muscular issue. Radja Nainggolan and Keita Balde Diao were ruled out by injury and probably won’t be fit for the weekend either.
Matias Vecino sits out a ban against SPAL after an accumulation of yellow cards, but Brozovic and Milan Skriniar need to be wary, as a booking would rule them out of the Derby.
It doesn’t look as if Mauro Icardi is returning to training any time soon, although the peace talks are continuing behind the scenes.
SPAL come into this match in 16th place looking for any points there are up for grabs. With 24 points separating the two sides, the Biancazzurri will likely be scrapping to the very end for their top flight status.
With no wins in their last five matches, the side from Ferrara are in desperate need of some confidence. They showed heart in defeat to Sampdoria and can take hope from Inter’s loss to fellow relegation battlers Cagliari last week.
Defender Thiago Cionek is suspended, while star man Manuel Lazzari continues treatment for a hamstring injury. Vasco Regini and Francesco Vicari are fighting to replace Cionek at centre-back. SPAL have earned more victories on their travels than at the Stadio Mazza, including their last two wins, so could fancy an upset at San Siro.
SPAL have not beaten Inter in Serie A since February 1962, managing just three draws from 13 attempts.
Frosinone vs Torino
Stadio Benito Stirpe, Frosinone
Sunday, 10-03-2019 @05:00pm
*Details to follow shortly
Sassuolo vs Napoli
MAPEI Stadium, Reggio nell’Emilia
Sunday, 10-03-2019 @8:00pm
*Details to follow shortly
Fiorentina vs Lazio
Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
Sunday, 10-03-2019 @10:30pm
*Details to follow shortly
Roma vs Empoli
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Monday, 11-03-2018 @10:30pm
Eusebio Di Francesco was fired by Roma after Champions League elimination and Claudio Ranieri will make his ‘debut’ against relegation battlers Empoli.
It has been a very underwhelming season, the midweek exit to Porto in extra time proved the final straw for the tactician, who was sacked on Thursday evening. Ranieri is flying in on Friday to take over as caretaker manager until the end of the season, a return to the club he has always supported.
The European exit was just one half of a week to forget for Roma, having also been convincingly beaten 3-0 in the Derby della Capitale by city rivals Lazio thanks to goals from Felipe Caicedo, Ciro Immobile and Danilo Cataldi. Aleksandar Kolarov also saw red in this fiery fixture against his former employers and is therefore suspended this week, along with Edin Dzeko and Federico Fazio.
Empoli sit one place above the relegation zone and come into this fixture following a six-goal thriller with Parma, in a game which saw them come back from behind on three separate occasions to claim a point courtesy of goals from Cristian Dell’Orco, Francesco Caputo from the spot and a Bruno Alves own goal in stoppage time, which incidentally cancelled out a goal he scored earlier that put Parma into a 3-2 lead.
Roma come into this game with a flurry of key players unavailable. Dzeko, Fazio and Kolarov are all out suspended, while Daniele De Rossi limped off against Porto, Cengiz Under and Javier Pastore are side-lined due to injury.
Roma should revert back to the 4-2-3-1 with Robin Olsen between the sticks, while Kostas Manolas will be partnered by one of Juan Jesus or Ivan Marcano in central defence. Davide Santon will fill Kolarov’s void at left-back with Alessandro Florenzi starting on the right. Young sensation Nicolò Zaniolo will probably be partnered by Steven Nzonzi and Bryan Cristante in midfield. Patrik Schick is looking for his first league goal of this calendar year and will get an opportunity to lead the line.
Its unlikely Giuseppe Iachini will make many changes to his accustomed 3-5-2 formation, with on loan Fiorentina goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski keeping his place in the team ahead of Ivan Provedel. Veteran Matias Silvestre forms a three-man defence with Frederic Veseli and Dell’Orco. Giovanni Di Lorenzo and club captain Manuel Pasqual should flank a three-man midfield of Ismael Bennacer, Rade Krunic and Afriyie Acquah, with former Roma man Salih Ucan available as a substitute. Top scorer Caputo will continue to be partnered by Diego Farias, so January loan signing Dmitri Oberlin will again have to settle for a place on the bench.
The 1-1 draw shared between the sides during the 2014-15 campaign was the only time Empoli managed to gain a point in the league away at Roma since the turn of the millennium, with Roma winning the other seven encounters.
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