Susy Campanale’s Serie A column: Tough tests for unbeaten Milan, Napoli

Inter and Napoli club crests

Italy must postpone their World Cup ambitions after the break for international duty and we dive straight back into the Scudetto race, with Serie A continuing uninterrupted until Christmas. It kicks off with several big games that could steer the title tussle in one direction or another.

Milan, Napoli facing tough tests

Milan and Napoli remain the only teams in Europe’s main five leagues to still be unbeaten, but they have very tough tests this weekend. The Rossoneri visit Dusan Vlahovic’s Fiorentina, a side that plays better football under Vincenzo Italiano than their recent results would suggest, while Napoli and third-place Inter go head-to-head at San Siro. Elsewhere, Juventus and Lazio do battle to climb back into the key positions in the Serie A table, with Maurizio Sarri facing an injury crisis upfront.

Inter vs. Napoli is undoubtedly the tastiest fixture of the Serie A weekend and could provide some intriguing betting opportunities. The Nerazzurri famously have not beaten any of the big clubs this season and the absence of Stefan de Vrij and Alexis Sanchez after picking up injuries on international duty will not help matters. At the same time, Napoli have scraped results lately and looked far too reliant on Victor Osimhen for goals, so a draw is a decent play here. While Inter are the top scoring side in Serie A this term, the Partenopei have the best defensive record, so one probably shouldn’t expect too many goals.

Milan have luck on their side for once when it comes to absentees, because the Fiorentina defence is absolutely decimated for this clash at the Stadio Franchi. Lucas Martinez-Quarta and Nikola Milenkovic are both suspended, with Matija Nastasic injured playing for Serbia, so Igor is the only available centre-back. This is not a side that defends well at the best of times, let alone in these circumstances, although it’s possible Bartlomiej Dragowski could be back in goal. Milan always seem to get a goal and Fiorentina, even with on-form Vlahovic, struggle against the bigger clubs. A Rossoneri victory is the bet in Tuscany.

Lazio and Juventus both fighting injuries

Similarly, you have to look at the team sheets and who might not be playing at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday. Ciro Immobile is out of action with Adam Marusic, but Pedro has shaken off a knock and should fill in as a False 9 for Lazio. It’s evident Maurizio Sarri doesn’t trust Vedat Muriqi with any kind of responsibility upfront, so Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic can try to create more goals from midfield. Juventus have similar concerns for Paulo Dybala, who had a slight problem for Argentina, so Federico Chiesa could partner Alvaro Morata upfront.

The biggest concern for Juve is the middle of the park, where Max Allegri continues to tinker and try to find his alchemy. It’s a familiar tale for Sarri, who struggled to get the team going in his one season at the helm, even if he was still able to clinch the Scudetto. Lazio have a far more balanced midfield, especially with Danilo Cataldi doing the work for Luis Alberto, so add Felipe Anderson, Mattia Zaccagni and even Pedro able to drop deep, and they ought to control possession. That doesn’t necessarily mean a victory, of course, so both teams to score certainly has potential with one team focused on taking the initiative and the other ready to counter.

Genoa debut for Shevchenko

Elsewhere, Andriy Shevchenko makes his debut on the Genoa bench and welcomes Jose Mourinho’s Roma. The Ukrainian is missing quite a few players, but the Giallorossi’s abysmal defending and lack of balance suggests plenty of goals at Marassi.

Serie A Week 13 fixtures

Saturday November 20

Atalanta vs. Spezia

Lazio vs. Juventus

Fiorentina vs. Milan

Sunday November 21

Sassuolo vs. Cagliari

Salernitana vs. Sampdoria

Bologna vs. Venezia

Inter vs. Napoli

Genoa vs. Roma

Monday November 22

Verona vs. Empoli

Torino vs. Udinese

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