Last week's Serie A action saw some shifts in the table, with Juventus dethroning Roma and Chievo finally pulling out of dead last (albeit barely). With Napoli and Roma facing challenges for the top, and Sampdoria and Catania having tough matches at the bottom, this weekend could bring more movement in Italy's top division.
It's the ham derby! Parma, experts in the cured ham division, host neighbors Bologna, who always win out in the sausage category. But Parma have something special that gives them an edge: cheese. That and the fact that the ducali are currently 9th while Bologna are just a point above the relegation zone should give the hosts the edge.
Haven't glanced at the Serie A table recently? Well, you might find yourself surprised to discover the Genoa are suddenly in 7th place. That's what going unbeaten while taking 10 points from four matches will do. Torino, meanwhile, may have scored four last weekend, but that was against lowly Catania, and they didn't even need Alessio Cerci to do it. The granata remain poor on the road and are unlikely to take a result away from the Marassi.
all games at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET unless otherwise noted
Surely even Milan can take points away from Serie A's bottom side. A point, anyway. After all, the rossoneri were able to eke out a point against Chievo when the Flying Donkeys were bottom. And they're coming off a spectacular victory against Celtic, remember. Just because Milan haven't won in their last five outings doesn't mean the slump will last forever.
The unthinkable has happened: it's been three games in a row since Roma have won. They haven't scored more than one goal since October 18. And the match against Atalanta doesn't look like a promising point for the giallorossi to begin their revival. Bergamo remains a tough place for teams, with only Fiorentina having picked up a win thus far this season. But if Roma wish to establish that they're truly in the scudetto race, this is the type of match they must win.
It's been a good couple of weeks for both sides, although perhaps slightly better for Sassuolo. Eusebio Di Franceso has finally been vindicated, with a three-game unbeaten streak pulling them a full three points clear of the relegation zone. Cagliari are just a point and a place above, but they'll be feeling mighty pleased with themselves after being the first team to keep a clean sheet against Roma. This is one of those evenly matches games that could either be tremendously entertaining or deadly dull.
Chievo Verona vs. Livorno
Don't. Just...don't. Don't watch, but glance at the result later to see if Chievo have truly revived themselves.
Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria
A win here -- combined with a Napoli loss -- and Walter Mazzarri could lift Inter above his former club. And honestly, if Mazzarri can't get his side back on winning terms against a stumbling Sampdoria, Inter probably don't deserve to be in the race for the Champions League spots. The first match under Siniša Mihajlović saw Samp go down to ten men, take the lead, and then lose the win to a last minute Lazio goal. The nerazzurri should have no problems with this one.
It's one for the kids at Juventus Stadium this weekend, with an early kickoff scheduled so that the crowd can be in bed at their appointed hour. After Juve fans were found guilty of singing "chants of a geographically discriminatory nature," officials closed the stadium for two weeks, but now the kids will get to fill the seats. But with Udinese still struggling to pick up points on the road -- they've had just one win, with six losses -- it's almost certain which bianconeri will emerge victorious.
Fiorentina vs. Hellas Verona (7 p.m. local, 1 p.m. ET)
Fiorentina get a nice long break after their immensely boring goalless duel with Ferreira in the Europa League on Thursday night. Viola fans will hope that gives Vincenzo Montella plenty of time to whip his team back into shape after the 1-0 loss to Udinese last weekend. Fiorentina are still trying to lift themselves into the Champions League places, but Verona, who suffered their first home defeat against rivals Chievo last time out, won't be very eager to help the hosts in their quest.
Vladimir Petkovic must spend every week wondering if it's his last in charge of Lazio. The biancocelesti are now 8th in the table, with just three draws from their last four matches. But if there ever was a time to have to face Napoli, this weekend is it. The partenopei are smarting, having lost their last two Serie A matches before falling dramatically against Dortmund midweek. Rafa Benítez will be praying the long break gives Marek Hamšík a chance to recover from injury, because Napoli just aren't the same without their midfield magician healthy.