Serie A Round 14 Preview: Five matches to watch with predictions
Serie A returned from the international break with a bang last week as Roma beat Lazio, Napoli beat Milan, Juventus lost to Sampdoria and Inter beat Atalanta. These results made the race at the top of the table ever so close. This week provides some very interesting match ups, here are five games to watch:
Cagliari vs Inter (November 25th at 20:45 Italian time)
Inter is undefeated through this point of the season and will visit Cagliari in Sardinia on Saturday. It is a massive match for the nerazzurri because of the Napoli vs Juventus match looming next week. If Inter win their next two matches they will be guaranteed to pick up points on Napoli or surge further ahead of Juventus. Cagliari has been in better form lately, as the Sardinians only picked up six points from their first nine matches, and have since picked up nine points in their last four matches. These next few weeks for Inter will be vital to their title challenge.
Players to watch
Cagliari - Leonardo Pavoletti
The striker was famously purchased from Napoli over the summer, as he is the most expensive signing in Cagliari history, however, he only has two goals in ten matches so far this season and will be looking to get going.
Inter - Mauro Icardi
Who else could it be for Inter? The Argentine has been in terrific form, and has saved Inter even when their performances haven't been great. I would bet on him finding the net in this match.
Prediction - Cagliari 0-2 Inter
This will be a straightforward, professional performance from Inter. They have been a complete team all season, and while Cagliari has been in good form, I see Inter keeping a clean sheet and Icardi making the difference.
Milan vs Torino (November 26th at 15:00 Italian time)
This is always an interesting match up, but even more so in the past two seasons because ex-Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic now coaches Torino. Mihajlovic is well known in Milan for giving young goalie Gianluigi Donnarumma his first chance at the starting job. The youngster never looked back. Milan is beginning a run of matches against teams lower than them in the table and will want to pick up as many points as possible. The rossoneri have struggled against the top 6 but have beaten every team below them except for Genoa, who they tied due to a Leonardo Bonucci red card, consequently playing much of the match with 10 men. Torino is coming off a draw at home against Chievo Verona and will want to grab a result at the San Siro for their manager.
Players to watch
Milan - Andre Silva
Silva has been in great form in the Europe League, scoring six goals in five matches, however, his form has not translated to Serie A. To be fair, the youngster hasn't really received a chance in the league consistently. Hopefully, Montella gives it to him this weekend and he takes it.
Torino - Andrea Belotti
There were rumors of Belotti joining Milan all summer, but it never came to fruition. Il gallo has not been at his best this season, scoring three goals in eight league matches. He will be looking to turn it up a notch and what better way than against the team that wanted you all summer.
Prediction - Milan 3-1 Torino
Milan will look to get going against a inconsistent Torino team. They need this win to begin a good run of form in the league and are coming off a solid 5-1 performance in the Europa League against Austria Vienna. If Montella decides to play Cutrone and Silva again, their movement will be too much for il Toro.
Udinese vs Napoli (November 26th at 15:00 Italian time)
This is a must watch match for one reason. Anyone would expect Napoli to win this match, as Udinese haven't been great this season and currently sit three points above the relegation zone, which is very close for them at this point in the season as they have been mid-table regulars for quite some time. This caused i friuliani to replace managers, sacking Luigi Del Neri and hiring Massimo Oddo. The reason the match is a must watch is because Napoli has a top of the table class with Juventus in Round 15, and the partenopei will not want to drop points ahead of that match up. Contests are always tricky when a new manager is in play.
Players to watch
Udinese - Massimo Oddo
Yes, Oddo is not a player anymore, but he is the man to watch for Udinese in this fixture. He is being thrown straight into the fire this week against Napoli, and will be looking to get a point.
Napoli - Lorenzo Insigne
Insigne is still the player to watch for Napoli as he has been in magnificent form since Ventura snubbed him. He scored against Milan and had a wonder strike midweek in the Champions League, and will look to dominate Udinese.
Prediction - Udinese 0-3 Napoli
Napoli is coming off two strong performances against Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk. They seem very focused on winning the scudetto, so I don't think they will overlook Udinese and have their eyes on Juventus. One match at a time for the Neapolitans, and they should beat Udinese comfortably.
Lazio vs Fiorentina (November 26th at 18:00 Italian time)
Lazio will look to rebound after the derby loss to Roma and stay close to the top of the table. It has been a great season so far for the capital based club, and they will want to show that a loss to their city rivals was the exception and not the rule. They face a Fiorentina club that has struggled in recent weeks, losing to Roma while losing and drawing to relegation battlers Crotone and Spal, respectively. Both teams have been involved in entertaining games this season, and this one should be no different. Look for a very offensive-minded match.
Players to watch
Lazio - Ciro Immobile
Immobile has been on fire for Lazio this season, and scored from the spot in Lazio's 2-1 loss to Roma. He will look to keep his form up and bring Lazio a crucial three points.
Fiorentina - Federico Chiesa
Fiorentina sold many players over the summer, including attacking options Federico Bernardeschi and Nikola Kalinic. They were willing to put their trust in another Federico, the son of former viola great Enrico Chiesa. He has been impressive and recently received a contract extension from the club and will want to show that he is worth the increase in salary.
Prediction - Lazio 3-2 Fiorentina
This should be a very entertaining affair, as both teams are willing to get forward. At the end of the day, Lazio has really took a step up since the beginning of 2016-17 and are showing they belong at the top of the table. Fiorentina has lost four out of seven road games this season, and drew one to Spal, so their road form will keep them just short of getting a point.
Juventus vs Crotone (November 26th at 20:45 Italian time)
The evening match on Sunday pairs scudetto favorites Juventus with relegation battlers Crotone. This is an important match for Juventus, as they are coming off a loss to Sampdoria and will want to keep pace with Napoli ahead of their direct match next weekend. The bianconeri should win this match comfortably, as it is a home game, unless they lose concentration and look ahead to the game against the partenopei. Crotone had been playing well before the international break, winning at home against Fiorentina and on the road to Bologna. They restarted their campaign, however, with a loss to fellow relegation battlers Genoa, 1-0, and will be looking to take a point away from the Allianz Stadium.
Players to watch
Juventus - Federico Bernardeschi
Despite showing some flashes it has not been an overly positive beginning to his career at Juventus for Federico Bernardeschi. He will likely get a chance on Sunday due to the competition, and look for him to take advantage.
Crotone - Rolando Mandragora
Mandragora is owned by Juventus and has been solid for Crotone this season. He has scored one goal in eight appearance and he will look to make the club he is owned by see what they are missing.
Prediction Juventus 4-0 Crotone
Juventus will be playing angry and determined to get a result against Crotone. They can't afford to lose anymore points and drop further behind Napoli, who they play next week. There should be limited rotation from Allegri because they will have almost a week off in between the two matches. Despite all of the talk of crisis, Juventus are still very much in every competition this season, and can change the perception with a victory against Crotone and against Napoli. This is step one of a two step process.