Serie A Matchday 19: Relentless Inter target Torino triumph
Christmas is very nearly upon us — and Serie A leaders Inter Milan will be hoping to go further clear at the top of the tree when they welcome Torino to the San Siro.
AC Milan sit four points behind their arch-rivals, level with Napoli. The Rossoneri travel to in-form Empoli, while the Partenopei host struggling Spezia.
Should Milan and Napoli both lose, Atalanta will climb to second with victory at Genoa.
However, a defeat for Gian Piero Gasperini’s outfit would see Juventus move to within three points of the top four if they beat Cagliari in Turin.
Game of the week: Inter Milan vs Torino (Wednesday, 5.30pm)
Reigning champions Inter are chasing a seventh straight league win as they take on a Torino side who have only lost one of their last six games.
The visitors head to the San Siro after back-to-back victories — but they have not won three matches in a row since March 2019.
And Il Toro’s miserable away record of five points from a possible 24 this season makes a tough task all the more daunting.
As for Inter, they could stretch their home unbeaten record to 26 games — and 31 against teams other than co-tenants Milan. Extraordinarily, the Nerazzurri have dropped just nine points at home since the start of last season.
Here are the other big games to watch this week…
Genoa vs Atalanta (Tuesday, 7.45pm)
Atalanta will look to round off a strong first half of the campaign by returning to winning ways at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris after being thumped 4-1 by Roma last time out.
They should not face too many problems against an ailing Genoa outfit, however.
Il Grifone did knock Salernitana out of the Coppa Italia last Tuesday but they have lost five of their six Serie A matches under Andriy Shevchenko and are without a league win since mid-September.
Genoa are the only team in Italy’s top tier yet to record a home victory this season — and they could not have asked for worse opponents in their bid to improve that record.
Atalanta are the one side in Serie A to remain unbeaten on the road this term, taking a remarkable 25 points from a possible 27.
Juventus vs Cagliari (Tuesday, 7.45pm)
Juventus will be hoping to end an inconsistent first half of the campaign by closing the gap to Italy’s current top four.
Visiting the Allianz Stadium are a Cagliari outfit whose only win since mid-October came against second-tier Cittadella in the Coppa Italia last Wednesday.
The Old Lady have already lost three home games this season — as many as in the whole of the last campaign — but Cagliari are the only team in the division without a win on their travels.
Juve are also the third-lowest home scorers in Serie A, having found the net just nine times so far. The visitors have drawn a blank in six of their last nine away matches — going back to the penultimate weekend of last season.
Empoli vs AC Milan (Wednesday, 7.45pm)
Empoli are one of only three teams in Serie A without a loss in their last five games, of which they have won three. They host a Milan outfit trying to bounce back from defeat to Napoli on Matchday 18.
The hosts may well smell another upset having already sprung a couple of surprises since promotion back to the top flight. Aurelio Andreazzoli’s side did what Milan failed to do and beat Napoli only nine days ago — having taken down Juventus in August.
For the second time this season, the Rossoneri have gone two league games without a win. They have not gone three without victory for almost two years.
Napoli vs Spezia (Wednesday, 7.45pm)
Napoli stopped the rot with Sunday’s victory away to Milan — now they will be looking to return to winning ways at home after successive defeats.
Luciano Spalletti’s hosts were the early pacesetters in Serie A but have stuttered amid an injury crisis. However, they remain in considerably better form than Thiago Motta’s side who have lost five and drawn two of their last seven games in all competitions.
In losing 1-0 to Empoli on Matchday 17, Napoli drew a blank at home for the first time in any competition since February.
Spezia did score four goals in two trips to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona last season though, winning the league meeting 2-1.
This week’s other games:
Udinese vs Salernitana (Tuesday, 5.30pm)
Sassuolo vs Bologna (Wednesday, 3.30pm)
Venezia vs Lazio (Wednesday, 3.30pm)
Hellas Verona vs Fiorentina (Wednesday, 5.30pm)
Roma vs Sampdoria (Wednesday, 5.30pm)
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