The first Serie A match after the break for international duty is always a tricky one to predict, as so much can depend on who is available and what condition they are in. That becomes even more difficult when we are faced with some huge fixtures, as Simone Inzaghi and Inter visit his old hunting ground Lazio, while Roma boss Jose Mourinho renews his eternal battle with Max Allegri and Juventus.
Rotten luck for Rossoneri
Milan really do take the biscuit when it comes to bad luck, managing to lose Mike Maignan for three months to a wrist injury, Theo Hernandez to COVID-19 and the usual parade of other assorted ailments that befall the Rossoneri squad at one stage or another. They are unbeaten in Serie A so far this season, dropping points only once.
However, Hellas Verona will feel they can get something from this game. At least Olivier Giroud returns up front for Milan, but Nikola Kalinic will have a point to prove against the club where he flopped horribly. Miguel Veloso is also back in midfield to give some creativity to Igor Tudor’s gritty side.
Lazio and Inter to produce goal fest?
The biggest games of the weekend are also the toughest to predict and again injuries and suspensions play a key part in how we approach them. Francesco Acerbi is a huge loss for the Lazio defence, which is shaky at the best of times, but Ciro Immobile should return upfront.
Inter depend so much on their South American contingent, who fly back on Friday or even Saturday morning. It’s hard not to see goals between these teams and Inzaghi knows the Biancocelesti better than anyone. Maurizio Sarri’s tactics haven’t sunk in yet, as usual, and Lazio remain a bit of an enigma.
Juventus and Roma a heavyweight puzzle
Juventus vs. Roma represents another complicated puzzle of South Americans, minor injuries and doubts. Paulo Dybala should at least be on the bench for the Bianconeri, but Moise Kean is expected to lead the attack with support from Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi. Tammy Abraham returned from England with a badly bruised ankle and remains a major doubt, so Eldor Shomurodov is a very different type of centre-forward.
If this game is decided in the midfield, then Roma have an advantage with a far stronger group, but Juve will have no qualms about going on the counter-attack even though they are the home team. If there isn’t an early goal, this could be stuck in stalemate mode for a while. If there is, it could run wild.
Empoli to upset Atalanta?
Where we could see a real surprise is at the Stadio Castellani, where Atalanta have their usual problem of so many internationals tired and already gearing up for the Champions League. Luis Muriel is back in the starting XI, but Matteo Pessina, Robin Gosens, Hans Hateboer and Berat Djimsiti are all big long-term losses.
Empoli have found their feet after a shaky start and already proved against Juventus they are stronger against the big boys than smaller opponents, so will be really fired up for this. I would be intrigued by the odds on Empoli getting a victory here.
Napoli to leave it late
Napoli lost a Champions League spot last season due to the draw with Hellas Verona and Ivan Juric is back at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, this time on the Torino bench. However, this is a very different Granata side, one decimated by injury problems and tending to concede late goals. The hosts’ 100% record should continue into Week 9, but probably not a complete walkover until the last 20-30 minutes.