Empoli – Inter
At last, the Roberto Mancini era (version 2.0) has begun in earnest. Inter’s victory over Genoa last weekend was the manager’s first league win at San Siro since returning to the club in November. With old players adapting to his methods and new ones arriving in line with his requests to the board, this is finally beginning to feel like his team.
Mancini’s biggest dilemma this weekend will be whether to hand Xherdan Shaqiri his first start. Given that the Swiss player was not in the very best shape when he arrived, an appearance off the bench seems more likely. Empoli are a robust side who were unbeaten in eight games across all competitions before losing 1-0 at Sampdoria last weekend. But Inter seem finally to have the bit between their teeth.
Away win – 2.10
Palermo – Roma
Francesco Totti would need to play just 23 minutes this weekend to pass another career landmark: that of having played 1,000 hours of football in his Roma career. Unfortunately for the Giallorossi, his availability is in doubt after he sustained a blow to the ribs during Sunday’s derby against Lazio.
Without Totti, Rudi Garcia would have a conundrum up front, selecting between Mattia Destro or Adem Ljajic to replace the captain in the middle of his attack. The former player has not scored in two-and-a-half months, while the latter has also gone off the boil after enjoying a purple patch in November. The same cannot be said for Palermo’s Paulo Dybala, who is set to return from a one-game injury lay-off, and has seven goals in his last eight matches.
Dybala to score – 3.45
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