It’s still summer football, but whoever decided the fixtures of these initial Serie A rounds knows how to capture people’s attention. The second campionato matchday sees Juventus facing a Lazio side shaken by some alleged tension between President Claudio Lotito and coach Simone Inzaghi, while Milan make their seasonal debut at Napoli.
The hype surrounding Serie A 2018-2019 has been unprecedented in the recent seasons of the Italian top flight, but not many fans will have the will to celebrate at a goal scored on a football pitch this weekend, as the whole of Italy is still shocked at the tragedy that struck the city of Genova, where last Monday a motorway bridge collapsed taking 41 lives.
The main event of Serie A Round 26 takes place on Sunday night at the Stadio Olimpico, where Roma and Milan will stage a new act of a classic duel with much at stake. Inter may take advantage of that, as they play Benevento at home. The title battle between Napoli and Juventus continues, but the match not to be missed this week is Crotone-SPAL: Those who win, take a huge step towards their permanence in Serie A.
Odds look in favor of Napoli this weekend, with the Partenopei facing SPAL at home tomorrow, after “having relieved themselves” of the Europa League burden by losing 1-3 to RB Leipzig. On the other hand, the weekly Serie A task is much tougher for Juventus, as the Bianconeri must battle city rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole – and these Granata are a different animal than the one they trashed a few months ago.
There is no easy game in Serie A, and all top clubs should keep that in mind as they approach a Round 23 which does not feature any clear partita di cartello. Take Napoli, for instance: The will go to Benevento mindful of their 6-0 win from the first leg – but the Giallorossi have eight new players to choose from since then. Or Juventus, which will receive a hungry-for-points Sassuolo, and their brand new striker Khouma Babacar.
A Serie A Round split in two days will climax on late Sunday, with the last two matches featuring Gennaro Gattuso Milan’s toughest test so far as he faces a rampant Lazio at San Siro, and a new interesting crossing between Roma and Sampdoria. Scudetto contenders Juventus and Napoli will continue battling at distance, with Juve going to Verona for a Saturday night match, and the Partenopei receiving Bologna.
Round 14 of Serie A will not feature any big match. Yet, top ranking Inter and Napoli should better not underestimate their away games in Cagliari and Udine. A recent coach change did bring some benefits to the Islanders, whereas Udinese will see their new trainer Massimo Oddo debut tomorrow. Juventus have good chances of reducing their gap with the lead as they face Crotone at home.
Now that the worst has happened – to quote Federcalcio President Carlo Tavecchio, who a few weeks ago had prophetically cautioned that failing to qualify for the World Cup would be comparable to an apocalypse – it’s up to Serie A to alleviate the pain of a Country which suddenly woke up with the nightmare of having to make alternate plans for next Summer. Calcio lovers will have a rich program in Round 13 to drown their pain in.
With no dangerous crossings between the main Scudetto contenders, the 12th Round of Serie A will feature the Derby della Lanterna (Lighthouse Derby) between Genoa and Sampdoria as main course in the menu. Rossoblu and Bluecerchiati will face each other on Saturday night to set their rule over the Italian port city, starting with opposite moods and perspectives.
Catch your breath tonight, for the first confrontation between the top 2 team in Serie A 2017-18. Napoli and Inter will face each other at San Paolo Stadium, with the Partenopei trying to place a wider gap among themselves and the pursuing pack. Conversely, if Nerazzurri were to win, they would reach Napoli at the top spot of the league table.
After one week of international break, and having seen the Azzurri experiencing their usual share of woes, it’s time for Italian fans to enjoy some domestic football again. Round 8 of Serie A, starting today, offers a rich menu full of games that could already shape the destiny of the involved teams, with at least three big matches, and many more interesting fixtures.