It’s super Saturday in Serie A!
Every Serie A club will be on display the day before easter with a whopping 8 games being played simultaneously (9:00 AM ET).
Fuel was added to the fire of the scudetto race last week after Milan were held by a spirited Catania side and Juve followed up by romping over a limp Napoli.
Now just two points back, and still unbeaten, the Bianconeri face a difficult task away to Palermo while Milan hope to bounce back from double disappointment by welcoming a weak Fiorentina side to the San Siro.
Udinese and Lazio were both felled last week as well, blowing 3rd through 5th spots wide open with Roma and potentially Inter back in the hunt.
Should be a fantastic day of calcio. Let’s get to the matches.
Saturday, April 7
AC Milan v. Fiorentina – I’ve spouted enough hatred toward various referees this week. But even with another disallowed goal seemingly over the line in Catania, and a dodgy penalty vs. Barca, I can say that Milan just weren’t good enough to win either game.
That needs to change with Juve nipping at their heels. Injuries have been a real problem but the squad is strong enough to win, they just need to execute.
Antonio Cassano has gained his first call-up since his heart surgery and his return could be a real boost for a team that needs one.
Fiorentina are dropping quickly and have landed in 17th, still 5 points from the drop.
Should be, must be, a comfortable Milan victory.
Atalanta v. Siena – These two teams are remarkably similar statistically but have had very different paths this season.
Atalanta started white-hot then plateaued while Siena took a while to get their top flight legs only to slowly rise safely up the table.
Now, with just 1 point separating them, two teams many expected to be battling relegation are actually racing to 40 points and a comfortable run in to the survival celebrations.
Destro was the hitman who downed Udinese for Siena last weekend while La Dea fell meekly to Cagliari.
I think Siena’s away form (1 win) betrays them once more in this one though.
Cagliari v. Internazionale – After a crazy 5-4 win against Genoa last week for new manager Andrea Stramaccioni, Inter head to Sardinia where Cagliari bravely saw off Atalanta inspired by an early strike from captain Daniele Conti.
Inter have been so hard to predict this year. How long could the new manager bump actually help these guys?
A little belief would have helped them all season long, and I’m sure they’ll ride whatever good feelings are going on as long as they can. But, an early Cagliari goal could send it all crashing down.
Tough call. I’ll go 1-3 Inter, believe it or not!
Cesena v. Bologna – Do yourself a favor. Don’t watch any matches involving Cesena.
0-2, see you in Serie B, Seahorses.
Chievo Verona v. Catania – Now, if you’re looking to get on board with some more obscure Italian teams that begin with the letter ‘C’, this is the match for you.
Don’t get me wrong, Chievo aren’t the prettiest team to watch. But there’s something admirable about a team having the 3rd worst attack in the league and still sitting 10th in the table with 10 victories, 9 draws. American Michael Bradley has been a big part of their system and has continued to impress the Italian media.
Catania on the other hand are capable of some real style. They have a real South-American flavor to them and a significant amount of speed.
I’m interested to see two contrasting styles collide on Saturday.
I’ll see it as 1-2 for Catania in the end.
Lecce v. AS Roma – Roma are just 4 points off from the last Champions League place, and the fact that it is currently held by hated rivals Lazio will make them want it that much more.
They’ve shown their usual inconsistencies, but I think Luis Enrique should be commended for his handling of this squad.
There have been seemingly less distractions off the field of play and the players have been behind him.
Lecce aren’t picking up the points they need, and can get, and were held 0-0 at home by bottom dwelling Cesena last weekend.
Roma will make them pay for a similar performance.
Novara v. Genoa – The worst two offenses in the league meet in a game that could potentially descend into comedy. Genoa’s offense is far stronger, though their 4 last weekend at Inter came largely from the penalty spot.
Novara have sprung more than one shock this season though, and taking down Genoa will not really be that surprising.
This could turn into a bit of a shootout, though I’ll hesitate to call it one of quality.
Udinese v. Parma – Parma scored a huge win over Lazio at home last weekend to pull themselves 7 points clear of the drop.
I’ve given Giovinco a lot of coverage but Sergio Floccari has pitched in lately as well and as long as they can shore up that backline for a few more games, they will be plenty safe.
Udinese still have it all to play for but you wouldn’t be able to tell based on current form. Winless in 5, including losses to Siena and Novara, the Zebrette can still see Champions League play next year but it’s not going to fall into their laps.
If they can’t motivated by their recent opponents, you’d think the stakes would do the trick.
They should have just enough on Saturday. 1-0 Udinese.
Palermo v. Juventus – Won’t somebody please beat Juve? Palermo picked up their first away win of the season last weekend at Bologna.
Their defense has been a little better lately, but Buffon back-up Emilano Viviano will need to put in another good shift to keep all of Juve’s attacking options silenced.
Palermo can’t get too greedy and let their visitors knock them out quickly. If they play in a measured fashion, hang around, and take the chances they’re given, they just might have the quality to deal the Old Lady a heavy blow.
A man can dream, can’t he?
Lazio v. Napoli – Saving the best for last, the winner of this match in the capital will control 3rd place and the final CL qualifying spot.
Lazio were humbled by Palermo last time out and with Klose out for this one their attacking options are down to the aging Rocchi and midfield pair Mauri and Hernanes. Not a bad trio to be sure, but I’d posit that Napoli’s is far better.
Perhaps my judgment is colored by wanting them to win so badly, but Napoli’s display was very poor last weekend as well. With Cavani, Pandev, Hamsik, and Lavezzi on the field they hardly even threatened Buffon’s net.
Marchetti won’t be as lucky this week.
Buona Pasqua everyone!