Italian Serie A has been commanded by Juventus for years, but this season the competition seems a lot tougher and there are several challengers pushing for the title. Inter is right there on top with Juventus at the moment, having posted exactly the same record as the “Vecchia Signora” with 14 wins, three draws and only one loss – and six goals better goal difference. While the other challengers are a bit further down the table, third place Lazio is six points, AS Roma ten points and Atalanta 11 points behind, there’s plenty to play for on top of the Serie A. Conveniently this weekend sees three massive fixtures between the top clubs.
On Saturday, third placed Lazio will take on struggling Napoli. While Napoli is currently only eight and 15 points behind Lazio, they’ve usually been in contest for the Scudetto. This season has been nothing but catastrophic and Carlo Ancelotti had to pack his bags in favor of Gennaro Ivan Gattuso taking the reins. It’s been no bed of roses for Gattuso either, with two losses in three games in charge. If Napoli is willing to fight for at least continental qualification, they need to start winning now. Lazio has been one of the more positive surprises this season. They’ve scored 40 goals, second only to Atalanta’s 48, with Ciro Immobile playing his best football banging in 19 goals in Serie A already. Defensively they’ve been second best as well, allowing only 17 goals. Lazio beat Juventus twice just before Christmas and their last loss in Serie A dates back to late September and 12 games.
The league leading Inter will take on the offensive juggernaut Atalanta. Atalanta’s success is hardly a surprise after finishing third last season, but their offensive prowess has still caused some stir in opponents and pundits alike. They’ve scored incredible 48 goals so far, 2.67 per game that is and are 5th in Serie A, 11 points behind Inter. Inter was touted the main challenger for Juventus this season, after bringing in Romelu Lukaku, who has scored 14 goals already. Inter has always been a defensively sound team, but now they’re scoring as well and it seems they’re able to challenge Juventus properly – a well desired change in Serie A for many.
The last but not least, the weekend will be finished off by AS Roma trying to add their share to Juventus’ looming demise. Roma is fourth in the league, ten points behind the top duo. They’ve not exactly blown anyone away, but been consistent through the season, winning 10, drawing five and losing three. On their return from the break they suffered a dismal loss to Torino at home 0-3, so they definitely have a chip on their shoulder for Juventus’ visit. Juventus suffered two unlikely losses to Lazio before the break, but have otherwise been their usual self, in good and bad. They’re likely the best team in Serie A, on paper, but is the motivation there after taking eight straight championships? The challengers are closing in and there’s no room for slipups, not even against AS Roma.
Lazio vs Napoli (1×2): 2.07 – 3.75 – 3.25
Inter vs Atalanta (1×2): 2.16 – 3.70 – 3.05
AS Roma vs Juventus (1×2): 3.05 – 3.50 – 2.25