Juventus-Udinese: despite being under siege for the whole second half, the Bianconeri survived in Napoli and further broaden their lead atop of the standings. Despite the results in the domestic league, where they have won four in a row and seven in the last eight and are still undefeated, the squad seems to be trending down in the last couple of weeks. The Zebrette are coming off two massive wins over Chievo and Bologna, which allowed them to jump to the 15th position and move seven points clear of the final three spots. Miralem Pjanic and Joao Cancelo are suspended and coach Massimiliano Allegri is expected to heavily rotate the squad ahead of the second leg with Atletico Madrid, but they are not particularly deep. Therefore, at least two between Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi are expected to start: the final two are the most in-form. The Portuguese ace has never gone scoreless for four games in a row. Moise Kean will make an appearance and his scoring average is impressive. Emre Can is doing some damage offensively as of late. As for the guests, Ignacio Pussetto has been their leader recently, Rodrigo De Paul got off his schneid in the last game and they rely heavily on Stefano Okaka, which has made Kevin Lasagna vanish, although this could be a pretty nice spot for him. They have not scored in the last five away games though.
Chievo-Milan: the Flying Donkeys have yet to win in 2019 and have lost in five of the last seven fixtures, so at this point only math keeps their hopes alive since they are 12 points behind the 17th-placed Empoli. Their last defeats came at the hands of Roma, Udinese and Torino. The Rossoneri have made the day four times in a row, against Cagliari, Atalanta, Empoli and Sassuolo, although the performance against the Neroverdi was unimpressive, perhaps due to the midweek Coppa Italia semi-final. Chievo have not scored in the last four matches, where they missed Sergio Pellissier, as Mariusz Stepinski, Filip Djordjevic and Riccardo Meggiorini have misfired. Emanuele Giaccherini and a pair of youngster, Mehdi Leris and Sofian Kiyine, have been solid, but they struggle to generate good offense, so the Rossoneri defenders are definitely in play here. Krzysztof Piatek has not scored in two games in a row, which is a rarity. Hakan Calhanoglu has recently racked up some bonus points, while Suso, who is dealing with a nagging groin injury, has not showed up in the scoresheet in a while. Lucas Paquetà, Franck Kessiè and reserve Samu Castillejo have been very reliable options lately.
Inter-SPAL: the Nerazzurri took a bad tumble in Cagliari after winning two in a row, versus Parma and Sampdoria, and equalizing with some bad luck against Fiorentina and lost the third spot to Milan. The Estensi are winless in the last five rounds, where they shared the spoils with Torino and Sassuolo and were upended by Atalanta, La Viola and the Blucerchiati. While Mauro Icardi is not expected to come back anytime soon, Lautaro Martinez has stepped up and has bagged two in the last four games. Ivan Perisic looked to be in a groove but he had a nightmare showing in Sardinia and he got hurt in Europa League. Radja Nainggolan was finally in strong form, but he hurt his calf and, combined with Matias Vecino’s suspension, it leaves them short-handed. Joao Mario, Borja Valero and/or Roberto Gagliardini will fill in, but they are not very appealing fantasy options. A bigger burden will fall on Antonio Candreva, Mattia Politano and Marcelo Brozovic. The Biancazzurri sorely miss Manuel Lazzari and it is uncertain whether he will be able to return this weekend. Andrea Petagna has found the target a lot recently and Sergio Floccari has emerged as the best option out of their crop of second-striker, since Mirco Antenucci and Andrea Paloschi have not done much. Jasmin Kurtic has been a stud all year long and also Mattia Valoti has some fantasy appeal now that he is featured constantly.
Sassuolo-Napoli: the Neroverdi got off to a convincing start off the Winter break, but then fell back into their inconsistencies as they have not won in the last five fixtures and have been topped by Juventus, Empoli and Milan in the most recent four, all without scoring. The Partenopei were bested by the Bianconeri last week, who handed them their first home loss. They had not conceded in five straight, but that was obviously an odd game due to the early red card to Alex Meret. Roberto De Zerbi keeps looking for solutions up front, but the returns of using Filip Djuricic as false-nine and Jeremie Boga more have not been great from a scoring standpoint. They might soon go back to Khouma Babacar and Federico Di Francesco. Domenico Berardi remains a nexus, but his numbers are pedestrian this year too. They will have back Alfred Duncan. As for the Azzurri, Arkadiusz Milik and Lorenzo Insigne will be looking to bounce back after a letdown, for different reasons, and the Emilians are indeed a little leaky. Piotr Zielinski and José Callejon are in a stellar moment.
Roma-Empoli: the Giallorossi’s superb run came to an end in the worst possible way, as they were soundly bested by Lazio in the Derby and then eliminated by Porto in dramatic fashion, which led to the coaching change. The Tuscans salvaged a precious point against Parma, which keeps them afloat in the relegation fight. They have floundered against the top teams this year. The midweek clash with Porto will leave some residues, but they will be certainly counting on Patrik Schick as Edin Dzeko is suspended and the Czech striker had shown some interesting stuff before getting hurt. There is some potential for a high scoring affairs, which could be good news for Nicolò Zaniolo, Stephan El Shaarawy, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Justin Kluivert or Diego Perotti, depending on who is fielded and who is rested, but also Francesco Caputo, Diego Farias and Rade Krunic, all three in a pretty nice rhythm, for the Azzuri, as Roma will be undermanned defensively.
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