In spite of the freezing January weather, the heat of the action continues to mount with every passing weekend in Calcio. While the last round delivered stunning contests and last-minute drama, we do expect a somewhat similar outcome this weekend, especially with a host of formidable matchups on the fixture list, including an extremely anticipated battle at the Maradona Stadium. So although foreshadowing the results will be a daunting task, here are our full predictions for Serie A Round 18.
Napoli vs Juventus
This matchday will head straight to business, kicking things off on Friday evening with an early yet crucial Scudetto showdown between current Serie A leaders Napoli and Juventus who have somehow climbed their way back to title contention while riding on an eight-match winning streak.
Hence, this one has all the makings of a potential instant classic between the two arch-rivals, and predicting the outcome is particularly difficult in this one. However, we must point to the fact that even at the peak of their powers, the Bianconeri often struggled to come away with a positive result at the formerly-named San Paolo Stadium.
This time around, the southerners have all what it takes to prevail on their own turf, but Luciano Spalletti will hoping that the sold-out stadium fuels his men with an extra morale boost rather than piling more pressure on their shoulders.
Prediction: Napoli to pounce on home advantage en route to victory.
Cremonese vs Monza
Although Cremonese’s situation continues to get bleaker with every passing round, the Tigers must not lose faith. For instance, Salernitana’s escape from the abyss last season can be a major source of inspiration for Massimo Alvini’s men.
In Round 18, the Grigiorosso will host Monza in a Lombardian derby between two Serie A newcomers. The hosts will be gunning for their maiden league victory this season, but might eventually settle for their eighth draw.
Prediction: The local rivals to share the spoils.
Lecce vs Milan
Following two disappointing results at the San Siro, the pressure is mounting on Stefano Pioli’s band. The Italian champions squandered a healthy two-goal lead against Roma last weekend before getting eliminated at the hands of 10-man Torino in the Coppa Italia Round of 16.
The reportedly furious manager needs answers from his underperforming stars, and the southern trip to Lecce could be a blessing in disguise for the wounded champions, relieving them from the bitter atmosphere of the San Siro.
Prediction: Milan to bounce back with a win.
Inter vs Verona
With Milan on the road, Inter will be occupying the Giuseppe Meazza in Round 18, hosting Verona who are trying to pull off a second-half revival to preserve a spot in the upcoming edition of Serie A.
Obviously, beating Cremonese at home is one thing, while snatching a result from an away fixture against Inter is a whole different matter, even if the Nerazzurri have displayed some concerning signs in their last two outings (at Monza in the league and versus Parma in the Coppa Italia).
Prediction: A convincing victory for Simone Inzaghi.
Sassuolo vs Lazio
This will be an interesting meeting between two sides who started the new year on a negative note, collecting a single point in between them. In Lazio’s case, they wasted the lead in their last outings, dropping five points in the process.
This is where we’re supposed to say that Maurizio Sarri’s team can’t afford another misstep, however, this remains a viable possibility, especially against an unpredictable side like Sassuolo who keeps blowing hot and cold.
Nevertheless, the Biancocelesti’s extra equality could make the difference this time.
Prediction: Lazio to escape with a slim win.
Torino vs Spezia
Despite being thrusted in the middle of the weekend without great implications on the line, this contest could be more compelling than what the headline suggests.
Naturally, Torino should rightfully be treated as the favorites on paper – being a solid team which produces a convincing brand of football and collects decent results (just ask Milan). However, Spezia do have interesting up-and-comers between their ranks, and could take advantage of the Granata’s dubious condition following their immense efforts at the San Siro in midweek.
So let’s sound the upset alarms!
Prediction: Spezia to stun to Torino
Udinese vs Bologna
Following their fabulous start to the campaign, Udinese have been producing uninspiring performances lately and remain without a victory in their last eight Serie A outings.
Despite losing their last two, Bologna displayed a fighting spirit and proved to be a threatening opponent for both Roma and Atalanta.
Therefore, momentum could be on the Rossoblu’s side with Thiago Motta’s tactics flourishing further with every new outing. However, the Zebrette should have enough to secure at least one point from this tricky meeting.
Prediction: An exciting draw.
Atalanta vs Salernitana
While Atalanta haven’t been at their best since the turn of the new year, they managed to escape with the least possible damages from their encounters against Spezia and Bologna – collecting four points despite initially trailing on the score-line.
On the other hand, Salernitana are always a tough nut to crack, and Guillermo Ochoa has expectedly proven to be an important defensive addition for Davide Nicola’s side. However, the Granata’s level tends to drop when on the road, so they’ll likely return home empty-handed from their long trip to Bergamo.
Prediction: Atalanta to find a path towards victory.
Roma vs Fiorentina
Aside from the battle at the Maradona, this one might be the most anticipated tilt from the Serie A weekend, as Roma host Fiorentina in the Italian capital. Both sides have been decent if not spectacular this season – particularly following the winter break – and we widely expect this encounter to be razor-tight.
While the brain is indicating a draw, the sensation is leaning towards the hosts, perhaps with a late strike from Paulo Dybala or Tammy Abraham.
Prediction: Roma to edge past Fiorentina.
Empoli vs Sampdoria
The Serie A weekend will reach its conclusion on Monday evening, when Empoli and Sampdoria battle it out on the final fixture of Round 18.
Following their dramatic late draw at the Olimpico last weekend, the Tuscans’ morale is sky-high. However, the Azzurri sometimes struggle when playing home at the Carlo Castellani Stadium, as their tactical preference is exploiting the spaces left by the opposition and harry them on counter attacks.
Coincidentally, Sampdoria also enjoy their travels, as their home record is absolutely abysmal this season (only two points collected). Therefore, the Blucerchiati could win the stylistic matchup and resume their restoration mission which has been halted by last weekend’s defeat at the hands of Napoli.
Prediction: Sampdoria to snatch a precious away victory.
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