Serie A, Round 15 preview: Be ready, fixtures start on Friday

Claudio Villa

Serie A kicks off Friday night with Juventus at Bologna, and the fun doesn't stop (although it does pause, on Sunday afternoon) until Inter face Parma on Sunday night.

There's not much of interest in Sunday's usual big block of matches, but that's because the Serie A scheduling gods have decided to space out the games, giving us plenty to look forward to throughout the weekend. Although it's worth remembering that, in Italy, those matches you think you'd never want to watch sometimes end up being the most entertaining.

Friday

Bologna vs. Juventus

Stadio Renato Dall'Ara; 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

Round 15 begins with table-topping Juve traveling to Bologna, where they'll be sure to stock up on plenty of meat and ragu after they easily see off the rossoblu, who are out of the relegation zone only due to goal difference, which barely matters in Italy, anyway. Bologna haven't won a game since October 30, although to be fair to Stefano Pioli, he has managed to guide his side to three draws from their last four matches. Except they surrendered the lead in two and allowed a last minute winner in one. And just lost to Serie B side Siena in Coppa Italia. Yeah, it's hard to talk up Bologna.

Saturday

Livorno vs. AC Milan

Stadio Armando Picchi; 6 p.m. local, 12 noon ET

It's hard to believe Milan are in eighth place. That is, until you realize that eighth is a full 10 points out of fifth, and 20 out of first. In fact, Livorno, in the relegation zone, are just five points behind the rossoneri. However, last week's win against bottom-dwelling Catania -- Milan's first in six league matches -- may signify a revival for Massimiliano Allegri's side. Or it just may prove Milan can beat relegation-threatened clubs. You decide!

Napoli vs. Udinese

Stadio San Paolo; 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

The partenopei didn't play all that well against Lazio, yet won 4-2. So surely they can beat 13th-placed Udinese quite easily, right? Probably not. The zebrette did very well at Juventus last weekend, only defeated by a last-minute goal. And Udinese have quite a way of breaking through a side with their quick counter-attacks, a feature of every Francesco Guidolin side. Dušan Basta and Thomas Heurtaux both did well down the right, which likely means they'll make Pablo Armero cry for mercy and the visitors will wind up scoring six goals.

Sunday

AS Roma vs. Fiorentina

Stadio Olimpico; 12:30 p.m. local, 6:30 a.m. ET

Will it be Fiorentina that finally stops Roma's unbeaten run? There's no denying that Roma, perfect through their first ten and scoring seemingly at will, are now slowly grinding to a halt. It's been four draws in a row for the giallorossi, with no more than a goal apiece in each match. In two of those four games, Roma's once flawless defense has allowed late-game equalizers. As for the viola, they've won three of their last four and will likely field about 12 attackers. But it's probably too much to ask for another 4-3 thriller like was saw Monday night against Verona.

Cagliari vs. Genoa

Stadio Is Arenas; 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Cagliari are unbeaten in their last three, Genoa in their last five, and both have drawn their last two matches. Oh, and neither particularly care for the "scoring" part of football. There's probably something else you could watch.

Hellas Verona vs. Atalanta

Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi; 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Two weeks ago, rivals Chievo shattered Verona's perfect home record with a stodgy 1-0 victory. Last time out, we saw a fantastically fun back-and-forth against Fiorentina. With Atalanta's away record at 1-0-6, and just five goals scored, it seems more likely we'll get a rather routine win from Verona this time.

Sampdoria vs. Catania

Stadio Luigi Ferris; 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Bottom side visits side second from bottom! Hijinks ensue! Neither side tries to score a goal yet both manage to concede three times! A must-watch!

Sassuolo vs. Chievo Verona

Mapei Stadium; 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Can't find a way to watch the two bottom sides battle it out? Why not try viewing two sides that recently emerged from the drop zone and are finding their footing once more...and are even finding ways to score goals? This matchup could actually be quite decent.

Torino vs. Lazio

Stadio Olimpico; 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Both sides have but one win in their last nine games. But both aren't too bad at scoring, and both seem to enjoy a nice draw every now and again. There's also the added drama of Vladimir Petković knowing his time at Lazio must be nearing an end, giving that they're 9th and can't seem to find a way to win. That should mean this match will be exciting, but Italy does like to turn things on their heads.

Inter Milan vs. Parma

San Siro; 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

The nerazzurri just barely managed to push by Serie B side Trapani in midweek cup action, and are coming off back-to-back 1-1 draws in the league. Is the Walter Mazzarri magic fading for Inter? They're still sitting fourth, but a slip against Parma could see Fiorentina leapfrog into that spot -- and given Mazzarri's conservatism, it just might happen. Particularly with Parma unbeaten in three in Serie A, including a great big win at Napoli, and having just beaten Varese 4-1 to advance in Coppa Italia.

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