The long wait for league football after the international break is almost over and Serie A has treated us to some exciting fixtures to look forward to this weekend. Here are three things to look out for in week eight.
Lazio look to break Juve hoodoo
Simone Inzaghi may have masterminded his Lazio side to a 3-2 win over Juventus in this season’s Supercoppa Italiana final, but you would have to look right back to 2003 to find the last time the Biancocelesti were triumphant in a league fixture against this Saturday’s opponents.
Now might be a good time to break that jinx, with away side Lazio in good form. Only Lionel Messi (14) has scored more goals in club competitions than Ciro Immobile (13) in Europe’s top-five leagues. The Bianconeri defence would do well to look out for their opponents from set-pieces, after they have scored the highest number (eight) of any Serie A side.
“It’s normal that starting by beating Juventus in the Supercoppa gave us confidence in ourselves” said winger Luis Alberto. “It will be difficult to compete for the top two positions. Juventus and Napoli are above everyone but we can compete with anyone.”
A draw with Atalanta in the final match before the international break saw Max Allegri’s side drop their first two points of the campaign, and the boss couldn’t resist taking a swipe at leaders Napoli this week. “Football is ultimately a matter of solidity,” he said to Tuttosport. “Basking in your ability loses titles, it’s easier to be beautiful than winning.”
Roma meet leaders Napoli
All eyes will be on whether Napoli can keep their 100% winning record away to Roma in the Derby del Sole in the Saturday evening kick-off. Maurizio Sarri’s side have scored a record 25 goals in the opening seven fixtures, while Roma are keeping pace with five wins from six matches played under new boss Eusebio Di Francesco.
“Saturday’s game against Napoli has a special flavour,” said the Giallorossi coach. “It’s fundamental for those who have Scudetto ambitions. So it’s not a play-off but…”
Partenopei captain Marek Hamsik is also just one goal short of equalling Diego Maradona’s club record of 115 goals and has scored five goals in total against Saturday’s opposition. “I really hope I can beat that record,” said the Slovakian to Kicker magazine in September. “Maradona is a God in Naples, it would be amazing to be in front of someone like that. Come on, seeing ‘Hamsik’ ahead of ‘Maradona’ has to be wonderful!”
Milan derby tension
Both Milan sides will face each other with new bosses in place this Sunday, and fans at San Siro will be hoping to avoid another draw. Inter will be the nominal home team in the Derby della Madonnina, with both encounters last term finishing in stalemate.
The Nerazzurri boast the best form coming into the match, having dropped just two points from their opening seven games, the first time they had collected more than 19 points since the 2002/03 season. Milan will have to watch out for crossing ability from Antonio Candreva and Ivan Perisic, their cross-city rivals having completed the most crosses (152) during open play in Serie A this term.
“We want to cause everyone problems this season, and we’re capable of doing that,” Inter Vice President Javier Zanetti said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “After that, our main objective is certainly to return to the Champions League. The club’s history demands it, and winning on Sunday would give us the taste of our first, big scalp.”