Serie A Matchday 16: Leaders Napoli could run Inter trouble in Milan
Leaders Napoli will be hoping to preserve their unbeaten Serie A record when they travel to Inter Milan on Matchday 16.
AC Milan — eight points behind the Partenopei and their nearest challengers — are also on the road. They are locking horns with 12th-placed Salernitana at Stadio Arechi.
Juventus, who are two points behind Milan in third, are also playing away from home. They travel to Cremonese, who are in the midst of a relegation battle and currently sit 18th in the table.
Elsewhere — in fixtures that will have ramifications on the respective races for Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League qualification — Lecce host Lazio and Roma take on Bologna.
Game of the week: Inter Milan vs Napoli (Wednesday, 7.45pm)
Inter's clash with Napoli pits the 2020-21 champions against the current Serie A leaders.
Napoli are eight points clear at the top of the table while the Nerazzurri are languishing in fifth — though they are level on points with fourth-placed Lazio and could overtake them should results go their way.
The Partenopei have lost 68 of their 152 Serie A matches against the Nerazzurri, more than anyone aside from Juventus.
Inter have also won each of their last four league matches against Napoli at the San Siro.
But the hosts are playing some of the best football in Europe and have won each of their last 11 Serie A outings — Juventus were the last side to achieve that record in 2017-18.
Salernitana vs AC Milan (Wednesday, 11.30am)
Milan cannot afford to drop too many points if they are to cut the gap between themselves and Napoli at the top of the table — making Wednesday's trip to Salernitana a must-win.
The hosts have been solid this season but they have only won one of six meetings against Milan in Serie A — and that was in 1948.
Stefano Pioli's Rossoneri are in good form. They have won six of their last eight games and the two matches they did not win in that run were both on the road.
Salernitana, on the other hand, have been impressive at the Stadio Arechi so far this campaign, winning three of their last six home contests.
Cremonese vs Juventus (Wednesday, 5.30pm)
Juventus have recovered from their dire start to the season and begin 2023 in a much better place — they are 10 points behind Napoli in third as they travel to face Cremonese.
And the home side will not enter the game with a great deal of confidence.
Cremonese have played Juventus 14 times and never won — picking up only four points against the Old Lady.
In fact, Cremonese have not taken three points in any of their 15 league outings this season — the last three teams without a win at this stage finished bottom.
The smart money would be on Juve continuing their resurgence. Max Allegri's men have won six Serie A games on the bounce without conceding a single goal for their best run since March 2018.
Lecce vs Lazio (Wednesday, 3.30pm)
Lazio occupy a Champions League place upon the return of club football following the break for the World Cup but know they will need to do the business at Lecce.
The hosts are currently 16th — eight points clear of the relegation zone — and will want to keep the bottom three at arm's length.
A draw seems unlikely — that has only happened once between these two sides in their last 13 meetings at Stadio Via del mare. The Biancocelesti have won seven of their last 13 trips to Lecce, losing on five occasions.
Given Lazio's form, however, it is tough to anticipate anything other than an away victory. They boast a mean defence — keeping a clean sheet in eight of their last 10 Serie A matches.
They have kept nine clean sheets in total — their best record at this stage of the season since 1973-74.
Roma vs Bologna (Wednesday, 3.30pm)
Roma's ambition will be to climb the table and mount a challenge for a place in next season's Champions League — they are currently three points off city rivals Lazio in seventh.
The hosts have struggled against Bologna in recent times, however, failing to score in either of their last two clashes.
Roma last failed to score in three consecutive games against the Rossoblu between 1966-68. Bologna have also won more games against the Giallorossi in Serie A than any other side, recording 51 victories in 148 matches.
The capital club will hope they do not add to that record, though their home form has not been stellar of late — they have taken only one point from their last three games at the Stadio Olimpico.
Paulo Dybala could be the difference-maker — the Argentine has scored seven Serie A goals against the Rossoblu. Only against Sampdoria, Genoa and Udinese has he been more prolific.
Wednesday's other games
Sassuolo vs Sampdoria (11.30am)
Spezia vs Atalanta (1.30pm)
Torino vs Verona (1.30pm)
Fiorentina vs Monza (5.30pm)
Udinese vs Empoli (7.45pm)