Udinese – Milan
The Stadio Friuli has never been a particularly intimidating venue. Even before the present renovations – which have temporarily reduced the venue’s capacity to just under 10,000 people – average crowds for Udinese home games were less than 40% the size of those that even this diminished Milan team can draw to San Siro.
And yet, in recent seasons the Friuli had nevertheless been a fortress. Udinese averaged almost 11 home wins per year over their past six campaigns.
Things have been different this time around. Udinese have claimed a single victory in their last 10 matches on their own turf. Antonio Di Natale is not carving out the opportunities he once did – although he remains the club’s top scorer on 11 goals – and his team-mates have failed to pick up the slack. Were this a better Milan team, I would say that the Zebrette were there for the taking. But they aren’t, so I’ll plump for a draw instead.
Draw – 3.20
Inter – Roma
Italy’s newspapers have been thick with speculation regarding the players that Inter will buy this summer, but for now Roberto Mancini might consider experimenting a little more with the group that he has. Eighteen-year-old Ivorian midfielder Assane Gnoukouri made a promising first start against Milan and is expected to find his way into the XI again this weekend. With dreams of Europe fading, Mancini ought to give a chance to some other members of his club’s table-topping youth team before the end of the campaign.
Roma might also benefit from the introduction of one or two new faces, but the gamble is far greater for a team that is barely clinging onto its Champions League berth. The five-point gap to fourth-place Napoli looks slender in the light of recent results. Roma have won just two of their last nine league games, and, most troublingly, scored only six goals along the way. Gervinho returns for this game after a month on the sidelines, but was not exactly in scintillating form before his hamstring injury.
At least one team fails to score – 1.88