Rifinitura: Inter Travel to Udine With Eyes On Next Week Derby

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.

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The January transfer window is over and teams in Serie A are recharged to finish off these last remaining months of the season on a high. Here’s our usual preview of this weekend’s match-ups:

Bologna – Brescia

For this round’s opener, Brescia travel to Bologna in search of a win that last came in Serie A in 2005. The Rondinelle’s survival hopes this year may ultimately depend on their away form, as they have collected 10 out of their 15 points on the road. Bologna are going through a good period as they have won four of their last eight league meetings. Plus, the Rossoblu are excited to see what new signing Musa Barrow has to offer, after the Gambian international netted on his full debut last week.

Cagliari – Parma

Cagliari welcome Parma in Sardinia with one thing on their mind: Three points! The Sardinians haven’t won a game in all competitions in two months now, and they are facing a direct league table rival in the shape of Parma. The Ducali are level on points with Cagliari at 31, and a win for Parma will mean that they will be serious contenders for a Europa League position next year.

Sassuolo – Roma

The Neroverdi of Sassuolo are 8 points above the danger zone, meaning that, for the moment, they can breathe a sigh of relief. However, Saturday night’s opponents are Roma, and Sassuolo have never won a league game against the Giallorossi. Roma will hope not to have any away-day blues and turn back to the capital with all three points in the bag. After all, they have only lost just one away league game this campaign.

Juventus – Fiorentina

In 30 games under Maurizio Sarri this season, Juventus have failed to score in only one game: The reverse fixture back in September this season. The Old Lady’s incredible scoring streak against Fiorentina at home is Serie A’s longest at 33 and counting. La Viola will hope new signing Patrick Cutrone is able to crack the Bianconeri’s defense codes, and not make them leave Turin empty-handed.

Milan – Hellas Verona

Hellas Verona visit the San Siro having never won there. However, the Gialloblu are currently enjoying a golden moment as they are unbeaten in five matches, with striker Giampaolo Pazzini eager to face his former side Milan. The Rossoneri are also running high on spirits as they have registered three consecutive league wins for the first time this season. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma recorded the most clean sheets in the top flight with eight, and he will face the keeper who comes second in that list, Marco Silvestri with seven.

Atalanta – Genoa

Gian Piero Gasperini’s men made amends after that shocking SPAL defeat and recorded Atalanta’s first-ever seven-goal margin victory, which came at Torino last week. The league’s most ruthless goal-machine welcome Davide Nicola and his Genoa side on Sunday. Nicola is searching for his first win against Gasperini, and he may take encouragement from il Grifone’s form in Bergamo, who came out victorious in three out of six top-flight visits.

Lazio – SPAL

SPAL – the league’s worst team – travel to the eternal city to take on mighty Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. The Ferraresi have achieved 4 wins and 3 draws from 21 matches, which explains why they are bottom of the table. Lazio were forced to put a hold on their 11-match winning streak last week in the derby against Roma. Striker Ciro Immobile will be eager to help his team get back to winning ways by scoring against SPAL, a team which he has already punished seven times so far in his career.

Lecce – Torino

Torino go to the south in Lecce with the hope and the need to put last week’s humiliation behind them. Walter Mazzarri knows that nothing short of a win will satisfy the Toro fans after suffering from their worst-ever home defeat. But Lecce will not roll over without a putting up a fight, especially after the Giallorossi had defeated il Toro in the reverse fixture this season. Winning this round would mark Lecce’s first league double since they won both home and away against Siena in the 2005-06 season.

Udinese – Inter

Udinese are like a motorbike,” remarked Udinese manager Luca Gotti earlier this week. “[We have] a very high engine potential, in terms of speed and power, but we’re still missing the right framework.

The former assistant manager of Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea has done fairly well since becoming the number one at Udinese earlier this season. The Bianconeri, though, have had a recent bump with two successive defeats at Milan and Parma, and coach Gotti will hope to get back to winning ways, a run which included three straight victories before those defeats.

The Nerazzurri have also had their own mishaps, with three consecutive draws leading them to let go of the league summit and play catch up with Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus. Antonio Conte has bolstered his squad with a range of players like Ashley Young and Christian Eriksen from the Premier League and will hope they click right away and give his side a much-needed league victory as they wait for the upcoming Derby della Madonnina with Milan next week.

Sampdoria – Napoli

This match-day concludes on Monday night as Napoli travel north to play Sampdoria in Genova. The Partenopei grabbed an unexpected win against champions Juventus last week, ending a run of three straight defeats that last occurred in 2012. That important win also saw the return of Lorenzo Insigne to the scoresheet after a four-month hiatus for the Neapolitan captain.

On the other side, La Samp want to continue their slow climb back from the relegation zone, under the guidance of current captain and former Napoli striker Fabio Quagliarella. They will definitely take inspiration from last season’s match against Napoli at the Marassi Stadium when Sampdoria thrashed Napoli with three unanswered goals, including a world-class backheel  from none other than the ever-present Quagliarella.

 

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