Atalanta vs Juventus
Gewiss Stadium, Bergamo
Saturday, 23-11-2019 @5pm
Atalanta host leaders Juventus in a sold-out Gewiss Stadium and should have Duvan Zapata back, but two star names suspended.
The Old Lady is having a brilliant campaign so far under Coach Maurizio Sarri, going unbeaten in all competitions, while still displaying an extraordinary hunger for victory, even after eight years of consecutive Scudetto wins. The controversy regarding Cristiano Ronaldo’s injury seems to be over, who will be crucial for Sarri, especially after scoring four goals in two matches and helping Portugal qualify for Euro 2020.
Atalanta still feature Serie A’s best attack, while their remarkable campaign has only been overshadowed by a recent defeat against Cagliari and a goalless draw with relegation-battlers Sampdoria. The Bianconeri had to settle for a draw in their previous two championship matches against the Nerazzurri, on both occasions going down to 10 men. They were also famously knocked out of the Coppa Italia in a 3-0 Bergamo thrashing.
Against a defensively fragile Atalanta, Sarri will have the opportunity to once again address issues in attack, the Old Lady averaging only 1.7 goals per game. Curiously, Sarri replaced Max Allegri this summer because the club felt a more entertaining and attacking approach was needed, compared to Allegri’s pragmatic and rather cautious view of the game.
The Orobici welcome back Duvan Zapata, who hasn’t played since mid-October after picking a thigh injury while playing for Colombia. With fellow countryman Luis Muriel accusing muscle fatigue while on international duty, Zapata could even get the start against the Bianconeri. Ruslan Malinovskyi and Josip Ilicic are suspended.
The statistics show how much Duvan Zapata was missed, as Atalanta scored an average of 3.0 goals per game with him on the pitch this season, compared to 1.8 per game in his absence.
Joining Giorgio Chiellini on the injury list is Alex Sandro, although the Brazilian left-back is said to be making a significant improvement to at least catch a place on the bench against Atalanta. Blaise Matuidi will be replaced by Adrien Rabiot in midfield, while Federico Bernardeschi is considered a favourite over Aaron Ramsey for the trequartista role. The only issue for Sarri remains to pick a partner for Cristiano Ronaldo upfront, between Argentine pair Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala.
Juve are unbeaten against Atalanta in Serie A since February 2001, managing 23 wins and six draws.
AC Milan vs Napoli
Stadio Guiseppe Meazza, Milan
As the final international break of 2019 comes to a close, Milan and Napoli will face off in a tale of two underachievers.
These are the two sides who have made the biggest steps backwards this season, as Napoli are nine points worse off (28 to 19) and Milan dropped eight in comparison to last term (21 to 13). This is also the least impressive encounter since Napoli returned to the top flight in 2007-08, as between them the clubs have just 32 points.
While the performances under Stefano Pioli have been somewhat better than under Marco Giampaolo, the results have been much more of the same. The Rossoneri are managing roughly the same points per game under (0.8) as they did under Giampaolo (0.78).
As midfielder Ismael Bennacer and winger Hakan Calhanoglu both received their fifth yellow cards of the season last time out against Juventus, expect them to be replaced in the starting XI by Lucas Biglia and either Ante Rebic or Giacomo Bonaventura. Furthermore, Samu Castillejo is still recovering from a thigh injury suffered on November 3 against Lazio, so is a major doubt.
Napoli are also in a mess of their own, but one of a different kind, as the fallout from the squad mutiny continues. Carlo Ancelotti has been stuck in the middle of it, as he believes no training retreat was necessary after the match against RB Salzburg, but wanted to respect the wishes of President Aurelio De Laurentiis.
Kevin Malcuit is already out for the season with a torn cruciate ligament, and striker Arkadiusz Milik returned from international duty with an abdominal strain.
It’s reported Ancelotti is returning to the old 4-3-3 formation, as it’s the best way to use Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and new signing Hirving Lozano. Jose Callejon may well be rested ahead of the Champions League showdown with Liverpool.
With both clubs in two very different crises facing off, it begs the question – can and will it get any worse for Milan and Napoli? Or will a positive result this weekend be the start of a climb up the table?
Napoli have lost only one of their last 16 Serie A meetings with Milan, 2-0 in December 2014, along with nine wins and six draws. They are unbeaten in four league San Siro trips, their longest streak here since the 1980s.
Torino vs Inter Milan
Stadio Olympico Grand Torino, Torino
Saturday, 23-11-2019 @10:45pm
Scudetto contenders Inter take on Walter Mazzarri’s unpredictable Torino in a match likely to bring goals.
Toro’s start to the campaign exceeded expectations with back to back wins before a wave of mediocre performances, losing three of their last five matches. The Granata got their confidence back most recently in their 4-0 win at Brescia and now find themselves sitting in a mid-table position with 14 points, but Mazzarri is not out of the woods yet, despite President Urbano Cairo’s assurances.
Injuries continue to be an issue for Torino, here missing Iago Falque, Diego Laxalt, Kevin Bonifazi, Vittorio Parigini and Lyanco. At least Simone Zaza and Daniele Baselli are available again, albeit probably on the bench, as Alex Berenguer and Simone Verdi try to give Andrea Belotti ammunition. Tomas Rincon is in doubt, as he’ll return quite late from international duty.
Inter find themselves one point behind champions Juventus and looking to avoid any slip-ups on the road. Winning four of their last five league games, the performances were not always comfortable, including late comebacks to beat Verona and Bologna.
Stefano Sensi is still not 100 percent fit and could be rested ahead of the Champions League trip to Slavia Prague, while Danilo D’Ambrosio, Kwadwo Asamoah and Roberto Gagliardini are also carrying knocks. Alexis Sanchez and Matteo Politano are long-term absentees, so Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez must once again carry the can.
Inter have not beaten Torino since October 2016 at San Siro, managing three draws and two 1-0 defeats. Their last victory in Turin was in November 2015.
Bologna vs Parma
Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna
Sunday, 23-11-2019 @2:30pm
Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic returns to the touchline for this Emilia-Romagna Derby, hoping to end a run of three straight defeats.
The Rossoblu have only won once in their last nine outings in Serie A, which was a 2-1 win at home against Sampdoria. They are currently sitting in 15th place on 12 points from their opening 12 fixtures, five points and seven places behind Parma.
Bologna lost 3-1 at Sassuolo in another Emilia-Romagna Derby just before the international break, which made it four away defeats in a row. Their home form is slightly better, if only just, losing twice at the Stadio Dall’Ara this season to Roma and Inter respectively.
Mihajlovic returns after completing his third course of chemotherapy this week. He will have to reshuffle his defence, as both centre-backs Danilo and Mattia Bani are suspended for this one. Takehiro Tomiyasu is available again after injury and can take one of those roles.
Parma, on the other hand, are sitting pretty in eighth place on 17 points and have only lost once in their last five league games, which was a 1-0 defeat at home against Hellas Verona.
The Ducali had a good 2-0 win over Roma at the Stadio Tardini before the break thanks to goals from Mattia Sprocati and Danish international Andreas Cornelius.
Coach Roberto D’Aversa has a few selection headaches ahead of this game, as several of his first team players are carrying knocks, with Gervinho, Roberto Inglese, Vincent Laurini, Yann Karamoh and Cornelius all facing late fitness tests before the weekend.
Meanwhile Brazilian midfielder Hernani is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the victory over the Giallorossi.
Expect this game to be wide open, as both defences have been leaking goals this season, with Bologna having the joint fourth-worst defensive record in the division. The home side’s makeshift defence will be tested to the limit if the likes of Gervinho and Inglese are deemed fit enough to start, while they will rely on their front line of Riccardo Orsolini, Rodrigo Palacio and Nicola Sansone to get something out of this tie.
Parma have only won one of their last 13 Serie A trips to Bologna, drawing five and losing seven.
Roma vs Brescia
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Sunday, 23-11-2019 @5pm
Roma went into the break exhausted, but hope to have replenished their batteries for a Brescia side dealing with Mario Balotelli issues.
The Giallorossi’s injury crisis finally got the better of them with two straight defeats between the Europa League and Serie A, to Borussia Monchengladbach and Parma respectively.
Defeat at Parma ended a run of three victories in the league, and it was a game where the dominated play and possession, before being undone by the counter-attacking talent of Roberto D’Aversa’s side.
A tight, cagey affair, Roma’s xG of 0.97 suggested they deserved a point from the game, matching Parma up until Andreas Cornelius’ 92nd-minute winner, so it is important that the Giallorossi don’t panic.
With a must-win Europa League tie on Thursday to factor in for Roma, a rotated side against struggling Brescia would be no surprise. Cengiz Under has finally recovered from injury and his performances for Turkey may have pushed Paulo Fonseca into giving him a chance.
Bryan Cristante, Nikola Kalinic, Davide Zappacosta and Leonardo Spinazzola are still out of action, but Gianluca Mancini, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are at least fit for the bench.
Brescia come into the game on the back of a resounding 4-0 defeat against Torino last time out, which has left them rooted to the bottom of Serie A. It was not the ideal debut for new coach Fabio Grosso. Goals have been hard to come by the Rondinelle, and this is highlighted by their creativity from open play, which has seen them only score five goals, at an xG of 6.13.
Mario Balotelli has struggled for form with just two goals to his name this season, but there was also an incident in training on Thursday. He was not used in the practice starting XI, so walked out early. Grosso already substituted him halfway through the defeat to Torino, so the tension is sky high.
Luca Tremolada, Daniele Dessena and Jhon Chancellor are all injured, whilst Ales Mateju is suspended following a red card against Torino. Alfredo Donnarumma and Ernesto Torregrossa are the front two who got Brescia promoted from Serie B, but Florian Aye is another option.
Roma have lost only two of their last 17 Serie A meetings with Brescia, winning eight and drawing seven. However, four of the last five meetings at the Olimpico were stalemates.
Sassuolo vs Lazio
MAPEI Stadium, Reggio nell’Emilia
Sunday, 23-11-2019 @5pm
Lazio were sorry to see the international break, as they were on a roll of four straight wins, but visit a Sassuolo side with injury problems.
The Aquile are one of the form sides of Serie A right now and are currently on a seven-game undefeated run. Simone Inzaghi’s outfit are the second highest scorers in the league, with 28 goals from the first 12 rounds, an average of 2.3 per game. The Biancocelesti will be sweating on the fitness of leading goalscorer Ciro Immobile, who is struggling with a bruised and swollen ankle, which he sustained during the Azzurri’s game against Armenia. He resumed training this week and should play through the pain.
Sassuolo currently find themselves sitting mid-table with a mixed bag of results this season under Roberto De Zerbi, although three of the four wins have come at the Mapei Stadium. Sassuolo currently have a goal difference of zero, scoring and conceding 21 goals to date.
The side will be without Gregoire Defrel after the striker picked up ligament damage to his left ankle in training on Wednesday. On top of that, Domenico Berardi, Luca Mazzitelli, Vlad Chiriches, Alex Ferrari and Rogerio are all carrying injuries too.
However, they go into the fixture with confidence high after a much-needed victory against Bologna prior to the International break. Francesco Caputo should therefore be flanked by Filip Djuricic and Jeremie Boga.
Previous matches between Sassuolo and Lazio have averaged 3.67 goals while both teams have scored 75% of the time. With there being 41 goals over both teams last five games
Hellas Verona vs Fiorentina
Stadio Marc Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
Sunday, 23-11-2019 @5pm
This is somewhat surprisingly a head-to-head for ninth place, as only one point separates Fiorentina from newly-promoted Verona.
Both sides are coming off setbacks, as Hellas fell 2-1 to Inter, but the Viola were humiliated 5-2 by Cagliari, a game they had been losing 5-0 until the hosts took their foot off the gas.
The positive news for Fiorentina is that Franck Ribery is available again after his three-match ban for pushing a linesman, but he is suffering from flu symptoms and remains in doubt. The midfield must be completely revamped, as both Gaetano Castrovilli and Erick Pulgar are suspended. Sebastian Cristoforo and Marco Benassi should step in with Milan Badelj.
Ivan Juric can take positives from Verona’s first half showing away to Inter, and if their passing and counter attacks were sharper, they could even have taken more back from Milan.
The coach will be fairly pleased with how the Gialloblu have started the season, with them probably being most expert’s favourites to drop back down to Serie B. They will be determined to rack up as many points on the board from now until the end of the season and will feel they can get something from this one.
Marash Kumbulla, Salvatore Bocchetti, Emmanuel Badu and Daniel Bessa are all out for the home side, with Miguel Veloso needing a fitness test.
Fiorentina have won their last five Serie A trips to Verona, scoring 15 goals and conceding four.
Sampdoria vs Udinese
Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa
Sunday, 23-11-2019 @8pm
Sampdoria and Udinese have both seen a slight upturn in fortunes since changing coach, but this remains a relegation tussle.
It’s been a turbulent start for Samp this season after securing nine points from 12 games, but hope to build on the rediscovered solidity found under Claudio Ranieri. They are unbeaten in three, including a victory away to SPAL and precious draws with Lecce and Atalanta, keeping two consecutive clean sheets.
Udinese sacked coach Igor Tudor following humiliating back-to-back defeats against Atalanta and Roma, conceding a combined 11 goals. Luca Gotti made it clear he did not want the job permanently, but the club is holding off finding a new boss and hoping he changes his mind. In just two games at the helm, Gotti steered the Friulani to a 3-1 victory at Genoa and draw with SPAL, leaving them in 12th place.
Stefano Okaka and Rodrigo Becao are suspended for Udinese, while Ignacio Pussetto and Ken Sema are not 100 per cent fit. Ilija Nestorovski and Lukasz Teodorczyk are battling to partner Kevin Lasagna in Okaka’s absence.
Samp lost Federico Bonazzoli and Bartosz Bereszynski for at least six weeks, so Manolo Gabbiadini is first choice to support Fabio Quagliarella.
Udinese have won just one of their last 14 Serie A trips to Sampdoria, drawing six and losing seven. They failed to score in seven of those games.
Lecce vs Cgaliari
Stadio Comunale Via Del Mare, Lecce
Sunday, 23-11-2019 @10:45pm
High-flying Cagliari resume their Serie A campaign on Sunday against a Lecce side looking for their first win since September.
Cagliari have won three consecutive games after confirming their best-ever start to a top-flight season since the three-point format was introduced.
That has moved them to third in the table, leading many to ask whether they have what it takes to emulate Atalanta’s recent Champions League exploits.
Much of their impressive run of form has rested on the shoulders of front three Radja Nainggolan, Giovanni Simeone and top goalscorer Joao Pedro.
The trio are ready to face Lecce, but Luca Pellegrini, Nahitan Nandez and captain Luca Ceppitelli all miss out as they join Leonardo Pavoletti and Alessio Cragno on the sidelines.
Lecce, meanwhile, drew four in a row before a controversial 4-2 defeat to Lazio prior to the international break.
That resilience has kept them just about afloat down the bottom, the Salentini on 10 points in 16th place.
Goals haven’t been a problem, with 15 already in the bag this term, but it is at the other end where they have been found wanting, conceding Serie A’s second-worst haul of 25.
Their only doubts come in attack, where Filippo Falco should get the nod ahead of Khouma Babacar alongside Gianluca Lapadula.
Behind them, Cagliari youth product Marco Mancosu looks like being passed fit to take on his former club.
Cagliari are enjoying their best-ever start to a Serie A season since the three-point format was introduced.
SPAL vs Genoa
Stadio Paolo Mazza, Ferrara
Monday, 24-11-2019 @10:45pm
This is a crucial relegation battle between two of the bottom four in Serie A, separated by just one point.
For SPAL, who have failed to win their last five games, this game could come as a sort of respite. Genoa have really struggled this season, and have made a managerial change to stem the tide, as Thiago Motta seems to be slowly steadying the ship, but time will tell.
The Grifone did manage to hold Napoli to a scoreless stalemate in their last game before the international break. That came after a disappointing loss to Udinese, and they too will want to use a game against a smaller side like SPAL to continue working their way up the table.
SPAL find themselves in 19th place, just one point away from the bottom, and will be desperate to claw their way out of the drop zone. It’s a rather disappointing run of results following their solid 13th-place finish last term, and Leonardo Semplici’s side have found things increasingly difficult, as they have not won a game since October 5, when eking out a narrow 1-0 victory over Parma.
In addition, they will have to make do without Thiago Cionek and Nenad Tomovic due to suspension, leaving Semplici with some major tinkering to do in the heart of his back-line.
Still, they may have some hope when Genoa come to town. The Grifone have failed to win their last 15 away games and haven’t registered a victory in any of their four prior encounters with SPAL (one loss, three draws).
Genoa have not beaten SPAL in any of the four meetings since their return to the top flight in 2017-18.