Gallagher Premiership Highlights - Round 21Mar 27
It's a derby bonanza in Serie A this weekend as Inter host Juventus and Lazio face city rivals Roma - live on BT Sport!
The Old Lady are fast closing in on the top six despite their 15-point deduction in January, while Simone Inzaghi's men suffered a humiliating 2-1 defeat at lowly Spezia last Friday.
It's double derby delight this Sunday evening as Lazio and Roma clash for the bragging rights in the Italian capital, before Juventus travel to San Siro to play Inter, hoping to have the opportunity to move yet closer to the European places.
Earlier in the day, runaway leaders Napoli travel to a Torino side who have won back-to-back games for the first time since October, while on Friday night, Atalanta hope to end a wretched run of one point from a possible 12 when they host Empoli, with reigning champions Milan heading to Udinese in Saturday's marquee fixture.
For all the key storylines, plus information on how to watch the weekend's NINE remaining matches, read on.
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Derby d'Italia treble bill coming up!
The Derby d'Italia may not be contested between neighbours, but it is a fixture that has been served up several classic meetings and even been the subject of an Italian parliamentary debate that led to several politicians being suspended for their behaviour.
The calciopoli referee bribery scandal that Juventus were embroiled in back in the mid-2000s has also helped ramp up the ill-feeling between the sides, and the Old Lady have this season found themselves in hot water again, suffering a 15-point deduction in January, with the threat of further legal action and sanctions to come.
On the pitch, Massimiliano Allegri's men have responded admirably to that latest setback, claiming 16 points from a possible 24 to move within four points of sixth-placed Atalanta and European qualification.
The Old Lady also reached the Europa League quarter-finals with a comfortable 3-0 aggregate win over Freiburg and will face Inter in a two-legged Coppa Italia semi-final next month in what happens to be a repeat of last year's final.
Several injuries have taken the gloss off that recent strong form however.
Just when it looked like Paul Pogba would be able to build up his minutes following a torrid time with injury since his return to the Allianz Stadium, the 30-year-old has suffered a thigh problem which will rule him out for several more weeks.
Alex Sandro was taken off in the first half of the Freiburg first leg with a hamstring problem, while Angel Di Maria has sustained a thigh issue.
Moise Kean serves the second of his two-game suspension for kicking Roma's Gianluca Mancini, just 40 seconds after the former Everton forward had come on as a substitute, and Arkadiusz Milik will return after the international break from the thigh problem that has kept him out since January.
By contrast, Inter's only confirmed casualty is the hamstring injury Alessandro Bastoni sustained in the gritty goalless draw at Porto on Tuesday that ensured Champions League progression, while Robin Gosens may be also be sidelined with a calf problem.
Simone Inzaghi earned a stay of execution with that result in Portugal following last Friday's embarrassing loss at relegation-threatened Spezia.
Despite that shock result however, the Nerazzurri are still second - three points ahead of fifth-placed Roma - even though they are experiencing difficulties in front of goal, with Edin Dzeko currently on an 11-match goal drought.
Inzaghi will also be aware of Juve's proficiency from set-pieces and aerial balls, an approach that allowed Allegri's side to score three of their four goals against Sampdoria last weekend.
Adrien Rabiot scored twice in that match, with the Frenchman taking his tally to seven for the league season, putting him only behind Dusan Vlahovic in the club's pecking order.
Since his move in January 2022, Vlahovic hasn't quite managed to replicate the clinical edge that made him such a fearsome proposition at Fiorentina, with the Serbia international missing a penalty against Samp to extend his barren run to five league games.
However, the 23-year-old's streak of six matches in all competitions without scoring came to an end when he tucked home the penalty in Freiburg on Thursday, while Federico Chiesa encouragingly returned from a knee issue to bag Juve's second on the night.
It's set to be an absorbing encounter - and one that both teams will feel they need to win.
Lazio aim to extend "home" derby run
It seems odd to us in England that fierce rivals might share the same stadium, but it's commonplace in Italy, with the Rome derby, or Derby della Capitale, being one of the most prominent examples.
Since last season, it has been contested by two former Chelsea managers, Maurizio Sarri and Jose Mourinho, with Sarri continuing a recent tradition of Lazio enjoying superiority in their designated "home" fixture, winning four and drawing two of their last six such meetings.
Once again, both the Eagles and Roma are vying for Champions League qualification, with Mourinho's men in fifth, two points and two places behind their neighbours.
The Giallorossi's 4-3 defeat at home to Sassuolo last time out was a bitter blow to their top-four hopes as Mourinho was absent from the sidelines, serving the first of a two-game touchline ban.
The 60-year-old will have been alarmed by his side's chronic inability to clear the lines against the Neroverdi as Armand Lauriente put the visitors 2-0 up inside 18 minutes, before Marash Kumbulla completely lost his head and lashed out at Domenico Berardi, conceding a penalty that the 28-year-old gleefully converted.
Roma impressively managed to give themselves a fighting chance of a draw thanks to Paulo Dybala's curler and Georginio Wijnaldum's first goal for the club, but Mourinho will be ruing the poor start that ultimately proved the hosts' undoing, although the Portuguese will be highly satisfied with the goalless draw on Thursday in San Sebastian against Real Sociedad on Thursday that ensured the Italians' place in the Europa League quarter-finals.
By contrast, Lazio crashed out of the Europa Conference League the same evening - losing 4-2 to AZ Alkmaar on aggregate - while their last Serie A outing was a sedate 0-0 draw at Bologna, with both matches underlining the need to get top scorer Ciro Immobile back fit as soon as possible following the recent thigh strain he suffered.
The striker will aim to be back by Sunday, although Matias Vecino, the matchwinner earlier this month at Napoli, will be suspended after accumulating five yellow cards in the league.
Roma meanwhile have Kumbulla ruled out following his dismissal, while Leeds loanee Diego Llorente and former Torino man Andrea Belotti have a race against time to be fit after suffering a hip injury in the first leg against Real Sociedad.
After Napoli, Lazio have the best defence in the division and kept a clean sheet in the reverse fixture back in November to record a 1-0 victory.
For Roma, Tammy Abraham hasn't scored since 4 February. Can he sting former boss Sarri and secure bragging rights for the red and yellow half of the city? Tune in to find out.
How many points can Napoli secure?
As the question suggests, it is more relevant to ask how comfortably Napoli will win Serie A than whether they will finally end their 33-year wait for the title.
Luciano Spalletti's team of entertainers were the only side in the top six to win last weekend, responding to their loss against Lazio as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia broke the deadlock against Atalanta with a bewitching solo effort that has almost come to expected, before Amir Rrahmani's towering header made sure of the points to put the Partenopei 18 points clear of second-placed Inter
They are also through to their first-ever Champions League quarter-final after trouncing Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0 on aggregate, with Victor Osimhen adding two more goals to his tally to move onto 23 for the campaign in all competitions.
Juventus' mark of 102 points in the 2013/14 Serie A campaign - an all-time record in Europe's top-five leagues - will be incredibly tough to top, but it is still mathematically possible, with Napoli having dropped just 10 points so far this term.
Spalletti may also have a fully fit squad to pick from if Giacomo Raspadori returns from the hamstring injury that has ruled him out for the last month, with the ex-Roma manager having the luxury - but also the headache - of rotating his starting XI with a historic Scudetto and Champions League double in mind.
Torino will be no pushovers though.
Ivan Juric's men have won their last two games - against Bologna and Lecce - without conceding, and in Antonio Sanabria and Yann Karamoh, Sunday's hosts have two forwards high on confidence in front of goal, while right wing-back Wilfried Singo is also dangerous in attacking situations.
Juric's personal record against Napoli has seen him mastermind just one win in 11 meetings, with that solitary triumph coming two seasons as Hellas Verona boss.
This is a much-changed and more formidable Napoli outfit however, so a home victory at Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino would be one of the high points of the Serbian's nine-year spell in the dugout in Italy.
Milan braced for Ud awakening
Recent meetings between Udinese and Milan have been intriguing affairs.
The pair last locked horns back in August at San Siro, with the visitors scoring taking a surprise early lead but ultimately falling to a 4-2 defeat, while the three matches between the two sides prior to that have all ended in 1-1 draws.
The reigning champions have endured an incredibly frustrating campaign, losing a significant number of key players to serious injuries and looking far more defensively porous than last season, as well as suffering disappointing defeats to city rivals Inter and mid-table Torino in the Supercoppa Italiana and the Coppa Italia respectively.
Add to that their persistent goalscoring struggles - a theme carried over from 2021/22 despite winning the league - the continued wrangling about Rafael Leao's proposed new contract, and you can see why things aren't rosy for the Rossoneri.
That said, Stefano Pioli's men are into the quarter-finals of the Champions League after knocking out Tottenham, although their hopes of dining at Europe's top table in 2023/24 are on a knife edge, given that they remain just a point above Torino after squandering a lead at home to Salernitana.
Some sloppy passes in their defensive third could have even seen Milan slip to an embarrassing loss against the strugglers, while the way that Boulaye Dia was allowed to ghost into the box to equalise completely unmarked was alarming, perhaps explaining why only Bologna have conceded more than Pioli's side in Serie A's top 10.
In attacking areas, there is concern about Leao's form in front of goal, given that the Portugal international hasn't netted since 14 January despite playing regularly.
With Olivier Giroud finishing also fitful and 41-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic being eased back into the team following a serious knee injury, Leao will need to step up during a pivotal couple of months, along with the likes of Alexis Saelemaekers and Brahim Diaz.
After a sensational start to the season that saw them touted as the unlikeliest of title contenders, Udinese's form has badly fallen off.
Despite that, Andrea Sottil's men are sitting snugly in 10th and still have an outside chance of European qualification after their first win since 22 January at Empoli last weekend as Rodrigo Becao bagged the winner with a header.
Interestingly, despite having scored just six times since arriving at Udinese in 2019, three of Becao's goals have come against Milan. Can the centre-back find the back of the net in successive games?
Atalanta target return to winning ways
Having been in strong contention to finish in the top four a few weeks ago, things have gone disastrously for Atalanta since.
A shock defeat at home to Lecce was followed by a blunt display in a 2-0 loss at Milan, while Gian Piero Gasperini's men have since drawn further blanks against Udinese and Napoli to leave them sixth, just four points ahead of an ominous-looking Juventus.
Of concern to the Bergamo side's long-serving boss will be star man Ademola Lookman's current lack of form given how deadly he has been for much of the campaign.
Playmaker Teun Koopmeiners won't be back until after the international break having sustained a thigh problem earlier this month, while compatriot Hans Hateboer is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Despite those two absences and their recent wretched run, La Dea will fancy their chances against Empoli, who haven't won in seven and have lost their last three.
Paolo Zanetti's side are nine points clear of the relegation zone, but the Azzurri will be looking to address a vulnerability at defending balls into the box, something that has been their undoing in each of their last three outings, the latest example being Rodrigo Becao's header to earn Udinese all three points.
At the other end of the field, only the bottom three have scored fewer than the Tuscany outfit in Serie A this term. Can they upset the applecart last season's surprise 1-0 win at the Gewiss Stadium?
Your Serie A weekend on BT Sport
Sassuolo vs Spezia (5.30pm on BT Sport 1)
Atalanta vs Empoli (7.30pm on BT Sport 1)
Salernitana vs Bologna (5.15pm on BT Sport 1)
Udinese vs Milan (7.30pm on BT Sport 2)
Sampdoria vs Hellas Verona (11.30am on BT Sport 1)
Torino vs Napoli (2pm on BT Sport 2)
Fiorentina vs Lecce (2pm on BT Sport 5)
Lazio vs Roma (5pm on BT Sport 1)