Following the first international break of the calendar year, domestic football returns to our screens this weekend with some scintillating encounters lined up in Italy’s Serie A
First up on Friday Chievo vs Cagliari kicks things off
with the home side all but already relegated as they find themselves 14 points from safety with just 10 matches left to play.
Saturday will see the Old Lady out to extend their lead at the top of the league when Juventus welcome Empoli to the Allianz Stadium in Turin.
All eyes will eagerly be anticipating Sunday’s action however with six fixtures lined up featuring eight of the top 11 teams in the league all going head-to-head.
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ROMA VS NAPOLI – STADIO OLIMPICO, ROME
Claudio Ranieri’s return to L Giallorossi saw them edge Empoli 2-1, ending a run of back-to-back defeats that saw former manager Eusebio di Francesco sacked – first against Lazio in the Derby Della Capitale before being humbled 3-1 by Porto in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash that saw the Italians come crashing out of the competition with a 4-3 aggregate loss. They were brought back down to earth rather swiftly in their next fixture as they were beaten 2-1 at SPAL – a result that left their European ambitions hanging by a thread.
Roma head into Sunday needing a result to keep them within touching distance with the sides just ahead of them on the log although they have their recent home form to rely on. They are unbeaten in their last 11 matches at the Stadio Olimpico in all competitions since the start of December.
Napoli, like their weekend’s counterparts, suffered a 3-1 loss in their European outing although Arkadiusz Milik’s goal was enough to send the Gil Azzurri through to the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League. Domestically though since the start of March they have stagnated somewhat, winning just one of their three matches in Serie A dropping five points from a possible nine. Their last encounter saw Carlo Ancelotti’s side squander a two-goal lead before eventually coming away 4-2 winners against Udinese.
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The pair exchanged blows when they met earlier in the campaign – Dries Merten’s 90th
minute equaliser helping secure a share of the spoils for the home side after Stefan El Sharaawy had slotted the visitors in front in the first-half. Roma have not beaten Napoli at home since April 2016, losing the last two. The corresponding fixture last season ended 1-0 to the Blues.
INTER MILAN VS LAZIO – SAN SIRO, MILAN
Arguably the tie of the weekend pits third place Inter Milan against Lazio who sit sixth, eight points behind their opponents. The club from the capital will be looking to stretch their unbeaten run in all competitions to five matches on Sunday while Inter, who were sent crashing out of the Europa League with defeat at home to Eintracht Frankfurt will be looking to get their Serie A season back on track.
Luciano Spalletti’s side’s last appearance saw them come out on top in a thrilling Milan Derby. Lautaro Martinez’ spot-kick turned out to be the difference that day as Inter edged AC 3-2 to hold on to third place on the log. That was the Argentinian’s 6th
goal of the current campaign as he continues to lead the line in the continued absence of fellow countryman Mauro Icardi.
L Biancocelesti comfortably beat Parma 4-1 prior to the international break – their third consecutive victory at home in Serie A since defeat to Juventus back in January. Coupled with their game in hand due to their postponed match with Udinese – depending on results elsewhere, a win this weekend could propel the Sky Blues up into 5th
place and within 3 points of the top-four and coveted UEFA Champions League places.
Inter will be seeking a fifth victory from six matches against Lazio when they face off on Sunday - the corresponding fixture last season ended in a goalless stalemate. L Nerazzurri came away 3-0 winners when the duo clashed in Rome earlier in the campaign while they have not lost at home in the league against Lazio since December 2015.
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