It's been less than 24 hours since the midweek matches came to a close, but it's already almost time for Round 6 to start. Napoli may be wishing they had a bit more time to prepare, as their pride is still smarting from drawing with bottom side Sassuolo, but the rest of Serie A's big names should feel they've got an easy three points this weekend. Except, perhaps, for Fiorentina, whose defensive frailties may make them wish they weren't playing Parma, who suddenly learned the cheat code for getting the ball in the back of the net.
Saturday, September 28
Can Napoli bounce back from that oh-so-devastating home draw against Sassuolo? It seems playing a side that hasn't scored a goal since their derby win over Sampdoria should be an easy victory for the partenopei, but that rather depends on whether Rafa Benítez has learned his lesson regarding the centerback pairing of Paolo Cannavaro and Federico Fernández.
Question: Is it necessary to watch all 90 minutes of a Milan match, or is it only important to tune in after the 85th minute, when the rossoneri find a crazy equalizer or are handed a penalty kick on a platter?
Sunday, September 29
all games at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET unless otherwise noted
Whoo-hoo, the Derby della Mole! Thrills and chills await! Oh. Right. No one much cares about the Turin derby. Torino may be in eighth, but no one really trusts the strong start will start -- even if Alessio Cerci currently sits top of the Serie A goals scored list, with five. But with the new Antonio Conte strategy of "concede, then score two while crushing all the hopes and dreams of our opposition," I think we all know how this story will play out.
One win on the season for Atalanta, although they did manage to stage an almost-comeback in their 4-3 defeat to Parma midweek. After Amauri got sent off. Then again, Udinese only won on Tuesday thanks to a Genoa own goal. So who's going to scratch who's back in this one? Stefano Colantuono is hoping that Udi throw him a bit of luck, or he's going to be searching the job ads soon.
Cagliari vs. Inter Milan
Inter remain undefeated, with their victory against Fiorentina on Thursday pushing them up to second place in the table. Yet the nerazzurri remained unconvincing in the win. Yeah, it's the points that count, and sooner or later, they'll be caught out. Probably not by Serie A's draw masters, however.
Catania vs. Chievo Verona
Oh, fair Catania, just how did this slide begin and how steep is the descent? The elefanti have just one point, from their first round draw against Parma, and have scored but two goals. That puts them second-to-last, above only Sassuolo. With Chievo looking to assuage their anger after a couple poor calls saw them lose to Juventus midweek, it's likely safe to say that Catania won't be picking up points against the Flying Donkeys.
Hellas Verona vs. Livorno
Both freshly promoted sides are doing better than anticipated, although it's Livorno's eight points and current seventh place standing that's the true surprise. But the amaranto have yet to be truly tested -- their only real competition Roma, who easily came away with a 2-0 win -- and it'll be next week's match against Napoli that really shows how strong they are. But with Verona coming back to draw against Torino midweek, and having a perfect home record, it's they who have the advantage.
Can Eusebio Di Francesco build on his side's impressive midweek performance? After falling 7-0 to Inter on Sunday, the Sassuolo tactician made seven changes to his squad, setting up with a much stronger defense and the solid rock of Gianluca Pegolo in goal. Jasmin Kurtic was immense and Antonio Floro Flores should never, ever be favored to Simone Zaza again. But with Lazio having picked up their third win, and keen on pushing into the European positions, this is not going to be an easy one for the neroverdi.
Setting aside the fourth round derby, Roma has had one of the league's easiest starts to the season. With that schedule, smart changes made in the summer and no European competition to worry about, if Roma weren't holding a perfect record, that would be much more surprising. Bologna, too, presents no great threat, with no wins yet and Stefano Pioli likely worried about being shoved out the exit.
Monday, September 30
Fiorentina vs. Parma (8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET)
Fiorentina probably would've appreciated it if this match had come last weekend, before their unbeaten run ended and before Parma scored four lovely goals against Atalanta. The viola looked a better side than Inter on Thursday, but that matters little when no points are picked up. Should Parma's midweek performance prove to be more than a fluke, Vincenzo Montella may regret adding 13 playmakers to his squad rather than pushing for a decent goalkeeper over the summer.