Rifinitura: Spotlight on Genoa’s Derby della Lanterna

With no dangerous crossings between the main Scudetto contenders, the 12th Round of Serie A will feature the Derby della Lanterna (Lighthouse Derby) between Genoa and Sampdoria as main course in the menu. Rossoblu and Bluecerchiati will face each other on Saturday night to set their rule over the Italian port city, starting with opposite moods and perspectives.

While the Doriani coached by Marco Giampaolo come from a trashing 4-1 success against Chievo, and have found an expected bomber in Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira, the Genoani are sitting on a meager penultimate spot in the league table – which trainer Nikola Juric’s position continuously at risk. Former Milan striker Gianluca Lapadula, who’s looking at relaunching his career after a disappointing experience in Milan, will have the task of leading the attack for Genoa, and likely extend his coach’s tenure.

Giampaolo can count on his full squad, and no change in his regular lineup is to be expected. Fabio Quagliarella and Duvan Zapata will constitute the attacking line, the only doubt being who will support them – Gianluca Caprari or Gaston Ramirez? On paper, Samp is one step ahead, but in a derby no outcome is to be taken for granted.

The 12th Round of Serie A will kick off at 6.00 PM on Saturday as Bologna will face Crotone at home stadium Renato Dall’Ara, with Bologna aiming at interrupting their three-game losing streak, whereas the Calabresi will want to keep the good momentum going after defeating Fiorentina one week ago. The good news are on Roberto Donadoni’s side, as the Bologna coach can count again on his veteran forward Rodrigo Palacio.

Fiorentina-Roma and Inter-Torino are the matches to keep an eye for on Sunday afternoon. How will the Giallorossi fare in Serie A, after having taught a resonant football lesson to Antonio Conte’s Chelsea in Champions League? Will Stephan El Shaarawy keep being on fire, after scoring three of the latest four goals for his side? A Fiorentina still shocked at the three points left in Crotone last week will have the task of testing the renewed Roma ambitions.

Luciano Spalletti will count on his magnificent eleven – a 4-2-3-1 lineup that the coach from Tuscany left unchanged in his latest games – to continue their pursuit of top tanking Napoli, and frustrate Torino’s ambitions to move closer to the Europa League qualification area. The match as San Siro Stadium may very well turn into a competition between the two sides’ top strikers – Mauro Icardi on the Nerazzurri side, and the recovered Andrea Belotti for the Granata.

The capolista Napoli will travel to Verona to face Chievo, in a match that is all but to be underestimated. Regardless of the Gialloblu’s opposition – winning in Verona is never a piece of cake in any case – Maurizio Sarri may face the repercussions of last Wednesday’s Champions League match against Manchester City: The Partenopei succumbed 2-4 to Pep Guardiola’s boys, and most likely waved goodbye to their remaining chances of making it to the Round of 16. But, moreover, they had to suffer a terrific injury occurred to Faouzi Ghoulam: a knee ligament tear will keep him out of play for the rest of the season. Time for veteran Christian Maggio to put his shoes back on and give support on the right flank, while Elseid Hysaj will be moved left to cover Ghoulam’s position.

Cagliari-Verona will be an interesting match as both teams will need to struggle to avoid relegation. Only three points collected for the Isolani in the last six games, and just one more for Hellas, the only win for both having come against…yes, Benevento. Diego Lopez’s 3-5-1-1 new module still needs to bear fruit for Cagliari, whereas Fabio Pecchia’s 4-4-2 will miss injured Moise Kean – Alessio Cerci should replace him.

Atalanta will receive Spal at their home stadium Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, after seeing an early qualification to the Europa League next stage vanish last Thursday, 94 minutes into their game with Apollon Limassol. Gian Piero Gasperini will keep his star Alejandro Gomez on the bench to give him the chance to fully recover, in view of the decisive game against Everton in two weeks. Spal will be missing only midfielder Pasquale Schiattarella – for the rest, coach Leonardo Semplici can count on his regular troops.

With fanalino di coda (Literally, “tail light” – that’s how you call in Italy the bottom ranking team) Benevento visiting Turin to play Juventus, the worst horror scenarios come to mind – the only question seeming to be what mercy the Bianconeri will show against a team that is breaking any Serie A negative record. It might be time for recovering Benedikt Howedes to finally make his debut for Juventus. For the rest, a win by the Streghe is quoted at 1/35…Just saying.

Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio is on fire and, after beating Nice on a thrilling game two days ago, will again step foot on the Stadio Olimpico ground to continue with their stato di grazia. Inzaghi may again leave out of the game a recovering Ciro Immobile – better to keep him preserved in view of the upcoming Nazionale World Cup playoff against Sweden. When the alternative’s name is Nani – who’s far from his glory days, but still an outlier – that should not create a problem. Coach Gigi Del Neri has much to be worried about, despite coming from two consecutive wins against Sassuolo and Atalanta: Udinese will miss for at least one month key midfieders Emil Hallfredsson and Valon Behrami.

The Sunday night match between Sassuolo and Milan will set the curtains off this campionato round. After another disappointing nil-nil draw with AEK Athens in Europa League, the Rossoneri coach Vincenzo Montella expressed his frustrations at criticism and rumors about his possible sacking: “I’ve been watching my funeral for a while.”

Well, if he wanted a chance to prove that he is still alive, there could have been few worse opponents than Sassuolo, as past matches with the Emiliani marked the end of the experience for two Rossoneri former coaches – Massimiliano Allegri and Clarence Seedorf. The current Juventus trainer, in particular, was dismissed after an incredible 3-4 defeat where Domenico Berardi scored all the four goals for the Neroverdi!

Good enough for Montella that Berardi will miss tomorrow’s game due to an injury – but Matteo Politano and Diego Falcinelli are both in good shape, and together with Antonino Ragusa will constitute a tridente not to be underestimated. The Rossoneri trainer will count again on Leonardo Bonucci, back after a two-game ban, an will decide at the last moment who to replace injured Lucas Biglia with – will it be seasoned Riccardo Montolivo or young Manuel Locatelli?

In any case, failing to make points in Reggio Emilia – where Sassuolo are playing their home matches – could be the very end for the Aeroplanino’s experience in Milan.