Serie A Matchday 26: Napoli out to shrug off Lazio defeat against Atalanta
Runaway leaders Napoli suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to Lazio last time out and will be looking to make amends against Atalanta.
Meanwhile, Maurizio Sarri's side can build on that result by beating mid-table Bologna on Saturday evening.
Fellow top-four challengers Inter Milan face a tricky trip to relegation-threatened Spezia, while Roma could also be tested by a resurgent Sassuolo.
AC Milan wrap up Matchday 26 on Monday night, when the Rossoneri take on Salernitana at San Siro.
Game of the weekend: Napoli vs Atalanta (Saturday, 5pm)
After losing just their second league game of the season, Napoli will be keen to get back on track when they welcome Atalanta to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
The Partenopei face a stern challenge, however. They have won just one of their last six home games against La Dea (two draws, three defeats).
Saturday's visitors have struggled for form of late, though, having not won any of their last three matches (one draw, two defeats) and failing to score in the previous two. Only once before under Gian Piero Gasperini have they failed to score in three successive league games.
Both sides have match winners in their ranks. The two players boasting the best goal-to-minute ratio in Serie A (with at least five strikes) will be on the pitch — Napoli's Victor Osimhen (a goal every 93 minutes) and Atalanta's Ademola Lookman (one every 127).
Spezia vs Inter Milan (Friday, 7.45pm)
Inter Milan travel to Stadio Alberto Picco to do battle with lowly Spezia and will be determined to come away with maximum points.
The omens are certainly good for the Nerazzurri, who remain unbeaten in their five meetings with Leonardo Semplici's outfit (four wins, one draw) and have put 11 goals past them while conceding just three.
But Inter have struggled in Liguria of late, failing to win five of their last six games in the region (four draws, one defeat) despite previously winning six on the bounce.
Key for the Milanese will be Lautaro Martinez. The Argentine marksman has been involved in six Serie A goals against Spezia (three goals, three assists) — more than against any other current top-flight side.
Bologna vs Lazio (Saturday, 7.45pm)
Bologna welcome Lazio to Stadio Renato Dall'Ara for what promises to be an intriguing match-up.
Sarri's men, chasing Champions League qualification, have won five of their last six games against the hosts (two defeats). But the Rossoblu have won both of their last two clashes with the Biancocelesti on home soil.
The visitors have scored first more often than anyone else in Italy's top tier this campaign, doing so 20 times and winning 13 of those games. Nobody, however, have won more games after conceding first than Thiago Motta's team (four).
Riccardo Orsolini will be integral if Bologna are to pull off an upset, having been involved in six of his side's last seven goals (four goals, two assists).
Lazio suffered a surprise 2-1 home defeat to AZ Alkmaar in the Europa Conference League on Tuesday and Bologna will be looking to heap more misery on the capital club this weekend.
AC Milan vs Salernitana (Monday, 7.45pm)
AC Milan host Salernitana on Monday evening, eager to build on a trip to North London that saw them eliminate Tottenham from the Champions League.
And the Rossoneri will welcome their challengers with confidence, having won five of their seven Serie A matches against them (one draw, one defeat) and always scored at least twice in each of those clashes (16 in total).
The Granata have also struggled at San Siro of late, losing all three of their most recent fixtures there by an aggregate score of 9-0. Only at Atalanta's Gewiss Stadium do they have an equally poor record.
One man who will be keen to play his way back into form is Milan's Rafael Leao. The Portuguese forward has only scored in two of the 13 matches he has played in 2023 — but one of those strikes came at Salernitana in January.
Roma vs Sassuolo (Sunday, 5pm)
Roma could face a tough test at the Stadio Olimpico when they lock horns with a revitalised Sassuolo.
However, the form book favours Jose Mourinho's men in this fixture. They have lost just one of their 19 league meetings with the side from Emilia-Romagna (nine wins, nine draws), although it has been trickier for them in recent years — only picking up one victory in their last six attempts.
Sunday's hosts will also approach this encounter in buoyant mood, after securing an impressive 2-0 Europa League victory over Real Sociedad in midweek.
Sassuolo drew with Roma when the two sides met at the Mapei Stadium earlier this season. If they can avoid defeat in the Eternal City it will be only the second time they have ended a campaign unbeaten against Roma after 2020-21.
Giallorossi talisman Paulo Dybala will welcome the Neroverdi with open arms. The Argentine maestro scored his only Serie A hat-trick that did not include a penalty against them while he was a Juventus player in September 2017.
The weekend's other games
Empoli vs Udinese (Saturday, 2pm)
Lecce vs Torino (Sunday, 11.30am)
Cremonese vs Fiorentina (Sunday, 2pm)
Verona vs Monza (Sunday, 2pm)
Juventus vs Sampdoria (Sunday, 7.45pm)
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