Serie A Matchday 2: Milan face tricky trip to Atalanta
The second round of Serie A fixtures is upon us with reigning champions AC Milan battling to retain their crown in 2022-23.
The Rossoneri face a tough trip to Atalanta, while early leaders Napoli host newly-promoted Monza in what should be a simple task for the Partenopei.
Fellow title hopefuls Juventus and Inter Milan take on Sampdoria and Spezia respectively, while Jose Mourinho's Roma host another promoted side in Cremonese.
Game of the week: Atalanta vs AC Milan (Sunday, 7.45pm)
Milan continue their title defence against Atalanta, only a place below them in fourth after Matchday 1.
The Rossoneri will be encouraged by their recent record in this fixture, having won each of their last three meetings, and are currently on a seven-match winning run in Serie A — they last enjoyed a longer such streak in 2006 (nine).
Additionally, Milan have won their first two Serie A games of a season in both of Stefano Pioli's previous campaigns at the helm, while Atalanta have only achieved this feat four times in their history.
The hosts will need star striker Duvan Zapata to end his recent run of poor form if they are to maximise their chances of success. He has netted just once in his last 13 league outings, his joint-worst run for La Dea.
Napoli vs Monza (Sunday, 5.30pm)
Napoli enjoyed a flying start to the season, beating Verona 5-2 away from home, and will now look to ensure they maintain that momentum against Monza.
Under boss Luciano Spalletti, they are averaging 2.1 points per game — only former coach Maurizio Sarri (2.27) has a better average in the three-points-per-win era with the Neapolitans.
However, the hosts have lost two of their last four league encounters with newly-promoted opposition, as many defeats as in their previous 15 such games.
Monza will hope Napoli loanee Andrea Petagna can extend his record of goals against his parent club, having scored three in six so far.
Napoli, meanwhile, will look to Hirving Lozano, who created a league-high five open-play chances on Matchday 1, to fashion opportunities for star striker Victor Osimhen.
The Nigerian hitman has eight goals and three assists in his last 10 Serie A outings.
Sampdoria vs Juventus (Monday, 7.45pm)
If recent history is any indication, Juventus should run out comfortable winners in this one.
The Bianconeri have beaten Sampdoria in each of their last seven meetings and in 16 of the last 19 scoring at least twice in each of their last three away clashes.
Additionally, Dusan Vlahovic has netted five times in his four league starts against Sampdoria with three coming in two trips to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Juventus have also won their first two Serie A games in eight of the last 12 seasons — going on to clinch the title on each occasion.
Inter Milan vs Spezia (Saturday, 7.45pm)
Inter have never lost to Spezia, winning five and drawing one of their six meetings across all competitions for an aggregate score of 16-4.
The Nerazzurri come into this game in fine form with nine wins and just one defeat in their last 10 league outings — and have lost only two of their last 36 Serie A home games.
In Lautaro Martinez, the hosts possess a striker who relishes playing against Spezia, with his three assists more than he has managed against any other single opponent in the top flight.
Inter look likely to dominate proceedings after recording the most successful passes of any team on Matchday 1 (523), while centre-half Milan Skriniar registered the most in that round (91).
Meanwhile, no Serie A side faced more pressing sequences (21) or suffered more high turnovers against (13) in the first round of this campaign than Spezia.
Roma vs Cremonese (Monday, 5.30pm)
Newly-promoted Cremonese do not have a strong record to lean on against Roma — they have lost 10 and won just two of their 14 previous top-flight meetings.
A clean sheet for the hosts will be their third-straight in the league.
Incredibly, the Giallorossi are enjoying their longest run without conceding since 2018 when they managed four straight shut-outs under Eusebio Di Francesco.
Meanwhile, Cremonese faced a league-high 28 shots (11 on target) in their 3-2 opening defeat at Fiorentina.
The visitors will hope that David Okereke, who scored against La Viola, can add to his tally against Roma after netting in both matches against them for Venezia last season.
Roma possess firepower of their own with star striker Tammy Abraham finding the net against all three promoted sides last season.
The weekend's other games
Torino vs Lazio (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Udinese vs Salernitana (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Sassuolo vs Lecce (Saturday, 7.45pm)
Empoli vs Fiorentina (Sunday, 5.30pm)
Bologna vs Verona (Sunday, 7.45pm)
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