Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

David Schiavone On February - 19 - 2011

Serie A Matchday 26: Preview

With Inter closing the gap on the frontrunners and Sampdoria winning the Derby della Lanterna during midweek in the rearranged fixtures, a full card will be played out with a number of crucial games around the peninsula.

Bologna – Palermo

Last weekend Bologna fell to a resurgent Sampdoria side as they leaked three goals in 15 minutes. But more performances like that will draw the Felsinei into a relegation fight. Palermo were battered 3-1 at the Stadio Dall’Ara last year and will be hoping for a better result this year, but they will have to do without full-backs Mattia Cassani and Federico Balzaretti.

Chievo – Milan

Reeling after the midweek defeat against Tottenham, Milan will be hoping for a more positive outcome at the Stadio Bentegodi, buoyed by the return of Antonio Cassano, Urby Emanuelson and Mark van Bommel. The home side suffered their heaviest defeat last weekend at Cagliari, but always reach new heights when the bigger sides come to the Bentegodi, taking points off Roma and Juventus, while usurping Inter and Napoli.

Fiorentina – Sampdoria

After gaining their first away win of the season last weekend, La Viola were brought back down to earth when former employee Giampaolo Pazzini snatched all three points in the midweek game against Inter. Samp lost the derby against Genoa and looked all at sea, piling the pressure on Domenico Di Carlo once more.

Genoa – Roma

Two teams on very different trajectories as Genoa seem to slowly be turning the corner under Davide Ballardini, Roma are looking more and more of a shambles under Claudio Ranieri, especially after the inept Champions League display against Shakhtar. Before the Derby della Lanterna, Genoa only had one win in 2011, so Ballardini still has work to do, but for Ranieri it seems defeat this weekend will mean certain doom for the Giallorossi boss.

Inter – Cagliari

The Leonardo era moves on and with eight wins from ten, Inter are slowly closing in on leaders Milan, now only trailing them by five points. The man to watch will be Giampaolo Pazzini who has been inspired after his move from Samp in January. Cagliari on the other hand are looking steady in mid-table with Andrea Cossu providing the assists for Nene, Robert Acquafresca and Andrea Lazzari.

Lazio – Bari

A vital win against Brescia could have turned around a disastrous second half of the season for Lazio. Libor Kozak has been one shining light in recent weeks bagging five goals, usurping Mauro Zarate in the process. Bari though are very much doomed, the managed a 0-0 draw with Genoa that ended a run of six consecutive defeats, but they still have a problem with the strike force that continues to misfire.

Lecce – Juventus

Could Juve be in the midst of the revival thanks to Alessandro Matri? Despite missing numerous chances the striker has had a profound impact with the Old Lady and will look to continue the success against struggling Lecce. The policy of the ‘centre back’ defence has been working for Juve in recent weeks; so don’t expect it to change here. Interestingly enough, Lecce have only ever beaten Juve three times… ever!

Napoli – Catania

Four wins from the last five have propelled Napoli to within three points of leaders Milan, though for the visit of Catania they will be without striker Ezequiel Lavezzi, who begins a three match ban, thus meaning Giuseppe Mascara will likely get his first start. The away side finally registered a win under new boss Diego Simeone, but there is still much for the Argentine to think about.

Parma – Cesena

A lacklustre Parma team were thrashed by Milan last weekend and questions of the team were asked by President Tommaso Ghiradi. Amauri was his usual nomadic self, while Hernan Crespo wasn’t much better. Cesena though are eight without a win and will be desperate to snatch something from the match against one of their relegation rivals.

Udinese – Brescia

Could this fixture prove to be as much of a turning point as the first match? Maybe not, but one thing is for sure, there will be plenty of attacking football on display. But it will be a defender who could steal the show, as Cristian Zapata has been inspired recently, banging in the goals as well as stopping them. Udinese will have to do without Alexis Sanchez as the Chilean sits out a suspension.

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