Juventus vs SPAL
Allianz Stadium, Torino
Saturday, 28-09-2019 @4pm
Juventus continue to get results without being entirely convincing and have a shortage of full-backs as they host struggling SPAL.
The Champions had to come from behind for the second game in a row after they found themselves a goal down inside the first five minutes of their match away to Brescia. Alfredo Donnarumma’s opener was cancelled out by an own goal and a Miralem Pjanic volley in the second half.
The Bianconeri are currently sitting in second place, two points behind Inter on 15, and have been unconvincing in their opening five league games this season.
New Coach Maurizio Sarri is under pressure to get his side playing the attractive style he was brought in to provide. So far, the Old Lady are still grinding out results a la Max Allegri, the only difference is that their defence is now leaking like a sieve.
Sarri has an injury crisis on his hands with Giorgio Chiellini and Douglas Costa joined on the treatment table by full-backs Mattia De Sciglio and Danilo, while Alex Sandro is on compassionate leave back in Brazil. Mattia Perin and Marko Pjaca are also long-term injury absentees.
If Alex Sandro doesn’t make it back in time, it’s possible Blaise Matuidi will be used as a left-back, with Juan Cuadrado on the right, in the most makeshift of defences. Leonardo Bonucci also needs rest and Merih Demiral looked nervous in his last start.
The good news for Sarri is that Cristiano Ronaldo is back from a slight injury concern and could partner Paulo Dybala.
The visitors on the other hand have had a poor start to their league campaign, winning just once in their opening five matches, which was a 2-1 result at home against Lazio. In their last fixture they were soundly beaten by newly promoted Lecce 3-1 at home, making it two losses on the bounce after they had previously lost 3-0 away to Sassuolo.
The Spallini will be desperate for points here and have a good record at home against the champions since winning promotion, winning last season 2-1 at the Stadio Paolo Mazza and holding on for a goalless draw the year before.
Coach Leonardo Semplici will need to get his team up for this one as there is the possibility of an upset. The Bianconeri will have to reshuffle the deck in terms of personnel at the back and the team from Ferrara could catch them on a bad day.
Expect this game to possibly be a similar one to Juve’s previous two league games, a lacklustre beginning where they could potentially fall behind again before their superior quality in the attacking areas turns the game around.
Juve have failed to win either of their last two games played just before a Champions League tie, picking up a draw and a 2-1 defeat to SPAL in April.
Sampdoria vs Inter Milan
Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa
Saturday, 28-09-2019 @7pm
It’s a top to tail encounter in Serie A, as Sampdoria are rock bottom after four defeats out of five, while Inter have a perfect record.
The only time the Blucerchiati picked up points was a 1-0 win over Torino, although they did threaten a comeback at Fiorentina even after going down to 10 men. Jeison Murillo was sent off for two bookable offences and is therefore suspended against his former club.
The expectations heading into this clash could not be more different. Antonio Conte’s Nerazzurri have won all five games, scoring 10 goals and conceding only one. The performance to grind out a 1-0 win over Lazio midweek was not entirely convincing, but Samir Handanovic is the captain precisely because he’s capable of match-winning saves.
Given the predicament that he is under, it’s anyone’s guess what tactic Eusebio Di Francesco will employ this weekend. He really can’t afford to lose this match, so fully expect him to send his team out to play a conservative style, which is not really in keeping with his philosophy, but the current situation dictates he has little choice.
Last season’s Capocannoniere Fabio Quagliarella was not fit to start the Fiorentina match on Wednesday and is by no means guaranteed to play against Inter. Gonzalo Maroni is still out with a sprained ankle, joined by defender Alex Ferrari.
There is the risk Inter could be distracted by the upcoming Champions League trip to Barcelona, so with that in mind, Romelu Lukaku might finally be rested and Alexis Sanchez given his first start alongside Lautaro Martinez.
Only once in their history have Inter won the opening six rounds of the Serie A season, in 1966-67, but they finished that term in second place.
Sassuolo vs Atalanta
MAPEI Stadium, Reggio nell’Emilia
Saturday, 28-09-2019 @9:45pm
Atalanta got back on track with a victory away to Roma, but visit a Sassuolo side with a 100 per cent home record this season.
The Orobici had stuttered somewhat after the 4-0 Champions League defeat to Dinamo Zagreb, but fought back from 2-0 down to hold Fiorentina in stoppages and were back to their old selves in a 2-0 triumph at the Stadio Olimpico midweek.
Gian Piero Gasperini is learning to use the vast resources at his disposal this season, as Josip Ilicic and Papu Gomez came off the bench against Fiorentina to turn things around, then Duvan Zapata was rested to be the match-breaker substitute with Roma. Even with Luis Muriel still out after a bout of tonsillitis, there are so many attacking options to choose from.
There was also a definite boost with Simon Kjaer’s debut in defence, providing the kind of solidity Atalanta have not shown yet this season. He may well be rested in favour of Berat Djimsiti ahead of their Champions League showdown with Shakhtar Donetsk.
Sassuolo are a very different team at the Mapei Stadium compared to elsewhere, winning both home games with seven goals scored and one conceded, whereas on their travels it’s zero points from three attempts.
Rogerio is out with a knee injury, but Jeremy Toljan and Muldur seem to have become the regular picks in defence. Alex Ferrari is available again after a knock, though so much about Sassuolo seems to depend on Domenico Berardi’s form that day. He is forming a good trio with Gregoire Defrel and Francesco Caputo.
Sassuolo might find the home advantage not so clear on Saturday, as Atalanta played at the Mapei Stadium many times, using it as their home arena during the Europa League campaigns over the last two seasons. They have been at Parma’s Stadio Tardini this term, while the new-look Gewiss Stadium undergoes reconstruction, and the Champions League base will be San Siro in Milan.
Atalanta are unbeaten against Sassuolo since a 2-0 home loss in April 2014, followed by seven wins and four draws in all competition, including four victories on the bounce. Their only defeat at the Mapei Stadium was 2-0 back in November 2013.
Napoli vs Brescia
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Sunday, 29-09-2019 @1:30pm
Napoli host Mario Balotelli’s Brescia on Sunday lunchtime as they look to bounce back from a shock defeat at home to Cagliari in midweek.
The Partenopei already find themselves six points behind leaders Inter, so anything other than a win here would be disastrous.
Napoli were defeated by Lucas Castro’s late winner on Wednesday, with a sequence of events seeing centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly sent off for dissent in the aftermath. It was a smash and grab victory from Cagliari, who scored with their only shot on target, whilst only having 32% possession.
Napoli’s domination was shown by their 30 shots and an xG of 2.23, meaning they shouldn’t be too downbeat heading into Sunday’s game despite drawing a blank, as they are still creating enough chances.
The suspended Koulibaly is the only absentee for Napoli, who otherwise have a clean bill of health. With a trip to Genk to factor in for Ancelotti’s men on Wednesday, Ancelotti is expected to rotate his side, keeping them fresh in a busy period for Italian teams.
Brescia come into the game with two wins and three losses, representing a steady start to the season for Brescia following their promotion from Serie B. They put in a spirited performance in a 2-1 defeat against a Juventus side missing Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday, which will give them confidence heading into this weekend.
Striker Alfredo Donnarumma also comes into the game in great form, having scored four in five Serie A games this season. Young midfielder Sandro Tonali has also impressed in his debut top flight campaign, and will key to any chance Brescia have of getting a result against Napoli on Sunday. Mario Balotelli made his long awaited debut on Tuesday, and is expected lead the line once again.
Brescia are still without long-term absentees Ernesto Torregrossa and Emanuele Ndoj, but will have the same squad to pick from that pushed Juventus on Tuesday.
Brescia visited Napoli only four times in Serie A since 2000, picking up three draws and a defeat.
Lazio vs Genoa
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Sunday, 29-09-2019 @4pm
Coming off disappointing results in midweek, Lazio and Genoa will be both be looking to bounce back at the Olimpico this Sunday.
Ciro Immobile is expected to re-enter the Lazio starting XI after a row with Coach Simone Inzaghi that reduced him to a substitute against Inter. He will be key to getting Lazio back in the goal-scoring mood after not finding the net against Inter due to a superb performance by Samir Handanovic.
Lazio will also be looking for just their third win of the season, after an opening weekend victory at Sampdoria and last weekend’s 2-0 with Parma.
Genoa have also yet to get going. Averaging only a single point per game so far, it looks like they are continuing their form from the latter half of last season into the new campaign. New signing Lasse Schone from Ajax has had an impact on the midfield, but the club as a whole still hasn’t replaced Krzysztof Piatek’s presence in attack, although Christian Kouame has three goals so far this year.
This match will likely be decided in the attack, as Immobile will be looking to bounce back while Genoa will have to rely on their only strong spot this season as of now.
This fixture hasn’t ended in a draw since the 1-1 result of November 2008, with five Serie A wins for each side.
Lecce vs Roma
Stadio Comunale Via del Mare, Lecce
Sunday, 29-09-2019 @4pm
Having picked up two wins from their last three games, Lecce will be hoping to take another scalp, as Roma are fresh from their first defeat.
The last time the Lupi traveled to face their Southern counterparts, they were handed a surprise 4-2 drubbing, but that was back in 2012. Roma come into this game having suffered a setback as they were beaten 2-0 by Atalanta midweek, which ended their unbeaten record under Coach Paulo Fonseca.
Lecce, for their part, rebounded well from a heavy 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Napoli to beat SPAL 3-1. It’s the first top flight campaign in seven years and whilst clearly they don’t expect to be able to match wits with the bigger sides, having already lost heavily to Inter as well, they appear to be slowly finding their footing.
Impressively, both their victories (against Torino and SPAL) came away from home. Facing Roma will certainly be no easy feat, especially considering that the visitors are undefeated in their last six away league fixtures.
The hosts will want to end that run and stage a repeat of what happened seven years ago, as they aim to pick up what would be their first home victory this season. Can they get the job done and strike first in the battle of the Giallorossi this weekend?
Lecce have only beaten Roma once at their home ground in Serie A (D6 L8), however that victory came in their most recent meeting – a 4-2 result back in April 2012.
Udinese vs Bologna
Dacia Arena, Udine
Sunday, 29-09-2019 @4pm
Udinese boss Igor Tudor is already under pressure after some disappointing performances and hosts a Bologna side eager to get back on track.
The Rossoblu players have shown great character on the field this season, partly motivated by Sinisa Mihajlovic’s fight against leukaemia, but also due to a relatively easy fixture list up until now. The club and players have a close bond with Mihajlovic, the 50-year-old having engineered a fabulous turnaround from relegation fighters to a decent 10th place finish last season.
They really should’ve beaten Genoa in the midweek round, but Nicola Sansone tried a Panenka style penalty and hit the bar.
Udinese are currently in a disappointing 18th place, having managed only one win and a draw from the first five games. What’s more concerning for the Friulani are the lack of goals up front, the team scoring only twice.
Some of Udinese’s problems lie in the absence of talisman Rodrigo De Paul, the Argentine serving a three-match ban for slapping Inter player Antonio Candreva in their 1-0 loss at the hands of the Nerazzurri.
Regardless of that, Tudor is already under heavy pressure and will have to deliver results soon or risk being sacked by the demanding Pozzo family. Stefano Okaka might finally be ready for his first start since the deadline day transfer from Watford.
Mitchell Dijks is still on the Bologna treatment table, but Danilo returns after an absence of several weeks, sending Mattia Bani to the bench. Ibrahima Mbaye and Ladislav Krejci are the two options for left-back. Federico Santander is pushing Rodrigo Palacio for a spot as the centre-forward.
Bologna’s record at the Dacia Arena won’t go unnoticed among the Friulani fans, as they’ve lost their last three Serie A visits in a row.
Udinese have failed to find the net in their last three Serie A games and four would be their longest dry spell since January 1986.
Cagliari vs Hellas Verona
Sardegna Arena, Cagliari
Sunday, 21-09-2019 @7pm
Cagliari are on stunning form with three straight wins, including success away to Napoli, and could make it four with Verona.
After a troubling start to the season that left some questioning their summer business, three successive victories against Parma, Genoa and Napoli has ensured an upswing in fortunes of Cagliari.
It was a hard-earned victory in Naples for Rolando Maran’s side, who have now scored seven and conceded two in their last three outings. Incredibly, they are joint fourth in the table with Napoli and Torino on nine points.
Midweek was a continuation of Hellas Verona’s struggles in front of goal, as they played a goalless draw against Udinese, despite dominating possession at home. Notwithstanding their impressive performances. Coach Ivan Juric’s lads look like favourites for relegation with one win in five matches.
One of the weaknesses of Verona is their inability to break the offside trap set by opponents. The newly-promoted side have fallen victim 13 occasions, the second in the league.
Cagliari are still without Daniele Ragatzu, Radja Nainggolan, Paolo Faragò, Alessio Cragno and Leonardo Pavoletti due to injuries. Luca Cigarini is not 100 per cent fit yet, so the all-Uruguayan pairing of Nahitan Nandez and Christian Oliva should be retained.
Verona miss Salvatore Bocchetti, Emmanuel Badu, Daniel Bessa and Simone Di Carmine, so Mariusz Stepinski is likely to lead the attack. Marash Kumbulla returns from his one-match ban in defence.
Verona have lost nine of their 14 Serie A trips to Cagliari, drawing two and winning only three, the most recent success being 2-1 in March 2015.
AC Milan vs Fiorentina
Stadio Guiseppe Meazza, Milan
Sunday, 29-09-2019 @9:45pm
Milan risk a full-blown crisis when they host Fiorentina this weekend, with the visitors buoyant after finally earning their first win of the season.
The Viola head to the Giuseppe Meazza after ending their 18-round wait for a win with a 2-1 victory over Sampdoria on Wednesday. They were good value for it and will fancy making it two wins in a week here against a Milan side who are just not clicking at this moment in time.
The Rossoneri lost their second game in five days on Thursday night, when they surrendered a 1-0 lead to slip to defeat in Turin, thanks to an Andrea Belotti quick-fire double. Milan had their chances in the game, mainly Krzysztof Piatek, whom had a couple of guilt-edged opportunities to at the very least salvage a point for Marco Giampaolo’s men.
Those missed chances have typified Milan so far this season. They have managed just the one goal from open play, and just three in general, with Piatek scoring two penalties. The strikers seem to be off the pace in front of goal and that needs to change quickly before they fall too far away from the leading pack.
As for Fiorentina, their 2-1 win over Samp will give them much needed confidence and La Viola did record a 1-0 win the last time they made the trip North to Milano. However, they have not tasted victory as the San Siro much in the last 10 years, in fact, the win they recorded away from home last season was the only success there since 2012.
Milan are leaking goals as well as failing to score them and Fiorentina should be gunning for all three points here, as they look to really kick-start their season after a slow start. The likes of Federico Chiesa and Franck Ribery will look to cause problems for the two centre-halves, whilst Dalbert and Pol Lirola attack down the flanks.
Giampaolo’s men did cause issues for Torino. Suso and Rafael Leao both looked dangerous at times, but they need help from the likes of Frank Kessie in midfield to draw the defenders inside.
Both teams will fancy their chances here. Milan certainly look threatening and if Piatek can regain his goal-scoring form from open play, then the Fiorentina defence will have its hands full. And on the flip-side, La Viola will also see plenty of the ball in the final third and they must take their chances.
Fiorentina have won just one of their last seven meetings with Milan, home and away, as aside from the 1-0 result at San Siro in December 2018, they registered two draws and three defeats.
Parma vs Torino
Stadio Ennio Tardini
Monday, 30-09-2019 @9:45pm
Parma and Torino face off after both snapped a two-game winless run with victories in their respective midweek contests.
The Ducali won an eventful match with Sassuolo on Wednesday night. Parma had two goals disallowed by VAR, as well as a saved penalty, before forcing an own goal from the Neroverdi in stoppage time. The success of Roberto D’Aversa’s men at the Stadio Ennio Tardini serves as a massive boost heading into their match with Torino.
I Crociati still remain without Alberto Grassi and Juraj Kucka in the midfield, though. Grassi remains sidelined with a knee injury (something that has become common place throughout his career so far), while Kucka has returned to training after sustaining a hamstring injury. D’Aversa switched things up in the midfield in lieu of Grassi and Kucka’s absence, and it resulted in a much-needed three points as they get set to welcome Walter Mazzarri’s side to the Tardini.
Torino make the trip east to Parma after a earning a huge victory over Milan at home. Krzysztof Piatek gave the visitors the lead with a penalty just 20 minutes after kick-off. However, Toro blitzed Marco Giampaolo’s side with two Andrea Belotti goals in five minutes.
The only significant injury within Mazzarri’s ranks remains Serbian midfielder Sasa Lukic, who is currently out with a muscle injury. Simone Verdi’s emerging role as the trequartista, in addition to an already solid midfield featuring Daniele Baselli and Tomas Rincon, suggests that Lukic’s absence won’t have a significant effect on the Granata.
Neither team has found their defensive groove, with both clubs conceding seven goals so far this season. Despite that, Torino have shown they’re more likely to finish when given the opportunity. Belotti and co. have hit the back of the net eight times so far this season, while Parma only scored five goals.
The visitors look more likely to capitalize on opportunities when they arise, and with a red-hot Belotti, as well as the excitement of a comeback win against Milan, Mazzarri’s men stand a good chance of silencing the home crowd at the Tardini.
Last season’s 0-0 result was the first time this Serie A fixture ended in a draw, after nine home wins and two for Toro.