Milan derby headlines Serie A Match-Day 28

Cagliari vs Fiorentina

Sardegna Arena, Cagliari

Friday, 15-03-2019 @10:30pm

Fiorentina’s Europa League hopes have been dampened lately and they visit a Cagliari side not safe from relegation yet.

Federico Chiesa sustained an abdominal strain in the 1-1 draw with Lazio last week and it is uncertain as to whether he will make the trip to Sardinia. In the case the winger is still injured, Giovanni Simeone will be the prime candidate to replace him on Friday night, moving Luis Muriel to a wider role.

Jordan Veretout is suspended in midfield, with Marko Pjaca out for the season, so Christian Norgaard could step in.

The Viola currently lie in 10th place with an outside chance of mounting a late charge for a Europa League place, however with only two wins in the league since the turn of the year, they will need to change gear fast. The Tuscans have shown consistent form in their last 10 away games in the league, losing only one, although this being the showdown with Atalanta.

The biggest problem for Stefano Pioli’s men has been their draw addiction, sharing the spoils in six of the last eight rounds.

Rolando Maran has to make some changes after a 2-0 defeat to Bologna last week, as Filip Bradaric is suspended, while Lucas Castro, Ragnar Klavan and Alberto Cerri are still out of action. Luca Cigarini and Paolo Faragò return to the starting XI after their bans.

Cagliari will be hoping to build on their recent home form, having won their last two matches at the Sardegna Arena, including a 2-1 victory over Inter. They have lost eight out of their last 12 league games and the loss at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara leaves them in 14th place, but only six points away from the relegation zone.

Fiorentina have won their last three away games at Cagliari in all competitions including a 5-3 thriller in October 2016.

Sassuolo vs Sampdoria

MAPEI Stadium, Reggio nell’Emillia

Saturday, 16-03-2019 @5pm

Sampdoria’s Europa League dreams are slipping away, even though Fabio Quagliarella is the current Capocannoniere, but Sassuolo are settling for mid-table comfort.

The Blucerchiati lost the head-to-head with Atalanta on home turf last week and dropped five points off sixth place. That was a game they really had to win and a setback after two straight victories against relegation strugglers Cagliari and SPAL. Marco Giampaolo’s men are still doing better than Fiorentina, so a late run of positive results isn’t out of the question.

Sassuolo were in the top six early this season with big ambitions, but Kevin-Prince Boateng’s January move to Barcelona put paid to that idea. They’ve been on a dismal streak of one win in their last 11, all the way back in January against Cagliari, which was also their last clean sheet.

Mehdi Bourabia is suspended, with Marlon and Enrico Brignola injured, but Jeremie Boga’s impressive performances have allowed him to set his stall out in the trident attack with Filip Djuricic and Domenico Berardi, sending Khouma Babacar to the bench. Stefano Sensi has shaken off a knock and could return to the starting XI.

Sampdoria have Gaston Ramirez back just in time, because now Riccardo Saponara has replaced him on the treatment table, joining long-term absentees Gianluca Caprari and Edgar Barreto. Jakub Jankto is another option for the trequartista role, but don’t expect to see Gregoire Defrel after his car crash this week, with reports he was over the alcohol limit.

Samp have only ever beaten Sassuolo twice in 11 Serie A meetings, 2-1 at the Mapei Stadium in March 2014 and 3-2 at Marassi in November 2016, along with four draws and five defeats.

SPAL vs Roma

Stadio Paolo Mazza, Ferrera

Saturday, 16-03-2019 @8pm

Claudio Ranieri started his second Roma career with a victory, but has more of the squad at his disposal against SPAL.

The home side are currently occupying 16th place, two points above the relegation zone, but have gone without a win since late January.

Adding to SPAL’s misfortune, they will be without suspended Mattia Valoti, but Thiago Cionek returns from his ban. More importantly, Italy international winger Manuel Lazzari should make his comeback after almost a month on the treatment table.

As for Roma, it was a winning start for Ranieri last time out against Empoli and the 67-year-old will be hoping to keep the momentum going.

Prior to Ranieri’s arrival, Roma had won three out of their previous five games, but this wasn’t enough for Eusebio Di Francesco to keep his job after defeats to Lazio and Porto.

Ranieri still has a long injury list going into this one, with Kostas Manolas, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Javier Pastore and Daniele De Rossi all sidelined. However, Edin Dzeko, Federico Fazio and Aleksandar Kolarov are all back from bans. They are replaced on the naughty step by Alessandro Florenzi, who was sent off on his birthday against Empoli for two bookable offences.

Nicolò Zaniolo requires a fitness test after a recurring calf twinge forced him off last week, but Ranieri has stated he’ll use Dzeko and Patrik Schick together, something Eusebio Di Francesco generally avoided.

Despite the injuries, Roma have scored at least twice in eight of their last 10 matches and SPAL have failed to win any of their last 11 home games, so the Giallorossi will be confident. Having said that, SPAL caused a huge shock with their 2-0 victory at the Olimpico back in October.

These are precious points for both sides, as Roma are still within reach of the Champions League spots, especially with Milan and Inter going head-to-head on Sunday, while SPAL could find themselves in the relegation zone soon enough.

Only once before have SPAL beaten Roma home and away in a single Serie A season, back in 1965-66.

Torino vs Bologna

Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, Turin

Saturday, 16-03-2019 @10:30pm

Torino are in the Europa League places, but former boss Sinisa Mihajlovic has Bologna back on their feet battling relegation.

The Granata are unbeaten going back to mid-January, going down to Roma in a 3-2 thriller. Since that loss, Toro have beaten Inter, Atalanta, and drawn away at Napoli, all while climbing into sixth place and occupying a Europa League spot.

Bologna are still in the bottom three, but the victory over Cagliari reduced the gap to just one point. Mihajlovic, who was fired by Torino last season, has transformed their fortunes and brought confidence to the team.

Even if the results haven’t always gone their way, the Rossoblu put up a real fight against Roma and Juventus, unlucky to emerge empty-handed, and of course beat Inter at San Siro on February 3.

Federico Santander is out for three weeks after dislocating his shoulder, so it’s a big choice on who gets the centre-forward role. Options are Rodrigo Palacio, Mattia Destro or Simone Edera, the latter on loan from Torino.

There is a full Granata squad to choose from, so Simone Zaza and Iago Falque fight for the supporting role behind Andrea Belotti. Il Gallo has rediscovered his scoring touch in recent weeks with three goals in his last two games, having fired blanks for the previous six.

Torino have won their last five Serie A home fixtures with clean sheets, so a sixth would be their best domestic run since November 1977.

Genoa vs Juventus

Stadio Comunale Luigi de Ferraris

Sunday, 17-03-2019 @2:30pm

Against all odds, Juventus pulled off a perfect comeback against Atletico Madrid, but Genoa have already taken points off them this season.

On Tuesday night, a 3-0 victory with Cristiano Ronaldo knocking the Spanish giants out of the Champions League was a night of intense emotions for all fans of Italian football. It was a reminder of just what Max Allegri’s men are capable of when their backs are against the wall, but could also leave the team with something of a hangover on Sunday lunchtime.

Since the arrival of Cesare Prandelli, Genoa pulled away from the relegation fight with a string of positive results. They sit in 13th place, two points off Sassuolo and comfortably mid-table.

The Grifone were on a six-game unbeaten run before losing to Parma last week. The squad will try to prove themselves by playing hard and moving one step closer to safety. With Prandelli at the helm, they can start planning carefully for next year. Oscar Hiljemark is out for the season, as is Andrea Favilli for this game, bit goalkeeper Ionut Andrei Radu should return from injury.

La Vecchia Signora are running away with the Scudetto this year with an 18-point lead on Napoli. Unbeaten and with no serious contender for the title, it will be hard to motivate the black & white troops for the rest of the way in Serie A, but after Tuesday night’s heroics the team can focus on winning the Champions League, a title that has become an obsession in recent years.

Allegri has proven himself yet again to be an elite manager, the only title missing on his resume is the trophy with the big ears.

Expect a few changes in the line-up from the team that won against Atletico Madrid. Douglas Costa could be on the bench after the latest injury setback, but Sami Khedira, Juan Cuadrado, Mattia De Sciglio and Andrea Barzagli are all out. Mario Mandzukic should be rested after limping off during the Atleti match, giving teenager Moise Kean another chance to shine following his brace against Udinese.

Genoa are one of the few Serie A sides to have taken points off Juventus this season, drawing 1-1 in Turin back in October, and hope to take advantage of complacency at Marassi. If they do, it’ll be the first full season they’ve gone unbeaten against Juve since 2011-12.

The main issue at the moment for Genoa is to do with goals, as they have failed to find the net in their last three matches.

Genoa have failed to keep a clean sheet against Juventus in their last nine competitive meetings, dating back to October 2014, conceding 19 goals.

Atalanta vs Chievo

Stadio Atleti Azzuri d’Italia, Bergamo

Sunday, 17-03-2019 @05:00pm

Atalanta continue their remarkable march on a Europa League spot, but relegation seems inevitable for Chievo.

The Orobici had a wobble with defeats to Milan and Torino, but bounced back to their scoring best with an impressive victory over Fiorentina and a hard-earned win away to Sampdoria. They are seventh in the league table, just six points behind Champions league places.

This Sunday at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, the Bergamo outfit will hope to continue their winning streak as they host a miserable Chievo Verona side who are already nailed on for relegation. Atalanta have been imperious at home this season, losing just one of their last five home games, while beating Inter and Lazio.

Chievo are practically already in Serie B and while the arrival of third Coach of the campaign Domenico Di Carlo did improve performances, the results remain dismal. They’ve shipped 11 goals in their last five away matches, that’s an average of two per game, and are without a victory on their travels all season.

Since three points for a win were introduced, the only side other than Chievo to reach Serie A Week 27 with one or fewer victories was Ancona, who had zero in 2003-04.

Sergio Pellissier, Nenad Tomovic and Ezequiel Schelotto are all long-term absentees, but Mariusz Stepinski and Filip Djordjevic battle for the centre-forward spot, while Nicola Rigoni returns from suspension.

Atalanta miss Rafael Toloi and Coach Gian Piero Gasperini, who sits out a touchline ban following his dismissal and shove on a Sampdoria director in the tunnel.

Chievo have lost five of their last six meetings with Atalanta, drawing in September 2017. Their most recent victory in Bergamo was 1-0 in February 2010.

Empoli vs Frosinone

Stadio Carlo Castellani, Empoli

Sunday, 17-03-2019 @05:00pm

Empoli make their ‘debut’ under returning Coach Aurelio Andreazzoli in this relegation scrap with Frosinone.

The Tuscans fired Coach Beppe Iachini this week and brought back Andreazzoli, the man who had got them promoted from Serie B last season and was dismissed in early November.

Both sides have only gained four points out of their last possible 15, leaving Empoli one point off the drop zone and Frosinone in penultimate place.

Empoli are coming off of a 2-1 loss at Roma, in which Rade Krunic had a late equaliser disallowed by VAR for handball. A return to the Castellani may be beneficial for the Tuscan club, as they scored three goals in both of their last two home games.

Frosinone, on the hand, will be looking for their first win in over month. Despite taking the lead against Torino through Luca Paganini in their previous game, a second half brace from Andrea Belotti condemned the Canarini to their 16thleague defeat of the season.

Expect Empoli to start on the front foot as their goals this season have been coming mostly at their home ground. Frosinone will try to slow down their hosts as much as they can with a packed midfield, while also hoping to catch them on the counter-attack.

Frosinone have lost only two of their last six Serie A away fixtures, winning two, and kept three clean sheets.  

Lazio vs Parma

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Sunday, 17-03-2019 @5:00pm

Lazio must do without suspended Ciro Immobile as they host a giant-killing Parma who tend to thrive on their travels.

The Biancocelesti are currently eighth Serie A, having drifted two points behind Torino and five from Roma, but have a game in hand against Udinese that could significantly change that scenario.

Immobile scored with a wonderfully controlled blast from outside the box last week at the Artemio Franchi. Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano kept him from what seemed a sure goal earlier in the game, and a quick reaction flick from Luis Muriel eventually canceled out the Naples-born striker’s effort for a 1-1 draw.

Immobile will be sorely missed against Parma, as he has picked up one yellow card too many. Having 13 goals to his name and sitting fifth in the top-scorer list, he is by far the most lethal finisher in the Lazio squad. Without Immobile, the Rome outfit will have to rely on Felipe Caicedo, who has mustered a mere four goals this season.

Maybe the morale boost, given by the derby victory two rounds ago, will stretch into this match and carry Lazio on to victory. Jordan Lukaku is out for the season with a knee injury, while Wallace and Valon Berisha are both recovering from muscular problems.

Parma are hovering in mid-table security and seem to be enjoying life back in Serie A. After a string of defeats and a draw against Empoli, Parma notched a home win against Genoa last weekend that should provide a dose of confidence.

The Ducali famously struggle in this fixture, losing their last five Serie A trips to Lazio since a 2-1 victory in September 2009. However, they have more points on their travels this season than at the Tardini thanks to their counter-attacking style.

Parma are without injured Alessandro Bastoni and Alberto Grassi, while Matteo Scozzarella is suspended, having picked up five yellow cards. If Parma forwards Gervinho and Roberto Inglese lace their boots right, they could prove dangerous to Thomas Strakosha in the Lazio goal. Inglese is certainly due a breakthrough, as he is on a six-round dry run.

Lazio have lost only one of their last 12 Serie A meetings with Parma, home and away, 3-1 in March 2012, along with eight wins and three draws.

Napoli vs Udinese

Stadio San Paolo, Naples

Sunday, 17-03-2019 @8pm

Napoli reached the Europa League quarter-finals, but must remember second place in Serie A isn’t locked down yet as they host unpredictable Udinese.

The Partenopei will be looking to consolidate their position in the table, with in-form Milan now only six points behind them and a battle brewing for the top four.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men were beaten 3-1 by RB Salzburg in Austria on Thursday evening, but still swept through to the Europa League quarter-finals thanks to the 3-0 first leg result and that early Arkadiusz Milik away goal. It has become clear their objective is now to win the trophy, seeing as Juventus are 18 points clear at the top of the Serie A table, but they can’t take their eyes off the domestic challenges yet.

Napoli talisman Lorenzo Insigne pulled out in the warm-up against Salzburg, remaining a doubt for Saturday’s match. In-form Milik will lead the attack, most likely with Dries Mertens or even exciting Adam Ounas, while Raul Albiol is the only player certain to miss out due to a serious knee injury. At least Kalidou Koulibaly and Nikola Maksimovic were able to rest on Thursday, as they were suspended.

Udinese will be without banned Nicholas Opoku, while Bram Nuytinck, Samir, Valon Behrami, Emmanuel Badu, Antonin Barak and Marco D’Alessandro are not expected to make the trip down south. Rolando Mandragora returns from suspension to bolster the midfield, but Jens Stryger-Larsen might have to make do as a centre-back.

The Friulani step into this game as underdogs, losing all of their last six encounters with Napoli and sitting only four points above the relegation zone. Before the 4-1 loss to Juventus, they had won two on the bounce, albeit against relegation battlers Chievo and Bologna.

With a decimated squad and against a motivated Napoli determined to keep hold of second place, expect a siege against Udinese at the Stadio San Paolo.

Udinese haven’t won at the San Paolo in Serie A since April 2011, managing one draw and six defeats.

AC Milan vs Inter Milan

Stadio Guiseppe Meazza, Milan

Sunday, 17-03-2018 @10:30pm

Not only is this the Derby della Madonnina, it is also a play-off for third place with Milan one point in front of troubled neighbours Inter.

This derby is heating up to be one of the biggest of recent memory, as it is a head-to-head for Champions League places, with Claudio Ranieri’s revitalised Roma ready to pounce right behind them.

They are astonishingly on a 10-game unbeaten run, with their last loss coming on December 23 to Fiorentina. The Rossoneri have won five in a row, and are in red-hot form at the moment. Last weekend, Krzysztof Piatek netted his 19th goal of the season so far. The Pole is just one goal behind Sampdoria’s Fabio Quagliarella and looks to be unstoppable at the moment.

Giacomo Bonaventura is the only absentee for Milan, as his campaign is over following knee surgery. Other than that, Gennaro Gattuso has a near-full squad to choose to get a one up on his rival. Lucas Biglia and Andrea Conti both made comebacks after several months out, while Mattia Caldara should also return for a spot on the bench.

Meanwhile, Inter are in even more need of three points. They have been inconsistent as of late, however a loss here could see fifth-placed Roma draw level on points with them at the conclusion of this match day.

On Thursday night, Inter slumped out of the Europa League with a 1-0 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, although Samir Handanovic heroics kept the scoreline down. It was a dire performance, albeit with the excuse that Luciano Spalletti had only 12 senior outfield players available.

At least Lautaro Martinez and Kwadwo Asamoah will be rested due to their Europa League bans, while Roberto Gagliardini, Dalbert and Joao Mario are cup-tied. Radja Nainggolan and Mauro Icardi are still out of action, but Joao Miranda could theoretically play with a protective mask after fracturing his nose.

Last weekend, Inter defeated SPAL 2-0 thanks to Matteo Politano and Roberto Gagliardini’s second half strikes. Following this weekend’s derby, Inter also face Atalanta, Roma and Juventus inside the month of April – three very difficult fixtures they must overcome should they be in with a shot for Champions League football next season.

Expect late drama, because seven of the last eight goals between these sides in Serie A came in the second half.

Inter are unbeaten in Serie A derbies since a 3-0 thrashing in January 2016, managing two wins and three draws.

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