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.
Our last Rifinitura for the year! We’ll be back in a fortnight’s time, but for now, let’s take a closer look at this weekend’s matches in Italy, as well as at one Italian affair played abroad.
Juventus–Lazio (Italian Super Cup)
Having played their fixture earlier in mid-week due to the Super Cup commitment this weekend, Juventus have guaranteed themselves a top-spot finish in the league table this calendar year. With two wonderful goals from Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo at the Marassi Stadium on Wednesday, the Old Lady travels to Riyadh with only one objective in her mind: Bring home the trophy!
Shirt Alert: Juve will wear a special nameset designed by the Saudi-Moroccan artist Shaker Kashgari in the Italian Super Cup Final vs Lazio
— Classic Football Shirts (@classicshirts) December 20, 2019
However, Lazio will be a tough nut to crack for the Bianconeri. Remember, the Biancocelesti have been the only team to inflict defeat upon Juventus this season, and the Old Lady will be seeking revenge for that wound on Sunday.
Note: Lazio’s match against Hellas Verona for this matchday is postponed to February 5, 2020.
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 21, 2019
Roma were generous guests on Friday night as they showered Fiorentina with four goals – two in each half – in Florence, in a match that has been dubbed in recent years as the “Gabriel Batistuta Derby.” Paulo Fonseca’s side continued their brilliant form as they intend to solidify their place in the top four. Vincenzo Montella’s Viola, however, can’t seem to be able to buy a win at the moment, as their last win in Serie A came in late October.
Udinese host Cagliari on Saturday as both sides are seeking a win for completely different reasons. The Bianconeri are aiming at distancing themselves from the drop zone as much as possible, while the Rossoblu are looking to stay in the hunt for a top four spot and bounce back after losing to two injury-time goals from Lazio on Monday.
Goran Pandev and Thiago Motta will face their old team Inter on Saturday. Together with their Genoa, they are entering this fixture having lost the derby against city rivals Sampdoria last week. Pandev is still disqualified and will be cheering his teammates from the stands at San Siro, but manager Thiago Motta will be definitely present in the dugout trying to guide his youngsters to end the year on a high. Inter and Antonio Conte have no choice but to win if they want to keep the pressure on leaders Juventus in the battle for the Scudetto.
After letting a three-goal lead slip last weekend against Hellas Verona, Torino want to sendoff this year with a win as they entertain SPAL in Turin. The Biancazzurri are currently rock-bottom and six points from safety. They will look to their talisman Andrea Petagna in the hope of getting out of Turin with any valuable point as they continue to battle for survival.
With captain Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gómez expected to return to the starting lineup, Atalanta will hope to cap off the year with a home win over Milan, something they haven’t achieved since April 2016, when Gómez himself scored the winner in a 2-1 victory. On the other hand, the Rossoneri are enjoying their best spell of the season so far, having managed to go unbeaten in their last four games. Kickoff is lunchtime on Sunday in Bergamo.
With Parma’s victory at Napoli last week, the Gialloblu have won two straight league matches. They haven’t achieved three consecutive Serie A wins since March 2014. On the other side, Brescia have won their last away match – a 0-1 victory at SPAL. The last time the Rondinelle won two consecutive away matches in the first division was in November 1967.
— Parma Calcio 1913 (@ParmaCalcio_en) December 20, 2019
In addition to having won only once from their last 11 league outings, Lecce are also the league’s poorest defense with thirty two goals conceded. Argentinian striker Rodrigo Palacio will hope to take advantage of that leaky defense line as he is enjoying his best league campaign with Bologna, being their top scorer so far with five goals.
Having won their postponed match from October against Brescia in mid-week, Sassuolo welcome Napoli knowing that a win would take them above the Neapolitans in the league table. The Partenopei are winless in two months in the league, and new manager Gennaro Gattuso will look for salvation in the form of Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik, who has scored in each of his last five league appearances.
That’s it for now! Enjoy the last round of Serie A matches of this year and we wish you a joyful, merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Ciao Ciao!