Sunday sparks and sizzles in Italy, with six matches to be played in Serie A. In case you missed it, a few of the biggies have already passed, with Lazio beating Inter Milan 3-1 on Friday, Roma failing to keep their lead and drawing 2-2 at Chievo Verona, and AC Milan thoroughly beating Brescia 3-0. Now we're set for a battle of mid-table wonders (save for Juventus at Catania, the late game on Sunday), but don't despair, for even those matches are more than capable of bringing the Italian flare.
In the battle for relegation avoidance, Cesena (17) and Bologna (16) meet in their first derby in the top flight for twenty years. Bologna will be looking for their first win on the road this season, while Cesena, promoted this season, will just be looking for a win, anxious to stay up for another year. Cesena may only have seven goals at home this season, but tip them for the win: Bologna's financial difficulties likely have their minds elsewhere.
Moving just a bit further up the table, Fiorentina (14) host Cagliari (13) without three of their defenders: Per Kroldrup, Felipe, and Gianluca Comotto all are banned after picking up cautions in last week's match against Juventus. Meanwhile, the Viola still aren't healthy, missing seven players through injury, including Alberto Gilardino who hurt his thigh in the same match. They're crossing their fingers that their talisman, Adrian Mutu, will be sufficiently recovered from his knee injury to take the pitch. Cagliari, on the other hand, are hoping to make this their third win in a row, looking to striker Alessandro Matri, who scored three goals in his last two games and has eight goals on the season.
Poor little Bari (20) faces relative giant Sampdoria (8). The Galletti are without a win in nine matches and will likely not find one away at Sampdoria. The Blucerchiati crashed out of the Europa League this week and are likely smarting just a bit from that loss to PSV Eindhoven, but if they're able to replicate the play that allowed them to hold Milan to a draw last week, this should be an easy win for the home side. They're still playing without their star, Antonio Cassano, who hasn't taken the pitch since last month's heated argument with club president, but as Sampdoria have lost just once without him, it appears life goes on.
Udinese (9) may have had a horrible start to the season, but the Bianconeri went on a six-game unbeaten streak to climb their way back to midtable, and demonstrated their worth last week with a resounding 3-1 victory over Napoli. Antonio Di Natale scored a hat-trick, and if hosts Parma (15) want to have any hope of a result, they'll need to neutralize the dangerous Toto.
Lecce (19) hosts Genoa (12) in what might either be the day's most dismal or most entertaining match. Lecce have conceded 28 goals thus far, while Genoa have scored just 10. Will this be the time for the Rossoblu to unleash a torrent of goals, or will it be an opportunity for the home side to try to improve the league's worst goal difference? The Giallorossi will certainly be hoping for the latter, crossing their fingers that their faith in manager Luigi De Canio was not misplaced. De Canio handed in his resignation after Lecce's 3-2 defeat to Cagliari last weekend, but the club refused to accept it.
Finally, the day (but not the week) closes with Juventus at Catania. After last week's draw with Fiorentina and their elimination from the Europa League at the hands of Lech Poznan midweek, the Old Lady will want to get back to her winning ways. The Elefanti certainly won't make it easy for Juventus, having conceded only four goals at home this season. Then again, Juventus haven't lost away since week one and haven't lost, full stop, since hosting Palmero in September. Putting money on a draw seems the safest option here. Juventus might be strong side but they often seem to lack the finishing touches that enable the squad to play for a win rather than a mere draw.