Rifinitura: Gattuso’s Toughest Test is Lustful Lazio

In Italian football, an “allenamento di rifinitura” is the final training before a match: In the Cult of Calcio’s Rifinitura column, we take a look at what the weekly Serie A menu has to offer, and in what conditions teams get there.

Feature Photo: Source http://ilposticipo.it/calcio/come-gioca-lazio-inzaghi/

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 hungry-for-points, 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 Massimiliano Allegri’s band going to Verona for a Saturday night match, and the Partenopei receiving Bologna at San Paolo Stadium on Sunday.

Coaches Simone Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso, once fighting each other on the football pitch, will now see the match from the benches, as Milan receives Lazio for a game that could cast new light on both teams’ season. The Biancocelesti will battle to consolidate their surprising third place in the league table, the Diavoli not to miss the last train for Europe in a season well below expectations.

In the first leg match back in September, a resounding 1-4 loss at the Stadio Olimpico in Roma opened the first cracks in Vincenzo Montella’s new Milan project.

Among the Rossoneri lines, the news might be Luca Antonelli to replace disqualified Ricardo Rodriguez as left back, while Davide Calabria will cover the right side. Central striker should be Nikola Kalinic, with the irreplaceable Suso, and Hakan Calhanoglu to support him.

Lazio’s war machine, which scored 13 goals in their last three matches, may go to Milano without their best man, as Ciro Immobile is still in doubt. However, Simone Inzaghi may rely on Portuguese forward Nani, supported by a Luis Alberto in tip top shape on the front line. A five-men midfield, led by a decisive Sergej Milinkovic Savic, will cover their back. Bastos will flank Stefan De Vrij and Stefan Radu in the defensive line.

Oddly enough, the two teams will face each other again only a few days later, for a Coppa Italia Semi Final first leg.

The Saturday night posticipo between Roma and Sampdoria will also be a quick rematch, as the two sides squared off already last Wednesday to recover a cancelled match from Round 8.

It’s still not sure whether Giallorossi captain Daniele De Rossi will recover, but coach Eusebio Di Francesco should be able to count at least on Lorenzo Pellegrini on the midfield. On the attacking line, new chance for Patrick Schick, together with Radja Nainggolan and Edin Dzeko – despite growing rumors of his imminent transfer to Chelsea. On the other side of the pitch, Marco Giampaolo may be forced to renounce to Fabio Quagliarella, affected by some muscular pain. If the Blucerchiati bomber won’t make it, Gianluca Caprari is ready to take his place.

Rumors of Edin Dzeko’s imminent transfer to Chelsea are getting louder and louder, but the Bosnian should be still be in his place – the center of Roma’s attack – for the game against Sampdoria (Photo: Reuters)

The match program opens tonight at 6.00 PM with Sassuolo receiving Atalanta to get out of the relegation zone quicksand. The Nerazzurri coach Gian Piero Gasperini is expected to operate a maxi-turnover, due to some injuries but mostly to the upcoming Coppa Italia Semi Final next Tuesday. Underdog La Dea will face Juventus, and with the Bianconeri distracted by the Campionato and Champions League commitments, Gasperini may be seriously thinking about an upset…

Speaking of Juventus, Massimiliano Allegri will go to Verona to play a Chievo still without Roberto Inglese. Young skriker Marius Stepinksi should join Manuel Pucciarelli on the front line.

The Tuscanian coach will still be missing his captain Gianluigi Buffon, but so far Wojciech Szczesny has given no reason to regret his absence. Paulo Dybala is still out, so Allegri will use a 4-3-3: Douglas Costa, who just scored last week, will join Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic.

On Sunday, Inter goes to Ferrara hoping to break their negative spell. With recovered Danilo D’Ambrosio taking back his spot on the left flank, the spotlight might be on the new joiner Rafinha. The former Barcelona midfielder will start from the bench, but may play a few minutes. For SPAL, coach Leonardo Semplici will likely confirm his eleven men who caught one point in Udine last week.

Brazilian midfielder Rafinha Alcantara – the son of former Serie A Lecce and Fiorentina player Mazinho – has just joined Inter from Barcelona (Photo: Source https://twitter.com/inter)

Crotone-Cagliari will be another key match in terms of relegation battle: Walter Zenga’s men look galvanized by their recent 3-0 win in Verona, whereas the Islanders’ coach Diego Lopez needs to face a few defections – with Joao Pedro, Niccolò Barella, and Leonardo Pavoletti all out due to injuries. Greek national Charalambos Lykogiannis may make his debut as left back among the Cagliari lines.

Fiorentina will have a good chance to get back on track facing a Verona which look in pieces: Their coach Fabio Pecchia enters his decisive test without disqualified Bruno Zuculini, and leaving out transfer-listed Giampaolo Pazzini and Gustavo Bessa. Stefano Pioli’s only doubt is whether striker Cyryl Thereau will make it.

An interesting match in Genoa will see the Rossoblu facing Udinese, with Massimo Oddo’s Bianconeri still shocked at their unexpected 0-3 setback against Lazio last Wednesday. With Kevin Lasagna not in top condition, Udinese may deploy Maxi Lopez as lone striker. Davide Ballardini’s doubt are also on the forward line, regarding who between Gianluca Lapadula and Adel Taarabt will join highlander Goran Pandev.

For Napoli and Maurizio Sarri, the starting lineup will be the one we all know by heart by now, with the only possible change of Romanian center back Vlad Chiriches in place of Raul Albiol. Interesting to see how Simone Verdi from Bologna will face the club he recently refused to join…

Torino will face Benevento at home not to lose the train for a potential Europa League spot. Andrea Belotti is still not fully recovered, so the Gallo will once again see the match from the bench. In Walter Mazzarri’s 4-3-3, Iago Falque and Adem Ljajic will support a developing Mbaye Niang. Specular module for Daniele De Zerbi, who should confirm the eleven men who lost badly in Bologna in Round 21.

With Andrea Bellotti still ruled out, discontinuous Mbaye Niang will get a new chance to prove worth of a starting lineup spot among Torino lines (Photo: Getty Images)

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