The Derby della Madonnina looms large over the weekend’s Serie A fixtures, much as the statue the game is named after watches over the city of Milan from the top of the Duomo. Not only is this a clash between local rivals, but also two of the top three going head-to-head and this time around Hakan Calhanoglu facing the club he left as a free agent over the summer to cross the city divide.
Calhanoglu the villain
It’s safe to say Calhanoglu will get a frosty reception from the fans, even worse than the one Gianluigi Donnarumma received when he played at San Siro for Italy in the Nations League. They are already gearing up to lose Franck Kessie in similar circumstances and he has looked a shadow of his usual self this season.
Theo Hernandez sits out a ban in a major loss, with Ante Rebic and Fode Ballo-Toure also in doubt, so Pierre Kalulu could step in. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to lead the attack against Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez, it all promises goals, entertainment and two teams really going at each other. The derby is rarely a cagey affair and these two coaches want to prove a point as well as win the game.
Juve, Fiorentina renew old rivalry
Another fixture known for being fiery is the age-old rivalry between Juventus and Fiorentina. Add in the Bianconeri openly courting Dusan Vlahovic amid another contract dispute and you have a recipe for something pretty spectacular.
Max Allegri seems to have realised that scoring one goal isn’t enough if your defence cannot be relied upon, so hopefully he’ll be a bit more attack-minded from now on. That’s not been an issue for the Viola, although their results have not matched the performances lately. Both teams to score feels like a lock.
Napoli can’t take Verona for granted
Napoli should in theory see this weekend as an ideal opportunity to break away at the top of the table, seeing as Milan and Inter go head-to-head. However, they already learned last season that taking Hellas Verona for granted is a dangerous prospect, as a draw here on the final day saw them fumble that Champions League spot.
Luciano Spalletti’s men are fresh from a Europa League victory in Warsaw on Thursday, but Kalidou Koulibaly is suspended, with Victor Osimhen and Lorenzo Insigne still not 100 per cent fit. Verona have already caused several upsets since Igor Tudor took over, beating Roma, Lazio and Juventus fairly comfortably, and fumbling a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 against Milan. Considering Napoli played on Thursday night, this is not a result to be assumed and Hellas could cause serious problems at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Lazio, Roma ripe for surprises
Lazio famously crumbled after every Europa League game and one would think they’d have it easy against Salernitana, but any side with Franck Ribery and Nwankwo Simy can’t be underestimated, especially after a boost in confidence following the arrival of new coach Stefano Colantuono. Although a Salernitana win might be beyond them, both teams to score feels worth a punt. An exhausted Roma visiting Venezia could be another potential surprise between two clubs furious with referees and VAR, so more than likely to pick up plenty of cards.
Serie A Week 12 fixtures
Friday November 5
Empoli vs. Genoa
Saturday November 6
Spezia vs. Torino
Cagliari vs. Atalanta
Sunday November 7
Sampdoria vs. Bologna
Udinese vs. Sassuolo
Lazio vs. Salernitana