Serie A Matchday 35: Milan giants tussle at the top
AC Milan are leading the Serie A title race but Italy's table-toppers face a tough test against Fiorentina this weekend.
Reigning champions Inter Milan lost at Bologna in midweek and remain just two points behind their city rivals. Victory over Udinese would allow Simone Inzaghi's side to capitalise should the Rossoneri slip up.
Elsewhere, Napoli host Sassuolo, Juventus entertain Venezia and relegation-threatened pair Sampdoria and Genoa face off in a derby clash.
Game of the week: AC Milan vs Fiorentina (Sunday, 2pm)
Milan are bidding to remain top of the pile for another week — and will look to star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to help them do just that.
The Swede has more Serie A goal involvements against Fiorentina than any other opponent (15) and has only scored more often in the competition against Roma.
Should he find the net against La Viola once more on Sunday, he would become the second-oldest goalscorer in Serie A history at 40 years and 210 days old, behind only Alessandro Costacurta (41 years and 25 days).
Ibrahimovic's chances of finding the net will certainly be boosted by the visitors' recent defensive record. They have conceded in each of their last 16 away matches under Vincenzo Italiano.
In contrast, Milan have let in just eight goals in 15 league games since the beginning of 2022 — only Liverpool (six) have shipped fewer in Europe's top five leagues during that time.
Here are the other big games to watch this weekend…
Udinese vs Inter Milan (Sunday, 5pm)
April's form sides clash as Inter visit Udinese, with the pair collecting the most points per game of any side in the division this month.
Udinese have also scored four or more times in three of their last six outings, as well as netting the second-most goals in the final 15 minutes of play in Serie A this season (16) — doing so in three of their previous five.
However, the visitors have won six of their last eight meetings with Sunday's opponents and kept clean sheets in seven of those fixtures.
The Nerazzurri will need to win and keep the pressure on Milan after dropping points in Wednesday night's shock 2-1 defeat to Bologna.
Napoli vs Sassuolo (Saturday, 2pm)
Napoli and Sassuolo, meanwhile, are both out of form.
The former are winless in their last three outings and the latter have lost three of their last four.
The battle for possession will be key in this encounter. Sassuolo's Maxime Lopez (89.8) and Napoli's Mario Rui (85.4) are averaging the most touches per game in the division this season, while Giovanni Di Lorenzo — also of the Neapolitans — is fourth (83.6).
The two sides also each boast a forward looking to hit a goalscoring milestone.
Dries Mertens could become the fourth player in Serie A history to score 10 or more goals in five different seasons for Napoli (currently on nine), while Sassuolo's Domenico Berardi could score at least 15 league goals in a season for the fourth time in his career.
Sampdoria vs Genoa (Saturday, 5pm)
This will be the 78th Derby della Lanterna in Serie A — Genoa have won just 18, with Sampdoria claiming victory on 30 occasions.
Recent history has not favoured the visitors in this fixture. The Rossoblu have triumphed in only one of their last 11 league games against Saturday's hosts (four draws, six defeats).
Genoa are also on a 16-game winless streak away from home, though Samp have lost each of the last three on their own patch.
Marco Giampaolo will hope to amend that record and has won more games versus Genoa than against any other side in Serie A as a manager.
He could become the coach with the most top flight Derby della Lanterna victories in the three points for a win era — he currently has four, level with Gian Piero Gasperini.
Juventus vs Venezia (Sunday, 11.30am)
Fourth-placed Juve will hope that hosting rock-bottom Venezia presents a golden opportunity to all but seal their Champions League qualification.
The Bianconeri have picked up more points in away fixtures (35) than they have on home soil (31), something they have only managed once before in the Italian top tier.
However, the visitors are in terrible form, having lost each of their last eight games and could suffer nine defeats in a row for the very first time in a single Serie A season.
It also represents a good chance for Paulo Dybala to add to his nine league strikes this term and become just the fifth Argentine in Italian top-flight history (excluding naturalised players) to score 10 or more goals in at least six different seasons.
The weekend’s other fixtures
Cagliari vs Hellas Verona (Saturday, 2pm)
Spezia vs Lazio (Saturday, 7.45pm)
Empoli vs Torino (Sunday, 2pm)
Roma vs Bologna (Sunday, 7.45pm)
Atalanta vs Salernitana (Monday, 7.45pm)