Carpi - Sassuolo
Carpi might have enjoyed this international break more than most. For only the second time all season, they had finished a round of fixtures outside of the relegation places, and the pause served to recover starting full-backs Cristian Zaccardo and Gaetano Letizia from injury as well.
Nothing is achieved yet. It is only goal difference keeping Carpi ahead of Palermo (not even the first tie-breaker in Serie A, but they could not be separated on head-to-head results). But Fabrizio Castori’s team have taken more points (14) than any of their relegation rivals since the midway point of this season. They have taken the exact same number, in that span, as seventh-placed Sassuolo.
Draw - 3.20
Juventus - Empoli
The Scudetto is in sight for Juventus. Five of the Bianconeri’s remaining eight games are to be played at J-Stadium - where they have lost just three league games in three-and-a-half seasons. They are unlikely to taste a fourth such defeat against Empoli, who have not won anywhere since 10 January.
But say this for the visitors: they do have the courage to attack. Empoli average more than a goal per game away from home and recently scored against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo. With Juventus missing their best centre-back, Leonardo Bonucci, as well as Sami Khedira to shield the defence, the visitors might find something to celebrate even in defeat.
Home team to win but both teams to score - 4.20
Udinese - Napoli
On paper, this should be a mismatch. Napoli are chasing a title, and have taken nine points from their last three games. Udinese are plunging towards the relegation zone, and have gathered only seven points from their last 12.
But there are a few considerations which give me pause. Pepe Reina is injured. Gonzalo Higuaín, who has scored 48% of Napoli’s goals, only returned on Thursday from Argentina after a pair of draining World Cup qualifiers. And Udinese are coming off one of their best performances for some time, drawing 1-1 away to Sassuolo. I’m hardly about to cast them as favourites, but I think the odds on them getting something from this game are a little too long.
Draw - 4.60
Atalanta - Milan
There has been no announcement from Milan confirming that they will part ways with Sinisa Mihajlovic at the end of this season, but that is the way things are headed. The manager has not seen eye-to-eye with Silvio Berlusconi for some time.
The key question for Milan is whether their efforts to pin down a Europa League spot will be undermined by such behind-the-scenes machinations. Results had already taken a turn for the worse over the past couple of games, but an appointment with Atalanta, whose win over nine-man Bologna was their first in more than three months, could be just the tonic.
Away win - 2.35
Chievo - Palermo
There has been no new manager bump for Palermo, who have taken a solitary point from their two games since appointing Walter Novellino. They have finally slipped into the relegation zone and that is hardly an anomalous outcome. Only one team in Serie A has conceded more goals than Palermo this season, and only two have scored fewer.
Chievo are a substantially better team, for whom the chief risk on Sunday will be a lack of competitive drive as they cruise towards a midtable finish. Together these two opponents have scored only five times between them over their previous five rounds of matches, so do not expect a wide-open game.
At least one team fails to score - 1.93
Fiorentina - Sampdoria
It has been 10 months since Vincenzo Montella lost his job as manager of Fiorentina but, as he prepares to return to the Stadio Artemio Franchi for the first time as an opposing manager, it is clear that the memory still rankles. He spoke this week of how the board informed him of their decision in a letter.
Revenge will not come easily against opponents who sit 23 points ahead of Montella’s Sampdoria. Fiorentina, though, have gone four games without a win and drawn their last two matches against Verona and Frosinone - last and second-last in the table respectively. Samp beat both of those teams convincingly in the last five weeks.
Draw - 4.00
Genoa - Frosinone
The Jekyll and Hyde story of Frosinone’s season continues, positive results at home offset by awful ones outside of the Stadio Matusa. Only once in their last nine away games have the Ciociari conceded fewer than two goals.
Home team to score more than 1.5 goals - 1.68
Lazio - Roma
The stands of the Stadio Olimpico will be semi-deserted on Sunday, but do not interpret that as a loss of interest in the derby. Supporters of both Lazio and Roma have been boycotting matches all season in response to a decision by the city’s Prefect to split the Curve, where the Ultras typically reside, in two for apparent safety reasons.
But make no mistake, this match still matters - even aside from the impact it could have on Roma’s bid for a top-three finish. The Giallorossi are in far better shape, having won eight in a row before their draw with Inter. Lazio have lacked either a consistent source of goals or solidity at the back since Stefan De Vrij went down injured at the start of the season. Derbies have a narrative all of their own, but I will still back the better team.
Away win - 2.17
Inter - Torino
For all the frustrations this season has brought, Inter remain just five points outside the Champions League places. They have won their last four home matches and, with the exception of a visit from Napoli, their run-in looks manageable.
But if they are to stand any chances of cracking back into the top three, they would certainly need to win games such as this one. With Mauro Icardi returning from injury to boost the attack, I expect that they will.
Home win - 1.75
Bologna - Verona
Bologna’s form had been slipping before the international break, but Verona’s has been woeful all season. And it is hard to imagine Serie A’s last-placed team saving themselves now after recent defeats to relegation rivals Udinese, Sampdoria and Carpi.
If nothing else, though, they ought to avoid a thrashing. Bologna have scored only two goals in their last six games, and top scorer Mattia Destro is injured.
Under 2.5 goals - 1.70