As we’ve seen many times in recent weeks, head-to-head match-ups have presented Roma with golden opportunities to either close the gaps with teams in front of her or pull further ahead of teams below her in the Champions League qualification race. Sometimes the Giallorossi have take advantage and sometimes they haven’t. And while other teams took advantage of the Giallorossi falling to Milan in a crucial head-to-head last weekend, they can make up for it with a win against Genoa on Sunday.
This weekend features two big head-to-head match-ups between top sides—Inter vs. Atalanta and Juventus vs. Lazio—so if Roma can collect three points against Genoa, they can potentially make moves on two clubs above them. Of course, that depends on the Giallorossi getting results in a busy stretch while battling a litany of injuries, but the opportunity will be there.
As we see on the table, places three through seven remain tight with five teams separated by just six points. On top of that, three of those teams have a match in hand on the Giallorossi, which means Roma has to take advantage when golden opportunities present themselves. So, let’s peruse the peninsula and see just what the weekend has in store for Roma’s direct competitors.
Perusing the Peninsula: Matchday 26 Previews
The Best Non-Roma Match of the Week
Inter Milan (1st place) vs Atalanta (4th place): Monday 2:45 EST
This weekend features two heavyweight battles that should make for great entertainment. However, this match between top of the table Inter and in-form Atalanta pips Juventus vs Lazio for the must-watch match of the weekend.
Inter has been in scintillating form and that means trouble for the rest of the league. The Nerazzurri have now opened up a six-point lead over rivals Milan at the top of the table and are close to running away from the field. Meanwhile, Gianpiero Gasperini’s side has been hot—winning four straight in the league. That run of fine form means La Dea has moved two points ahead of Roma for the last Champions League place in recent weeks. So, we should be hoping for an Inter victory.
These teams shared the spoils in the reverse fixture, which ended 1-1. This one should be tight as well, as two sides with contrasting styles will try to impose their will to find an advantage.
Matches Featuring Top Four Challengers
Juventus (3rd place) vs Lazio (7th place): Saturday 2:45 EST
Most weeks, this match would be the headliner, but this time around it plays second fiddle. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean it’s any less important for the Giallorossi. Both of these sides enter with a game-in-hand on Roma, with Juve sitting two points ahead and Lazio four points behind the Giallorossi. So, in theory, a draw probably suits Roma best.
That’s exactly what happened the first time these teams met at the Olimpico. In that match, Felipe Caicedo scored a 95th-minute equalizer that canceled out an early Cristiano Ronaldo goal.
Lazio enters this one with the advantage of being well-rested after its midweek fixture with Torino was postponed over COVID concerns. Couple in the fact that Juve has Porto coming up on Tuesday—which could present a distraction—and Lazio’s solid recent history against the Bianconeri and Juve may have its hands full. This one is worth keeping an eye on for obvious reasons.
Hellas Verona (8th place) vs AC Milan (2nd place): Sunday 9:00 EST
This one has the makings of an upset written all over it. Milan has been struggling of late with just one win (against Roma) in its last six matches in all competitions. Meanwhile, Verona has had a knack for knocking off top sides over the last two seasons. Something that the Mastiffs almost did in the reverse fixture.
It took a 93rd-minute goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to salvage a point for Milan the first time these two sides met. And the big Swede won’t be available to save the Rossoneri this time around. A shorthanded Milan attack could have its hands full with a stout Hellas defense. This will be one to keep an eye on as more dropped points from the Rossoneri could see Roma cut further into the six-point gap with the second-place side.
Napoli (6th place) vs Bologna (12th place): Sunday 2:45 EST
This one may be the least attractive fixture on paper of the top seven race, but don’t take it for granted that Napoli takes home all three points; Bologna has been inconsistent this season. Just look at its two most recent matches—a win over Lazio and a loss to Cagliari. However, that win last weekend at the Dall’Ara shows the potential the Rossoblu possesses.
Meanwhile, Napoli is coming in on a very uneven run of form, including a late draw against Sassuolo on Wednesday. When these two teams met in the reverse fixture, it was a Victor Oshimen goal that allowed Napoli to leave Emilia-Romagna as victors. In order to avoid a similar fate, Bologna will need its talented attack to be firing on all cylinders, as well as having Lukasz Skorupski remaining almost impenetrable in goal.
- Spezia (15th place) vs Benevento (16th place)
- Udinese (11th place) vs Sassuolo (9th place)
- Crotone (20th place) vs Torino (18th place)
- Fiorentina (14th place) vs Parma (19th place)
- Sampdoria (10th place) vs Cagliari (17th place)
What will be the result of Monday’s big match in Milan?
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