Fiorentina – Lazio
As the dust settled on Serbia’s abandoned match against Albania this week, Lazio welcomed back players representing both sides. Lorik Cana and Etrit Berisha had both started for Albania, while Filip Djordjevic was on the bench for their opponents. Dusan Basta would also likely have played for Serbia, were it not for his calf injury.
Lazio manager Stefano Pioli attempted to head off any tension between the four players by calling his whole squad together before training on Thursday to sing the club anthem. We will soon see whether it had the desired effect against a Fiorentina team that they have beaten three times in their last four visits to the Artemio Franchi.
Away win – 3.70
Atalanta – Parma
Two teams in desperate need of a pick-me-up meet at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia on Sunday. Atalanta have suffered four consecutive defeats in Serie A, while Parma have lost five out of six this season. The Ducali will hope that a 1-0 friendly win over Shakhtar Donetsk during the international break helps to lift players’ spirits, but the absences of Gabriel Paletta and Mattia Cassani – not to mention Jonathan Biabiany – continue to weigh heavy on this team.
Home win – 2.55
Cagliari – Sampdoria
These have been distressing times for residents of Genoa, where severe flooding over the last week has killed one person and caused millions of Euros of damage to homes and businesses. Players from both Sampdoria and Genoa have involved themselves in the relief efforts, but the Blucerchiati must leave their city behind this weekend to travel to Sardinia.
There they will strive to maintain an undefeated start to this season. Their prospects may depend on which Cagliari team shows up: the one that thrashed Inter 4-1 at the end of September, or the one that has not beaten anybody else.
Draw – 3.20
Palermo – Cesena
Palermo finished 20 points clear of Cesena in Serie B last season, but they arrive at this fixture trailing their opponents by three. Although the Sicilians have demonstrated their fighting qualities in draws with Napoli, Inter and Sampdoria, they are yet to win a game on their return to the top flight.
Cesena are certainly the weakest opponents they have faced yet at the Stadio Renzo Barbera, and with the president, Maurizio Zamparini, breathing down his neck, Beppe Iachini should instruct his team to go for the jugular. But when your defence has shipped 14 goals in six games, that strategy that comes with some risk.
Over 2.5 goals – 2.12
Torino – Udinese
Just one defeat so far this season for Udinese – and that away to Juventus – although a draw at home to Cesena in their last game reminded us of their limitations. They travel to Turin with Luis Muriel their only significant absentee, while their hosts are without Omar El Kaddouri and Kamil Glik.
Although Torino’s forward line has started to function better, they have still only found the net four times in six games. With Antonio Di Natale still going strong at 37, Udinese have had less trouble both fashioning and finishing goalscoring opportunities.
Away win – 3.35
Verona – Milan
A piece in Gazzetta dello Sport this week noted how the arrivals of Rafa Marquez and Javier Saviola at Verona had helped drive a 20% increase in merchandise sales at the club shop. But the pink paper also highlighted the gulf between the team and this weekend’s opponents. While Verona have sold 11,000 replica shirts so far this season, Milan average 300,000 per year.
And yet they sit level, for now, on 11 points after six games. Milan remain a work in progress under Filippo Inzaghi and, while theirs is the more talented starting XI, recent results suggest that odds of close to evens on the away win are far too short against opponents with an imposing home record.
Home win – 3.15
Inter – Napoli
Erick Thohir celebrated his one-year anniversary as owner of Inter on Wednesday, a landmark which prompted some reflection on his progress to date. The Indonesian businessman has said that he wants to make Inter one of the 10 most prominent clubs on the planet, but consecutive defeats, with seven goals conceded, in Serie A have led some to question whether his team is on the right track.
Napoli, too, have had an underwhelming start to the new season, although three wins on the trot have helped to lift the mood at the Stadio San Paolo. José Callejón has played a prominent role in their revival, with three goals in his last four games, and he was among the scorers during the first meeting between these two sides last year.
Callejón to score – 4.00
Genoa – Empoli
At time of writing, Genoa’s match against Empoli is expected to go ahead on Monday evening, despite the flooding in the city. If it does, then the hosts will likely be without injured starting midfielder Stefano Sturaro, as well as the suspended Facundo Roncaglia.
They can survive those absences as long as Alessandro Matri can keep up his recent run of form. The striker has found the net three times in as many games.
Matri to score - 3.05
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