Last weekend, Serie A featured two heavyweight battles: Roma vs Juventus and Lazio vs Inter. And in both matches, the team lower in the table emerged victorious. Those results mean that the top of the league table is as tight as ever. Unbeaten Napoli and Milan sit first and second with a bit of a cushion, but after that, it’s a free for all.
Just three points separate third-place Inter and seventh-place Juventus. Meanwhile, Roma sits right in the thick of things in fourth place, just two points behind Inter, but only one ahead of Lazio, Atalanta, and Milan.
And much like last weekend, the Giallorossi have a head-to-head with one of the league’s best: Napoli. A result in matches like this will be vital in Roma’s quest to finish in a Champions League place at the season’s end. And with Inter hosting Juventus, the match at the Olimpico isn’t the only big one to keep an eye on.
So, while we gear up for the Derby del Sole on Sunday afternoon in Rome, let’s also take a look at what Roma’s direct competition for a top-four finish will be up against this weekend.
Perusing the Peninsula: Matchday 9 Previews
The Best Non-Roma Match
Inter Milan vs Juventus- Sunday 2:45 EDT/20:45 CET
The Derby d’Italia is always one of the most anticipated matches of the Serie A calendar and this edition will be the first one in some time where Inter is the defending Scudetto holders. The transition from Antonio Conte to Simone Inzaghi has gone pretty well so far. However, the Nerazzurri are coming off a tough loss at the hands of Inzaghi’s ex-team, Lazio, at the Olimpico last weekend.
It was a match that you’d have expected Inter to get a result after jumping out to an early lead. However, three goals after the hour mark resulted in a surprise Lazio win. The loss was Inter’s first of the season after starting unbeaten in its first seven.
Juve, meanwhile, has been trending up after winning four straight league matches. During Sunday’s victory over Roma, the Bianconeri began to show shades of previous Allegri-led sides. Juve found an early goal against the run of play and then relied on its stout defense to hold out for a 1-0 victory. If the Bianconeri continues to win ugly then they will again reestablish themselves as top four and perhaps even title challengers.
1.A healthy Alvaro Morata. Having a real focal point #9 is crucial to Allegri’s style of play. When Morata is healthy and available you can see the difference he makes on the pitch. Although he may not score each match, his hold up play, pressure and overall work rate is very important to Allegri’s Juventus. A must start if fit.
2.Shutting down both Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella. Inter can hurt you in many ways but by keeping Brozovic and Barella quiet will certainly help Juve’s chances of bringing some points back home. The likes of Manuel Locatelli and the rest of Juventus’ midfield will have a tough task ahead of them but can definitely cause problems for Brozovic and Barella by putting them under constant pressure.
3.Getting the best out of Federico Chiesa. Arguably Juventus’ most dynamic and important player, getting Chiesa back to his best will be a huge help for Juve. Although he has struggled at times this season, he has still shown flashes of brilliance and the Bianconeri will need more of his brilliance against their longtime rivals, Inter. I’m expecting a big match from him in this one, we all know he loves playing in the spotlight!
4.Lastly, and probably the easiest of the keys to success for Juve, is attack Samir Handanovic’s goal! Continuing to show his age, the Bianconeri should not be afraid to let fly on the Inter net as much as possible. Handanovic continues to show his vulnerability in goal and it is never a bad idea to have a go when he is between the sticks. Having only 2 shots on target against Roma in their previous match, hopefully that will change in this one. An ugly goal is still a goal and that is all that matters in the Derby D’Italia!
Ahead of this weekend’s match against Juventus, Inter are coming off a great 3-1 Champions League win against Moldovan side Sheriff and a Serie A loss to Lazio. Inter will look to regain their Serie A form against a Juventus side that has put together five wins a row. Inter has put together strong showings so far this season, despite sitting in third place in Serie A at the moment.
Inter have some important contributing factors which can help them beat Juventus this weekend.
Individual performances from players such as Marcelo Brozovic, Edin Dzeko and Milan Skriniar will be crucial for their success. Brozovic might just be Inter’s most important player in the lineup. He sits in the driver seat for the midfield and dictates the pace of play. If Brozovic is on point, Inter will put together a great performance. Dzeko’s influence is unmatched. His hold up play and ability to read the game and get into dangerous positions allows the midfield and striking partner, Lautaro Martinez the space and time to create chances in the attacking third, while being the team’s top goal scorer. Finally, Skriniar has been rock solid in the back, stopping almost anything that comes at him. He has consistently been the best defender on this team and should continue his dominance against Juventus.
Another key to victory for Inter will be to win will be to contain the Juventus wingers. Whoever is selected to play on the wings must contain the likes of Juan Cuadrado and Federico Chiesa, two players that are constant threats to any defense they face. Cuadrado’s pestering from the right side is always dangerous as he looks to draw fouls, beat his man and deliver dangerous crosses. Chiesa’s direct approach to constantly attack the goal with speed can create havoc as he starts from the wide positions and makes his way towards goal. This right side will need to be kept in check to minimize Juventus’ chances. The left side is less of a worry and the central midfield is in Inters favor with Brozovic, Barella and a third of either Calhanoglu or Vidal.
The final key to victory will be their defensive pressing. It must be consistent and synchronized. Juve are able to play calmly out of the back with Bonucci’s ability to play attacking balls forward. The midfield and forward pressing must work together to close the gaps and spaces between the forward and defensive lines. Inter were able to successfully suppress counter attacks under Antonio Conte’s system, but under Inzaghi, it looks unorganized at times with a lot of gaps between the defense and strikers. Juventus may look to exploit that, so it is important Inters players stay focused in the transition.
What will be the match result?
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Inter Milan win
Other Matches Featuring Top Four Challengers
Bologna vs AC Milan Saturday 2:45 EDT/20:45 CET
Milan remained undefeated in thrilling fashion the last time out. Hellas Verona looked like it had the Rossoneri set for their first loss of the season when the Mastiffs took a 2-0 road lead into halftime. However, a Franck Kessie penalty leveled the score in the 76th minute before a Koray Gunter own goal put Milan up for good two minutes later.
It was a vital win for a shorthanded Milan side, which travels to Bologna this weekend. The Rossoblu are coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw against Udinese. Bologna was up a man for 50+ minutes and yet conceded the tying goal with less than 10 minutes to play. That clunker came on the heels of Bologna’s best performance so far—a 3-0 win over Lazio. It’ll be interesting to see which version of Bologna shows up in this one, considering how Jekyll and Hyde Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side has been.
Atalanta vs Udinese Sunday 6:30 EDT/12:30 CET
Much like Juve, it’s been a very up and down start to the season for Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta. However, La Dea seems to be warming up a bit, going 3-1-1 in its last five matches including a 4-1 thumping of Empoli this past weekend. That momentum was stifled a bit this week, though, when La Dea blew a 2-0 lead in Manchester to fall 3-2 against Manchester United.
Udinese could be just what the doctor ordered for Atalanta though, as the Bergamo side has won six times and scored 21 times against the Zebrette since 2018. La Dea has also won its last four home matches against Udinese. In contrast, though, they’ve only one once in their last five home matches overall (1W, 1D, 3L).
Hellas Verona vs Lazio Sunday 9:00 EDT/15:00 CET
Lazio is coming off a big victory over defending champions Inter this past weekend. It was a nice bounce-back for Maurizio Sarri’s side after a disappointing 3-0 loss to Bologna prior to the international break. However, after conceding first to the Bianconeri, Lazio has now conceded in its first eight matches.
Meanwhile, Hellas has scored two or more goals in five straight matches for the first time since May 2014. That combination could mean goals at the Bentigodi this weekend where Verona has won its last two home matches. Verona has only won once in its last 11 matches against the Biancoceleste, including its last four at home. That’s a trend the Mastiffs will be desperate to change.
- Torino vs Genoa: Friday 12:30 EDT/18:30 CET
- Sampdoria vs Spezia: Friday 2:45 EDT/20:45 CET
- Salernitana vs Empoli: Saturday 9:00 EDT/15:00 CET
- Sassuolo vs Venezia: Saturday 12:00 EDT/18:00 CET
- Fiorentina vs Cagliari: Sunday 9:00 EDT/15:00 CET