SPAL-Roma: the Estensi are pretty much starving for points as they collected just one in their last five games, against Sassuolo, and were beaten by Atalanta, Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Inter, further signaling their struggles against good competition. Their lead over the danger zone has been cut to just two points. The Giallorossi partially course corrected after a rough week with a narrow win over Empoli, where they did not look imposing and were lucky in the end, but also had to endure a host of absences. One of the main issues for the Biancazzurri has been the fact that they have not identified reliable offensive contributors other than Andrea Petagna, Jasmin Kurtic and Manuel Lazzari and the house of cards crumbled once the wing back was sidelined by an injury. He could be back this week. They have been alternating the second-strikers, Mirco Antenucci, Andrea Paloschi and Sergio Floccari, but with meager returns. The Giallorossi were propelled by Stephan El Shaarawy and Patrik Schick in Claudio Ranieri’s first game back and the Czech striker could have a renaissance after a big vote of confidence from the new coach. Edin Dzeko will be available after a suspension and he has been a terror on the road. Nicolò Zaniolo is banged up, but would represent one of the best options out of the midfield if starting, as per usual. Justin Kluivert was impressive in the last game and Diego Perotti is finally in a good stretch, but their fantasy appeal hinges on how many minutes they are given.
Genoa-Juventus: after picking up points for six rounds in a row, mostly through ties, the Griffon got beat on the road by Parma. The Bianconeri are coming off a feat against Atletico Madrid, while they crushed Udinese with their B-team in the last Serie A game versus Udinese and have prevailed in five consecutive matches, scoring multiple goals in four of them. The Rossoblù have failed to do so in three straight, as their newfound defensive solidity has had a cost on the other side of the ball. Antonio Sanabria has been poorly fed in the last month, while Christian Kouamè and Darko Lazovic have not been as effective. They also do not have many alternatives, as Goran Pandev is good only in small spurts, and Daniel Bessa is better in the midfield. Coach Massimiliano Allegri could opt again for a reserve-filled lineup after the draining bout with Colchoners, but the fact that the break is coming up gives him flexibility. Moise Kean and Paulo Dybala would be elite options if they were in the XI and Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously eager to re-claim the top of the scorers’ chart. They are getting some goals out of the midfield lately, in particular from Emre Can: it could be Rodrigo Bentancur’s turn this time.
Lazio-Parma: the Biancocelesti wasted a good opportunity to snatch a quality win in Florence, as they dominated in the first half, but netted just one goal, and allowed La Viola to equalize with a pedestrian output after intermission. They find themselves two points behind the sixth-placed Torino and Atalanta, but have played one fewer match. They had made the day in three of the previous four. The Ducali snapped out of their schneid with a one-nil victory over Genoa: they had amassed just two points in the previous six fixtures. Ciro Immobile is suspended and therefore Felipe Caicedo will slide in the XI: he has found the target in his last three starts. Joaquin Correa and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are in fine form, but they have not been able to rack up goals so far this season, while Luis Alberto has not been concretely heard in a while. Despite the lack of results, the Crociati have been able to score a lot on the road, with Gervinho and Juraj Kucka leading the way and Roberto Inglese always serving as a big reference point for their offense, even though he is currently in a slump.
Napoli-Udinese: the Partenopei are coming off a rather lackadaisical effort in Sassuolo and were unable to bounce right back after the loss to Juventus. Udinese were brutalized by the Madama and have been very poor on the road, but the two recent home wins over Chievo and Bologna keep them very much afloat in the relegation race. With the title chances basically null, the Azzurri are focusing more in Europa League, which resulted in some back-ups like Adam Ounas, Amadou Diawara and Simone Verdi getting the call against the Neroverdi, much for the despair of the fantasy owners. Piotr Zielinski, Arkadiusz Milik and Lorenzo Insigne would be in a great spot in this one and one of the forwards will have to start, while Dries Mertens has not looked right for months now. The Bianconeri had not scored in five straight road games before a cheap one in the Turin’s Stadium. Stefano Okaka is said to be banged up, so they could choose again the light front-line featuring their two best guys Ignacio Pussetto and Rodrigo De Paul, or deploy Kevin Lasagna, who knocked one home last week.
Milan-Inter: the always much-awaited Derby comes at the best time for the Rossoneri, who are riding a five-game winning streak, and in not such an opportune one for Inter, who returned to winning ways last week versus SPAL but are dealing with a slew of injuries and the prolonged Mauro Icardi saga. In Italy, they often say that who arrives in worse shape in a Derby ends up winning it, we will see whether popular wisdom will turn out to be true once again. Krzysztof Piatek continues to rain hellfire on opponents, but they have not found yet a clear no.2 yet, as their other most recent goals have been rather random. They do not lack options, but they all have something going on as Suso is in a funk, Hakan Calhanoglu has been mostly down all year barring a recent spark and Lucas Paquetà has looked gassed recently. Their non-Piatek most dangerous weapons have been Franck Kessiè and Samu Castillejo as of late. Icardi is not expected back this week, so Lautaro Martinez will spearhead the attack once again: he has been solid, but he has also left some goals on the table. Radja Nainggolan, Ivan Perisic and Balde Keita are not in peak physical shape and it is uncertain if and in what capacity they will be able to contribute. Matteo Politano is finding consistency in the final third and Matias Vecino tends to show up in high-stakes matches.
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