Lazio vs Atalanta
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Saturday, 19-10-2019 @4pm
Atalanta already won at the Olimpico against Roma this season, but Duvan Zapata is injured as they visit Lazio in a face-off for Europe.
The Biancocelesti drew 2-2 away to Bologna just before the international break thanks to two Ciro Immobile goals that made it seven in total for the Neapolitan hitman. Veteran Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva was sent off after receiving two yellow cards and will be banned for this encounter.
The capital outfit won their last home game 4-0 against Genoa, making it a run of three games unbeaten in their own ground this season after they previously drew 1-1 with Roma and beat Parma 2-0.
Le Aquile will hope to continue that run in this one and Coach Simone Inzaghi will have a full complement of players to pick from, excluding former Liverpool man Leiva.
The visitors on the other hand, have won three league games on the bounce and are coming off the back of a 3-1 victory at home against Lecce before the break.
Atalanta have only lost one game in Serie A this season, 3-2 at home to Torino in September. Wins against SPAL and Genoa were preceded by victories over Roma and Sassuolo with a 2-2 draw with Fiorentina sandwiched in between those matches.
However, the Bergamaschi have lost both games in their debut campaign in the Champions League against Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Coach Gian Piero Gasperini will be without his top scorer Duvan Zapata, who was injured while away on international duty with Colombia, so fellow countryman Luis Muriel should step in.
Expect this game to be a fast-paced entertaining affair, as both these sides will go for the win. The hosts will look to get to ball to Immobile while getting their midfield runners into the box, while the Nerazzurri will need to change things up with the absence of Duvan Zapata. Papu Gomez and Josip Ilicic will be expected to provide the creative outlet for Muriel to feed off.
Atalanta have won their last two Serie A meetings with Lazio, but haven’t made it three in a row since 1990. However, the Aquile did win the Coppa Italia Final here 2-0 back in May.
Napoli vs Hellas Verona
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Saturday, 19-10-2019 @7pm
Napoli will look to return to winning ways as they host tricky customers Hellas Verona at the Stadio San Paolo.
Coming off of two consecutive goalless draws away at Genk and Torino, Napoli must bounce back in order to keep pace with Juventus and Inter at the top of the Serie A table.
While newcomer Hiving Lozano returned from international duty with a bruised foot, Arkadiusz Milik scored a stunner for Poland and complained that he wasn’t getting enough playing time at club level. He may well get his wish, starting with Dries Mertens while Lorenzo Insigne is rested for the Champions League.
There are injury problems at the back, where Mario Rui, Nikola Maksimovic and Elseid Hysaj are all out of action.
Verona have been performing above expectations since their return to the top flight of Italian football. They have achieved a respectable nine points after seven games, with their two losses coming to Milan and Juventus.
With Napoli hungry for goals, a strong performance may be required of Verona’s goalkeeper Marco Silvestri in order to give his side a chance of leaving with a point. Mariusz Stepinski, Valerio Verre and Eddie Salcedo are all battling for a starting spot upfront, not to mention Napoli-owned Gennaro Tutino.
Ivan Juric’s side may very well enter the San Paolo with every intent of parking the bus, but it would not be a surprise to see them frustrate a goal-starved Napoli for stretches of the match – and even spring a shock of their own, too.
It would indeed be a surprise, considering Verona have lost their last 10 Serie A visits to Naples. Hellas have scored in every away fixture this term and Napoli kept one clean sheet in their last nine league home games.
The last draw between these two sides came back in 2003 in Serie B. In the top flight alone, there have been 15 Napoli wins and three for Hellas since a stalemate in April 1998.
Juventus vs Bologna
Allianz Stadium, Torino
Saturday, 19-10-2019 @9:45pm
Serie A returns this weekend with new leaders Juventus hosting a Bologna side who are without a win in four.
After a near-perfect start to the season, save for a draw at Fiorentina, the Bianconeri come into this match beaming with confidence. Sitting in first place with six wins and one draw, it was their most recent victory over Antonio Conte’s Inter in which Maurizio Sarri’s side really proved their quality. Putting on a masterclass, outplaying the Nerazzurri for much of the game, to at the end leapfrog their rivals into first place.
Sarri continues to be without captain Giorgio Chiellini, Douglas Costa and Mattia De Sciglio, but Danilo and Aaron Ramsey are available again after muscular issues. Federico Bernardeschi and Gonzalo Higuain are again expected to start, leaving Paulo Dybala on the bench.
Bologna come into this match sitting in a mid-table position with nine points in seven rounds. Having started the season with the shock news of Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic’s leukemia, the side from Emilia Romagna pulled together and had a strong opening run, but have stuttered somewhat in recent weeks with only two draws from the last four games.
It is probably no coincidence that their best performances have been when Mihajlovic was on the touchline. Modern technology allows him to give team talks via Skype from the hospital, but there’s nothing like having the Coach on the touchline. Mihajlovic has now completed the second course of chemotherapy and will for a while be available to his squad.
The Serbian tactician is without injured Gary Medel (who is also suspended, but out for a month anyway), Takeshiro Tomiyasu and Mattia Destro. Blerim Dzemaili, Ibrahima Mbaye and Rodrigo Palacio are likely to replace them, while Roberto Soriano returns from suspension.
If Bologna falter again, it’ll be the first time since January that they’ve gone five Serie A rounds without a win.
Bologna have won only one of their 31 Serie A games against Juventus played in the 21st Century, 2-0 away in February 2011, along with eight draws and 22 defeats.
Sassuolo vs Inter Milan
MAPEI Stadium, Reggio nell’Emilia
Sunday, 20-19-2019 @1:30pm
Both Sassuolo and Inter are looking to bounce back from heavy defeats, but the Nerazzurri have a poor recent record against these opponents.
It will be an emotional occasion at the Mapei Stadium, as this is the first game since Sassuolo patron Giorgio Squinzi passed away. Their match with Brescia before the international break was postponed and so their most recent outing remains the 4-1 loss to Atalanta.
That was the fourth defeat in six for Roberto De Zerbi’s men and the pressure is growing on the Coach to deliver. Strikers Domenico Berardi and Francesco Caputo have both been in form, netting five and three respectively, but goals from other areas of the team are lacking, whilst they are proving to be leaky at the back, conceding 12 goals in six games this season.
Sassuolo will be without full-back Rogerio and midfielder Filip Djuricic, while Vlad Chiriches requires a fitness test. We could see Hamed Junior Traore taking a trequartista role behind the forwards, a readjustment from the 4-3-3 to 4-3-1-2.
Inter come into the game after their first defeat of the season at home to Juventus, where goals from Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain cancelled out Lautaro Martinez’s penalty. Stefano Sensi went off injured in the first half, and was evidently missed by Conte’s side. He’s especially eager to make it back for this game against his old club, but the odds are stacked against him.
Alexis Sanchez has been ruled out for three months after ankle surgery, while Danilo D’Ambrosio also returned from international duty with a serious injury, namely a fractured toe.
Inter are short on options, but some rotation is necessary, as they will face Borussia Dortmund in a crucial Champions League clash next week.
Inter are without a win in their last five meetings with Sassuolo, home and away, drawing once and losing four.
Cagliari vs SPAL
Sardegna Arena, Cagliari
Sunday, 20-10-2019 @4pm
Cagliari are targeting a fourth straight victory, as they host a SPAL team who haven’t picked up a point or even scored away from home this season.
The Sardinians have shown great determination and hunger on the pitch, sitting currently in seventh place, only two points away from a Champions League spot and above the likes of Milan and Torino. Few would’ve foreseen these performances when Rolando Maran’s boys achieved safety in the penultimate round last year. But the club was wise to stick with the 56-year-old, thus giving continuity to their project and is now reaping rewards.
Last season SPAL finished higher than Cagliari, but so far have only gained six points in their first seven matches. The main reason is an awful away record, failing to even find the net in their three games this season.
The Isolani are without a defeat for five straight matches, despite the on-going injury crisis. Losing hitman Leonardo Pavoletti until April was a huge upset, especially as it happened in their debut game against Brescia, with first-choice ‘keeper Alessio Cragno and Paolo Faragò also long-term absentees. Ragnar Klavan and Charalampos Lykogiannis are expected to be fit by next week.
Mohamed Fares, Marco D’Alessandro and Federico Di Francesco are all out of action for SPAL, while Gabriel Strefezza is suspended.
Although SPAL are famous for the many upsets and comebacks they’ve created last year, their current weakness while playing away and the overall complacency around the team make them clear underdogs against this stubborn and robust Cagliari.
With five defeats in the opening seven rounds, this is SPAL’s worst start to a Serie A season since 1967-68, the year that saw them relegated.
Sampdoria vs Roma
Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa
Sunday, 20-10-2019 @4pm
Struggling Sampdoria will hope to finally get their season up and running under new Coach Claudio Ranieri, as they host his beloved Roma.
It’s set to be a very special game for Ranieri for several reasons. For starters, Roma just so happens to be his hometown club, and the game will be taking place on the veteran tactician’s 68th birthday. The question is, will he be able to mark it with a win? The Blucerchiati have won just one game all season and sit bottom of the table, which is shocking considering that they are a club more used to finishing in the top 10.
However, this is their situation this season, and now they have reached out to the man whose nomadic managerial career has seen him manage 16 different clubs to date, with the biggest highlight being winning the Premier League with underdog side Leicester City during the 2015-2016 season.
Veteran striker Fabio Quagliarella, who had a very impressive run last season, is now fully showing his age this time around, netting just one goal so far, as Sampdoria’s anaemic attack has struggled to get up and running. Overall, the team have scored a measly four goals to date, whilst conceding a whopping 16, with their worst showing being a shocking 4-1 defeat to Sassuolo and a demoralising 2-0 defeat to newly promoted Hellas Verona just before the international hiatus.
So far, the only time the floundering Blucerchiati have managed a clean sheet was on September 22, when they ground out a gritty 1-0 victory over Torino – and that remains their sole Serie A success to date.
It’s reported Ranieri is trying to decide between a flat 4-4-2 and the return of Marco Giampaolo’s 4-3-1-2 formation, with Gaston Ramirez in the hole.
Meanwhile, Roma come into this game having had to settle for a frustrating draw with newly-promoted Lecce, but are just on the cusp of the top four. The Giallorossi have won three of their last five in Serie A and will be looking to put some pressure on fourth-placed Napoli in what is going to be a very interesting battle for a Champions League berth.
The visitors are dealing with a whole slew of absences due to injuries, including Cengiz Under, Davide Zappacosta, and new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Edin Dzeko had surgery to correct a facial fracture and it remains to be seen if he’ll be given the all-clear to play with a protective mask, as doctors warned the positioning might make it inadvisable, so Nikola Kalinic is ready to step in.
Coach Paulo Fonseca sits out a touchline ban after raging at the referee for Kalinic’s disallowed goal against Lecce. It had been a two-game suspension, but it was reduced on appeal.
Roma are the side Samp defeated the most in Serie A, 39 out of 122 encounters. However, the trend has changed lately, with the Blucerchiati managing one win and a draw in their last seven.
Udinese vs Torion
Dacia Arena, Udine
Sunday, 20-10-2019 @4pm
It’s been a fairly up and down start to the season for Udinese and Torino, so both will be eager to kick start their respective campaigns.
The Friulani will be concerned that they are the lowest scorers in the league with only three thus far in seven rounds, their worst start to a Serie A season since 1980-81. It might be enough to prompt a revamp upfront, where Kevin Lasagna faces competition from Seko Fofana, Ignacio Pussetto and Ilija Nestorovski as partner for Stefano Okaka.
Rodrigo Becao is not 100 per cent fit, but could still make it into the starting defence with Samir and William Troost-Ekong.
As for Torino, Simone Verdi should start alongside Andrea Belotti, who is fresh from a brace for Italy against Liechtenstein, as Simone Zaza is still struggling with a muscular issue.
President Urbano Cairo sent a jolt in Verdi’s direction through the week by appearing to indirectly criticise the forward, as he complained of overpaying Napoli for his transfer in the summer.
The former Bologna man will be keen to put on a good display to restore his employer’s faith, silence his doubters and bring the Granata back into European contention.
Walter Mazzarri would’ve been fairly content with a point and a clean sheet before the break against a stumbling Napoli and will feel this match is certainly a winnable away fixture.
Torino are unbeaten against Udinese in Serie A since December 2015, putting together four wins and three draws, home and away.
Parma vs Genoa
Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma
Sunday, 20-10-2019 @7pm
Genoa Coach Aurelio Andreazzoli just about kept his job, but faces another difficult trip to unpredictable Parma.
The Ducali flattered to deceive so far this season, with a real lack of consistency against teams in the lower half of the table, culminating in a 1-0 defeat to SPAL after beating Sassuolo and Torino.
Genoa made no secret of the fact they were asking around for other Coaches after one point in the last five rounds, but when Gennaro Gattuso and Stefano Pioli said no, President Enrico Preziosi reluctantly stuck with Andreazzoli for the time being.
The biggest problems are at the back, conceding 11 goals in five games, and that is unlikely to get better this weekend. Domenico Criscito is injured, Cristian Romero, Davide Biraschi and forward Riccardo Saponara all suspended.
Cristian Zapata, Edoardo Goldaniga and Jawad El Yamiq are the only real options in those roles. Andrea Pinamonti is the favourite rather than Andrea Favilli to partner Christian Kouame upfront.
Parma are missing Vincent Laurini, but the problem for Roberto D’Aversa is too much choice in the forward roles. Roberto Inglese and Andreas Cornelius are battling for centre-forward, Dejan Kulusevski and Mattia Sprocati for the right side of the trident, as only Gervinho is sure of his place.
Parma beat Genoa home and away last season, but have never managed three consecutive Serie A victories against the Grifone.
AC Milan vs Lecce
Stadio Guiseppe Meazza, Milan
Sunday, 20-10-2019 @9:45pm
Stefano Pioli’s reign as Milan Coach begins this weekend with big changes upfront, as Lecce try to keep the Rossoneri crisis going.
Marco Giampaolo was sacked despite ending a run of three straight defeats, as the scraped 2-1 win over 10-man Genoa wasn’t convincing enough. There is much work to do with this Milan side and it remains to be seen how Pioli will tweak the existing team.
In attack is where the work needs to be done. Milan are struggling for goals with just six in their seven games in the league so far. Pioli is expected to go for a 4-3-3 formation, but Ante Rebic has a better chance of stepping in. Rafael Leao has been the only bright spark of the season and could be given the centre-forward role rather than Krzysztof Piatek, the Pole perhaps heading for the bench.
The words coming out of the Milan dressing rooms is that Lucas Paqueta is likely to regain a place in the starting XI, having been left out of the side by Giampaolo. The 19-year-old has been linked with PSG over the break, but Paqueta insists he wants to stay with Milan, especially after the arrival of Pioli.
As for their opponents this weekend, Lecce have their own troubles to contend with. They have won just two of their opening seven fixtures, conceding 15 goals in the process. Considering they are a newly-promoted side, most would have thought that Lecce would spend the majority of the season in the bottom three and anything else would be a bonus.
However, they have impressed in games against Torino and SPAL and certainly possess a goal-scoring threat, especially in Marco Mancosu, who already has four goals this season.
Lecce will know that they will be likely to face a rejuvenated Milan, who won in their last match, have had a two-week break and a new manager. This has all the ingredients for Milan to make it consecutive victories in the league, but Lecce will feel that Milan are vulnerable and will fancy their chances of an upset.
However erratic defensively Milan were at times against Genoa, that win will have provided some much-needed confidence and belief. This game is a nice one to kick things off for Pioli and this could be a game where things start to click. Lecce will cause problems with their high press and aggressive attitude, but Milan should have too much for them.
Lecce have only ever beaten Milan once in 30 Serie A visits to San Siro, 2-1 in October 1997, along with two draws and 12 defeats. They’ve lost their last eight in a row here.
Brescia vs Fiorentina
Stadio Mario Rigamonti, Brescia
Monday, 21-10-2019 @9:45pm
Fiorentina are seeking a fourth consecutive victory and visit Mario Balotelli’s Brescia on Monday evening.
The Viola have certainly turned things around after ending the 18-round winless streak, finding their momentum with a purple wave of successes against Sampdoria, Milan and Udinese inspired by Franck Ribery. After the break for international duty, the former Bayern Munich man will be well-rested and raring to go. Federico Chiesa returned early after picking up an injury with Italy, but it was only a minor issue and he’s fit to start for his club, although Kevin-Prince Boateng also provides some competition following a good showing in friendlies.
Brescia have not played for three weeks, as their match with Sassuolo was postponed to December following the death of Neroverdi patron Giorgio Squinzi. That gap may well prove to have more positive than negative effects for Coach Eugenio Corini, who had time to work with his squad and increase the fitness levels of striker Balotelli.
Ernesto Torregrossa is still out of action, with Federico Viviani, Giangiacomo Magnani and Emanuele Ndoj all on the road to a full recovery. Alfredo Donnarumma has made a strong immediate impact on Serie A football and Romulo is getting to grips with his new trequartista role. Sandro Tonali can also feel more confident after making his senior Italy debut in the 5-0 victory over Liechtenstein.
Fiorentina have lost only one of their last 18 Serie A meetings with Brescia, 3-0 at the Rigamonti in April 2002, along with nine wins and eight draws.