Verona – Torino
Even after taking maximum points from their first two games, Torino might still have room to improve. Manager Giampiero Ventura is yet to deploy striker Andrea Belotti – the striker whom they procured for €7.5m from Palermo this summer. It is the most the Granata have paid for any player since Urbano Cairo became team president in 2005.
Belotti is expected to make his debut against Verona, likely at the expense of Maxi Lopez. Even if he doesn’t, though, the visitors deserve their status as favourites.
Away win – 2.30
Empoli – Napoli
There will be mixed emotions on all sides as Maurizio Sarri returns to face Empoli. The manager is fondly remembered for steering the Tuscans up to the top-flight – and for keeping them there so comfortably last season – but lost a lot of goodwill among fans when he took both Elseid Hysaj and Mirko Valdifiori with him to Napoli in the summer.
Sarri has made a slow start in his new post, taking just a single point from games against Sassuolo and Sampdoria. He arrived with a reputation as a defensive guru, but so far Napoli look every bit as vulnerable at the back as they did under Rafa Benítez. Empoli, though, have been a far weaker side without him.
Over 2.5 goals – 1.80
Palermo – Carpi
Two games, two goals and two wins so far for Palermo. With Alberto Gilardino preparing to make his debut alongside Franco Vazquez up front, the Sicilians will fancy their chances of extending their perfect start at home to opponents who have looked out of their depth so far in the top-flight, but could be at risk of getting too cocky. Carpi might just be able to make fresh legs count as one of only two teams in the division (along with Verona) to have none of their squad play in an international game over the last fortnight.
Draw – 4.10
Sampdoria – Bologna
There was a whiff of panic to Bologna’s late transfer spree, the Rossoblu adding three players – Saphir Taider, Emmanuele Giaccherini and Marko Krivicic – on deadline day. The first two are expected to go straight into their starting line-up.
Sampdoria’s most important piece of transfer business might simply have been to hold on to Eder, whose partnership with Luis Muriel has yielded six goals already, although he will need to keep scoring at a similar rate if Walter Zenga continues not to address his team’s inadequacies at the other end of the pitch.
Eder to score – 2.50
Sassuolo – Atalanta
Francesco Acerbi was asked this week whether he thought Sassuolo were ready, after winning their opening two games, to challenge for a place in Europe. The defender wisely sidestepped the question, saying instead that his team should aspire to be safe from relegation by March. Even this, more modest, ambition offers some insight into the confidence running through team after victories over Napoli and Bologna.
The Neroverdi are missing both of last season’s top two goalscorers – Simone Zaza having moved on to Juventus while Domenico Berardi recuperates from an ankle injury – but in their absence Antonio Floro Flores has stepped forward. Acerbi describes him as “a phenomenon”.
Floro Flores to score and Sassuolo to win – 4.40
Lazio – Udinese
Granted a full fortnight to contemplate his team’s 4-0 defeat at Chievo, Lazio manager Stefano Pioli has taken the opportunity to experiment with a new tactical approach. Instead of their usual 4-3-3, the Biancocelesti are expected to line up on Sunday in a 4-2-3-1 which would allow the manager to move Felipe Anderson – anonymous so far in this campaign – in from the wing to play in a more central role behind new signing Alessandro Matri.
Pioli, though, might have bigger problems at the back than he does up front. Lazio boasted the third-best defensive record in Serie A last season, but have conceded seven goals in their last two games between league and Europe. They approach this one without Stefan De Vrij, who aggravated a knee injury on international duty.
Over 2.5 goals – 2.08
Inter – Milan
The derby began in the summer, when Inter signed Geoffrey Kondogbia out from under Milan’s noses. It carried on from there as these clubs fought to upstage one another in the transfer market. Inter added Stevan Jovetic, Adem Ljajic, Ivan Perisic, Jeison Murillo, Miranda and Felipe Melo, but offset all this with the sales of Mateo Kovacic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Hernanes. Milan’s net spend was far higher as they recruited Carlos Bacca, Alessio Romagnoli, Andrea Bertolacci, Luiz Adriano and Mario Balotelli (to name but a few).
Such investment has restored enthusiasm on both sides of the city’s footballing divide. More than 3,000 fans turned out for Milan’s official squad presentation on Thursday afternoon. But so far neither team has looked fluid on the pitch. Inter have claimed maximum points but needed late goals from Stevan Jovetic to beat both Atalanta and Carpi. Milan lost to Fiorentina in their season opener, and were so unimpressive in victory over Empoli a week later that manager Sinisa Mihajlovic said afterwards that he felt as though his team had suffered another defeat.
There is an opportunity here for one of these teams to make a statement and build some momentum, but right now it is hard to know which. What we can say is that both teams have added players who know how to put the ball in the net.
Over 2.5 goals – 2.12