It's a rare week in Serie A in which the best matches are clustered at the beginning of the weekend, rather than appearing at the end of Sunday. But Saturday night brings the chance for Genoa to beat Milan, and an opportunity for Parma to take points off Napoli. And, in a strange "marquee" fixture, Derby della Scala kicks off the week. It's been over ten years since the Verona teams have met in Serie A -- in fact, the 2001-2002 season is the only one to date in which Hellas and Verona have both been in the top division. In other words, you gotta tune in to catch this rare event.
But the real reason to watch might be to see the Serie A manager merry-go-round start to swing. Almost every fixture features either new managers trying to make an impression or longer-serving coaches attempting to keep ahold of their jobs. Will anything change this week?
Hellas Verona vs. Chievo Verona (6 p.m. local; 12 noon ET)
The stands will likely hold greater attraction than the football in this rare Derby della Scala. The Hellas supporters have managed to cheer their side on to a 6-0-0 record at the Bentegodi, whereas all Chievo have managed at home is a couple of draws. The Flying Donkeys are dead last and, after only managing a draw against the pitiful Milan last time out, have sacked Giuseppe Sannino in favor of bringing back Eugenio Corini. Beating Chievo's rivals would certainly give Corini a great start to his second turn at the helm.
It's been four straight matches since Milan recorded a win. Genoa have won their last three in a row. Easy money betting on the Champions League side? Bah. Then again, Massimiliano Allegri always seems to find a way to hang on.
Napoli have it tough: they've got to bounce back in the league after losing to Juventus last time out, which caused them to drop down into third. But they've also got an insanely difficult match at the Westfalenstadion against Dortmund on Tuesday night, a match they must win to keep their dreams of advancing to the knockout stages alive. Parma won't make it easy, however -- with just one point from their last three outings, Roberto Donadoni must know something's got to give.
All matches at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET unless otherwise noted
Does anyone really think Livorno can get even a point out of this match? Well, Juventus do have that terrifying home leg against Copenhagen on Wednesday...
It's the return of Siniša Mihajlović and his first task will be to lift Samp from the relegation zone by beating his former side Lazio. The hosts just might be good value for the win, though. Miha desperately needs to prove himself, while the biancocelesti have managed no more than two draws from three matches. Vladimir Petković may have avoided the sack with a Europa League victory, but a failure to win here could see the Bosnian heading out of Lazio.
The hosts are just barely out of the relegation zone, but the fun in watching the neroverdi lies in never having a clue what they'll do next. Lose 7-0 to Inter? Check. Allow Sampdoria back into the match after they go down a man? Check. Snatch a last minute draw against Roma? Check. Considering Atalanta's poor away form, Eusebio Di Francesco just might find himself breathing a bit easier after this one.
Catania are so injury blighted that it's hard to believe they've yet to pick up a free pass to skip the rest of the season and start over in Serie B next time around. The elefanti did, however, manage to pick up a surprise win at Udinese last time, so maybe Gigi De Canio is finally having some sort of effect? Either that or it was just pure dumb luck that led to Maxi López converting a penalty.
Udinese vs. Fiorentina
It's been over 200 minutes since Udinese have scored -- and, in fact, only Chievo and Catania are worse than the zebrette at getting goals. That's got to have Francesco Guidolin sweating just a bit. Meanwhile, the viola average two goals per match and Giuseppe Rossi has scored as many goals as Udinese have in total. The visitors have one loss in their last seven games and look determined to wiggle their way into the top three. Home advantage, what?
Bologna vs. Inter Milan (8:45 p.m. local; 2:45 p.m. ET)
Bologna have conceded 24 goals this season -- only Sassuolo have fared worse -- while Inter have put in 29. It's hard to imagine that this match won't be fun to watch.
It's interesting to realize that, when Juventus went unbeaten a couple seasons ago, no one was too surprised. But with Roma, people seem convinced that the first loss is just around the corner. Perhaps it's because Rudi Garcia isn't as conservative as Antonio Conte. Or maybe, after Sassuolo's last minute equalizer in the last match, and the previous draw with Torino, we'll see a more cautious approach from Roma?