Inter – Juventus
This time of the season is all about priorities. Juventus need to win two games to seal an historic treble, and the Derby d’Italia is not one of them. The Coppa Italia final, moved forward to next Wednesday after the Bianconeri qualified for the Champions League final, is.
Massimiliano Allegri will rotate Juve’s starting XI against Inter, even if it means risking a defeat. Claudio Marchisio and Alvaro Morata – each suspended for the Coppa Italia final – might be the only players retained from Wednesday’s draw in Madrid. Inter are unbeaten in seven matches, and ought to feel confident of overcoming a weakened opponent. But Hernanes, a star of recent successes, is suspended, and the Nerazzurri have still only won one home game since February.
Draw – 3.30
Sampdoria – Lazio
Life became more complicated for Lazio with the moving forward of the Coppa Italia final. As eager as the club is to cap this fine campaign with a piece of silverware, they are also locked into an increasingly tight battle with Roma and Napoli for Serie A’s remaining two Champions League places. Lazio play each of those teams in their two final games, increasing further the pressure to win against Samp.
The Biancocelesti, though, are slipping. They have won only one of their last five matches – and that against last-placed Parma. Their starting goalkeeper, Federico Marchetti, is suspended, and so is centre-back Mauricio. The latter would not be a big deal if Stefan De Vrij were fit, but – after failing to make his anticipated return from injury last weekend – the Dutchman is still in doubt. Samp have failed to even score in five of their last six meetings with Lazio, but should do so against a weakened back-line.
Home win – 3.00
Sassuolo – Milan
Sixteen months have passed since Sassuolo tried to make Pippo Inzaghi their manager. Milan resisted the Neroverdi’s attempts to hire him away from his position as coach of their youth team in January 2014. Inzaghi indicated at the time that he had been flattered by the interest, praising Sassuolo as “an ambitious team with clear, innovative and concrete ideas”. Gazzetta dello Sport speculated that he might yet get the chance to manage them if, as expected, he is fired by Milan this summer.
For now, Milan and Sassuolo must play out the string, neither of them with any tangible targets left to chase. The hosts have failed to score in either of their last two games at the Mapei Stadium.
Total goals by home team: under 0.5 – 3.25
Atalanta – Genoa
Genoa’s dreams of Europe are drifting away. The club are appealing against the decision to deny them a Uefa licence for next season, but owner Gian Piero Gasperini has acknowledged that he does not expect to succeed. In the meantime, the Grifone have also been hit with a further injury, M’Baye Niang suffering a knee sprain that could keep him out for the remainder of the season.
Atalanta have selection headaches of their own, with five players suspended including top scorer Germán Denis and centre-back Giuseppe Biava. They are unbeaten in six matches, but this might be the occasion when so many absences catch up to them.
Away win – 2.85
Cagliari – Palermo
The numbers say that Cagliari can still escape from relegation. But everybody knows they cannot. Eight points behind Atalanta with three games left to play, the Sardinians would need to win every remaining fixture and while the Orobici lost all of theirs. Even taken individually, neither of those two propositions is likely to be fulfilled.
But perhaps Cagliari can at least keep the dream alive for one more weekend. They have collected seven points in four games since promoting youth team coach Gianluca Festa to the position of caretaker manager, while a demob happy Palermo have picked up just two over the same stretch.
Home win – 2.10
Torino – Chievo
Successive defeats in Serie A have effectively ended Torino’s hopes of returning to the Europa League next season. Perhaps that is for the best. Manager Giampiero Ventura mooted at the end of Monday’s 5-1 shellacking by Genoa that his team – who conceded three goals in the final three minutes plus injury time – were exhausted from a campaign that had already run to 50 games.
Chievo, by contrast, have looked fresh as a daisy over the last three months – losing only once since 22 February. There is scope here for an upset, and the long odds on that outcome make it hard to resist.
Away win – 5.00
Verona – Empoli
Empoli have enjoyed their first season back in the top-flight. Besides achieving safety with time to spare, they have also played some very entertaining football. Five of their last six games have featured four or more goals. Verona, level with them on 41 points, should be willing to engage in an open encounter, as they seek to help Luca Toni towards the top of the scoring charts.
Over 3.5 goals – 2.55
Roma – Udinese
How will Roma react to their week in a not-quite training camp? Manager Rudi Garcia has been reluctant to use the stick to motivate his squad in the past, but imposed a halfway measure this week when he obliged players to spend several nights together at the Fulvio Bernardini practice facility. They were still allowed to go home on Thursday, but ordered not to be seen out and about in bars and restaurants.
Garcia will have to do without the suspended Alessandro Florenzi this weekend, a blow given his recent form – and especially for a team who are still struggling in front of goal. Udinese’s weaknesses were exposed in a 4-1 defeat to Sampdoria last weekend, but they have found the net at least once in each of their last six games, raising the question: do Roma have it in them to score twice?
Both teams to score – 1.80