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.
The last Serie A matches of January will end on a high as Roma host Lazio in the capital’s big derby and Napoli welcome Juventus to the Italian South!
Brescia – Milan
After last week’s last-minute winner against Udinese, Milan travel to Brescia tonight eyeing nothing but the three points. Brescia’s last win against the Rossoneri came in 2003, and this time they will be without their suspended ex-Milan striker Mario Balotelli. But the Rondinelle will hope to find the way to Gianluigi Donnarumma’s goal through the talented Sandro Tonali and striker Ernesto Torregrossa, the latter bagging a brace last weekend.
SPAL – Bologna
SPAL’s start to the second half of the season has been brilliant after last week’s surprise 2-1 win at Atalanta. The Ferraresi have won 2 of their last 4 league matches, as many as they did in the first 16 of the season. Bologna, on the other hand, are 10 points better off than at this stage last season and, this year, have been especially lethal from corners, scoring 7 – the most among Serie A teams this campaign. So, a note to SPAL manager Leonardo Semplici: make sure you defend well the calcio d’angolo!
Fiorentina – Genoa
Giuseppe Iachini’s appointment as Fiorentina manager has paid dividends so far: two wins and a draw in three league matches, and qualification to the Italian cup Quarter-Finals, where they will face Inter in midweek. Genoa, or il Grifone, are rock-bottom and are desperately looking for a win. If they manage to leave Tuscany with all three points, it would be the first time since the 1937-38 season that Genoa do the league double against La Viola.
Torino – Atalanta
The Nerazzurri of Atalanta will look to bounce back after last week’s defeat to SPAL. Their recent record at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin, however, will not be a source of inspiration, as their last win there came in 2007. One Torino player who will be looking forward to this match is Armando Izzo. The Italian defender has scored a goal in the last two meetings between the two sides, and on both occasions, the Granata went on to collect all three points.
Inter – Cagliari
Having registered consecutive draws in the past two weeks, Antonio Conte’s Inter have let go of their lead in the league table in favor of Juventus. The Nerazzurri’s Lautaro Martinez scored his first Serie A goal against Cagliari back in 2018. This match will witness the return of former Interista Radja Nainggolan to face his old side, as well as Inter’s Nicolò Barella facing the Cagliari side he captained last year.
👕 | A SPECIAL SHIRT
— Inter (@Inter_en) January 21, 2020
Parma – Udinese
Udinese are Parma’s favorite Serie A opponents. The Ducali (Parma) have beaten the Bianconeri the most in the top flight: 20 wins from 45 games. Udinese’s three-match winning streak came to an end last week after losing to Milan at San Siro right at the death, and the Bianconeri will aim to leave the Emilia-Romagna region with all three points for the first time since 2013.
Sampdoria – Sassuolo
Sampdoria went from heroes to zeros as their 5-1 thrashing of Brescia a fortnight ago was followed by a 5-1 humiliation at Lazio last week. The return of Sassuolo captain Domenico Berardi inspired the Neroverdi to victory last Saturday after a three-match losing streak. La Samp will be dreading the return of Berardi, as the Italian’s first and last Serie A hat-trick (out of five) came against the Blucerchiati.
Hellas Verona – Lecce
Lecce did the double over Hellas Verona last season in Serie B, with the Giallorossi captain Marco Mancosu scoring a stunning goal at the Marc’Antonio Bentegodi Stadium. This year, the Gialloblu of Verona are fairing better than their upcoming opponents, sitting comfortably in mid-table while Lecce are just hovering above the drop zone. Giampaolo Pazzini, still going at 35 years of age, will be excited to face Lecce as he has scored seven goals in seven games against the Pugliese side.
Roma – Lazio
“A Roma il derby non dura una settimana, ma dura tutto l’anno!”
“In Rome, the derby doesn’t last a week, it lasts all year!”
That is the feeling in Italy’s capital for one of football’s biggest derbies. The Eternal City’s most anticipated match is filled with passion, tension, anger, hate, happiness, love, everything. All of the human being’s emotional states come into life in this match. If your team wins, you are on top of the world. If it loses, you’d prefer to live in a hole and not show your face until the next meeting of these two sides.
— Leonardo Secondo (@LeonardoSecondo) January 24, 2020
Lazio come into the derby with an astonishing 11-game winning streak in Serie A. Simone Inzaghi’s side have destroyed everything that has come their way, and have cemented themselves as serious contenders for the Scudetto this season. Roma, on the other hand, suffered damaging setbacks with consecutive home defeats to Torino and Juventus. Moreover, the Giallorossi have lost the services of their talented starlet Nicolò Zaniolo for the remainder of the season, forcing manager Paulo Fonseca to alter his midfield to accommodate the threat of Ciro Immobile and his lethal Lazio side.
Tune in at 6 p.m. Italy time on Sunday to watch this very feisty derby!
Napoli – Juventus
“The game with Juve can be a turning point,” said Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret this week.
“There won’t be any lack of motivation. It should be a fascinating game. We will do everything to snatch the three points and lift ourselves out of this bad moment.”
A bad moment, indeed. Napoli are on life-support currently. Their last home league win came in October, and the Partenopei’s newly-appointed coach Gennaro Gattuso has cast doubts into his credentials as the best replacement for Carlo Ancelotti in the Napoli dugout. Gattuso, however, will hope his side can build on their midweek qualification to the Italian Cup Semifinals after beating the unstoppable Lazio at the San Paolo Stadium on Tuesday.
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) January 22, 2020
Nevertheless, it will be a difficult task, as the guests come in the shape of 8-time defending champions Juventus. The Old Lady is enjoying a four-point lead at the top of the table, and its manager Maurizio Sarri is starting to put the pieces together to make the Bianconeri play exciting football this season. The former Napoli coach goes back to the San Paolo for the first time after leaving Naples in 2018, and he will definitely have a controversial reception by the Neapolitan faithful.
Make sure not to miss this intense matchup on Sunday night at 8:45 p.m. local time, which will be Serie A’s final match for the month of January.
For now, Ciao Ciao!