Napoli v Roma
Two sides harboring hopes of stopping Juventus face-off in this weekend’s Serie A opener. Napoli are presently lying at the seventh position in the table and if facing considerable flak from their fans to get back to the top three position in the league. They have an entire squad at their disposal with the exception of Zuniga, who is out through injury. Napoli are expected to field a 4-2-3-1 formation with Higuain leading the way.
Roma, on the other hand have not tasted victory at the Sao Paolo in their last two encounters under Rudi Garcia. However, they go into this match with a considerable advantage – a 7-point lead over Napoli and lying comfortably in the second place in the league table. Although they have a crucial mid-week Champions League clash with Bayern Munich coming up, Garcia and his team will be fully focused on the job at hand. Roma will be missing the services of Balzaretti, Strootman, Castan, Borriello, Maicon and Astori for this match due to injury.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Napoli 1-2 Roma
Empoli v Juventus
Empoli next plays host to league leaders and defending champions, Juventus. Having won only 1 of their 9 league matches so far, they will surely start this match as underdogs. Two successive losses this week have not been the best preparation for the home side but Maurizio Sarri will be hoping for a different performance against Juventus. Guarante, Verdi and Sepe will be missing this match for Empoli due to injury.
Juventus have come under some flak for their performance in the league so far, but that is understandable given the change at the top. Their first loss came in the previous match day against Genoa, when a stoppage-time goal handed the advantage somewhat to Roma. With Juventus harboring hopes for Champions League progression, some changes are expected in the line-up. For Juventus, Barzagli, Caceres, Pepe and Evra will be unavailable for this match due to injury.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Empoli 0-3 Juventus
Parma v Internazionale
Parma have hit rock bottom this season. Literally. Lying at the bottom of the league table, they have lost every single of their last 6 matches, with their only victory of the season coming against Chievo via a 2-3 margin. Parma will be missing as many as 9 players with Biabiany, Paletta, Cassani, Coric, Pozzi, Jorquera, Bidaoui and Galloppa missing due to injury and Cordaz missing due to suspension. Parma will be lucky to avoid relegation this season, and that is something Donadoni will surely be working on in this match.
Inter, on the other hand are coming off successive 1-0 victories, with both wins coming via a single penalty by Icardi. Inter’s injury list will undoubtedly concern Mazzarri with Campagnaro, D’Ambrosio, Osvaldo, Jonathan, M’Vila, Nagatomo, Guarin and Hernanes all missing this match due to injury. The visitors cannot hope to lose any more players or matches as they lie behind their cross-town rivals, Milan in the table.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Parma 0-1 Internazionale
Chievo Verona v Sassuolo
Chievo are on a downward spiral this season, having been winless in 7 successive matches. Needless to say, they find themselves in the relegation zone. The departure of Corini after the loss to Roma only complicated the matters at hand as the players are all too well feeling the effects of a managerial instability. Chievo will be lucky to survive this season, although a remarkable change of fortune will be required for that to happen. Izco and Botta misses this fixture due to injury.
Last season survivors, Sassuolo have done quite well in this season as compared to their first Serie A outing. They presently lie at the 13th position in the league table, having won 2 out of their 9 matches so far. Although Sassuolo have won two back-to-back matches, they go into this fixture with 5 players missing – Pegolo, Ariaudo, Cannavaro, Manfredini and Zaza due to injury. This away fixture could be difficult, but given Chievo’s current predicament, they can think of earning all three points on offer.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Chievo 0-1 Sassuolo
Sampdoria v Fiorentina
Sampdoria seems to have hit a bad patch with the home side losing points in all of their last three matches, with the last one being the midweek loss to Inter via a penalty. It was their first loss of the season and they will be looking to get back on their winning ways in this match. Lying at the sixth position in the table, a victory will surely take them as high as the fourth place. Sampdoria will be missing the services of Viviano, De Vitis, Krsticic, Silvestre, Gastaldello and Djordjevic due to injury.
Fiorentina, on the other hand are lying at the tenth place in the league and are coming off a 3-0 victory over Udinese in their midweek fixture. They have been quite inconsistent this season, and that is one habit Montella will definitely look to overcome. Fiorentina have been a contender for the third place for quite some time and if they are to achieve their league objective, they need to arrest the loss of points soon. For Fiorentina, the players missing in action will be Rossi and Fernandez.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Sampdoria 2-0 Fiorentina
Torino v Atalanta
Torino have been quite consistent in their last 4 outing, alternating between victory and defeat. Thankfully for them, their last match was a 1-0 victory over Parma at home. They are yet to lose at home this season and if these 9 matches are some indications of the things to come, then it will take either Juventus or Roma to knock them off. One of the outstanding players for them so far has been Quagliarella, who has notched up 4 goals so far. Torino will miss Basha, Bovo and Molinaro due to injury for this match.
Atalanta, on the other hand, have won only one of their away fixtures this season and will be surely hoping to better that record when they travel to Torino this weekend. A defensive display against Napoli in their previous outing led to a 1-1 draw, but they lost an important player in Luca Cigarini, who received his marching orders for a second yellow card. Still Atalanta hung on to the score-line and for this upcoming match, they will be looking for such inspiration. The visitors will be missing the likes of Rosseti, Estigarribia, Avramov and Gomez due to injury and Benalouane and Cigarini due to suspension.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Torino 2-0 Atalanta
Udinese v Genoa
The high-flying Udinese were brought back to ground by Fiorentina, who thumped them by a 3-0 margin in the midweek fixtures. In spite of the loss, Udinese still holds on to the sixth place in the league and on top of that, have the enviable record of having the most number of victories at home – 4, which has been equaled or bested by only Juventus and Roma. Having turned their home into somewhat of a fortress, they will be looking for their fifth victory when they take on Genoa this weekend. For Udinese, Riera, Silva and Krkic will be missing due to injury.
Genoa brought down Juventus in their previous match-day and they will be looking to take inspiration from that fact for this upcoming match. Although they lie at the 9th position in the league table, they are yet to lose on the road, which will give them further impetus to defeat Udinese. Ex-Milan and Juventus player, Matri has been the standout player for them this season, having scored 4 goals and provided 3 assists so far. Fetfatzidis and Rincon will miss this match for Genoa due to injury.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Udinese 1-1 Genoa
Milan v Palermo
Milan will welcome Diego Lopez back in goal as they take on Palermo at home this weekend. Although they have lost only once this season, the drawn fixtures have taken their toll on their points and they find themselves at the third place in the table. Milan have been a different team under the tutelage of Inzaghi and they will surely look to extract all three points from this match at home. Montolivo and Bonaventura misses this match due to injury, while Muntari will be out suspended. Menez will once more lead the attack line and will look to recapture his early season form.
Palermo, on the other hand, have picked up a total of zero points from their away fixtures this season and finds themselves at the 15th position in the league table. With the exception of Bamba, coach Iachini has the full squad at his disposal, although he is unlikely to tinker much with the formation which started against Chievo. Vázquez has been their top player this season, with as many as three goals to his name so far.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Milan 2-0 Palermo
Cesena v Hellas Verona
Cesena have won only one of their matches so far this season and rightfully, they find themselves in the relegation zone. They are unlikely to survive the drop this season and will be hoping for a maximum of one point from this match. Cesena will miss the services of Cazzola, Tabanelli, Pulzetti, Rodriguez and Marilungo for this match due to injury and Leali due to suspension.
Hellas Verona, on the other hand are lying at the 11th place in the league table and will be hoping to climb up the ladder in this upcoming match. Although, they have been victorious only once in their last six outings, they will take heart from the fact that their opponents are at an even more miserable position than them. Verona will be missing the likes of Marques, Sala, Jankovic and Martic for this match due to injury.