Serie A Matchday 18: Top two meet as Napoli host in-form Juve
Serie A's top two are set for a titanic tussle tonight as league leaders Napoli host a Juventus side in frightening form.
Third-placed AC Milan then head to Lecce on Saturday, when they will hope to capitalise on any dropped points at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Victory is equally crucial for Inter Milan against relegation-threatened Verona if they are to stave off the chasing pack and retain fourth spot.
Elsewhere, Roma and Lazio must overcome Fiorentina and Sassuolo, respectively, if they are to move closer to the Champions League places.
Game of the week: Napoli vs Juventus (Friday, 7.45pm)
Napoli are in hot pursuit of their first Scudetto since the days of Maradona — but an in-form Juventus side stand in their way.
The Bianconeri are on an eight-game winning streak in Serie A, though they still remain seven points behind the Neapolitans.
Furthermore, the Old Lady have lost more games (70) and conceded more goals (224) against Napoli than they have against any other side in the division.
This potentially decisive contest sees the most prolific attack go up against the tightest defence, with Napoli scoring 39 goals and Juve shipping just seven.
Lecce vs AC Milan (Saturday, 5pm)
Reigning Serie A champions AC Milan are also seven points behind Napoli — but they will not have given up hope of defending their title.
A clash with Lecce appears to be a relatively straightforward task, since Saturday's hosts have won just two of their 32 top-flight meetings with the Rossoneri.
However, Lecce are unbeaten in their last five league games — winning their previous two home fixtures — and will hope to carry that form into this encounter.
The match could be decided early on, with Marco Baroni's men one of only two teams yet to score in the opening 15 minutes, while Milan have netted seven times in that period.
Inter Milan vs Verona (Saturday, 7.45pm)
Inconsistency has plagued Inter Milan this season.
Simone Inzaghi's side ended Napoli's remarkable unbeaten run two league games ago, before the Nerazzurri dropped points at lowly Monza last Saturday.
On paper, though, 18th-placed Verona should pose little threat, particularly given the hosts are unbeaten in their last 22 Serie A meetings with this weekend’s opponents (18 wins, four draws).
That run stretches to 31 when it comes to fixtures contested at the San Siro (20 wins, 11 draws), with Inter scoring against Verona in each of the last 12 clashes in Milan.
Verona also bring a 31-game record into this contest, though it is not a positive one. They have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 31 Serie A away games — and it is difficult to see them snapping that streak on Saturday.
Roma vs Fiorentina (Sunday, 7.45pm)
No Serie A fixture has ended in a draw more often than Roma’s encounters with Fiorentina.
The pair have shared the points on 60 occasions, a tally only equalled by Roma's clashes with Lazio.
A draw this time around would suit La Viola more, based on recent history, as the Giallorossi have lost just one of the last eight league meetings and have won eight of the last 10 at the Stadio Olimpico (one draw, one defeat).
Late drama could be the order of the day this Sunday, with Jose Mourinho's hosts scoring six of their last seven goals after the 80th minute, while Fiorentina have scored a league-leading five 90th-minute strikes.
Sassuolo vs Lazio (Sunday, 11.30am)
Lazio are one of three clubs that enter Matchday 18 on 31 points, just three behind fourth-placed Inter.
A victory to keep the pressure on or even leapfrog the Nerazzurri is vital. Thankfully, they visit a struggling Sassuolo side that have lost each of their last three league outings.
Their paltry total of 16 points from their opening 17 games is the second-worst in the Neroverdi’s Serie A history (14 in their debut campaign in 2013-14).
Having failed to win after taking the lead in each of their last two league games, Lazio will be keen to break that habit and record a victory in Emilia-Romagna.
The weekend's other games
Cremonese vs Monza (Saturday, 2pm)
Torino vs Spezia (Sunday, 2pm)
Udinese vs Bologna (Sunday, 2pm)
Atalanta vs Salernitana (Sunday, 5pm)
Empoli vs Sampdoria (Monday, 7.45pm)
Follow each game with our unbeatable live scores service. Simply tap the Scores tab on the web or download the LiveScore app from the App Store for iOS devices or Google Play for Android.