Serie A Round 13 Preview: Three matches to watch with predictions
After a very disappointing international break for Italian football fans, they will be eager to get back to some Serie A action. Serie A has just the cure as it returns with some very big and exciting football matches. Here are three matches to watch this weekend:
Roma vs Lazio (November 18th at 18:00 Italian time), The derby della capitale
This is always a hotly contested match, and this year will be even hotter. Lazio is in fourth place in the table while Roma find themselves one spot lower in fifth place, but only by one point. Both teams have a game in hand on the rest of the table, as Roma had an early game in the season against Sampdoria rained out while Lazio's last game against Udinese was also postponed. Due to the postponement Lazio has not played since October 29th, so it will be interesting to see if they have any rust. Roma, meanwhile, is coming off a string of good results including a 3-0 win against Chelsea in the Champions League, and will be eager to pass their biggest rivals in the standings. Lazio play very attractive football, and while Roma have had some brilliant matches this season as well, they have definitely focused on doing enough to get the result in most matches.
Players to watch
Roma - Stephen El Sharaawy
El Sharaawy has been in great form lately, scoring two goals against Chelsea in the Champions league and being one of the few, or only, bright spots for Italy in the play-offs against Sweden.
Lazio - Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
Milinkovic-Savic has been one of the best midfielders in Serie A since last season, and has linked up with Ciro Immobile on various occasions to create goals for Lazio.
Prediction - Roma 3-2 Lazio
It will be an entertaining match as usual, and while both squads are very strong, the giallorossi will come out on top as Lazio will be a bit rusty for not playing in so long and Roma will be eager to move ahead of them in the standings.
Napoli vs Milan (November 18th at 20:45 Italian time)
This is a very interesting matchup, as Napoli are off to a great start this season while Milan has struggled, however, coming into the match roles have been reversed as Napoli last tied Chievo and Milan is coming off a 2-0 victory against Sassuolo. In the summer, the teams were also on opposite paths as Milan spent heavily and invested in a ton of new players, while Napoli was rather quiet on the market and focused on keeping their core group together.
Players to watch
Napoli - Lorenzo Insigne
Many people criticized Italy manager Ventura for only playing Insigne 15 out of 180 minutes in the play-off against Sweden, but the Napoli winger will now have fresh legs and look to prove himself.
Milan - Leonardo Bonucci
Bonucci has had a rough go this season with Milan and now Italy as they failed to qualify for the World Cup, however, he has been stronger in the past few matches and will look to keep Mertens and Insigne at bay.
Prediction - Napoli 2-0 Milan
Milan has played this season with no identity and has moved the ball around very slowly. This will surely be a problem against Napoli as they are one of the best tactical teams in the Europe. Milan try to play everything out of the back but have been sloppy in doing so and will have a very difficult time breaking down Napoli's high press.
Sampdoria vs Juventus (November 19th at 15:00 Italian time)
Although many people outside of Italy won't be talking about this match, it is sure to be a great one. Juventus is coming off a less than convincing 2-1 victory over Benevento, while Sampdoria beat local rivals Genoa 2-0. Sampdoria has been sneakily one of the best teams in Serie A this season as they sit in sixth place but, like Roma and Lazio, have a game in hand. They also have a maximum record at home, winning all five matches. Meanwhile, despite the performance against Benevento, Juventus sit just one point behind Napoli at the top of the table, and if Napoli slip up against Milan the bianconeri will have the opportunity to takeover a familiar position: first place.
Players to watch
Sampdoria - Lucas Torreira
Like Milinkovic-Savic, Torreira has been one of the best midfielders in Serie A and leads a great Samp midfield. There have been rumors about him joining Atletico Madrid in the future, but for now he will be key in controlling Juve's very strong midfield and attack.
Juventus - Gonzalo Higuain
Many of Juve's players left to go on international break, but Higuain is not one of them. He has been in great form, and with fresh legs will be eager to perform and show Argentina what they are missing by keeping him home.
Prediction - Sampdoria 2-2 Juventus
Chiellini and Barzagli both played the full 180 minutes against Sweden for Italy, so they will either not be available or play and be tired. This means an already suspect Juve defense will be even shakier today. Sampdoria is also very strong at home and has the midfield to control the bianconeri. Should be entertaining with goals from both sides.