While we’ll all be looking forward to Roma’s trip to Udinese on Sunday afternoon (12:00EST/18:00CET) to see if the Giallorossi can maintain their perfect record, there will be plenty to keep an eye on elsewhere in Serie A. That includes something you don’t see every day: Juventus facing an early-season must-win fixture.
Meanwhile, Milan and Napoli are cruising into Matchday 4 after starting the season unblemished like the Giallorossi. Can all three continue their perfect starts to the campaign?
We’ll know by Monday night.
So, as you gear up for this weekend, read on to find out what to watch out for in our match of the week and other matches featuring Roma’s likely direct rivals for a Champions League birth.
Perusing the Peninsula: Matchday 4 Previews
The Best Non-Roma Match
There’s no doubt about it: Milan traveling to the Allianz Arena to face Juventus is the match of the week in Serie A. And while this match-up of northern powers has always been an attractive fixture, the Rossoneri’s resurgence in recent seasons makes this must-watch football again.
This time around the two teams enter this fixture trending in opposite directions. Milan is off to a torrid start winning all three of its matches, including a dominant victory over Lazio last weekend. Stefano Pioli’s side is again looking like the real deal after topping the table as winter champions last campaign before it finally succumbed to rivals Inter in the end. Milan also returned to the Champions League for the first time in almost a decade this week, falling to Liverpool at Anfield 3-2. We’ll see if Pioli’s side can quickly put that result behind it and continue to pile up league wins against a desperate Juve side.
Meanwhile, Juve enters this one sitting 16th in the table with just one point in its first three matches. That’s something nobody would’ve seen coming considering Max Allegri’s return to the bench and matches against Udinese and Empoli to open the season. But, that is Juve’s reality right now after losing 2-1 in Naples last weekend.
The Bianconeri bounced back from that tough defeat against Napoli with a 3-0 win in the Champions League over Malmo in Sweden. Bianconeri supporters will be hoping that the victory in Scandinavia will give their side the confidence to go to toe with Milan and get the three points needed to turn the season around.
- Locatelli - Manuel Locatelli is already showing why Juventus wanted him so badly. He’s the regista they’ve been needing for a long time, distributing passes to open spaces with ease. Milan’s midfield is no slouch, so Juve’s gonna need him to find the open spaces to jump-start the offense.
- Rebic - I know it’s cliche but Juventus needs to contain Ante Rebic. Whether it’s the duo of Bonucci-Chiellini or Bonucci-De Ligt, they need to be all over him in order to stop the build-up. He’s not your typical #9 as he moves all over the pitch alongside Leao. Chiellini knows a thing or two about the art of defending, so he’ll have another challenge Sunday.
- Szczesny - Easier said than done, but Wojciech Szczesny needs a mistake-free game. He’s cost Juventus a few points already this season and coming off that clean sheet against Malmo his confidence must be higher. If ‘Tek’s’ errors lead to more dropped points Mattia Perin could see starting time soon.
- Momentum - Juve picked up their first win of the season against Malmo in the Champions League on Tuesday. This doesn’t change the fact that they’re 16th in Serie A, but it at least gives them some confidence heading into this game. Morata and Dybala linked up well in the attack, and it could only get better if Chiesa returns.
Milan enters a big match against one of their main rivals, Juventus. Juve and Milan both had Champions League matches during the week, though the Old Lady have a one-day advantage.
Milan needs to shake off the defeat in the mid-week to Liverpool and get back to their winning ways. Milan will likely make some rotation(cue Romagnoli, Giroud, and Tonali).
Milan will need to dominate the midfield, as this is Juventus’ main weakness. Cuadrado and Dybala will be the focal points if they start. So Fode Toure or Theo Hernandez will have to be extra vigilant. The center backs will have their hands full with Alvaro Morata, so containing the Juventus playmaker will be key to their success.
If Milan does this and attack like they can, a victory is in the cards. Allegri’s tactics will make this difficult.
Prediction: Milan are excellent on the road. Juventus 1-2 Milan.
Other Matches Featuring Top Four Challengers
Inter Milan vs Bologna: Saturday 12:00EDT/18:00CET
The defending Scudetto winners are off to an unbeaten start thus far. However, the Nerazzurri can’t boast an unblemished record after drawing 2-2 in Genoa against Sampdoria last weekend. It was a disappointing result for Inter who led twice in the match. Meanwhile, Simone Inzaghi’s side followed that up with a disheartening 1-0 loss at the hands of Real Madrid in its Champions League opener midweek at the San Siro.
For its part, Bologna is off to a solid start, equalling Inter’s seven points thus far after defeating Hellas Verona 1-0 on Monday. Siniša Mihajlović will look to have his side ready for its biggest challenge to date. Last season Inter defeated Bologna both times the teams faced off and the Nerazzurri have won 17 straight home games, which is the fourth-longest streak in league history.
Salernitana vs Atalanta: Saturday 14:45EDT/20:45CET
It’s been a slow start for Gianpiero Gasperini’s Atalanta to open the season. La Dea has managed just four points through three matches after losing in Bergamo to Fiorentina last weekend 2-1. Additionally, Atalanta’s normally high-flying attack has scored just three goals thus far. La Dea’s mixed results carried into its Champions League opener as Atalanta needed a late Robin Gosens goal to manage a 2-2 draw against Villarreal at the Madrigal.
However, Salernitana could be just what the doctor ordered for La Dea. Atalanta is unbeaten in its last 15 matches against newly-promoted sides (12W-3D) and Salernitana is probably one of the weakest promoted sides in recent memory. They’ve conceded 11 goals in their first three matches, including back-to-back losses to Roma and Torino. Keep an eye out for Atalanta’s attack back getting on track in this one.
Lazio vs Cagliari: Sunday 12:00EDT/18:00CET
The Biancoceleste were off to a flying start in their first two matches under the guidance of Maurizio Sarri—scoring a combined nine goals against Spezia and Empoli. Nevertheless, things came crashing back down to Earth for the Aquile against Milan last weekend. Lazio’s offense was grounded en route to a 2-0 defeat. And the Biancoceleste followed up that with a 1-0 loss at Galatasaray in the Europa League.
Sarri’s men will look to get back on track against Cagliari which fired manager Lorenzo Semplici this week and replaced him with Walter Mazzari. Mazzari inherits a team that has lost 12 and drawn two of its last 14 head-to-heads with Lazio. Dating back to last season, Cagliari is winless in its last 15 matches in the first half of the Serie A calendar and is at risk of going winless in the opening four matches of a season for the first time since 2014-2015. Mazzarri will certainly have to come up with the perfect game plan to reverse those trends at the Olimpico where Cagliari has lost 10 straight to Lazio.
Udinese vs Napoli: Monday 14:45EDT/20:45CET
Along with Milan and Roma, Napoli is the only Serie A side with a perfect league record thus far. And the Partenopei are coming off a huge home victory against rivals Juve. Napoli didn’t win its Europa League debut on Thursday but did manage an impressive comeback to earn a 2-2 draw at Leicester City.
Despite winning nine of 10 league matches against Monday’s hosts Udinese, the Zebrette will be no cakewalk this time around. Luca Gotti’s side is off to a strong start with seven points despite losing star man Rodrigo De Paul this summer. Udinese will be looking to win three of their first four matches for only the third time in club history but will have to stop a Napoli side that has scored in 29 straight matches and is looking to win its first four for the second consecutive campaign. This one could be fun.
- Sassuolo vs Torino: Friday 14:45 EDT/ 20:45 CET
- Genoa vs Fiorentina: Saturday 9:00 EDT/ 15:00 CET
- Empoli vs Sampdoria: Sunday 6:30 EDT/ 12:30 CET
- Venezia vs Spezia: Sunday 9:00 EDT/ 15:00 CET