Lazio vs Sampdoria
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Saturday, 18-01-2020 @5pm
Lazio look unstoppable at the moment with a club record 10 consecutive Serie A victories, but host defensively-solid Sampdoria.
The Aquile are without doubt the form team in Italy right now, having also beaten Juventus for the Supercoppa Italiana in December. They also comfortably swept Cremonese aside 4-0 in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 on Tuesday.
Lazio can become only the fifth team in Serie A history to register more than 10 consecutive victories, after Inter, Juventus, Napoli and Roma.
Simone Inzaghi’s men have consolidated third place with a game in hand thanks to remarkable determination and fitness levels, scoring decisive goals in the final minutes to turn situations around. The most recent example saw Capocannoniere Ciro Immobile take advantage of a David Ospina howler to beat Napoli at the 83rd minute last week.
Senad Lulic will be suspended, with Adam Marusic and Jordan Lukaku still injured, while Joaquin Correa remains in doubt with a calf problem. Immobile should therefore again be partnered by Felipe Caicedo, with Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic providing midfield support.
Sampdoria are unbeaten in two and fresh from a 5-1 thrashing of Brescia, which took them five points clear of the relegation zone. Coach Claudio Ranieri, no stranger to the Stadio Olimpico thanks to his two stints at Roma, has brought defensive solidity to the team that had struggled so badly under Eusebio Di Francesco. They’ve conceded just four goals in their last four games, two of them scored by Juventus.
Andrea Bertolacci, Gaston Ramirez, Fabio Depaoli, Edgar Barreto and Alex Ferrari are out of action, but Omar Colley returns from suspension.
Manolo Gabbiadini is expected to partner veteran Quagliarella upfront, after last year’s Capocannoniere bagged a brace against Brescia at the weekend.
Samp have not beaten Lazio away from home in Serie A since a 2-1 result in January 2005, followed by three draws and 10 defeats.
Sassuolo vs Torino
MAPEI Stadium, Reggio nell’Emilia
Saturday, 18-01-2020 @pm
Sassuolo have got to stop their slide down the standings after three consecutive defeats, but host Torino and Andrea Belotti.
The Neroverdi now sit in 15th place alongside Sampdoria, only four points off the relegation zone. They have managed just one win in their last eight Serie A games, a 2-0 rescheduled Week 7 victory away to Brescia, which was played on December 18. Sassuolo have lost their last three in a row, but while defeats to Napoli and Genoa were contentious and very unfortunate, a 3-0 hammering at Udinese left few excuses for coach Roberto De Zerbi.
Vlad Chiriches, Gregoire Defrel, Marlon, Alessandro Tripaldelli and potentially also Alfred Duncan are injured. At least Manuel Locatelli and Domenico Berardi return from bans to bolster, with Jeremie Boga and Hamed Junior Traore fanning out behind Francesco Caputo.
Torino have turned their results around recently, if not necessarily their performances. It was looking dire after fumbling a 3-0 lead to draw with Hellas Verona, then losing at home to bottom of the table SPAL, but followed by a 2-0 victory away to Roma and scraping past Bologna 1-0. On both occasions, Walter Mazzarri’s men had to thank Salvatore Sirigu and the woodwork, not to mention the clinical finishing of Belotti.
The Granata do still have injury concerns for Lyanco, Cristian Ansaldi and Daniele Baselli, but Tomas Rincon returns after suffering from a stomach bug. Simone Zaza remains in doubt with a calf strain and Iago Falque is battling back after a long lay-off.
Simone Verdi was told off by Mazzarri after a temper tantrum response to his substitution, but should be forgiven to start with Alex Berenguer in support of Belotti.
Torino have lost only two of their total 13 Serie A encounters with Sassuolo, the most recent in April 2016, along with five draws and six victories.
Napoli vs Fiorentina
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Saturday, 18-01-2020 @10:45pm
The season has not gone as planned for either club, as Napoli and Fiorentina are still trying to find their feet after changing coaches in December.
Gennaro Gattuso has lost three of his four Serie A games at the helm, doing the bare minimum to squeeze past Serie B outfit Perugia midweek in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 with a couple of Lorenzo Insigne penalties.
New signings Stanislav Lobotka and Diego Demme are available, but the problems are in defence, where Mario Rui sits out a ban, while Kalidou Koulibaly, Nikola Maksimovic, Dries Mertens, Kevin Malcuit and Faouzi Ghoulam are still injured. Sebastiano Luperto also has flu symptoms, so they are down to an emergency situation at the back. Alex Meret and Amin Younes are also in doubt with muscular issues.
Fiorentina got their first win under new boss Beppe Iachini, leaving it late to beat bottom of the table SPAL with a German Pezzella header. Patrick Cutrone already made an impact since arriving from Wolves, as he found the net in Wednesday’s 2-1 Coppa Italia victory over Atalanta, their second consecutive win in all competition.
Franck Ribery is still on crutches after ankle surgery, but Federico Chiesa expects to start alongside Cutrone for the first time, sending Dusan Vlahovic to the bench.
Neutrals can only hope for a repeat of their most recent meeting, when Napoli won a 4-3 thriller in the opening weekend.
Napoli are hoping to avoid a third consecutive Serie A defeat, something they haven’t experienced since April 2012.
Sunday’s Serie A fixtures
-AC Milan vs Udinese @2:30pm
-Brescia vs Cagliari @5pm
-Bologna vs Hellas Verona @5pm
-Lecce vs Inter Milan @5pm
-Genoa vs Roma @8pm
-Juventus vs Parma @10:45pm
-Atalanta vs SPAL @10:45pm