Week 29 begins on Saturday evening with Genoa’s trip to Florence to take on inconsistent Fiorentina. The home side will be looking to pick up where they left off at Napoli, after the heartbreak of Champions League exit and home defeat to Juventus in Week 27. Their erratic form will need to be addressed if they harbour any ambitions of European qualification. A win would put them within a point of Genoa.
In-form Roma, undefeated in 18 games and attempting to hunt down the Milanese clubs at the top of Serie A, welcome Udinese to the Stadio Olimpico. They go into the game as clear favorites against relegation-threatened Udinese, though they do have Serie A’s top goalscorer, Antonio di Natale. Title hopefuls Milan will be keen to build on their Chievo win as they take on out-of-form Napoli who are without a win in their last seven. They will be hoping to pick up any points at the San Siro to maintain their challenge for Europa League qualification.
The six-pointer of the weekend sees two bottom-three placed teams, Atalanta and Livorno, go head-to-head at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia. Although Livorno have not won in nine, they will take some confidence having held Roma in Week 28. A win for Atalanta would could see them leapfrog Livorno but still will not be enough to scramble out of the relegation zone.
Arguably the weekend’s dead-rubber contest sees Parma make the long trip south to Bari. A single point separates both mid-table teams with both comfortably clear of the relegation zone, yet unlikely to challenge for a top six finish. Lazio head coach Eduardo Reja will be seeking to finish the season strongly, starting with victory over his former club Cagliari. The Rome-based side have not conceded many goals compared to their relegation-threatened rivals although three points would be a much more valuable statistic. Cagliari will be looking for their first win in four to push their advance for Europe.
Two of Serie A’s least familiar clubs meet with the visit of Catania to Chievo. They only share 21 seasons in the Italian top-flight between them and both will fancy their chances of avoiding relegation. Catania are nearest the drop zone but have a seven-point cushion over the bottom three. Bottom-side Siena have picked up some valuable points recently, amassing nine in their last five games. They will hope to lift themselves off the bottom with a home win against Bologna who will feel that they have enough quality to finish with a mid-table position. The final game of the weekend sees two of Italy’s most famous clubs come together as Juventus travel to Sampdoria. The teams occupy the Europa League spots and will be desperate for three points to secure their grip on the European places and attempt to track down Palermo in forth. An away win would see Juventus stretch their lead above Sampdoria to four points.
Game of the weekend
The standout tie sees champions Inter traveling to Champions League hopefuls Palermo. Both were beaten last time out so will be eager for three points. Of particular interest to English fans are Palermo’s Javier Pastore and Abel Hernandez who have been linked with moves to the Premier League.
Blast from the past
On November 26, 2006 Inter travelled to Palermo with both teams having similar ambitions to what they presently have. Palermo sought European qualification and Inter would go on to claim the scudetto by 22 points. Inter prevailed in a tight game, winning 2-1with goals from Ibrahimovich and Patrick Vieira sandwiching Amauri’s equaliser.
On this matchday
10 years ago – 1999/00
A decade ago, current Milan Coach Leonardo equalised at the San Siro to share the points against Fiorentina. This point would ultimately help Milan finish a place higher than rivals, Inter.
Five years ago – 2004/05
On March 20, 2005 Livorno and Cagliari played in what looked a potential mid-table dead-rubber. An enthralling game however finished 3-3 with Nelson Abeijon scoring Cagliari’s equaliser deep into stoppage-time.
One year ago – 2008/09
During this weekend last season Inter maintained their grip at the top by dispatching Reggina 3-0 with a goal from Esteban Cambiasso and a brace from the since-departed Zlatan Imbrahimovich.
Week 29 fixtures
Saturday March 20
Fiorentina vs. Genoa – 17.00
Palermo vs. Inter – 19.45 – Live on ESPN
Roma vs. Udinese – 19.45
Sunday March 21
Milan vs. Napoli – 14.00 – Live on ESPN
Atalanta vs. Livorno – 14.00
Bari vs. Parma – 14.00
Cagliari vs. Lazio – 14.00
Chievo vs. Catania – 14.00
Siena vs. Bologna – 14.00
Sampdoria vs. Juventus – 19.45 – Live on ESPN