Susy Campanale’s Serie A column: Gap closing on Milan and Napoli

Milan and Sassuolo club crests

We’re into Week 14 and there are no more unbeaten teams in Serie A. Milan and Napoli fell at the same hurdle, so remain locked together at the top, while Inter, Juventus and Atalanta closed the gap. This is the time of the season when injuries and fatigue begin to pile up, as the final decisive European fixtures are played, affecting form, confidence and of course team selection.

Wheels coming off for Napoli?

The wheels could well begin to come off the Napoli train now that Victor Osimhen is out for three months with multiple facial fractures following a clash of heads with Inter defender Milan Skriniar. Luciano Spalletti isn’t sold on the idea of Dries Mertens as a centre-forward, preferring him in a supporting role behind Andrea Petagna, who brings an aerial threat and no pace upfront. Losing Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa also robs the midfield of much of its solidity, while Lorenzo Insigne and Matteo Politano are in a race against time to recover for the big game with Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio.

Nobody knows the Partenopei better than Sarri and he could cause an upset here, or at the very least stall the progress of the leaders. Napoli opened the campaign better than anyone expected, but their descent may well have started.

Milan ready to pounce

Milan might be poised to take over as sole leaders, having an easier fixture at home to Sassuolo, who are missing impressive Davide Frattesi due to suspension.

Olivier Giroud is added to the absentee list, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is ready to lead the way and confidence was boosted by their midweek Champions League win away to Atletico Madrid. A good tip would be Domenico Berardi to score, as he has famously put nine goals past Milan in 15 previous meetings.

Fascinating Juventus-Atalanta

There’s a fascinating showdown between Juventus and Atalanta for the chance to continue chasing the top teams. Max Allegri and Gian Piero Gasperini couldn’t differ more in their football philosophies, but while the Bianconeri boss overall has the upper hand, things swung very much in Gasp’s direction recently with Allegri failing to win any of the last three meetings.

We saw with the 4-0 defeat at Chelsea that the Old Lady struggles against an aggressive opponent, and Atalanta are certainly that, but La Dea also fumbled a lead twice to draw 3-3 at Young Boys. In theory, goals would abound, but after games like that, it’s possible they’ll both try to rein it in a bit and be more defensive. Nonetheless, Both Teams to Score feels like a lock.

Goals in Spezia-Bologna, Tuscan derby intrigue

Elsewhere this weekend, Overs are to be expected in Spezia vs. Bologna, while the Tuscan Derby is an intriguing proposition. Empoli are better away, Fiorentina are strong at home, the Viola have their defenders back from suspension and Riccardo Saponara facing his former club. It ought to be entertaining with goals all around, although probably not quite at the same level as Fiorentina’s 4-3 win over Milan.

If any fixture is going to buck the trend for plenty of goals we are seeing in Serie A at the moment, it’s probably Udinese vs. Genoa. The Friulani struggle to score, Andriy Shevchenko is focused on making his Grifone more solid, it points to Under 2.5 Goals.

Serie A Week 14 fixtures

Friday November 26

Cagliari vs. Salernitana

Saturday November 27

Empoli vs. Fiorentina

Sampdoria vs. Verona

Juventus vs. Atalanta

Venezia vs. Inter

Sunday November 28

Udinese vs. Genoa

Spezia vs. Bologna

Milan vs. Sassuolo

Roma vs. Torino

Napoli vs. Lazio

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