Serie A Matchday 25: Roma ready for resurgent Juve
Roma are still reeling from their Tuesday night defeat to lowly Cremonese and things do not get any easier for the Giallorossi with in-form Juventus set to visit the capital.
Matchday 25 also sees runaway leaders Napoli host top-four contenders Lazio, while third-placed AC Milan can continue their resurgence at Fiorentina.
The Rossoneri are level on points with city rivals Inter Milan ahead of this weekend, as Simone Inzaghi's men face a tricky test at home to Lecce.
And a crucial clash at the bottom takes place on Sunday, when strugglers Spezia and Verona go head-to-head.
Game of the weekend: Roma vs Juventus (Sunday, 7.45pm)
Roma's shock 2-1 loss at Cremonese saw them finish Matchday 24 outside of the top four, so Jose Mourinho's team will be desperate to get back to winning ways against Juventus.
Unfortunately, the omens are not in the Giallorossi's favour, with Sunday's hosts losing more Serie A matches to Juve than any other club (85) — including three of the last four meetings between these teams.
However, Roma will at least be buoyed by their impressive home record in recent weeks.
They have won each of their last four league games at the Stadio Olimpico without conceding a goal, though the visitors have won six of their previous seven away matches.
Something has to give this weekend and Andrea Belotti could be the joker in the pack. He has scored four times against the Old Lady, but has not registered a single league goal contribution in 2022-23.
Napoli vs Lazio (Friday, 7.45pm)
Napoli are romping to the Scudetto but Friday's meeting with Champions League-chasing Lazio could be the Partenopei's toughest test yet.
After all, Maurizio Sarri's team have won back-to-back matches in the competition without conceding a goal, with their success built on a remarkably resilient rearguard.
That is especially true in the first half of games, when the Biancocelesti have conceded just four goals all season — the fewest in Europe's big five leagues.
Napoli have enjoyed an impressive record against Lazio in recent years though, winning their last six meetings at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
It would be unwise to bet against the Neapolitans notching up another victory.
Fiorentina vs AC Milan (Saturday, 7.45pm)
Stefano Pioli is slowly turning AC Milan's season around, after a disastrous start to 2023 derailed their hopes of retaining the title.
The Rossoneri have now won four on the bounce in all competitions, keeping a clean sheet in each of those encounters. That is in sharp contrast to Fiorentina, who have conceded in all of their most recent eight home league games.
Intriguingly, La Viola do not allow opponents many chances, conceding the fewest shots against of any Serie A team this season (229).
But the Tuscans have the worst ratio of shots conceded to goals conceded in Italy's top tier, with an average of one goal for every 7.6 efforts.
Vincenzo Italiano's men will need to improve in that area, if they are to repel Milan at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Inter Milan vs Lecce (Sunday, 5pm)
Inter Milan's quest for Champions League qualification was dealt a blow on Matchday 23, when the Nerazzurri suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat at Bologna.
So they will be wary of a Lecce side that have ruffled a few feathers this season, taking points off Napoli, Lazio, AC Milan, Roma and Atalanta (twice).
A trip to San Siro will undoubtedly be a tough test for the Giallorossi, though.
Inter have only conceded six Serie A goals on home soil in 2022-23, which is the third-fewest across Europe's big five leagues — and they have won their last eight home meetings with Lecce, scoring an average of 2.5 goals per match.
The Puglians will be paying close attention to Romelu Lukaku, who has struck twice in three top-flight games against them. He will become only the fourth player to net at least 50 goals in Serie A and the Premier League if he gets on the scoresheet.
Spezia vs Verona (Sunday, 11.30am)
Consecutive losses have put the brakes on Verona's mid-season revival but they can draw level on points with 17th-placed Spezia by beating the Aquilotti on Sunday.
And Marco Zaffaroni's charges will certainly not be daunted by a visit to the Stadio Alberto Picco, with the hosts failing to score in four consecutive home matches.
However, the Ligurians will always have a chance of victory with M'Bala Nzola in their ranks. The Angolan forward has now scored 52% of Spezia's Serie A goals this term, which is the highest proportion of any team in Europe's big five leagues.
With Verona conceding in each of their last 34 top-flight away matches, Nzola will fancy his chances of adding to his tally this weekend.
The weekend's other games
Monza vs Empoli (Saturday, 2pm)
Atalanta vs Udinese (Saturday, 5pm)
Sampdoria vs Salernitana (Sunday, 2pm)
Sassuolo vs Cremonese (Monday, 5.30pm)
Torino vs Bologna (Monday, 7.45pm)
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