Serie A Round 9, preview and fixtures: The fun is at the bottom

Claudio Villa

The weekend should be simple enough for the likes of Roma, Fiorentina and Juventus, so why not tune in to watch a few relegation-battlers already fighting for survival? Oh, and Saturday night's clash between Inter and Verona is an absolute don't-miss.

With the big guns taking on teams in the lower half of the table, much of Serie A looks to be decided before the matches even start. Sure, you can hope for an upset, but Genoa aren't going to beat Juventus, and it's not going to be Udinese that halts Roma's perfection.

Instead, it might be worth it to watch the sides already battling against the drop. See if Sassuolo can make it two in a row, or if this will be Stefano Pioli's last week on the bench. And, while it's certainly not a relegation battle, make sure you tune in Saturday evening to see if Inter can better their ten-man performance of last week, and manage to knock Hellas out of fourth place.

note: clocks in Europe fall back on Sunday, while those in the US don't change until next week. So if you think you're seeing the wrong times on the schedule, that's probably what's up.

Saturday, October 26

Sampdoria vs. Atalanta (6 p.m. local, 12 noon ET)

The hosts are just a point clear of the relegation zone, but Sampdoria should be thrilled after recording their first win of the season against Livorno last weekend. An interesting fact to note, however: three of Sampdoria's last four goals came from penalties -- Atalanta defenders might want to take care. But the visitors will be buoyed by their impressive start to the season, a three game winning streak putting them in seventh place, a point above both Milan and Lazio.

Inter Milan vs. Hellas Verona (8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET)

Inter are in near-desperate need of a win on Saturday. They've picked up just two points from their last three matches, leaving them nine points off the pace and in danger of being overtaken by Fiorentina. They're already behind Verona, who flew from Serie B right up to fourth place and are unbeaten in four. However, Inter's impressive performance against Torino last weekend, earning a 3-3 draw despite Samir Handanovic getting sent off in the fifth minute, means it's the hosts that claim the edge here.

Sunday, October 27

all matches at 3 p.m. local, 10 a.m. ET unless otherwise noted

Napoli vs. Torino (12:30 p.m. local, 7:30 a.m. ET)

Having now dropped points twice, Napoli are five in back of Roma. But since going down 2-0 to the perfectionists, the partenopei managed to pick up a win in Champions League action, which should bolster them going into the meeting with Torino. The granata faced a 10-man Inter for nearly 90 minutes last week, yet managed to concede three times, and would've lost had Nicola Bellamo not scored in the 90th minute. Surely the second-best side in Italy can defeat such a team, yes? Then again, if Rafa Benítez decides to send in the bench players for this match, the odds are most likely on the visitors, especially if Alessio Cerci is in the mood.

Bologna vs. Livorno

A relegation battle already? Well, it certainly is for the hosts. Bologna have yet to win and sit dead last in the table, with just three points to boast about. Last week they gave fellow strugglers Sassuolo their first victory, and Livorno are certainly hoping the rossoblu will help them out as well. It seemed the season was starting out so well for the amaranto, but now they're winless in their last five, have lost their last three and sit just three points from safety.

Catania vs. Sassuolo

Speaking of relegation battles, this certainly must be classified as one. Both sides are even on points, with just one win thus far, but it's the visitors that just might have the advantage, having looked infinitely better this month than last. The elefanti, meanwhile, have stalled since their win against Chievo and the leadership are hoping a change of manager will kickstart the squad. Rolando Maran is out, Gigi De Canio is in, but is that enough to compensate for an ineffective summer on the transfer market?

Chievo Verona vs. Fiorentina

The viola are probably still flying high after last weekend's remarkable come-from-behind, 4-2 victory over Juventus. Hopefully Giuseppe Rossi has been packed away inside multiple layers of bullet-proof glass, with extra bubble wrap covering both knees. Fiorentina know three points could put them in the European places, where they're supposed to be, if only Verona wasn't there instead. What's with that? Meanwhile, Chievo are still Chievo and anyone with any sense is hoping they'll stay in the drop zone.

Juventus vs. Genoa

Juventus have picked a quality opponent to put them back on track after the glory-hunting Fiorentina overturned their lead last weekend and then the referee destroyed any last bit of hope they had in taking points off Real Madrid midweek. Then again, Genoa are on the rise, having picked up four points from their last two matches. Then again again, the draw was against Catania and the win at home to Chievo. It's unlikely there will be surprises in Turin.

Parma vs. AC Milan

If Valter Birsa starts, expect a goal around the 20th minute, and then absolutely nothing else. Sorry Parma.

Udinese vs. AS Roma

For those of you hoping someone, anyone, will stop Roma, you're looking at the wrong week. Nothing Udinese have done thus far suggests they're anything more than a midtable side. Sure, that'll change sometime after January, but for now, the Roma win is inevitable -- even without Francesco Totti.

Lazio vs. Cagliari (8:45 p.m. local, 3:45 p.m. ET)

No, we don't know why this game gets special billing. Unless it's because Cagliari could climb above Lazio with a win? For anyone that's not a fan of the biancocelesti, that could be pretty amusing. But really, a dull draw seems more likely. And on a completely unrelated note, how on Earth did Lazio manage to not score against Apollon on Thursday night?

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