We take a look at some feature matches from week 28 of the Italian Serie A.
Lazio VS Sampdoria
Sampdoria might not have wished to have this fixture against impressive Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico, but they have to prove their mettle against the in-form host that being solid defensively is no joke.
The hosts, who are looking unstoppable at the moment has ten consecutive Serie A wins to their credit having beaten the champions, Juventus in the league and the
Supercoppa Italiana in December.
The Aquile, which also comfortably demolished Cremonese aside 4-0 in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 on Tuesday, is now the fifth team in Serie A history to register more than ten consecutive wins after Inter Milan, Juventus, Napoli and AS Roma.
With a game in hand, Lazio is having a good run as they have consolidated their third place on the log after they ground out a result against Napoli last week.
With Senad Lulic suspended, Adam Marusic and Jordan Lukaku out injured, Joaquin Correa’s fitness is still in doubt with a calf problem, Felipe Caicedo is expected to partner Immobile upfront. Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are also expected to provide midfield support.
Unbeaten in two games and their recent 5-1 thrashing of Brescia, which took them five points clear of the relegation zone, is a booster for former Chelsea manager, Claudio Ranieri.
His two stints with Roma means that Ranieri is no stranger to the Stadio Olimpico. His coming to Sampdoria has brought defensive solidity. The Samps had earlier in the season struggled under Eusebio Di Francesco.
With their progress, they have only conceded just four goals in their last four games,with two against Juventus.
With Andrea Bertolacci, Gaston Ramirez, Fabio Depaoli, Edgar Barreto, and Alex Ferrari out of action, Omar Colley will return to action after serving out his suspension. Inform Manolo Gabbiadini, and Quagliarella partnership seems to be producing the result.
This time around, they will have to keep their eyes on Immobile, who has 20 Serie A goals in his first 18 games this season.
This is necessary becomes he has good records against the visitors, having scored ten goals against them in 12 previous encounters.
Lecce VS Inter
Second place Inter will travel to Lecce as Antonio Conte will be expecting a response from his players after dropping valuable three points last weekend.
As they are now two points behind Juve, Inter will be hoping to return to winning ways in Puglia.
However, the visitors are going to the home of a team in desperate points to help their survival in the top flight.
It could be recalled that Lecce was hammered 4-0 at the Giuseppe Meazza in the reverse fixture of this campaign.
Unfortunately, they are still sweating over the fitness of Diego Farias and Evgenyi. As they currently occupy the 17th position on the log, the Giallorossi will need to give out their best game against a tactically sound opponent as another loss could see them drop into the relegation zone.
Inter will be happy over the return of Alexis Sanchez and Nicolò Barella into fitness. The duo who were back in the starting line-up during the last 16 of the Coppa Italia this week is a boost to them.
Although Danilo D’Ambrosio is out injured, the return to action of Stefano Sensi is another boost to Conte.
With Romelu Lukaku, who can’t stop scoring, partnered by Lautaro Martinez in Conte’s preferred 3-5-2 formation, it will be hard for Lecce to stop the lethal duo.
Milan – Udinese
Since the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his second stint with the club, Milan has been growing in confidence.
But their level of confidence will have to be tested by after two straight wins in all competition. With only one point separating the teams, it is expected to be a close encounter.
Ibrahimovic found the net in his first full game, and Milan coach will no doubt be excited over this. The Rossoneri will be hoping to see the 38-year-old inspire them to another important win.
Meanwhile, Udinese is coming to Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on the back of a great record against Milan.
However, since the reverse fixture ended in a 1-0 win for the Bianconeri in Udine, that could boost their confidence.
While Leo Duarte and Lucas Biglia are sidelined, Gianluigi Donnarumma is expected to return after a slight muscular issue. Simon Kjaer made his debut in the Coppa, which Milan won comfortably with Ibrahimovic rested. Mateo Musacchio and Alessio Romagnoli are expected to continue their partnership in the heart of the defense.
Having picked up maximum points at Dacia Arena last time, Udinese looks to be back in form. With two back-to-back clean sheets, it is expected to be a close encounter against a rejuvenated Milan.
Luca Gotti could be rewarded for his efforts against Sasssulo with a starting shirt at Milan while Kevin Lasagna and Stefano Okaka will partner upfront in a 3-5-2.
But they will need to keep an eye on Ibrahimovic, who could score his 124th Serie A goal.
Napoli – Fiorentina
With back to back defeats in the domestic front, Napoli will be looking to return to winning ways against struggling Fiorentina at the Stadio San Paolo stadium.
On a normal day that both teams were in top gear, it could have been tagged the game of the week. With Mario Rui suspended while Kalidou Koulibaly, Nikola Maksimovic, Dries Mertens, Kevin Malcuit, and Faouzi Ghoulam are all injured, Gennaro Gattuso is having a lot of headaches. He could get solace from the availability of new signings Stanislav Lobotka and Diego Demme.
Obviously, the problems are in defense, where Sebastiano Luperto is suffering from flu symptoms while Alex Meret and Amin Younes are also in doubt with muscular issues.
Although they got their first win under new boss Beppe Iachini against bottom team SPAL courtesy of Pezzella header, Fiorentina may suffer against Napoli, who could punish any team with a little mistake.
However, with Patrick Cutrone making an immediate impact since his arrival from Wolves, Fiorentina could also take advantage of the defense crisis Napoli is suffering from.
Playmaker, Franck Ribery is still out of action after ankle surgery, but Federico Chiesa could partner Cutrone for the first time, sending Dusan Vlahovic to the bench.
Lazio is priced at to win 1.43 to win Sampdoria, while Sampdoria is set at 5.01.
Written by Oladipupo Mojeed
Witten by Oladipupo Mojeed