Tullio M. Puglia
This week's Serie A matches are stretched out over four days, but there's still the problem of fixture congestion on Sunday. Worry not -- we're here to tell you who should watch which game.
We've got a strange "weekend" ahead in Serie A. It begins on Saturday evening and stretches all the way through to Tuesday night, taking advantage of the break in European action to let the clubs involved in Europa League play have a bit of a break. How very nice of you, FIGC!
Alas, the lack of early matches on Saturday and Sunday means that fixture congestion is still present on Sunday afternoon. But that's what we're here for -- to guide you through the mess of matches and point you to the ones most worth watching. Unless you have five monitors. Then, go nuts.
Saturday, November 24
Hey, lookie here! We've got another derby this week. And who can resist a Sicilian Derby? Not when death is on the line, no sir. And death is on the line, holding for Palermo. The rosanero are above the relegation zone, but only by virtue of goal difference. Palermo lost 3-0 and three men to Bologna last week, so starting keeper Samir Ujkani will miss out, as will Édgar Barreto and Carlos Labrin. Not the smartest of moves, fellas. As for Catania, they're flying high in seventh place, although they've yet to win on the road this season. There's no time like a derby to find those first three away points, and the combination of Francesco Lodi, Pablo Barrientos and Alejandro Gomez is more than sufficient to destroy a depleted Palermo.
A match for: Princess Bride aficionados. So, everyone.
Sunday, November 25
(all matches at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET unless otherwise noted)
Genoa dropped into dead last last week, following a 3-1 defeat in the Derby della Lanterna. The rossoblu haven't won since September 23, against Lazio, and have lost their last six. Such a record must make Atalanta feel fairly confident, particularly after their 4-1 loss to Fiorentina last weekend. Despite such losses for both sides, both are capable of providing a decent attack -- even if the finishing leaves something to be desired.
A match for: Ciro Immobile fans.
Chievo Verona vs. Siena
A relegation six-pointer between two sides whose total goals scored this season equal that of the number scored by Fiorentina -- who only have the fourth-highest number of goals scored to date.
A match for: misogynists.
Roma have scored eight goals over their last three matches. Surprisingly enough, Pescara have conceded just seven (including those six from Juventus). Giovanni Stroppa resigned after the loss to Siena last weekend, so this will be the first match with Cristiano Bergodi at the helm. Even with the new Pescara manager eager to make an impression, the giallorossi should have no trouble with this visit. They're without top scorer Erik Lamela, but Pablo Osvaldo and Miralem Pjanic shouldered the goal-scoring burden last week and should manage to do so again.
A relegation six-pointer that isn't even worthy of the term, as both sides are technically above the drop zone. Both sides used last weekend to prove they're capable of scoring more than one goal per match, but the competition wasn't exactly sparkling. Put them head to head and the fallout's likely to be a goalless draw.
A match for: someone with five monitors.
Torino vs. Fiorentina
If you're shunning Fiorentina because they're just oh-so-trendy, get off your high horse and watch some decent football. The Viola have scored 11 goals in their last three matches, and that's with Stevan Jovetic missing the last two games. Vincenzo Montella deserves praise for what he's done in rebuilding this squad -- anyone that can make Alberto Aquilani shine is worthy of a raise. The hosts will likely face this match in their standard Torino-y way, hunkering down and doing their best to stop a rampant Viola attack. Il granata have the fourth-best defense in Serie A, but it's tough to see that standing after this weekend.
A match for: people too sophisticated to turn Vincenzo Montella's name into a verb.
With Milan only in 12th, this really shouldn't be the top match of the week -- and yet it's a must-watch. Milan came from behind last week to draw 2-2 with Napoli at the San Paolo, then proceeded to secure their place in the next round of the Champions League with a 3-1 win over Anderlecht. Juve, meanwhile, could manage nothing against a steadfast Lazio, but more than made up for it against Chelsea, winning 3-0 midweek. But the Old Lady have proved they're fallible, and Milan have proved they're capable. Massimiliano Allegri no longer needs to worry about providing brilliant flashes of tactical insight, he simply needs to field Stephan El Shaarawy, stand back and wait. The only question remaining is if the Little Pharaoh will be enough.
A match for: anyone who loves to walk like an Egyptian.
Monday, November 26
Edinson Cavani's last minute penalty conversion -- won by the Uruguayan god himself, of course -- earned Napoli a spot in the Europa League knockout stages, but El Matador won't be on hand to rescue his side on their trip to Cagliari, having earned one too many yellow cards. The Sardinians will be thrilled at his absence, but may do well to turn the focus inward instead. After all, they held a lead against Inter into the final ten minutes, only to surrender to a draw when Davide Astori put the ball into his own net. Exempting that traumatic incident, Cagliari were in fine form last weekend, and will be looking for that to carry over in front of their own fans.
A match for: those who get their exercise by running the gauntlet of emotions.
Parma vs. Inter Milan (8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET)
Things haven't gone so well for the nerazzurri since their miraculous win over Juventus. They've picked up just one point from their last two matches, and that was courtesy of an own-goal. Faced with a plethora of injuries, Andrea Stramaccioni sent out the kids against Rubin Kazan, resulting in a 3-0 Europa loss for Inter. Wesley Sneijder will return on Monday, but that's not much help to the weakened Inter defense -- nor is the loss of Antonio Cassano to suspension. Parma, who've picked up just two points from their last three outings, must be thrilled at this opportunity to take advantage of one of the big boys. Oddly enough, it'll be Amauri they'll turn to for goals.
A match for: those anxious to prove biased refereeing in Serie A.
Tuesday, November 27
Udinese saw a sure three points slip away against Parma last weekend, when Raffaele Palladino equalized in the 89th minute. The 2-0 loss to Anzhi midweek added another twinge to this already painful season for the Zebrette, making them almost certain to drop out of a European campaign that began with Champions League qualifiers. It's unlikely their solace will be found during their trip to Rome, as Lazio managed to hold off a Juventus barrage to come away with a point. The biancocelesti haven't lost at home, in all competitions, since September 23, and will be looking to widen the gap over rivals Roma.
A match for: people willing to overlook supporter behavior in favor of player performance.