Serie A closes out the first half of its fixture list tomorrow, and we have the breakdown and predictions for every match.
First, let’s look at the table.
Saturday December 29
Juventus vs. Sampdoria
Sampdoria come into the match off a fine vein of form, but their only reward is with the dominant club in Italy. Sampdoria easily dispatched of basement side Chievo Verona 2-0, and find themselves in fifth place entering the final match before the winter break. Juventus enter this match looking their usual dominant selves despite a slip-up last time out against Atalanta that saw them reduced to 10 men when Rodrigo Betancur was sent off for his second yellow card of the match. Any team that has Cristiano Ronaldo should enter the match favorites, and without an indication that he’ll be rested, Juventus will field a strong side albeit without Betancur who finds himself suspended for the match. Juventus walk out comfortable winners and take a healthy lead a the top into the winter break.
Prediction: Juventus 2-0 Sampdoria
Chievo Verona vs. Frosinone
Frosinone come into the match having held a struggling AC Milan to a draw last weekend, and hope that they can carry that same spirit into this fixture against Chievo who currently sit at the bottom of Serie A. Frosinone need to be taking all three points from this match in order to boost their chances of survival. Chievo come into this on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Sampdoria, and will know that they need to go for a win against another side at the bottom of the Serie A table. Chievo’s season has been a disaster all around as they were docked three points for fielding ineligible players, and have only recently managed to climb into a positive point total. Although my gut tells me a draw is the most likely result, I think this match has a winner in it for the away side.
Prediction: Chievo Verona 0-1 Frosinone
Empoli vs. Inter
Inter come into this match on the heels of a 1-0 victory over 9-man Napoli where they managed to knick a late goal. Inter has consistently been one of the better teams in Italy, and rightfully find themselves entrenched in third place in Serie A. Empoli enter this fixture after losing 3-0 last time out to Torino, and are in desperate need of points in order to secure safety for this season. Having one of the leakiest defenses in Serie A, it could prove difficult for them to stop Inter’s clinical attack. I see a draw in this match as Inter were pushed to the final whistle in their previous match, and this is the kind of fixture they have struggled in this season.
Prediction: Empoli 1-1 Inter
Genoa vs. Fiorentina
One week ago, Fiorentina got the better of AC Milan 1-0, and looked like a side that was making progress towards re-emerging as a top team in Italy. They then followed that up with a sloppy performance against Parma and fell to a defeat 1-0. Genoa come into this match having lost to a similar placed team, Cagliari, in a tight match. However, they overcame Atalanta one week prior by a scoreline of 3-1, which means that they are also a team that lacks consistency at times. Both sides have much that can be desired at times, but are eqaully matched for one another, so expect goals, but no difference between both sides as they get a fair point each.
Prediction: Genoa 2-2 Fiorentina
Lazio vs. Torino
Torino are playing well this season, which culminated in a comfortable 3-0 victory over Empoli last time out. As a side, they boast one of the better defensive records in Serie A and managed to hold Juventus to only one goal two weeks ago. Lazio is one of the unsung teams in Italy as they have produced some solid talent, but consistently manage to finish in and around the Champions League places in Serie A yearly. They currently occupy fourth and are coming off of two straight wins, and they are even in the Last 32 in the Europa League. I expect another solid outing by Lazio who will clinically dispatch of Torino, but it will be close.
Prediction: Lazio 1-0 Torino
Parma Calcio 1913 vs. Roma
The season so far from Roma has been a bit of a mixed bag as they have been a difficult team to predict due to their struggle for a consistent form. They managed to keep their match away against Juventus close, only losing 1-0, but they lost 2-1 to Viktoria Plzen despite fielding a more than capable team. Parma come home on the heels of a 1-0 victory against Fiorentina on the road which should give them hope against a Roma side that has struggled for road form. However, Parma may be concerned about their own form as they have only won one of their last five while managing home draws against two bottom table sides in Bologna and Chievo Verona. Roma should emerge victorious, but it may not be straightforward, and the scoreline will be a bit flattering.
Prediction: Parma 1-3 Roma
Sassuolo vs. Atalanta
Atalanta will come into this match feeling hard done with only a draw to show for their efforts against Juventus, but they did switch off on a late corner for Juventus who levelled through Cristiano Ronaldo. Atalanta did manage a victory against Lazio recently, and should enter this match as the favorites to emerge with all the spoils. Sassuolo find themselves in the middle of the table and are coming off of a 3-1 defeat to Roma last time out. Their recent form is encouraging, and it could yield them a much needed result against a team in Atalanta that is in the top half of the table. This match has a draw written all over it as both sides don’t have a tangible advantage over the other.
Prediction: Sassuolo 1-1 Atalanta
Udinese vs. Cagliari
Cagliari come into the match having only managed to grab a single point against three top seven teams, but they did rebound last time out by defeating Genoa in the middle of the week. Despite not travelling well to other sides, the last time Cagliari travelled to a bottom of the table side, they managed a victory defeating Chievo Verona 2-1. Udinese come into this match with an alright defensive record, but they have struggled for goals this season. They have only mustered a total of two goals across their past five matches which does not bode well for this match. Their record against similar teams is also poor as they could only manage a draw against Frosinone a week ago, despite being two places above them. Cagliari should emerge victorious, but will be made to work against an Udinese side who are eager to grab points.
Prediction: Udinese 1-2 Cagliari
Napoli vs. Bologna
Bologna enter the match having not won a league match since September 30, and not won any match since December 4. They also visit Napoli not scoring many goals, and conceding several which is a combination that has led to them occupying 18th place and the last relegation spot in Serie A. Napoli enter the match on the heels of a frustrating defeat to Inter that saw them reduced to 9 men, and saw racist chants hurled by Inter’s fans at center-back Kalidou Koulibaly. Napoli are a side that will be without Koulibaly and talisman Lorenzo Insigne after both were sent off against Inter, but still have lots of firepower to deploy in their stead. This will end in a comfortable Napoli victory.
Prediction: Napoli 4-0 Bologna
AC Milan vs. SPAL 2013
SPAL have managed to claw out some solid results in their last five fixtures, and held Napoli to only one goal away from home. SPAL should relish their chances against a shambolic AC Milan side, and will feel good about their ability to at least steal a point from this match. AC Milan have started to regress despite heavy investment in their squad over the last two summer transfer windows. Embattled boss, Gennaro Gattuso, could manage his last match for the Milanese side if he is unable to overcome SPAL at San Siro. His side have also only managed to score one goal in their past five matches across all competitions. This match will be nervy, but the quality of AC Milan will see them through to a positive result and the sparing of the sack for Gattuso, for now.
Prediction: AC Milan 2-1 SPAL