Brescia vs Lecce
Stadio Mario Rigamonti, Brescia
Saturday, 14-12-2019 @5pm
Brescia and Lecce were promoted from Serie B last summer, but the Rondinelle are only just getting back on track with the return of coach Eugenio Corini.
After the brief three-defeat goalless Fabio Grosso spell on the bench, Corini marked his comeback with a vital victory against fellow relegation battlers SPAL, their first win in almost three months.
Mario Balotelli scored his 50th Serie A goal and will certainly be looking out for another one against Lecce, one of the few teams to go unpunished by Super Mario in the Italian top flight.
As for Lecce, they stuck by coach Fabio Liverani even during difficult times and the consistency is paying off. They managed an important comeback in their last match against Genoa, who were leading 2-0 at half-time, although the Grifone finished the game with nine men. Liverani’s substitutions proved decisive, as both Filippo Falco and Andrea Tabanelli scored the goals.
Both teams have managed only three wins so far this season, although Lecce are currently four points above the relegation zone, after an important streak of draws against the likes of Milan, Juventus, Sampdoria and Sassuolo.
Last year both teams fought for supremacy in Serie B, with only one point separating the two at the end of the season. This fixture ended 2-1 for the Rondinelle, losing 1-0 at the Stadio Via del Mare to a Tabanelli goal.
Brescia won the Serie B race also with the help of Capocannoniere Alfredo Donnarumma, the Italian striker scoring 25 goals and providing seven assists in 32 matches. Donnarumma is Brescia’s top scorer this year again with four goals, although he managed only 25 minutes in Brescia’s last two games and it’s expected he’ll once again make way for Ernesto Torregrossa on Saturday afternoon.
Brescia will be without injured Daniele Dessena, while Andrea Cistana is suspended. Goalkeeper Jesse Joronen again needs a fitness test, but he recovered last time and managed to save a penalty.
The Salentini’s travelling party does not include Fabio Lucioni and Jacopo Petriccione, both suspended. Marco Mancosu and Biagio Meccariello are injured, but should be back by next week against Bologna.
Brescia haven’t won two consecutive Serie A matches since September 2010.
Napoli vs Parma
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Saturday, 14-15-2019 @8pm
Gennaro Gattuso’s first game in charge of Napoli is a surprisingly important head-to-head with Parma, as they are in joint seventh place.
Napoli begin the weekend seven points adrift of the top four and can ill-afford to drop further behind the pack. Given that the season was supposed to offer much more, qualifying for the Champions League has become their main ambition.
Carlo Ancelotti was sensationally sacked on Tuesday evening, just hours after a 4-0 win over Genk put them into the Champions League Round of 16. Gattuso immediately confirmed he will shift back to the 4-3-3 formation, although Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens could find themselves dropped in favour of Chucky Lozano and Piotr Zielinski. Arkadiusz Milik scored a hat-trick midweek and retains his spot.
Parma go into this clash level on points with Napoli and will, therefore, still have faint hopes of potentially reaching the Europa League places. They have lost just three of their last 10 games in the league, only one of their last five, and were very professional in their 1-0 away win over Sampdoria.
Despite being undefeated in their last four away fixtures, Parma’s overall record on the road in 2019 has been pretty poor. They have won just three of their 17 away matches and the 1-0 victory at Samp was their first clean sheet away from home in this campaign.
Parma looked a little blunt upfront against Samp and they were unable to get their main attacking threats into the game. Gervinho and Dejan Kulusevski are expected to flank Andreas Cornelius, but Juraj Kucka has joined Roberto Inglese, Yann Karamoh and Alberto Grassi on the treatment table.
The Partenopei haven’t won a league game since October and have kept just one clean sheet since then, so Parma will be buoyed by that stat.
Normally, when teams make managerial changes, you see a reaction from the team and Gattuso will be hoping he will get just that from his new players. The likes of Lozano and Zielinski will want to impress and we could see a very different Napoli side this weekend.
These teams have played only one draw in their last 13 Serie A meetings, 2-2 in May 2015, along with eight Napoli victories and four for Parma.
Genoa vs Sampdoria
Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa
Saturday, 14-12-2019 @10:45pm
The Derby della Lanterna is also a relegation dogfight, as it finds both Genoa and Sampdoria in the bottom three, so is a six-pointer in every sense.
The campaign has been rather similar for the city rivals, as both sets of fans protested against Presidents who pledged to sell up over the summer, yet remain at the helm. They started the season with new coaches only to fire them in October.
Genoa sacked Aurelio Andreazzoli and brought in Thiago Motta, who won his opening game 3-1 against Brescia on October 26. That remains his only Serie A victory, followed by three draws and three defeats.
Samp dismissed Eusebio Di Francesco after he lost six of his seven matches in charge. Claudio Ranieri was appointed, earning two victories against SPAL and Udinese, three draws and three losses.
Genoa will be without striker Goran Pandev and Kevin Agudelo following their red cards in the chaotic 2-2 draw at Lecce. They had been leading 2-0, only to implode at the Stadio Via del Mare.
Christian Kouame, Lukas Lerager and Cristian Zapata are injured, with Riccardo Saponara not 100 per cent fit either, so Thiago Motta has very limited options upfront.
Andrea Pinamonti could end up being flanked by Sinan Gumus and 18-year-old youth team player Denilho Cleonise. The sometime Ajax academy dweller has already made three senior appearances for Genoa this season, including a Coppa Italia start in the 3-2 win over Ascoli on December 3.
Sampdoria have injury problems too, missing Federico Bonazzoli, Andrea Bertolacci, Fabio Depaoli, Bartosz Bereszynski and Edgar Barreto. Gaston Ramirez and Jakub Jankto should again be the wingers, but Karol Linetty can start after his fitness worries. Manolo Gabbiadini partners Fabio Quagliarella.
Genoa have not won a ‘home’ Serie A derby in their last seven attempts (2D, 5L), their last win coming in May 2011.
Keep an eye on: Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria) – The 2018-19 Serie A Capocannoniere enjoys the derby, because he has participated in four goals in the last four Serie A meetings with Genoa, scoring three and assisting the other.
Other Serie A fixtures this weekend
-Hellas Verona vs Torino @2:30pm
-Bologna vs Atalanta @5pm
-Juventus vs Udinese @7pm
-AC Milan vs Sassuolo @7pm
-Roma vs SPAL @8pm
-Fiorentina vs Inter Milan @10:30pm
-Cagliari vs Lazio @10:45pm