Serie A Matchday 23: Milan target victory in Monza meeting
Reigning Serie A champions AC Milan will be hoping to get one over former owner Silvio Berlusconi as they face his current club Monza on Matchday 23.
Runaway leaders Napoli are now 15 points clear at the top and will expect to maintain, if not extend, that lead at Sassuolo.
Second-placed Inter Milan dropped points last time out — but there is no reprieve for the Nerazzurri as they host tricky customers Udinese.
Elsewhere, Atalanta and Roma are level on points and both can retain their top-four spots by beating Lecce and Verona, respectively.
Game of the weekend: Monza vs AC Milan (Saturday, 5pm)
Berlusconi's ownership of Monza adds spice to this fixture — but Milan are locked in a fierce battle for Champions League qualification and need the points regardless.
However, the hosts are unbeaten in eight Serie A games (four wins, four draws), which is the longest active run in the competition.
Meanwhile, Stefano Pioli's men have lost their last two league outings on the road without scoring.
But Brahim Diaz could be the man to prevent that run from continuing. He scored the winner in the Rossoneri's Champions League clash with Tottenham on Tuesday — and his last Serie A goals came against Monza in October's reverse fixture.
Sassuolo vs Napoli (Friday, 7.45pm)
Napoli are marching relentlessly towards the Serie A title and Sassuolo are next in the firing line.
The Neroverdi have historically not enjoyed much success against the Partenopei, winning only two of their 19 meetings in the competition (seven draws, 10 defeats).
However, Alessio Dionisi's men are unbeaten in their last four league outings (two wins, two draws).
French forward Gregoire Defrel has scored more goals against Napoli in Serie A than any other opponent (five), while Victor Osimhen's four strikes against Sassuolo also represent his joint-best record against a single club in Italy's top tier.
Inter Milan vs Udinese (Saturday, 7.45pm)
Inter may sit second in Serie A but only three points separate them from their city rivals in fifth — they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.
In Udinese, Inter face an opponent that they boast a strong record against, having lost just one of their last 10 meetings (seven wins, two draws) although that defeat came in this season's reverse fixture.
The Nerazzurri are a formidable prospect at the San Siro, keeping seven of their eight league clean sheets this term at their iconic stadium.
Simone Inzaghi's side are likely to go in front on Saturday night — no team has scored more goals in the opening half hour of games than their 14, while Udinese have shipped a league-high eight in the first 15 minutes.
But Andrea Sottil's outfit have gained more points after going behind than any side in Europe's top five leagues (17 — including three against Inter in the reverse fixture).
Atalanta vs Lecce (Sunday, 11.30am)
Atalanta must match their top-four rivals' results in order to maintain their position in the Champions League places.
Thankfully for La Dea, they have lost just one of their last 12 home league games against Lecce (six wins, five draws).
In 2023, no Serie A side has scored more than Gian Piero Gasperini's men (19) and only Napoli have earned more points than the Bergamo outfit's 14.
But Sunday's hosts must be wary of Lecce winger Federico Di Francesco, who has scored four goals against them with four different clubs.
Roma vs Verona (Sunday, 7.45pm)
Roma are fourth in the Serie A standings, level on points with both Atalanta and AC Milan in a fierce battle for Champions League qualification.
A home clash with relegation-threatened Verona bodes well for the Giallorossi, who have not lost any of the last 25 editions of this fixture (19 wins, six draws).
Jose Mourinho's men have been particularly strong on their own patch of late, winning each of their previous three league outings at the Stadio Olimpico without conceding but suffered a last-gasp defeat at FC Salzburg in the Europa League last night.
And despite their position in the table, Marco Zaffaroni's visitors are on an upward trajectory, having earned 12 points from their seven league fixtures in 2023.
The weekend's other games
Sampdoria vs Bologna (Saturday, 2pm)
Fiorentina vs Empoli (Sunday, 2pm)
Salernitana vs Lazio (Sunday, 2pm)
Spezia vs Juventus (Sunday, 5pm)
Torino vs Cremonese (Monday, 7.45pm)