Serie A Matchday 34: Title challengers Inter face resurgent Roma
The Serie A title battle is still a three-horse race — but this weekend's games could prove pivotal in determining the Scudetto.
In the standout clash of the weekend on Saturday evening, second-placed Inter Milan — who are currently two points behind arch-rivals AC Milan with a game in hand — host a Roma side still in contention to finish fourth.
Sunday night then sees Milan travel to take on Lazio, while third-placed Napoli are away to Empoli earlier in the day.
Game of the week: Inter Milan vs Roma (Saturday, 5pm)
Having not lost any of their last nine league meetings with Roma, Inter are on the verge of becoming the first Serie A team to go 10 games unbeaten against the Giallorossi since Milan in 1996.
And the Nerazzurri are in impressive form, though not as impressive as Jose Mourinho's visitors, whose 12-match unbeaten run is the longest active streak in the division.
Former Roma frontman Edin Dzeko could reach a milestone with a brace for Inter on Saturday — the Bosnian is two goals away from becoming the 90th player to score 100 times in Serie A.
As for Roma, ex-Milan man Stephan El Shaarawy — who notched a 91st-minute equaliser in Monday's 1-1 draw at Napoli — will hope to find the net in consecutive league matches for the first time since January 2019.
Here are the other big games to watch this weekend…
Lazio vs AC Milan (Sunday, 7.45pm)
Milan head to the Stadio Olimpico aiming to do something they have not done since 2008-09 — complete a double over Lazio.
And if the visitors are in need of a good omen, they could look at Lazio's record against teams who have started the matchday top of the table. The Biancocelesti have lost 13 of their last 14 such fixtures.
The Rossoneri go into this contest on their longest run of league clean sheets in more than 28 years (six). In Europe's top five leagues since the turn of the year, only Liverpool have conceded fewer goals (six) than Stefano Pioli's side (seven).
However, the hosts have the league's leading scorer Ciro Immobile at their disposal, who is one goal away from passing the 25-goal mark for the third time in the last five seasons.
Empoli vs Napoli (Sunday, 2pm)
Woefully out-of-form Empoli welcome Napoli to the Stadio Carlo Castellani, as they chase a first victory in 17 Serie A outings — no team in the top five leagues is currently on a longer winless run.
But Napoli might just be the worst possible opposition to face in the circumstances. The Partenopei have picked up 37 points on the road this term, which is the joint-most alongside Milan.
Perhaps the hosts can draw some encouragement from their all-time top-flight home record against Napoli though. They have lost just one of eight matches to date, winning three.
The visitors head into this encounter having taken 12 penalties this season. That is their most in a campaign since Aurelio De Laurentiis bought the club in 2004 and the most in the continent's top five leagues this term.
Genoa vs Cagliari (Sunday, 5pm)
Rock-bottom Genoa can give themselves a fighting chance of survival by closing the gap to 17th-placed Cagliari, if they can beat the Sardinians for the fifth match running.
As for the visitors, they could all but seal the Ligurians' fate by winning both games at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris for the first time since 2010-11, having defeated fellow residents Sampdoria earlier this season.
The hosts will be hoping that Mattia Destro continues his fine record against this weekend's opposition. The striker has found the net eight times in 10 league meetings with Cagliari, including once in each of his last four.
Destro's team-mate Kelvin Yeboah will be eager to improve his form in front of goal meanwhile — the Ghanaian is the striker with the most Serie A appearances in 2022 (12) without a goal.
Sassuolo vs Juventus (Monday, 7.45pm)
Fourth-placed Juventus make the trip to Emilia-Romagna looking to keep up their strong record against Sassuolo. The Bianconeri have won 13 and only lost two of the previous 18 meetings.
Alessio Dionisi's side have won their last three home matches though, so they will be eager to spring a surprise and make it four successive Serie A home victories for the very first time.
Despite their solid league position, Juve head into this game with the worst shot conversion rate of any team in the top half (10.4%). Max Allegri's team are averaging one goal every 9.6 shots.
And there could certainly be plenty of goalmouth action on Monday night. Across Sassuolo's games during the second half of the campaign, there have been 443 shots and 50 goals — both league highs.
The weekend's other games
Torino vs Spezia (Saturday, 2pm)
Venezia vs Atalanta (Saturday, 2pm)
Verona vs Sampdoria (Saturday, 7.45pm)
Salernitana vs Fiorentina (Sunday, 11.30am)
Bologna vs Udinese (Sunday, 2pm)
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