There’s no doubt that the eyes of Serie A will be fixed on the Italian capital this weekend. The Rome Derby is always a tense affair, usually filled with high drama, but with two of the biggest personalities in calcio occupying the manager's boxes, the first Derby della Capitale featuring José Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri should make for nerve-wracking viewing for Giallorossi and Biancoceleste supporters and high entertainment for the neutrals.
However, there will be plenty of other things to keep an eye on around the league as well. First off, Napoli will look to extend its perfect start to the campaign against a struggling Cagliari side. Juve will try to finally impress in league play after scraping by Spezia during the midweek. AC Milan will seek to continue its unbeaten start to the season. And then of course there is the big battle at the San Siro between Inter Milan and Atalanta.
So, while most of you will be revved up for the derby, if you have some free time this weekend, there will be some other fun matches on the calendar.
Here are the best of the rest fixtures Serie A has to offer this weekend.
Perusing the Peninsula: Matchday 6 Previews
The Best Non-Roma Match
Inter Milan vs Atalanta Saturday 12:00 EDT/18:00 CET
In terms of table position and early season balance of power, this may be the most important match on the schedule this weekend. Defending Scudetto winner Inter has been impressive in the early days of its title defense. The Nerazzurri have yet to lose and are joint second in the table with 13 out of 15 possible points. Inter is in the midst of a brutal stretch that sees Champions League matches sandwiched between Serie A fixtures against Fiorentina, Atalanta, Sassuolo, Lazio, and Juve.
The Nerazzurri passed the first exam in that line-up by winning 3-1 at the Artemio Franchi after falling behind to La Viola early on. It wasn’t Inter’s best performance, but finding a way to win the tough ones is the mark of great sides. So, in the end, the three points will be all that matters. If Simone Inzaghi’s side can find ways to take 10-12 points out of this five-match stretch then its title defense could be legit.
Meanwhile, Gianpiero Gasperini’s side has been far from its best to start the season. However, La Dea is now starting to string together some results winning back-to-back matches over Salernitana and Sassuolo. Gasperini’s sides have been perennial top-four and even Scudetto threats in recent seasons. If La Dea wants to be in the same category this year, a win against the defending champs on the road would be a great starting point.
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Other Matches Featuring Top Four Challengers
Spezia vs AC Milan Saturday 9:00 EDT/15:00 CET
Stefano Pioli is beginning to shake his reputation as a manager that only gets short-term results and isn’t the man to build a winning project with each passing match. Milan continues to get results and remains unbeaten in league play with its only blemish a draw against rivals Juve in a match where the Rossoneri were trailing. In the midweek fixture, Milan dominated proceedings against Serie A new boys Venezia and finally broke the scoreless deadlock in the 68th minute. It’ll likely be a similar type of match for Pioli’s side on the weekend when it travels to Spezia.
Spezia won’t make things easy in a match Milan is expected to win, but, as Juve can attest, despite being a likely relegation battler, Tiago Motta’s side doesn’t make life easy for the big boys. Spezia nearly found a way to shock the Bianconeri during the midweek after taking a 2-1 lead early in the 2nd half. However, Federico Chiesa’s tying goal laid the groundwork for a 3-2 Juve win. With Atletico Madrid looming on Tuesday, Milan will have to be wary of looking ahead and turning this into a trap game on the road.
Juventus vs Sampdoria Sunday 6:30 EDT/12:30 CET
The Bianconeri finally picked up their first win of the season defeating 17th place Spezia 3-2 in a nervy affair. After dropping points to Udinese and Empoli this was a crucial win for Juve. However, it wasn’t an easy win by any means and many had to wonder if Max Allegri’s job could’ve been in jeopardy with a loss.
Next up for Juve is a Samp side that has been up and down so far this season. Gigi D’Aversa will be hoping he gets the version of his side that beat Empoli 3-0 on the weekend and not the one that lost 4-0 on Thursday to red hot Napoli. It’ll be interesting to see if Samp is motivated or demoralized heading into the Allianz Arena after the Napoli thumping. Nevertheless, the Blucerchiati must realize that this Juve side can be beaten, which should add to the intrigue.
Napoli vs Cagliari Sunday 14:45 EDT/20:45 CET
Luciano Spalletti is off to a roaring start with the Azzurri. In fact, no side in Serie A is hotter than Napoli right now, which could be as hot as the lava of Vesuvius. Not only are the Partenopei perfect through five matches, but the victories have been impressive. The last two fixtures were matching 4-0 wins over Udinese and Sampdoria. And Napoli’s 14 goals scored and two conceded makes for the second-best goal differential in the league behind Inter.
This match will see Napoli enter as huge favorites against a sputtering Cagliari side. The island-based side has just two points through five matches and fired manager Leonardo Sempici, replacing him with Walter Mazzari after just three matches. In his first match. Mazzari managed to get a vital road draw at Lazio, but that was followed by a painful 2-0 loss against Empoli. It may take a minor miracle for Cagliari to get a result in the shadows of Vesuvius in this one.
- Genoa vs Verona Saturday 14:45 EDT/20:45 CET
- Udinese vs Fiorentina Sunday 9:00 EDT/15:00 CET
- Sassuolo vs Salernitana Sunday 9:00 EDT/15:00 CET
- Empoli vs Bologna Sunday 9:00 EDT/15:00 CET
- Venezia vs Torino Monday 14:45 EDT/20:45 CET