There are a few interesting storylines to look ahead to in Serie A this weekend, with pressure increasing on the champions, a tussle for the top four and a heated rivalry amongst others.
Milan vs Torino
The champions are in the midst of an alarming slide, three consecutive losses leaving their title defence in shreds. It has been the manner of the defeats that have been most galling for Stefano Pioli. Having conceded nine goals in two games against Lazio and Sassuolo, Milan could have been similarly humiliated in last weekend’s loss in the derby, but for Inter’s profligate finishing. Next up, they welcome a Torino side that has gotten better as the season has gone along, and ominously knocked Milan out of the Coppa Italia at the San Siro a couple of weeks ago. Another defeat would leave the Rossoneri in serious danger of missing out on the Champions League next season, just five days out from welcoming Spurs in this year’s competition.
Lazio vs Atalanta
Milan’s troubles and Juve’s point deduction present a golden opportunity for a few clubs to break into the top four, with Lazio and Atalanta amongst them. Maurizio Sarri and Gian Piero Gasperini’s sides can enthral neutrals with their football, but can equally frustrate with random dropped points just when it seems like they are building up a head of steam. Only one point separates the hosts in fourth and their visitors a place below them, so whatever the result, it won’t necessarily be decisive come the end of the season. Regardless of the stakes, expect the football to be daring and bold.
Bologna vs Monza
Two clubs safely in mid-table playing each other doesn’t get the pulses racing, but if nothing else, this game provides a showcase for two teams that have improved significantly as the season has gone on, specifically so after a change in managers. Thiago Motta has made Bologna a more compact unit after replacing the late Sinisa Mihajlovic, while Raffaele Palladino has completely changed the outlook at Monza who looked relegation certainties until he took over. Two well-managed sides who haven’t tasted defeat in a while should make for a good fixture.
Juventus vs Fiorentina
That Juve are two points ahead of Fiorentina despite a 15-point deduction speaks to the lengths of how Vincenzo Italiano’s side have underperformed this season after promising so much in the summer. Both sides will have an eye on Thursday’s night European endeavours which have now taken greater significance considering how their league campaigns have gone so far, but this remains one of Serie A’s most heated rivalries, with the bad blood from Dusan Vlahovic’s transfer last January still hurtful to many Viola fans.
Napoli vs Cremonese
This is a complete mismatch as the league leaders and almost certain champions welcome the surely doomed Cremonese, who have yet to win a league game all season. Which only makes me wonder, that if there is any side suited to an upset, can it be Napoli? Yes, even this amazing Napoli of Spalletti, Osimhen and Kravatskheila. After all, it was Cremonese who dumped Napoli out of the cup a few weeks ago. One just never knows with football.