Italian Serie A 2011, Week 3 Preview And Fixtures: AC Milan-Udinese The Highlight, Other Big Clubs Need Wins

UDINE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 18: Mauricio Isla of Udinese in action during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and ACF Fiorentina at Stadio Friuli on September 18, 2011 in Udine, Italy. (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)

Udinese looks to continue their fine form on Wednesday, while AC Milan looks to avoid a terrible start and a major crisis. Elsewhere, Inter Milan, Roma and Juventus are all heavy favorites.

Serie A is just two weeks old, but some of Italy's biggest teams are already pushing the panic button. Lazio, Roma, Inter Milan and AC Milan are all without a win in their first two matches after making some seemingly positive offseason changes. Meanwhile, all of Napoli, Juventus and Udinese are looking like Champions League caliber sides in the early going...or they would if Italy still had four Champions League places. Damn you, Germany!

Five of these seven sides will be big favorites in this set of Serie A mid-week fixtures. The other two, Udinese and AC Milan, play each other in a massive match that could tell us a lot about both teams.

Tuesday

Novara Vs. Internazionale Milano

2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local

Following a disasterous 4-3 loss to Palermo, Inter Milan's defense surprisingly held up well in a 0-0 draw against Roma this weekend. Novara are going to be fighting the drop all season and also have one point from two matches. If Inter don't win this one comfortably, there's going to be panic at half of the San Siro.

Pick: 3-1 Inter

Wednesday

AC Milan Vs. Udinese

2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local

Injury ravaged AC Milan has put in two poor performances thus far in Serie A, while sale ravaged Udinese has picked up right where they left off last year. No Alexis Sanchez, Gokhan Inler or Cristian Zapata required. Mauricio Isla is currently in the form of his life, while Antonio Di Natale hasn't lost a step yet and Kwadwo Asamoah just might be a world class player. If Milan elects to stick with their narrow 4-4-2, it could prove to be a bad matchup and give Udinese the advantage. Still, something about picking against Milan at home feels wrong.

Pick: 1-1 draw

Cesena Vs. Lazio

2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local

Cesena are off to a bad start. That bad start will probably continue against a Lazio team that should have more than one point to their record.

Pick: 1-0 Lazio

Chievo Verona Vs. Napoli

2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local

I have little to no faith in the Flying Donkeys, or as they're known in our footy editors virtual office, the "Flying F---ing Donkeys." Napoli are good.

Pick: 2-0 Napoli

Fiorentina Vs. Parma

2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local

The viola were poor in Week 2 against Napoli, but their Week 1 performance was excellent. They're a talented team. Also, purple is awesome. The danger here is that Sebastian Giovinco seems to be coming into his own and no longer looks like a disaster signing for Parma. I like him to continue his hot form, but the team around him just isn't good enough. The Gila Monster, Alberto Gilardino has picked up an injury, but the Viola have enough quality to win without him.

Pick: 2-1 Fiorentina

Genoa Vs. Catania

2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local

Catania's four point start to the season is impressive...until you realize they did it with one goal. But hey, two clean sheets against bad teams! Genoa's win over Lazio was impressive. This seems pretty obvious.

Pick: 1-0 Genoa

Juventus Vs. Bologna

2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local

Bologna have the interesting distinction of being the team with the lowest goal differential with no points, but yet sitting in 19th place. Thanks, Atalanta point deduction! Meanwhile, Juventus are playing well and Arturo Vidal is an absolute monster of a signing. Five different players have scored for them, and Andrea Pirlo already has a couple of assists. The Old Lady is back, y'all.

Pick: 4-1 Juventus

Lecce Vs. Atalanta

2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local

If you bother to watch this, you are either very confused or the world's most dedicated Serie A journalist. These things are not inherently mutually exclusive.

Pick: 1-1 draw

Palermo Vs. Cagliari

2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local

Palermo defeated Inter Milan 4-3 in Week 1, then lost to Atalanta 1-0 in Week 2. Predicting the potential outcomes of their games and using reason to make a point about the way they play is absolutely pointless. I wrote down 10 potential results, put them in a hat, and picked one out.

Pick: 3-3 draw

Thursday

AS Roma Vs. Siena

2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local

Against Inter Milan, Roma were entertaining, kept the ball well, and were generally the better team for most of the match. And drew 0-0. The Luis Enrique era is not off to a fantastic start at the Olimpico, but he could make a lot of progress with a thrashing of Siena on Thursday. Note: I am a huge fan of the players Roma bought in the offseason and of their new formation. I am incredibly biased.

Pick: 3-0 Roma

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