Feature Photo: SPORT MEDIASET
In Italian football, an “allenamento di rifinitura” is the final training session 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 condition the teams are in.
It’s been years since we’ve had a title race with this so much uncertainty. Three teams will fight tooth and nail to get that eluding Scudetto. On Sunday night, two of them will face each other in the Italian capital.
LAZIO VS. INTER
“By staying solid as a unit, we eventually make sure we win games,” said Inter defender Stefan de Vrij ahead of his side’s clash against his former team Lazio.
“Conte has brought a winning mentality to the club.”
2-0 down at half-time 😢
3-2 up 19 minutes later 😳
Currently top of Serie A 📈
— Grosvenor Sport (@GrosvenorSport) February 9, 2020
De Vrij was one of the protagonists that led Inter to an historic comeback win in the derby last week against Milan, and accordingly, to top the league table. On Sunday night, he and his teammates travel to the Italian capital to face Lazio, who are just one point behind them.
Lazio are unbeaten in 18 games in Serie A. Inter, in 16.
The title race is now officially a three-horse race, with Juventus sandwiched between the Biancocelesti and the Nerazzurri. For Serie A fans, this is shaping up to be a season finale for the ages!
LECCE VS. SPAL
Lecce are on track of achieving three consecutive victories in the league for the first time since April 2004. The Salentini’s striker Gianluca Lapadula has scored seven goals so far this season, striking three times in the last two league games. SPAL, however, are not having such a positive atmosphere in their club at the moment. After three straight defeats, the Ferraresi let go of manager Leonardo Semplici and have appointed Luigi Di Biagio in his place instead – his first job in Italy’s top flight. Will the ex-Italian international be able to save SPAL from relegation?
BOLOGNA VS. GENOA
With the win against Roma last week, Bologna coach Siniša Mihajlović celebrated his 100th win as a manager in Serie A. His Bologna side have three successive wins, sit 7th in the table, and are just one point away from a European spot. Genoa, the other Rossoblu in this matchup, are unbeaten in their last three. Even though they’ve had a busy January transfer window, it was veteran striker Goran Pandev who scored the winner as the Grifone came out on top last week against Cagliari, in what might turn out to be three vital points come season end.
ATALANTA VS. ROMA
The fourth place spot – guaranteeing automatic qualification to the Champions League group stages next season – will most likely be filled by either one of those teams. So, it is not an overstatement to describe this encounter as a mouthwatering one! Atalanta are three points ahead of Paulo Fonseca’s Roma, and they got the better of the Giallorossi side when they came out victorious from the Stadio Olimpico 0-2 last September.
UDINESE VS. HELLAS VERONA
If Hellas Verona can guarantee a performance similar to that of their excellent win against Juventus last week, they will surely be competing in a European competition next season. The Gialloblu have been Serie A’s most surprising package so far. This time, they face another Bianconeri side; Udinese. The Bianconeri are six points clear of the relegation zone, but if recent results don’t change for the better, their manager Luca Gotti will be anxiously looking over his shoulders to watch out from sides lurking for Udinese to slump.
JUVENTUS VS. BRESCIA
Last week’s defeat by Hellas Verona left Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri with much to ponder as his side slipped to second place in the standings – by goal difference. Sarri’s counterpart, Diego Lopez, didn’t have the best debut as his side drew 1-1 against Udinese.
35-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 35 goals in 35 games for club and country this season. Mind blowing 🤯 pic.twitter.com/OplZ0bpUZe
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 13, 2020
In addition for the win, Juve’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo will be aiming for a record of scoring in 11 consecutive Serie A matches – a record matched only by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.
SAMPDORIA VS. FIORENTINA
Speaking of Quagliarella, the ex-Italian international has scored 11 goals against Sampdoria’s next opponents Fiorentina, and the striker will be aiming to extend that figure even further. Giuseppe Iachini and his Viola side have to rediscover their mojo which helped them win at Napoli last month. Ever since that match, the Tuscan-based side have drawn one and lost two in their last three league matches.
SASSUOLO VS. PARMA
The stadiums of Sassuolo and Parma are just separated by a 30-minute train ride. The winner of this derby will certainly secure the territory’s bragging rights at least until next season. The two Roberto’s – Roberto De Zerbi of Sassuolo and Roberto D’Aversa of Parma – will hope to snatch victory from the other. Sassuolo are unbeaten in the second half of the campaign, mostly thanks to the recent brilliant performances of Jeremy Boga.
– Dimarzio pic.twitter.com/B2fvfZWgWF
— Football Transfers (@Transferzone10) February 12, 2020
Parma are three points ahead of their rivals, and will hope luck will help them just as it did in the reverse fixture this season, when they won 1-0 thanks to a 95th minute Sassuolo own-goal.
CAGLIARI VS. NAPOLI
The last time Cagliari won at home against Napoli in the league was back in 2009, when the Rossoblu were managed by Massimiliano Allegri. The Sardinian side are experiencing a rough patch at the moment, with defeat last week at Genoa extending their winless streak to nine matches. Napoli also need to pick themselves up after a home defeat to Lecce last week. Victory could see the Partenopei overtake their hosts in the league table, and manager Gennaro Gattuso has just the man for that job: Dries Mertens. The Belgian – dubbed as Ciro by the Napoli faithful – has scored nine times against the Sardinians, with four coming on the island.
MILAN VS. TORINO
Eight days after that painful derby defeat, Milan go back to San Siro to face off Torino. Manager Stefano Pioli will hope his Rossoneri side dust themselves off after a disastrous second half display against Inter, which saw them lose a two-goal advantage, and eventually lose the match altogether. Torino, as well, suffered from a hurtful comeback last week, as they succumbed to defeat against Sampdoria. The managerial change did not bring a change of fortune, but the Granata will hope to replicate their performance in the reverse fixture, when they came back from behind to beat Milan 2-1 on Matchday 5. Sit back and enjoy this tasty affair this Monday night!