The next Serie A slate is pretty tasty on paper.
Fiorentina-Juventus: the Viola are having a weird season. They started off decently, showing well especially at home, where they are still undefeated and have a sound defense, but they have struggled to score recently. They have not netted more than one since late September and they have drawn in their last five matches, against Cagliari, Torino, Roma, Frosinone and Bologna. On the other hand, the Old Lady is cruising with 12 wins in the year, four in a row after the tumble against Genoa, but it will be tested before the break. Fiorentina’s offensive problems stem primarily from Giovanni Simeone and Marko Pjaca’s poor form, as they have combined for just three goals so far. Federico Chiesa is always doing stuff, but he has not bagged many as well. Jordan Veretout and Marco Benassi are chipping in significantly there, but they certainly can not have the same numbers the strikers are supposed to have. In that regard, the Bianconeri have been carried almost exclusively by Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic, who have drilled nine and six respectively, while Paulo Dybala has been subpar in this stat in Serie A. Douglas Costa looked explosive in his last appearance.
Milan-Parma: a late goal denied the Rossoneri a quality win over Lazio, as they continue to try their best with what the slew of long-term injuries left at their disposal. The Ducali are probably the biggest revelation of the season as they climbed to the sixth spot after the victories over Torino and Sassuolo. They are 3-3 on the road, with some tough losses, so this could be an acid test to see where they are at. While Suso has understandably slowed down a little, the good news for Gennaro Gattuso came from Hakan Calhanoglu, who finally seemed healthy and lively in Rome. Patrick Cutrone will spearhead the front-line again with Gonzalo Higuain serving the second and final game of his suspension, but Parma have a sneakily robust defense. As designed, the Gialloblù are getting a lot from Gervinho, who is tailor-made for how they play and has been unexpectedly clinical, while Roberto Inglese bagged three so far, but is still hampered by the injury that forced him to miss some time. The Crociati have scored just 14 goals so far.
Chievo-Lazio: the Flying Donkeys managed to stop Napoli in Domenico Di Carlo’s debut, which was certainly a feat, and they will now square off against another potent attack. Lazio were uninspiring against Milan, but Joaquin Correa’s strike allowed them to salvage a point late. They continue to stutter against good opponents, while they have killed the minnows so far. If the Gialloblù do not replicate the performance they had at San Paolo, this could be a nice spot for Ciro Immobile to pad his stats. The difficulties of Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are well-documented, but Felipe Caicedo and especially Correa have been able to take advantage of them to carve meaningful roles and Marco Parolo has had more freedom for his channel runs. Di Carlo is mixing it up and started Sergio Pellissier in the last game trying to get something going up front. In any case, Valter Birsa and Mariusz Stepinski remains their biggest weapons, while Sofian Kiyine has been a pleasant surprise.
Roma-Inter: the Giallorossi found a way to lose in Udine after a listless showing and they have brought home the full loot just once in their last five Serie A fixtures. They played better against Real Madrid, but they were so wasteful and melted after the Galacticos got the lead. The Beneamata bounced back after the shocking loss against Atalanta and eclipsed Frosinone, prevailing for the eight time in their last nine matches. The two teams are going in different directions in terms of contributors since Roma’s ones are dropping like flies with injuries, while Luciano Spalletti is getting some new help from the summer additions. Edin Dzeko, Stephan El Shaarawy, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Javier Pastore and Daniele De Rossi are expected to miss this game and those are many goals on the shelves. They will have to hope for some consistency from Patrik Schick, better aim from Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert and a big performance from Alessandro Florenzi and Bryan Cristante, then it would not hurt if one of the youngsters Nicolò Zaniolo and Ante Coric rose to the occasion. Balde Keita was stupendous against Frosinone, but it will likely take a string of those outings to unseat Ivan Perisic, while Lautaro Martinez will have to settle for some spot starts and minutes off the bench as Mauro Icardi is not going anywhere. Their most utilized attacker so far turned out to be Matteo Politano. This could have been Radja Nainggolan’s revenge game, but it looks like he got hurt again in the Tottenham tilt.
Atalanta-Napoli: the Bergamaschi were over-confident in Empoli and frittered away a two-zip lead and the opportunity to amass five wins in a row. The Partenopei were surprisingly unable to find the net versus Chievo in a classic case of post international break blues and too much focus on the Champions League. They have been very prolific away, but it feels like Gian Piero Gasperini’s squads always come to play in the more prestigious match-ups. However, he will not be able to rely on who has been their best player in the last few weeks as Josip Ilicic picked up a silly red card. Since Musa Barrow is also likely out, it will be up to Mario Pasalic and Emiliano Rigoni to try to fill those huge shoes. Alejandro Gomez will have a more prominent role and his little recent slump has been hidden by the rise of his Slovenian teammate. Duvan Zapata is in a good moment and will face his former team. Carlo Ancelotti will likely continue to rotate the squad, but the main actors continue to be Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Fabian Ruiz, while Arek Milik has not been efficient when given just limited minutes, José Callejon is more of an assistman and Piotr Zielinski is in a drought, but at least Marek Hamsik finally scored one.
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