First Milan derby of the season takes center stage as Serie A returns

first_imgCagliari vs GenoaSerdegna Arena, CagliariFriday, 20-09-2019 @9:45pmCagliari are looking for their first home win of the season with Giovanni Simeone hoping to score against his old club Genoa.The hosts picked up their first points last weekend with a comprehensive 3-1 win away to Parma, inspired by centre-half Luca Ceppitelli’s first half brace. Antonino Barillà pulled one back for the for the home side before Giovanni Simeone sealed the victory for the visitors.The Sardi had lost both their opening two fixtures at the Sardegna Arena, a 1-0 defeat to newly promoted Brescia was followed up by a narrow 2-1 loss to a revamped Inter side.Coach Rolando Maran has several injuries to contend with, as goalkeeper Alessio Cragno and striker Leonardo Pavoletti are long-term absentees, while Radja Nainggolan, Paolo Faragò and Luca Pellegrini are also on the treatment table and face late fitness tests ahead of this one.The Grifone, on the other hand, lost their first game of the season at the weekend when Atalanta left Marassi with the three points after a 2-1 victory. Duvan Zapata’s 95th-minute winner was enough to steal the win after it had looked like Domenico Criscito’s debatable 91st-minute penalty had given both sides a share of the spoils.The Ligurian club had played out an exciting 3-3 draw away to Roma on the opening day of the season, before defeating Fiorentina 2-1 at home the following week.Stefano Sturaro is joined on the injury list by Francesco Cassata, but Danish veteran Lasse Schone is already taking control of the midfield following his transfer from Ajax.Expect this game to be a tight enough affair, the Sardi will want to get their first win at home and will be confident after their good win over Parma last weekend. Meanwhile, the away team will hope to bounce back after their first defeat of the season.The Sardinians have lost their last four at home, whereas Genoa are without a win in 10 Serie A away fixtures.Udinese vs BresciaDercia Arena, UdineSaturday, 21-09-2019 @4pmThis already feels like a relegation dogfight, with Udinese and Brescia both coming off two consecutive defeats.Igor Tudor’s side won the opener against Milan, but it’s been all downhill from there, falling 3-1 to Parma and only 1-0 away to Inter, albeit with Rodrigo De Paul sent off. The Argentina international begins a three-match ban for slapping Antonio Candreva in an off-the-ball incident and is a big loss for the Friulani.Ignacio Pussetto is expected to step in as support for Kevin Lasagna, although Stefano Okaka is another option after his deadline day transfer from Watford.Brescia are still without their star man Mario Balotelli, who will be available from the midweek round once his leftover ban from Ligue 1 has expired. Daniele Dessena is also suspended for this trip to Udine, joining injured Ernesto Torregrossa, Giangiacomo Magnani, Bruno Martella and Emanuele Ndoj.There was already talk this week of sacking Coach Eugenio Corini to bring in Stefano Pioli after a 4-3 capitulation to Bologna. It’d be extremely harsh, considering they had been 3-1 up before Dessena’s foolish red card.A victory for Udinese would be a real tonic for their games ahead, as they come up against Hellas Verona and Bologna in their subsequent fixtures. If surviving the drop is the ultimate aim, then Brescia need to churn out consistent performances and upset teams of Udinese’s calibre.Brescia’s 2-1 result in September 2004 was their only Serie A victory away to Udinese, along with four draws and five defeats.Juventus vs Hellas VeronaAllianz Stadium, TorinoSaturday, 14-09-2019 @7pmJuventus fell off the top of the Serie A table after almost two years and host revitalised Hellas Verona after a midweek Atletico Madrid draw.The Bianconeri remain unbeaten this season, but the 0-0 draw at Fiorentina allowed Inter to break away as sole leaders. It was followed by the fumbling of a 2-0 lead in Madrid for the Champions League, as defending on set plays is becoming a real problem.The build-up has also been marred by events off the pitch after the arrest of 12 Juventus Ultras, which has even led to rumours that the game is even at risk of postponement, considering the bad blood that already exists between these fans.Maurizio Sarri may opt to rotate his side, as they continue in a hectic period, where they play their third of seven games in three weeks. Giorgio Chiellini is a long-term absentee, whilst Douglas Costa and Mattia De Sciglio missed the two draws against Atletico and Fiorentina.Players looking to step in include Gigi Buffon, Merih Demiral, Emre Can and Federico Bernardeschi, while Juan Cuadrado could move to right-back.Verona come into the game on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Milan, where striker Mariusz Stepinski was sent off. Having defended admirably for 68 minutes, Krzysztof Piatek’s penalty gave Milan the win. They can take heart from their defensive performance that night, and a similar effort will be required against champions Juventus.Verona’s early season form has left them sitting in 11th, with a win away at Lecce and a 1-1 draw at Bologna their other results this season. Goals have been low on the agenda in Verona’s games, scoring twice and conceding twice across the three games, so if Juventus can break through the rigid defence, expect them to struggle to net themselves.Verona will be without Stepinski following his red card last time out, whilst Emmanuel Badu, Daniel Bessa and Salvatore Bocchetti are injured.Hellas Verona have never won away to Juventus in Serie A, managing four draws from 28 attempts.AC Milan vs Inter MilanStadio Guiseppe Meazza, MilanSaturday, 21-09-2019 @9:45pmThe Derby della Madonnina of the season has Inter looking to continue their perfect Serie A start against their city rivals, whose season is yet to take off.Milan have opened up their 2019-20 campaign with two less-than-convincing wins against newly promoted Verona and Brescia, and a disappointing 1-0 defeat in Udine. Just two goals in three games shows where they are lacking currently, with Krzysztof Piatek only netting his first goal of the season from the penalty spot in the win over 10-man Verona.As for Inter, they have played three, won three and are sitting pretty at the top of the Serie A table. However, they only scraped a late equaliser against Sparta Prague in their first Champions League group stage game, a result that was not in the script, especially after their impressive start domestically.Inter certainly aren’t struggling for goals at this early stage, scoring eight in their four games in all competitions. Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez seem to be firing, as well as the sparkling form of Stefano Sensi, who is making a real name for himself.Given their respective starts, Inter certainly have the better form and confidence, but we all know that means very little when it comes to the Derby della Madonnina.Milan are struggling in the final third and they should have conceded at least the one against Verona at the weekend, which will worry Marco Giampaolo. Even more concerning was how Milan failed to break down a team that were down to 10 men and even then, the goal came from the spot.Inter look like a team ready to challenge for the title and they have that bit of steeliness about them, as was shown in the game against Cagliari in Week 2.You would expect Diego Godin to be recalled after being rested midweek, which will only add to their defensive quality. Milan will need to find something they have, as of yet, failed to show – goal-scoring threat.Long-term viewers will know Inter’s tendency to put performances together before a collapse, and in a derby, teams find that extra edge. Milan do have the weapons to hurt Inter and could give Ante Rebic his first start after the Eintracht Frankfurt transfer, though he’s in competition with Lucas Paqueta and Samu Castillejo. Andrea Conti steps in for suspended Davide Calabria at right-back.The record shows that Milan are without a win in six Serie A derbies, so a seventh would represent their worst run since 1999. Derbies are mental battles just as much as physical ones and Milan will have to find their identity quickly.Inter are favourites and a few steps ahead of where Milan are right now, so Conte’s men will be keen to put a few things right after their disappointing result on Tuesday. This could well be a confirmation of how serious Inter are this season and they will be looking to keep the strong run going.There have only been two 0-0 draws in the derby in the last 15 years.Sassuolo vs SPALMAPEI Stadium, Raggio nell’EmiliaSunday, 22-09-2019 @1:30pmSPAL got off the mark with a comeback to beat Lazio, but Sassuolo’s all-attack approach is proving risky.Following last week’s defeat at the hands of Roma, the Neroverdi will put all their hopes on Domenico Berardi, who is leading the Capocannoniere race with five goals. The 25-year-old has been with Sassuolo from the age of 16, and while being heavily linked with Juventus in the past, he decided to remain with them and help the Emilian club’s cause. Huge expectations have been surrounding Berardi ever since his Serie A debut in 2013 and this year could prove decisive.Visitors SPAL are fresh from a 2-1 win against Lazio, thanks to Jasmin Kurtic’s vital goal in stoppage time. Coach Leonardo Semplici was full of praise for his men and will probably look to build upon their second-half performance, where Federico Di Francesco took a more advanced role on the right and proved decisive for the team. Semplici’s tactical lucidity and the healthy competition he created within the Biancazzurri squad will be decisive this year.Both Coaches promote an attack-minded football, representing the young generation of Italian tacticians that distance themselves from the classic defensive approach. Expect a dynamic game with potentially many goals. Roberto De Zerbi will be without 21-year-old Rogerio, while SPAL have lost Mohamed Fares due to injury.SPAL have never won against Sassuolo in Serie A and will certainly look to improve their defensive play, Lazio still having showed in the previous match the many flaws Leonardo Semplici’s team has.Each time Sassuolo and SPAL met at the Mapei Stadium the game ended 1-1.Bologna vs RomaStadio Renato Dall’Ara, BolognaSunday, 21-09-2019 @4pmDetails to follow Lecce vs NapoliStadio Comunale Via del Mare, LecceSunday, 21-09-2019 @4pmNapoli are buzzing after beating Champions League holders Liverpool, while Lecce also caused a stir with their shock victory at Torino.The Partenopei put in a convincing performance to see off Liverpool 2-0 at the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday evening, with Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente on target. Just 24 hours before that, Fabio Liverani’s Lecce got their first points of the season in style, taking down a Torino side who until Monday night had a perfect record.Carlo Ancelotti’s men are finding their feet after wins over Fiorentina and Sampdoria, plus only a last-gasp defeat to Juventus once they’d cancelled out a three-goal deficit.Having started the first two games of the season conceding seven goals between Juve and Fiorentina, Napoli looked like a defensive liability, but most recently obtaining two consecutive clean sheets against Sampdoria and Liverpool, they are finally hitting their stride.The squad seems to be healthy and vibrant, aside from some minor problems. Kostas Manolas and Lorenzo Tonelli were training individually and will continue to be monitored, leaving the possibility for Nikola Maskimovic to once again fill in. Dries Mertens put in great work midweek, but could well be rested in favour of Fernando Llorente or Arkadiusz Milik.Lecce had failed to register a goal or point until their shock victory away to joint leaders Torino. Having started the season with back to back losses at the hands of Inter and Hellas Verona, Fabio Liverani’s men are hoping they’ve found their Serie A groove.The Salentini come up against the likes of Roma, Milan and Juventus in the coming month, not to mention Napoli this Sunday. With a home advantage to protect, Lecce will look to pull off the Cinderella story here and give their home fans something to cheer about.Marco Mancosu scored the winner in the last fixture to give the newly promoted side their first three points, but Filippo Falco hit the headlines, because when he runs at defenders, he is extremely difficult to stop.There is no shortage of options, as Diego Farias, Khouma Babacar and Gianluca Lapadula are all battling for the centre-forward spot. Cristian Dell’Orco and Biagio Meccariello are injured in defence.Napoli have scored nine goals in the first three Serie A rounds, having more prolific starts only in 1931-32 (10) and 1953-54 (11).Sampdoria vs TorinoStadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, GenoaSunday, 21-09-2019 @4pmEusebio Di Francesco is already facing threats of the sack after three straight defeats, as Sampdoria host a Torino side fresh from their own huge setback.After three rounds of Serie A, the Blucerchiati are the only side not to have picked up any points so far, and new Coach Di Francesco is already feeling the pressure. On the Granata side of things, after victory in their first two games and the strong likelihood they’d be joint top of the table with Inter, they suffered a shock defeat at home to newly-promoted Lecce. It was the second major disappointment of the campaign after their Europa League play-off failure against Wolves.It is an understatement to say that both teams need something from this clash.The ownership issue continues to rumble on for the 1991 Scudetto winners, as President Massimo Ferrero continues his “public discussions” with former playing legend Gianluca Vialli. Until the situation behind the scenes is resolved, the performance on the field may very well continue to be affected.So far, Samp have switched players and formations, as Di Francesco has tried to find the right balance in a squad that lacks quality, but is still better than their bottom dweller position. There are issues at both ends of the field, as they have scored just once and have allowed nine at the back. Up front, Fabio Quagliarella has been the only forward to start all three games so far, and it will be interesting to see which of Gianluca Caprari, Manolo Gabbiadini, Gaston Ramirez, Emiliano Rigoni etc…will try to supply the veteran.Walter Mazzarri meanwhile mentioned that a number of his players came back late from international duty last week. Having almost a full week’s training with his entire squad, he will need to work out the kinks that allowed such a poor performance against Lecce. The biggest question of his team might be whether to employ Simone Zaza up front to partner the in form Andrea Belotti.Given the pressure that Samp are under and having this match at home, they ought to be seeking a victory, as even a draw does not help their cause. Torino’s best blueprint for success could be their impressive victory over Atalanta earlier in the campaign, when they came back from 1-2 in the second half, to emerge victorious 3-2.Gonzalo Maroni and Jakub Jankto are undergoing treatment, while Torino are without Cristian Ansaldi and winger Vittorio Parigini.Samp have never lost the opening four games of the Serie A season, so could set a new club record.Atalanta vs FiorentinaStadio Enio Tardini, ParmaSunday, 21-09-2019 @7pmDetails to follow   Lazio vs ParmaStadio Olimpico, RomeSunday, 21-09-2019 @9:45pmFrustration is growing at Lazio after almost identical defeats to SPAL and Cluj, while Parma are also struggling this season.Simone Inzaghi lamented his side’s lack of effort in the second half against SPAL, but they repeated the pattern in the Europa League on Thursday evening, again taking the lead only to lose 2-1 in Romania with CFR Cluj.Ciro Immobile, Stefan Radu and Luis Alberto didn’t even make the trip, while Adam Marusic was suspended for that tournament. Squad rotation therefore suggests those four could start on Sunday.Lazio will be hoping luck comes their way this weekend after hitting the woodwork four times, yet they face a Parma side who endured similar frustrations against Cagliari. The Ducali lost 3-1 at the Stadio Tardini, but had plenty of opportunities, not to mention a goal and potential penalty ruled out by VAR.Juraj Kucka, Matteo Scozzarella and Alberto Grassi are all injury doubts, while Yann Karamoh was punished for failing to turn up to training. The statement from the club confirmed this was not an isolated incident for the winger on loan from Inter.Parma have lost each of their last five Serie A encounters with Lazio, not to mention the most recent six trips to the Olimpico. However, the Aquile are without a league home win in four.Parma could win their opening two away fixtures of a Serie A season, something they achieved only once in 1997-98.Comments Tags: AC MilanInter MilanItalian Serie Alast_img read more