Serie A, Round 31 preview: How to kill time before Napoli - Juventus

Claudio Villa

We can pretend this weekend features matches beyond Napoli - Juventus, but really...well, with the exception of Sampdoria - Fiorentina, it looks like the other matches will be cautious, dull affairs.

But it's Italy, where calcio likes to defy logic and reason. So there's always a good reason to watch. Except for Bologna matches. We won't try to justify watching those.

Saturday, March 29

Bologna vs. Atalanta

6 p.m. local, 1 p.m. ET at the Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna
Will this be the week that Bologna finally manage to score a goal not taken from the spot? The rossoblu have scored two goals in seven matches, both of them penalties. And yet they're still two points above the relegation zone. Unfortunately. But Atalanta have conceded just one in their last five - all wins, by the way - so if Bologna suddenly start knocking them in, something fishy may be afloat.

AC Milan vs. Chievo Verona

8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET at the San Siro, Milan
Chievo scored three last weekend! Milan won a match! Our heads exploded! Is Clarence Seedorf going to save himself by guiding this Milan side to a second consecutive win? Quite frankly, I'm not sure we can handle the shock.

Sunday, March 30

*note: Europe begins daylight savings time on Sunday morning*

Sassuolo vs. AS Roma

12:30 p.m. local, 6:30 a.m. at the Città del Tricolore, Reggio Emilia
With eight matches to go and five points from safety, Sassuolo are likely already thinking about their return to Serie B. Roma, meanwhile, are six points clear of Napoli in third, and have a game in hand. In other words, if you sleep in and miss this match, you've likely not missed much - except, perhaps, a wonder strike from Francesco Totti.

Hellas Verona vs. Genoa

3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET at the Bentegodi, Verona
The Verona side that was pushing for a European place has completely disappeared, leaving behind a team sitting tenth, after scoring exactly zero and collecting exactly one point in their last five matches. With Gian Piero Gasperini's take it or leave it attitude toward goal scoring, don't expect a thriller.

Lazio vs. Parma

3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET at the Stadio Olimipico, Rome
Parma's unbeaten run came to a screeching halt midweek at the foot of Carlos Tévez. The good news is, that means Parma don't have to tip-toe around quite so much, trying to preserve a record. The bad news is that the ducali still don't have a lock on Europe - and Lazio still have sixth in their sights. Alas, caution will still likely be the watchword, for both sides.

Sampdoria vs. Fiorentina

3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET at the Marassi, Genoa
Miha's revenge? Siniša Mihajlović was appointed manager just after Sampdoria lost to Fiorentina in November, so this is the first time he'll face the club that sacked him over two years ago. And the viola won't enter the Marassi expecting to disgrace their former coach either. It's been four wins from five for Samp, who are now sitting ninth, while Fiorentina's poor recent form means a Champions League place next season looks highly unlikely.

Torino vs. Cagliari

3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET at the Stadio Olimpico, Turin
Toro will be thrilled that, after a run of four games without a goal, at least Ciro Immobile is back to hitting the target. But a lack of goals from Immobile and Alessio Cerci slammed the door shut on any hope of a granata appearance in Europe - and with Cagliari likely safe from the drop, there's not much at stake in this one. Except, maybe, the goalscoring trophy for Immobile.

Napoli vs. Juventus

8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET at the San Paolo, Naples
Ah, it's the big one. Napoli will welcome Juventus to town amidst plenty of fire and smoke, but will their performance on the pitch equal the passion of their fans? The partenopei have been up and down recently, but with Gonzalo Higuaín rested during a solid win over Catania, the hosts should be ready to give the scudetto-elect a run for their money.

Oh, but don't put any money on it, ok? Napoli do like to rise to the big occasions, but injuries and a tough schedule have taken a toll. While Juventus may have pretty much already won the title, they've still got an unbeaten run to protect - plus the thrill of taking down such a provincial team from down South.

Monday, March 31

Udinese vs. Catania

7 p.m. local, 1 p.m. ET at the Stadio Friuli, Udine

Livorno vs. Inter Milan

9 p.m. local, 3 p.m. ET at the Stadio Armando Picchi, Livorno

With Udinese and Inter playing out a goalless draw in Thursday's featured match, everyone is sure excited that these two sides each got their own time slots again on Monday. At least there's always the chance for some sendings off when Catania and Livorno are involved.

And, hey, maybe it won't be that bad. After all, on Thursday, each team did manage to get a couple shots on target in the second half.

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