Serie A, Round 19 preview: One last week of surprises

Marco Luzzani

Serie A sides meet their final opponents this week before the fixture list turns around and everyone reunites. But is there really any mystery left?

After Monday evening's matches have drawn to a close, there will be no more surprises in Serie A: each team will have met once, and it'll be time for the reverse fixtures. Managers will make adjustments, compensating for the change of venue, for the approach the opposition took in the first match, for players brought in at the transfer window.

But for now, there's still one round of mystery. Well, as much mystery as one can hope for, considering matches are taped and reviewed and dissected prior to the game. Let's try to pretend though, shall we?

Saturday, January 11

Livorno vs. Parma

Stadio Armando Picchi at 6 p.m. local; 12 noon ET
Livorno hope to get their first win in eight matches when Parma come to town, but having only scored in two of their last seven games, the visitors will most likely have an easy time of it. Parma are on a run of seven unbeaten and have Marco Parolo back to fitness, so it's hard to imagine Livorno taking anything from this one.

Bologna vs. Lazio

Stadio Renato Dall'Ara at 8:45 p.m. local; 2:45 p.m. ET
In this meeting of two freshly appointed coaches, perhaps we will see some genuine surprises -- but don't get too excited. After all, Lazio's 1-0 win against Inter last time out, complete with a goal from Miroslav Klose, was vintage Edy Reja. As for Bologna, they sacked Stefano Pioli after the 2-0 loss to last-placed Catania, bringing in Davide Ballardini in his place. With the aim simply to avoid relegation, Bologna are sure to be playing some thrilling football.

Sunday, January 12

Torino vs. Fiorentina

Stadio Olimpico at 12:30 p.m. ET; 6:30 a.m. ET
Torino seem to really enjoy both scoring goals and conceding them. Fiorentina, too, love to give up a goal in a generous manner while going all out in attack. They'll miss Giuseppe Rossi of course, who's out for at least a month with a knee injury, but, as Vincenzo Montella has made quite clear with his tactics, goals can come from anywhere.

AS Roma vs. Genoa

Stadio Olimpico at 3 p.m. local; 9 a.m. ET
It took almost an entire first half of the season, but Roma have finally fallen - and rather spectacularly, with a 3-0 loss to Juventus last weekend. The giallorossi then managed to edge out a Coppa victory over Sampdoria, but their front three never managed to click. It's tough to predict what Rudi Garcia might have in mind for this one, but, despite his protests to the contrary, a little caution might be in order. And with Genoa having one of the best defenses in the league, well, it may be wise not to expect many goals.

Atalanta vs. Catania

Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia at 3 p.m. local; 9 a.m. ET
Catania won! Yeah, we're finding it hard to believe as well. But they beat Bologna to notch their third win of the season, with the returning Francesco Lodi grabbing the second goal. Will he be able to lift the elefanti out of last? It's likely not to happen in Bergamo, where Atalanta have still lost just twice. But with la dea winless in four, this could be the time for Catania to take advantage.

Cagliari vs. Juventus

Stadio Sant'Elia at 3 p.m. local; 9 a.m. ET
Game. Set. Match. Juventus. Just give 'em the scudetto already.

Hellas Verona vs. Napoli

Stadio Bentegodi at 3 p.m. local; 9 a.m. ET
Verona have been fantastic at the Bentegodi this season, which is why they're still in fifth place. But they've also had a fairly easy schedule at home. Now Napoli are coming to town, marking the first visit of a top-four club. The visitors have their own struggles, of course, including the still missing Marek Hamšík and the news that Valon Behrami is out for a month. But with Gonzalo Higuaín, Dries Mertens and José Callejón ready for action, it's not going to be easy for Hellas to keep winning at home.

Sassuolo vs. AC Milan

Mapei Stadium at 8:45 p.m. local; 2:45 p.m. ET
It seemed as though Eusebio Di Francesco had turned his side around, putting Sassuolo on a four match unbeaten run. But now they've lost five straight and, even worse, have failed to score in any of those games. Yes, Milan have a rather comical defense, but Sassuolo simply look out of ideas. And since it's time for the rossoneri January turnaround, it's likely safe to say the visitors will come out on top.

Monday, January 13

Sampdoria vs. Udinese

The Marassi at 6 p.m. local; 12 noon ET
Udinese sit just one place and two points above Sampdoria in the standings, and anyone that saw the zebrette eke out a win over Inter in the Coppa will not find it surprising how far the side have fallen. Francesco Guidolin has yet to form a coherent team out of his mishmash of players, and it shows in mismarked shots and misplaced passes. And although the hosts fell out of the Coppa, Samp actually looked strong against Roma, and they've got the edge here, especially if Siniša Mihajlović uses Vincenzo Fiorillo in goal once more.

Inter Milan vs. Chievo Verona

The San Siro at 8:45 p.m. local; 2:45 p.m. ET
Loss to Lazio. Kicked out of the Coppa by Udinese. Sitting outside the European positions. This is the revitalization of Inter brought on by Walter Mazzarri? Well, at least the nerazzurri can take comfort in knowing that, despite a managerial change, Chievo are still pretty darn bad, with just one goal in their last three league matches. An easy home win and Inter's fortunes are reversed again.

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