Serie A, Round 12 preview: Sorry, nothing counts until Sunday night

Claudio Villa

With Serie A's second best facing off on Sunday night, it's hard to get excited about much else in Round 12.

Let's face it: nine out of ten matches this week are only placeholders. Until Napoli face off against Juventus on Sunday night, no one really cares.

Saturday

Catania vs. Udinese (6 p.m. local, 12 noon ET)

Catania's season just keeps getting more depressing, with eight players out with injury and Gigi De Canio seemingly having no clue on how to get his players into something resembling a "formation." The elefanti may be unraveling at the seams, but this week might actually see the hosts pick up a point (three would be too crazy). Udinese looked absolutely woeful against Inter last week, and if Catania are able to mount the same sort of defense they showed against Napoli in the second half of the last match...well, it may be a goalless draw.

Sorry: It's damn near impossible to be optimistic about this match up.

Inter Milan vs. Livorno (8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET)

The nerazzurri boosted their own spirits last week with a convincing away victory over Udinese, but they're still six points out of second. Walter Mazzarri will need to keep his foot on the gas against Livorno, but the Inter coach isn't exactly known for pulling off results against smaller sides. The amaranto may be frustratingly inconsistent, but they've done well to close down sides on the road. But the visitors be able to cope with one of the best offenses in Serie A?

Sorry: The numbers might say "the best offense", but we're chucking out that 7-0 victory thing.

Sunday

all matches at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET unless otherwise noted

Genoa vs. Hellas Verona (12:30 p.m. local, 6:30 a.m. ET)

It might be the early match, but this would could actually be entertaining. Genoa have won three of their last four which , with everyone from 7th on down currently fighting a relegation battle, was enough to lift them from the drop into 8th. But if Verona manage to neutralize Alberto Gilardino -- a swift tug of the hair should do it -- the visitors will have themselves an easy win.

Sorry: Were any Genoa supporters under the illusion the rossoblu are more than a one-man team?

AS Roma vs. Sassuolo

Torino may have been the first team to take points off Roma, but don't expect that to change the outcome of this match. Sure, Sassuolo beat Sampdoria 4-3 last time out, but let's not forget that Samp went down a man early in the second half and still managed to score two more goals. Eusebio Di Francesco may have his side looking better, but this is not a defense that is going to contain Roma. Not even a Roma that's only scored three in their last three.

Sorry: Just...sorry.

Atalanta vs. Bologna

Bologna are unbeaten in their last three, whereas Atalanta have just a point from the same number of matches. Perhaps the two sides are switching fortunes? Don't get too excited, Bologna supporters. Atalanta remain excellent at home whereas Bologna are still rather dire on the road -- and still have some trouble scoring away from the Della'Ara. Then again, Atalanta are without Germán Denis, who has put in five of the side's twelve goals, after the Argentine insulted officials last week.

Sorry: This match is unlikely to be, well, good.

Cagliari vs. Torino

All hail Torino, the only team to take points from Roma and only the second side to score against the giallorossi this season. Or should we say, all hail Alessio Cerci? Eight goals in eleven matches. Playing away doesn't seem to phase Toro, and playing at the Sant'Elia doesn't seem to phase anyone.

Sorry: Maybe Cagliari can tamper with permits and make their stadium ineligible once more.

Chievo Verona vs. AC Milan

It's a match in which Milan might actually have a chance! The rossoneri might be winnless in three and just three points from the drop zone, but they have the joy of traveling to Verona -- and the Bentegodi isn't exactly a fortress when it's the Flying Donkeys playing host. The team at the bottom has lost four from five at home and scored just six times in front of their...supporters.

Sorry: Milan fans hoping to rid themselves of your coach, well, Massimiliano Allegri will likely continue to stick around after this one.

Parma vs. Lazio

A win on Sunday and Parma, who couldn't find a win until Round 5, could suddenly be top-half. Yeah, this season is weird. Or miserable, if you're a Lazio supporter having to watch your side fall to what should be inferior opposition. And both sides recently lost to Genoa, of all clubs, but Parma managed to beat Milan while Lazio could only engineer a draw. That's gotta mean it's Parma that will manage a win here.

Sorry: Vladimir Petkovic, it's time for you to catch a cab.

Fiorentina vs. Sampdoria (8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET)

Only a superior goal difference keeps Samp out of the drop right now -- and with Serie A deciding based on head to head records, that doesn't actually do Delio Rossi's side much good. In fact, Rossi has very little reason to feel optimistic facing his former club. Unless there's some weird Rossi-Rossi connection and Giuseppe decides to be sweet and not score yet another goal against his third-cousin-twice-removed. That's a thing, yes?

Sorry: Going down a man and then still managing to score two goals doesn't actually make you that good, Sampdoria. It just means you're facing Sassuolo, that's all.

Juventus vs. Napoli (8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET)

It's the big one. Both sides have stumbled just twice this season: Napoli lost to Roma and dropped points to Sassuolo, while Juventus were held by Inter and fell to a Fiorentina comeback. But with Roma drawing Torino last time out, Serie A's second-best sides are finally within reach of the giallorossi. Three points could bring one of these teams even with Roma...in the unlikely event that Roma slip up against Sassuolo. But even if that asteroid-striking-earth event does not occur, this game is already being viewed as a title decider. Who cares that it's only November?

Sorry: to anyone that follows @kds_football during this match.

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