The Italian Serie A will have all its 10 league fixtures fulfilled on the same day which is a rarity for the Italian clubs who usually have the majority of matches taking place on the Sunday. The 3 big guns, AS Roma, Napoli and finally Juventus are the teams who kick off the action and also finish it. The clubs will have been casting a very anxious eye over the international fixtures in the past week; clenching their hands together and praying their respective players come back to club duty unscathed.
AS Roma v Napoli
Both sides aspired to close the gap on Juventus this year after the Turin side ran away with Serie A last season but unfortunately for Roma and Napoli, the same has occurred. Roma are in 2nd, 14 points off Juventus with 10 games to go which is surely too much of a mountain to climb. Roma’s home form of late hasn’t been particularly impressive.
They have lost their last 2 games against Sampdoria and Fiorentina and didn’t even manage to find the target either. That is despite the acquisitions of Seydou Doumbia and Victor Ibarbo in January and boss Rudi Garcia will be hoping that they can produce the form they showed at CSKA Moscow and Cagliari respectively.
Goal scoring has been the problem for Roma as they’ve scored a dismal 39 goals in 28 league games. A Ljajic is their top scorer on 8. Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain is the 4th top scorer in Serie A with 13 goals. Rafa Benitez will be desperate to close the gap on Roma and a defeat could prove disastrous in his final season as boss. Duvan Zapata scored an 89th minute leveller in Napoli’s 1-1 draw with Atalanta last time out and the Colombian could be rewarded with a start in Rome.
Palermo v AC Milan
Palermo have dropped down the table at an alarming rate after managing just 2 points from their last 15. That has seen AC Milan overtake them in the process as Milan slowly rise up the table in 8th position. AC are still unlikely to claw a place back into the European qualification positions as they’re 8 points off Fiorentina in 6th place.
Sinisa Andelkovic will be suspended for Palermo as the Slovenian defender picked up two yellow cards in his last outing against Chievo. Highly rated forward Paulo Dybala, who has 12 goals in 27 Serie A appearances this season will lead the line for Palermo and they’ll be grateful that Argentina have such strength in depth upfront as the 21-year old is on the verge of the international scene. Dybala hasn’t scored since 22nd February and is one of the main reason’s Palermo have slumped of late.
Spanish midfielder Suso scored twice midweek for AC Milan in a friendly against Reggiana whilst the internationals were being played. His brace could be rewarded with some game time against Palermo. A groin injury kept him out for up to 3 months and the former Liverpool midfielder will be hoping to help AC climb up the table as opposed to moving back down.
Juventus v Empoli
Juventus laboured to a 1-0 home victory against Genoa in their previous match and they welcome another mid table placed side to the Juventus Stadium. Carlos Tevez notched his 16th league goal of the season and alongside Argentinean team mate Roberto Pereyra, featured in the 2-0 victory over El Salvador a few days ago.
Unfortunately for Juventus Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo are still nursing injuries that will keep them out for the majority of the season remaining and they were dealt potentially bad news when Claudio Marchisio was alleged to have picked up an injury on duty with Italy. It has led to death threats to former Juventus manager, Antonio Conte, but the midfielder was pictured on social media in physiotherapy and the injury isn’t as worse as first feared.