Serie A predictions: Inter cannot afford Empoli slip-up
Inter Milan get the chance to strike first in the Serie A title fight, knowing victory over Empoli on Friday will send them to the top of the table — for 48 hours at least.
There are three games of the season to go and Inter will presume they have got to win all of their remaining fixtures to have any chance of overhauling AC Milan, who are two points ahead of their bitter city rivals.
Also on Friday, Genoa face the daunting task of trying to beat Juventus to ease their relegation worries.
Inter Milan vs Empoli predictions
On the face of it, the Nerazzurri should have no problems overcoming mid-table Empoli at the San Siro.
But Simone Inzaghi's side would have felt much the same when they travelled to Bologna to play their game in hand last Wednesday only to suffer a shock 2-1 loss which handed neighbours Milan the edge in the fight for the Scudetto.
Inter recovered from that defeat with a 2-1 win at Udinese where Lautaro Martinez grabbed his 17th league goal of a superb season and he has to be a consideration for first goalscorer.
But the damage to their title chances might just have already been done. All they can do now is ensure no further slip-ups and keep their fingers crossed that the Rossoneri drop points at Verona on Sunday.
It is really hard to see Aurelio Andreazzoli's visitors having the stomach or the confidence to give Inter a test.
At the start of the season they won five of their first eight away games, including at Juventus and Napoli, but their only goal on their travels since January was an Andrea Pinamonti penalty in a 4-1 drubbing at Udinese last month.
Genoa vs Juventus predictions
Genoa can give their hopes of continuing their 15-year stay in the Italian top flight a huge boost with victory against Juve.
Il Grifone are second from bottom and probably need to win two of their last three matches to survive — and since their clash with Max Allegri's men is followed by a trip to Napoli, the odds of an escape are slim indeed.
To expect a team which has recorded only three league wins all season to manufacture two victories in the final month of the campaign is a big ask — but they do have things in their favour in their encounter with the Old Lady.
The first is that Friday's opponents have already qualified for next season's Champions League and now have little to play for.
The second is that the men from Turin have been underwhelming of late and will have eyes on next Wednesday's Coppa Italia final against Inter.
As a result, Allegri may rest some key players meaning a fighting Genoa, roared on by a passionate crowd at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris could get at least a draw here.