With just twelve games to go until the end of the domestic season, the Serie A heads into the most important weekend of the campaign thus far. With six of the top seven clubs involved in direct clashes over the weekend, this round of fixtures could well go a long way in deciding the outcome of several of the most interesting scenarios that this season has thrown up: which teams will qualify for Europe, which teams will go down and, of course, which team will lift the Serie A Championship in a few months’ time.
Below are the odds for this weekend’s games and previews for the most exciting games:
Serie A Game Odds
Napoli vs Juventus (Friday, 1 March)
Tipped as the game that could decide the fate of this year’s championship, this will be, without a doubt, the biggest game in Italian football this season. Scheduled a day early to accommodate Juve’s Champions League obligations next week, the San Paolo will be heaving on Friday night. Whilst the game may not necessarily definitively determine the outcome of the championship, a victory in this game could prove crucial in kick-starting the winner’s march towards the closing stages of the season, whilst having the opposite effect on the losers. Sitting six points behind Juve, Napoli know that a victory on Friday night could bring them within touching distance of the defending champions. Top goal scorer Edinson Cavani will start up front for Napoli and is always value for a goal, as well as Marek Hamsik. These two talismans will have to come up with the goods as Napoli come into the game at the back of two straight league nil-nil draws. These two sides have the two best defences of the league this season, having conceded just 38 goals between them, and with so much at stake, a cagey affair without too many goals can be predicted.
Milan vs Lazio (Saturday, 2 March)
Milan seem to be a rejuvenated side since the signing of Mario Balotelli during the winter transfer period, going undefeated in their last six Serie A Games and putting up an impressive performance in their win against Barcelona in the Champions League last week. They will feel as though they lost an opportunity to put one against their city rivals after drawing with Inter in the derby last week, and will rue not taking the chances presented to them in that game. Lazio, having finally picked up a win in the league on Monday after going five games without a victory, will have to frustrate the Milan attacking force similarly and if they can keep things tight in defence, they have the counter attacking skills to catch Milan out should they leave any gaps at the back. Lazio are still without top scorer Miroslav Klose, who is carefully being nursed back from injury. Free from European duties next week, Milan should be able to field a full-strength side, but at -163 offer little reward against a side they have struggled with over the last year or so.
Catania vs Inter (Sunday, 3 March)
Catania have surprised many, not only by their log position (in seventh, this would be their highest ever result in the Serie A should they still occupy that spot come the end of the season), but with their positive and attractive style of football. Maran’s side are looking with every passing week contenders for their first ever foray into European football, and a win against Inter will go a long way to confirming their credentials. A win against the blue half of Milan would catapult the Sicilians to at least joint-fifth, ahead of Inter, and into a Europe League position. Inter, fresh from the Milan derby and with only one win from their last five, head to a stadium from which very few teams have gone home happy this season, and reports suggest that coach Stramaccioni might give veteran striker Tommaso Rocchi his first league start for his new club after signing from Lazio in January, giving either Cassano or Palacios a rest ahead of an intense March schedule. Catania’s dominant home form is difficult to overlook for this one.