Serie A, Round 16 preview and fixtures: Mazzarri returns to the San Paolo

Giuseppe Bellini

The highlight of the week has to be Walter Mazzarri's return to the San Paolo, but a few choice matches on Sunday afternoon should keep you occupied until that time. The week finishes with Milan trying to end Roma's unbeaten run, now at 15 games.

There's just two rounds until Italy's short winter break begins, and the only question is: will anything change in the table?  Juventus may well be tired after their 18+ hour match in Istanbul midweek, but the FIGC was kind enough to move their match til Sunday, so they'll likely take revenge on poor Sassuolo. Roma have it fairly easy this time too -- yes, going to the San Siro to face Milan is a simple task.

So really, the match of the week takes place in Naples, where a broken-hearted Napoli face former coach Walter Mazzarri. A win for Inter takes his side to within one point of third place, but a loss means Fiorentina could leapfrog into fourth.

Saturday

Catania vs. Hellas Verona

Stadio Angelo Massimino; 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET
It's not even halfway through the season, yet Catania's demise seems eminent. Sure, we said that about Sassuolo, and then about Chievo, but these elefanti just don't have the personnel to hang this Serie A season. Newly-promoted Verona have got the hang of things, however, thanks to the likes of Jorginho, Juan Iturbe and Luca Toni. They slipped and lost four in a row, but got back to winning ways with a victory over Atalanta last week, and should have no issue in Sicily.

Sunday

Chievo Verona vs. Sampdoria

Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi; 3 p.m. local; 9 a.m. ET
Um, Chievo? You're supposed to be bad. None of this bringing back a coach you rejected and then winning three games in a row. And up next is another relegation candidate, Sampdoria, who've also fired their coach and are back to winning ways since Siniša Mihajlović took over. Endlessly drab stalemate ahead? Looks likely.

Fiorentina vs. Bologna

Stadio Artemio Franchi; 3 p.m. local; 9 a.m. ET
Is Stefano Pioli still in charge at Bologna? Yes, yes he is, although we couldn't tell you why. It's six games without a win now for the rossoblu, who are sitting second from bottom and looking increasingly unable to even ask questions, much less answer them. There's no reason this should change when facing one of Serie A's best sides.

Genoa vs. Atalanta

Stadio Luigi Ferraris; 3 p.m. local; 9 a.m. ET
After a string of fairly impressive results, Genoa came undone at the feet of Marco Sau last weekend, with Cagliari grabbing a last minute win. But Atalanta remain consistently inconsistent, solid at home and terrible on the road, so the hosts should have no problem getting something from this match.

Lazio vs. Livorno

Stadio Olimpico; 3 p.m. local; 9 a.m. ET
Like Pioli, Vladimir Petković is still, inexplicably, at Lazio, despite the fact that the biancocelesti are in 12th, just four points above the drop zone. And they just finished second in their Europa League group after a goalless draw with Trabzonspor at the Olimpico. In general, Lazio have a bit of a scoring problem, what with their top scorer being Antonio Candreva and having but four goals. They've also got a bit of a winning problem, with six games now without a win. That's nothing compared to Livorno, though, whose bright start faded away to find them sitting in the relegation places, and who've scored just two goals in four matches. This match sounds like a fun one!

Parma vs. Cagliari

Stadio Ennio Tardini; 3 p.m. local; 9 a.m. ET
Both Parma and Cagliari seem to love a draw, but, for the sake of SBN's Serie A team, we're hoping this isn't a goalless one, as they'll be at the Tardini on Sunday.

Udinese vs. Torino

Stadio Friuli; 3 p.m. local; 9 a.m. ET
Speaking of draws, Torino are top, with seven thus far. That puts them in seventh place, seven places above Udinese yet with just two more points. Yeah, there's a lot of wiggle room in Serie A once you move past the European positions.The visitors are unbeaten in their last three and Alessio Cerci is one of the top three goalscorers in the league, so you'd think they'd have a chance going to Udin. Except suddenly the zebrette are hitting their stride, beating Fiorentina, putting up a good fight against Juve and drawing 3-3 with Napoli last time out. It'll be a tough fight.

Juventus vs. Sassuolo

Juventus Stadium; 6:30 p.m. local; 12:30 p.m. ET
After their two-day match against Galatasaray finally ended in a loss, sending the Old Lady out of the Champions League, the hosts will be eager to take out some aggression. And who better to beat up upon than a recently-promoted side struggling to survive? Sassuolo may be doing better recently, but they're still in danger, and despite managing to draw Roma last month, nothing about their side suggests they'll be the ones to crack Juve's seven-match winning streak.

Napoli vs. Inter Milan

Stadio San Paolo; 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET
Napoli may have proved themselves worthy with a win over Arsenal on Wednesday night, but the game still ended in tears (literally, for
Gonzalo Higuaín) as the partenopei made history as the first side to crash out of the Champions League with twelve points. Now they've got an even bigger task: beating their former manager at his own game. After the physical and mental exhaustion of Napoli's grueling midweek match, and all their injuries, and the inherent conservatism of Rafa Benítez, well, it seems this match is Inter's to lose. Besides, the nerazzurri have drawn three in a row and are positively bursting to get themselves back to winning ways.

Monday

AC Milan vs. AS Roma

Stadio San Siro; 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET
The week ends with Milan playing the role of Roma's next victim. The rossoneri have won just one of their last seven league matches, although they must be thrilled at the fact that they're the only Italian side that have moved on to the next round of Champions League action (alas, that can't be said for anyone who was forced to watch their dire goalless draw with Ajax). With Roma unbeaten in fifteen, it seems seriously unlikely that Milan will come away from this one with anything more than a point. And if you've ever seen their defense, you'll know that even a point would be a long shot.

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