None of the top six managed a victory last week, confirming that the return of European fixtures will generally affect form in Serie A, as none of these sides truly have much strength in depth.
Milan still missing Ibrahimovic
Milan were out of continental competition in December, but that didn’t stop them stumbling to a 2-2 draw against Salernitana, and they face similar issues on Friday when preparing for the Coppa Italia semi-final with Inter.
Ismael Bennacer is suspended and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still injured, so squad rotation isn’t really an option for Stefano Pioli. Udinese held Lazio and tend to play considerably better than their recent results would suggest, so could at least nick a goal at San Siro.
Inter need a win
Inter are without a win in three Serie A rounds, managing just a 1-1 draw away to Napoli, between home defeats to Milan and Sassuolo. On Friday evening they visit a Genoa side who drew all four games under third coach of the campaign Alexander Blessin. You’ve got to fancy the odds on a fifth straight stalemate for the Grifone and another spanner in the Scudetto race.
Lazio, Napoli facing Europa League fatigue
Lazio and Napoli both crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday to FC Porto and Barcelona respectively. Ciro Immobile and Pedro made their comebacks midweek, so ought to start, but fatigue could be a real problem for both teams.
Add in that it’s Maurizio Sarri against his former club, and ex-Roma coach Luciano Spalletti back at the Stadio Olimpico, you have a recipe for a fun evening. This one should be wide open, both teams to score and plenty of them.
Empoli can snatch Juve draw
Juventus are finding their squad painfully thin too at the moment, with Weston McKennie and Kaio Jorge effectively out for the campaign. That’s not to mention the usual suspects like Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini on the treatment table, so a visit to Empoli has its risks. The only positive for Juve is that the Tuscans are far more effective on their travels than at the Stadio Castellani, but again a draw here might not be so improbable.
Goals in Sassuolo-Fiorentina and Verona-Venezia
Overs has to be the bet when Sassuolo and Fiorentina cross paths, as this is a battle for European ambitions between a pair of attack-minded young coaches fresh from impressive victories. The same goes for the Derby del Veneto between Hellas Verona and Venezia, sure to turn on the style, or at the very least the entertainment value when defending is optional.
The round concludes on Monday evening with Atalanta-Sampdoria, but a quick glance down the teamsheets is vital in this fixture. As if the injury crises weren’t enough, La Dea also have defenders Berat Djimsiti and Merih Demiral suspended, so are even more vulnerable at the back than usual. On the other hand, Antonio Candreva and Bartosz Bereszynski are suspended for Samp, weakening their usual attacking flair. Add in fatigue for the Bergamo boys after Thursday’s Europa League victory away to Olympiacos and it could be another Serie A setback. Both teams to score, potentially lay Atalanta.
Serie A Week 27 fixtures
Friday February 25
Milan vs. Udinese – betting preview
Genoa vs. Inter – betting preview
Saturday February 26
Salernitana vs. Bologna
Empoli vs. Juventus – betting preview
Sassuolo vs. Fiorentina
Sunday February 27
Torino vs. Cagliari
Verona vs. Venezia
Spezia vs. Roma – betting preview
Lazio vs. Napoli – betting preview
Monday February 28
Atalanta vs. Sampdoria