While most tuning in to watch Serie A this weekend will have their eyes firmly – and understandably – set on Sunday’s Derby della Madonnina, Saturday’s action could be where the biggest story lies in a potentially key day in the race for the Scudetto.
Both capital clubs will have a big say in how the top of the table looks come the end of round 27, with Roma travelling south to face Napoli in the Derby del Sole and Lazio playing host to chasers Juventus.
Though Napoli enter the round four points clear of the reigning champions and will remain top at the end of the weekend whatever happens, they will not be able to rest on their laurels given they have played one game more than Juve following the postponement of the Old Lady’s fixture with Atalanta last time out.
Maurizio Sarri’s side will need to be at their best if they are to keep the gap to at least four points, and a performance similar to their jaw droppingly brilliant showing when they met the Eternal City’s other side last month could be needed to see off the Giallorossi.
They have been free-scoring in recent weeks, putting six past Cagliari on Monday and firing four past Lazio in February and their winning streak stands at an impressive ten matches – during which time they have found the net 25 times. Consecutive games against Roma and Inter, followed shortly after by meetings with AC Milan and Juventus in April shows that their biggest tests are yet to come and victory over an inconsistent Lupi is needed to put together a title-winning run.
Recent history bodes well for the leaders though and they have beaten Roma in each of their last two games, but they have not won three in a row against Saturday’s opposition since 1976 – even before the days of Diego Maradona’s Scudetto-winning team.
Roma themselves have only lost one of their last 19 away matches in Serie A, winning 14 of those, and they have not fallen to defeat in either of their last two visits to the Stadio San Paolo.
With Napoli playing after Juventus, there will likely be immense pressure on them should the Bianconeri get the job done in Rome, though that is no foregone conclusion itself.
Lazio have already bettered Juve twice this season – in both the Supercoppa Italiana and their October Serie A meeting in Turin. Former Juventus forward Ciro Immobile scored twice in that game and the current capocannoniere comes into this having scored six goals in his last three games, including a Europa League hat-trick against FCSB.
To expect Massimiliano Allegri’s side to lose is generally foolish though, and the last time the Biancocelesti did the domestic double over them came in the 1942/43 season.
Juventus, like Napoli, are enjoying a dominant run of late and are unbeaten in 12 Serie A matches – during which time they have astonishingly conceded just one goal. Gianluigi Buffon and co. will likely need to be at their best on Saturday though as they meet the best attack in Italy’s top flight and Immobile will be hoping that he can return to haunt his former club once more, all while helping his hometown club take a huge step towards a first Scudetto since 1990.