The good news is the new protocol has been agreed and we should have a full round of Serie A games this weekend, without local health authorities ordering entire squads into lockdown for COVID-19 outbreaks. There are also some fascinating fixtures, none more so than a Lombardy Derby and potential Scudetto showdown between Atalanta and Inter.
Atalanta and Inter in the goals
Simone Inzaghi’s men are top of the Serie A table even with a game in hand and have won the last eight rounds, not to mention an epic last-gasp extra time Supercoppa 2-1 victory over Juventus midweek. That might’ve put some fatigue into the legs, but if anything boosted the confidence of Alexis Sanchez, who is expected to start in Bergamo on Sunday evening after his decisive Supercup strike. Duvan Zapata, Rafael Toloi and Davide Zappacosta are major doubts for La Dea, so while Luis Muriel scored three in his last two games between Serie A and the Coppa Italia, the fact remains he is a more effective supersub than a starter.
Inter are unlikely to lose this short trip to Bergamo, but it might be a high-scoring draw for the end of their eight-game winning streak. Lay Atalanta or go for Overs, probably with Both Teams to Score.
No Juventus guarantees against Udinese
The other team to play extra time in the Supercoppa on Wednesday was Juventus and they do not have the same resources to rotate as Inter as they host Udinese. Matthijs de Ligt and Juan Cuadrado return from suspension, but they remain sluggish in attack and unusually weak at the back. Beto and Gerard Deulofeu can definitely do damage in Turin on the counter and on set plays.
Juve have lost several home games against minnows this season and there is by no means a guarantee they’ll get three points here. Don’t let last week’s 6-2 defeat to Atalanta fool you – that was a squad meant to still be in lockdown that simply hadn’t trained at all. This is a different situation entirely.
Sassuolo-Verona goals, Napoli upset and Milan concerns
If ever a match had goals written all over it, it would be Sassuolo vs. Verona. The only issue is that Domenico Berardi sits out a ban for the hosts and represents a huge loss, badly limiting their creative forces to provide service to Gianluca Scamacca and Giacomo Raspadori.
Hellas are still decimated by COVID and have Ivan Ilic suspended, so these concerns could even themselves out. Either way, two very attack-minded coaches and squads will go at it, expect Overs and entertainment.
Napoli could be in for an upset at the Stadio Dall’Ara, because they were forced to extra time by Fiorentina in a 5-2 Coppa Italia defeat on Thursday evening and will be exhausted. There’s precious little option for squad rotation and Bologna can bring back Aaron Hickey, Nico Dominguez, Nicola Sansone and Adama Soumaoro.
Milan have similar concerns against Spezia, as Fikayo Tomori picked up a knee injury and Sandro Tonali is suspended. When Rade Krunic and Tiemoue Bakayoko played in midfield before, it hasn’t gone well. Spezia might not get points, but it shouldn’t be an easy ride for the Rossoneri.
Serie A Week 22 fixtures
Saturday January 15
Sampdoria vs. Torino
Salernitana vs. Lazio
Sunday January 16
Sassuolo vs. Verona
Venezia vs. Empoli
Monday January 17
Bologna vs. Napoli
Fiorentina vs. Genoa