Serie A Matchday 26: In-form Juve target Turin derby triumph
Juventus kick off another tantalising round of Serie A action, as the Allianz Stadium gets set to host this season’s second Turin derby.
At the top of the table, new leaders AC Milan will be aiming to stay ahead of rivals Inter Milan when they head to bottom side Salernitana.
Inter welcome Sassuolo to the San Siro, while third-placed Napoli are away to Cagliari as they look to stay firmly in the title race.
Elsewhere, Fiorentina entertain Atalanta in a battle between two teams striving to qualify for Europe.
Game of the week: Juventus vs Torino (Friday, 7.45pm)
Juventus will be trying to extend their unbeaten league run to 12 games against a Torino side aiming to avoid an eighth away defeat out of 12 this term.
History strongly favours Max Allegri’s hosts in this one, with Juve having recorded more Serie A victories (74) — and scored more Serie A goals (237) — against their city rivals than any other opposition.
The visitors have not beaten the Old Lady in any competition since April 2015 — and not away from home since April 1995. They have also not kept a clean sheet in the derby for 14 years.
These two last met in October, when an 86th-minute Manuel Locatelli strike saw Juventus claim all three points.
Here are the other big games to watch this weekend…
Salernitana vs AC Milan (Saturday, 7.45pm)
Victory over Sampdoria last Sunday sent Milan top of the table. And they could go four points clear — at least temporarily — by beating a Salernitana side with just one win in 14 outings.
Under Stefano Pioli, the Rossoneri have been highly impressive on their travels. Since he took over as head coach in October 2019, no team in Europe’s top five leagues has picked up more away victories than Milan’s 33 from 46 matches.
It has not been a happy return to Serie A for Salernitana, who find themselves eight points from safety at this stage — albeit with two games in hand on Cagliari in 17th.
Franck Kessie and Alexis Saelemaekers were on the scoresheet as Milan won December’s reverse fixture 2-0. The league leaders will be hopeful of picking up another victory this time around, with the hosts only collecting five of their 13 points at home this term.
Inter Milan vs Sassuolo (Sunday, 5pm)
Inter know that any slip-up from Milan tees them up to regain top spot, as they take on a Sassuolo side who are winless in four games.
Two defeats in their last three games at the San Siro against Liverpool and Milan have dented the impressive momentum Simone Inzaghi's side were building and they will be eager to rediscover their winning formula having dropped points at Napoli in their last league outing.
Sassuolo have fared well against Inter in their 17 Serie A encounters to date though, winning seven and drawing two. That said, the last of those successes came on the opening day of the 2018-19 campaign.
Lautaro Martinez scored the winner from the spot as Inter took all three points when these teams met in October — with the Neroverdi having led at half-time through a Domenico Berardi penalty.
Cagliari vs Napoli (Monday, 6pm)
Monday evening’s action sees title contenders Napoli searching for a seventh successive away win at Cagliari, who have come into some form of late.
The Neapolitans are unbeaten in six league games following a December dip, winning four and drawing two. Luciano Spalletti’s side will return to the top of the pile if they win and both the Milan teams drop points.
The hosts have lost only one of their last six top-flight outings, but have just a solitary victory from their last 23 Serie A meetings with the Partenopei.
Cagliari lost their last encounter 2-0, when Victor Osimhen and Lorenzo Insigne did the damage.
Fiorentina vs Atalanta (Sunday, 11.30am)
Fiorentina could climb into the European places with victory over Atalanta, whose run of four Serie A games without a win has seen them slip out of the top four.
The hosts’ 3-0 defeat to Lazio in their last home outing was their first at the Stadio Artemio Franchi since early October — and they would probably rather come up against any side but Atalanta as they look to bounce back.
That is because La Dea are unique among teams from Europe’s top five leagues, in still being unbeaten away from home this term. They have picked up 30 points from a possible 36 on the road.
A brace from Dusan Vlahovic — who left for Juventus last month — secured a 2-1 win for La Viola when these two teams met in September, during a match in which all three goals came from the penalty spot.
The weekend’s other games
Sampdoria vs Empoli (Saturday, 2pm)
Roma vs Verona (Saturday, 5pm)
Venezia vs Genoa (Sunday, 2pm)
Udinese vs Lazio (Sunday, 7.45pm)
Bologna vs Spezia (Monday, 8pm)
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