SERIE A, Week 32 Preview

Juventus has a six-point cushion at the top of Serie A going into the latest round of matches. Their trip to the San Siro on Saturday night to face Milan, is without doubt, the stand-out game of the weekend.

MIHAJLOVIC DEMANDS A REACTION TO RECENT SLUMP IN FORM

Having only taken two points from their last four games, Milan players were sent to the dreaded “ritiro” this week after a disappointing defeat to Atalanta last weekend. For Italian sides, this means an intense training regime with players not being allowed to leave to see their friends and family. Why this may seem harsh to outside observers, it’s a regular occurrence in the peninsula. Captain Riccardo Montolivo came out in the press this week, to suggest that this was not the answer to all the clubs problems before adding that it was needed. Meanwhile club President Silvio Berlusconi is weighing up his options as to what to do at the end of the current campaign, enlisting the help of Milan’s legendary coach Arrigo Sacchi to try to make the right decision. The players are thought to be 100% behind their beleaguered coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, unfortunately, his entire future may hinge on them winning the Coppa Italia Final next month against….Juventus!

 

JUVENTUS HAVE ONE HAND ON THE SERIE A TROPHY

Juventus are closing in on another Serie A title and coach Max Allegri will take another huge stride to securing the crown, if he can beat his former club on Saturday evening. Five more wins will see them retain the trophy but talk of title success around the club has been forbidden until the deal is sealed. The bianconeri have won their last six league meetings against Milan, only conceding one goal in the last four encounters. You have to go back to November 2012 for the last time the Old Lady returned home to Turin having been defeated by Saturday’s opponents and current form suggests their impressive run will continue. Allegri’s side has won 20 of their last 21 Serie A fixtures; they will start as clear favourites for this one.

SAN SIRO TEAM NEWS

Milan are without midfielder Andrea Bertolacci who is suspended and are anxiously waiting on news of the fitness of Montolivo, who hobbled off against Atalanta last weekend. For the visitors, defender Giorgio Chiellini is out for another three-weeks with injury. Argentine striker Paulo Dybala has recovered from his recent lay-off, but may have to make do with a place on the bench; Alvaro Morata and Mario Mandzukic look set to lead the line. The two players feature prominently on the goalscorers odds on the best football betting sites; Morata being priced at *2.87 to be an anytime scorer, Mandzukic quoted at *5.50 to be first or last goalscorer.

PROBABLE STARTING XI’S

Milan (4-4-2) Donnarumma; Antonelli, Romagnoli, Zapata, Abate; Bonaventura, Montolivo, Kucka, Honda; Luis Adriano, Bacca

Juventus (3-5-2) Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Rugani; Evra, Pogba, Marchisio, Sturaro, Lichtsteiner; Morata, Mandzukic

*MATCH BETTING & PREDICTION

Milan 3.75 Draw 3.10 Juventus 2.10

Everything points to an away victory here with Milan currently going through another crisis period. With Juventus eliminated from the Champions League in the round of 16, their attentions are totally focused on maintaining domestic dominance – A comfortable 0-2 win for the Old Lady in this one.

NAPOLI LOSE HIGUAIN FOR FOUR MATCHES AFTER UDINESE RED CARD

Napoli’s title challenge all but disintegrated at the Dacia Stadium in Udine last Sunday, losing 3-1 to the hosts and seeing start striker Gonzalo Higuain sent-off and banned for four matches after an altercation with the match referee. The Italian press has been dominated this week by the fall-out to events last weekend but the reality is, Napoli are just not mentally strong enough to dethrone Juventus and they must now look nervously over their shoulders, as Roma try to take second spot from them and an automatic place in next season’s Champions League. They now face a Verona side on Sunday who, despite being bottom of the table, picked up their first win away from home on Monday at Bologna to give them a faint hope of Serie A survival. The San Paolo will be full of supporters wearing Higuain masks to demonstrate their backing for the player; Sarri’s team however, looks to be running out of gas at just the wrong time.

 

SAN PAOLO TEAM NEWS

As well as Higuain, Napoli will also be without defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Belgian play-maker Dries Mertens who are both suspended. Manolo Gabbiadini looks set to replace the Argentine hit-man in attack, the Italian international is currently quoted at *5.00 on the best sports betting sites to open the scoring on Sunday. Verona has injury problems ahead of their trip south. Defender Samuel Souprayen and midfielder Romulo are both doubtful with veteran striker Luca Toni only fit enough to start on the bench.

PROBABLE STARTING XI’S

Napoli (4-3-3) Reina; Ghoulam, Chiriches, Albiol, Hysaj; Hamsik, Jorginho, Allan; Insigne, Gabbiadini, Callejon

Verona (4-2-3-1) Gollini; Albertazzi, Bianchetti, Samir, Pisano; Viviani, Wszolek; Pazzini, Rebic, Ionita; Gomez

*MATCH BETTING & PREDICTION

Napoli 1.20 Draw 6.50 Verona 13.00

By the time Napoli kick-off on Sunday they could be nine points behind Juventus. Although Sarri’s team will be expected to come through this one, Verona are fighting for their lives. It should be a home win but not the landslide many will be predicting; Napoli to take this one 2-1.

THE BEST OF THE REST OF WEEK 32

Third-placed Roma should continue their impressive recent form at home to Bologna, whilst fourth-placed Fiorentina have a derby date with Empoli on Sunday lunchtime. Inter kick-off the Serie A weekend with a trip to relegation favourites Frosinone on Saturday afternoon, with Lazio, under new coach Simone Inzaghi, travelling to Sicily to face Palermo.

*odds courtesy of Bet365

Steve Mitchell

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