Rifinitura: Italian Capital Prepares For Footballing Weekend

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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Italy’s capital will play host to two top-class matches this week in Serie A. Scroll down to find out which ones are they!

Cagliari – Milan

Cagliari recently have fallen off the wagon. With three consecutive defeats in the league, the Sardinian side desperately needs to get back to winning ways, and what better way than to grab a win in front of the home fans against the great Milan? The Rossoneri are also looking to change their tides, and that was shown with the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a last-ditch attempt to “Make Milan Great Again.” The giant Swede made his debut last week against Sampdoria, but he and his teammates were left to mourn lost chances as they came off with a goalless draw.

Lazio – Napoli

Who will stop the Lazio express? The Biancoceleste have nine league wins in a row and already a trophy in the bag. However, if there is one team that has been a recent thorn to the Laziali it’s Napoli.

The Partenopei have had the upper hand recently with five straight league wins over the side from the Italian capital. But Napoli also are having their own share of troubles, with new coach Gennaro Gattuso still struggling to make his team click. This match should be a cracker as two different styles come out head to head: Gattuso’s Napoli with their possession, slick style of football against Simone Inzaghi’s direct, counter-attacking Lazio. Make sure not to miss this one!

Inter – Atalanta

With a win against Atalanta, Inter can be crowned winter champions – something they last achieved in 2010 when they won the historic treble with Jose Mourinho. The Nerazzurri’s task, though, won’t be a walk in the park, as they come across another Nerazzurri side in the shape of Atalanta. The side from Bergamo is the league’s most prolific attack with 48 goals scored. One more goal and the Bergamaschi would establish a record number of goals for any side after 19 rounds – a feat last achieved by Juventus in 1960.

Udinese – Sassuolo

Two wins on the bounce for Udinese have made the club climb to 13th in the league table. Last time they managed three straight league wins was in May of last season. The Bianconeri’s opponents Sassuolo are going through a rough patch now, with only one league win in their last seven matches. They do, however, like to travel to Udine as they avoided defeat in their last five visits to the Friuli Stadium, coming out victorious in three of them.

Fiorentina – SPAL

We would have to go back to the 1967-68 season to find SPAL’s last win at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. But Leonardo Semplici and his SPAL side will be hopeful as they recorded their first away win of the season against Torino just before the Christmas break. Fiorentina’s new coach Giuseppe Iachini barely missed out on his first Viola victory last week as Bologna equalized in the dying minutes of the game. If Iachini avoids defeat this round, he would be the first Fiorentina boss to go unbeaten in his first two games since Vincenzo Guerini in 2012.

Sampdoria – Brescia

After shooting blanks last week at the San Siro, Sampdoria, the league’s second worse attack, welcome Brescia as Claudio Ranieri’s men aim to get back to their feet and bring home the three points. Brescia can get above La Samp in the league table with a win, but for that, they’ll need their star striker Mario Balotelli to be in top form this weekend. The former Italian national team striker is the Rondinelle’s top scorer in the league and has scored in the last two games.

Torino – Bologna

Thanks to captain Andrea Belotti, Torino won their first league game at the Olimpico last week since 2007. Il Gallo would be thrilled to face Bologna on Sunday as he scored his first Granata goal against them, and also his first Serie A hat-trick.

Speaking of goals, Bologna put five past their opponents across last season’s two games. Manager Sinisa Mihajlovic will be counting on his young starlet Riccardo Orsolini, who scored four and assisted two in his last six league games. Plus, Orsolini scored the winner last season against the Granata.

Hellas Verona – Genoa

Former Genoa vice-captain and manager Ivan Juric faces his old team as Hellas Verona welcome Genoa at the Marc’Antonio Bentegodi stadium in Verona. Juric’s side are only surpassed by leaders Inter in the number of clean sheets this season, with the Gialloblu having six and Inter recording seven. Meanwhile, Juric’s counterpart, Davide Nicola, got off to a winning start as Il Grifone snatched a late win against Sassuolo last week with veteran striker Goran Pandev netting the winning goal. Nicola now focuses on achieving his first away win of the season.

Roma – Juventus

The round’s biggest fixture will be on Sunday night, as Roma welcome Juventus to the Stadio Olimpico, in what promises to be an extremely fulfilling matchup. The Giallorossi suffered a disappointing setback last week by losing to Torino at home, and this time they face the other team of Turin as they try to rectify last week’s defeat.

The Old Lady, on the other hand, is on Inter’s tail waiting to pounce upon any slip-up by the Nerazzurri. Some will call their trip to Rome as “Mission Impossible” given the Bianconeri’s recent record in the Italian capital. Juve’s last win at the Olimpico against Roma was in 2014, and Maurizio Sarri’s squad will have to execute the perfect game plan to come out with all three points.

Parma – Lecce

Finally, this week round off with Monday night football at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma, as the Ducali prepare to host struggling Lecce who are just one point above the drop zone. The Pugliese side has won only one of 11 away league meetings against Parma, that sole victory coming in February 2011. Parma will be relying on Dejan Kulusevski, who has been involved in the club’s last three Serie A goals, notching up a couple of assists and a goal.

That’s it for now! See you guys next week! Ciao, Ciao!

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