This week’s round of Serie A action will be the first time that a game kicks off on Friday night as Milan will tackle Udinese later tonight. There are many exciting fixtures this week and all the top sides have a firm test awaiting them.
Milan will be looking to forget their four game win-less streak and get back into the title race against Udinese. The Rossoneri will be particularly ruing their slip-ups in wake of Inter’s draw away to Parma on Wednesday. Udinese, however, are not going to make things any easier for Leonardo’s team. When we featured the Zebrette in this piece a few weeks ago we talked of the dangers looming for the Friulani outfit. Those dangers are still very much present as the team is only three points above the drop zone. Last weekend’s victory over Napoli, albeit controversial, would have boosted the morale of the squad, as it was the first win in over two months for the team. Antonio Di Natale will be the biggest threat for the Rossoneri who will be thinking about the Champions League encounter with Manchester United in the coming week.
Saturday night will see two more big games as Roma will take on Palermo at the Olimpico while Sampdoria will take on Fiorentina at the Marassi. Fabio Capello has said that he believes this will be a game of high quality and few would disagree with the Don. Claudio Ranieri’s side has accumulated an unbelievable 33 points from their previous 13 games and currently lie nine points behind leaders Inter. If the Giallorossi can continue this way they will be favorites for second place and are very capable of mounting a challenge for the title. Palermo have also been in fine form lately and have lost only once in their last nine encounters. Delio Rossi is continuing the good work which he did for Lazio at the Rosanero and getting a result on Saturday would be crucial in the dogged battle for European spots. Edison Cavani will be the man to watch as the Uruguayan has been simply sensational in recent weeks.
The clash between Sampdoria and Fiorentina also promises to be equally exciting. After an excellent start to the season the Blucerchiati lost their way in the middle but seem to be coming back on track now. Three consecutive wins have catapulted the side into sixth place and if results over the weekend go their way, we could see them return to the top four. Fiorentina’s season looks like it could come to a premature end this term. The Viola are without a win for four games and sitting in 11th place, six points behind the last European spot. The loss to Roma last week was undeserved but the strikers must take some blame for not finishing off their chances. Like Milan, Fiorentina too will have the midweek clash with Bayern Munich on their minds while going into this game.
The weekend action gets even more intense on Sunday as Juventus welcome Genoa to Turin on Sunday and Inter travel to the cauldron of San Paolo to face Napoli. Alberto Zaccheroni’s appointment has not done much in the way of changing the Bianconeri’s fortunes and this will be Zach’s first major test as coach. Genoa have clawed their way back into contention for Europe’s premier competition with some dogged displays. The team however has a nasty habit of crumpling against the big guns and this was evident in the heavy losses it suffered against Milan and Roma earlier this year. Juve just can’t afford any more slip ups if they are to make the Champions League. The last time a big team got involved in this battle for Europe was Milan in 2008 and they famously failed to make it in the top four.
The final game of the round will feature Napoli against Inter in a game of great significance for both the sides. The Partenopei were undefeated under Walter Mazzarri until last week’s loss to Udinese. No team has managed to defeat the Neapolitans at the San Paolo and Inter have lost on their last three visits to this stadium. Jose Mourinho knows that the team can’t afford to lose too many points as this will allow Roma and Milan to come right back in the hunt. If Inter are to get past the likes of Chelsea in the Champions League they will have to win fixtures like the one on Sunday. Ezequiel Lavezzi will make his return for the Azzurri and he scores regularly against Inter. For the Nerazzurri, Wesley Sneijder will make his return from suspension, and considering that the team has never lost with the Dutchman playing, it will make for some compelling viewing.