Milan closing in on historic Scudetto: Serie A Round 31 Preview

Date: 2nd April 2022 at 12:07pm
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After a bruising international break for the Italian men’s national team, Serie A returns this weekend, with plenty of eye-catching Serie A fixtures at either end of the table.

In what is shaping up to be an intriguing weekend of action, Flahscore provides the perfect place to keep up to date with all the stories from the Serie A matches, including the livescore, previews and on-the-whistle match reports.

Without any clear indication as to where the 2021/22 Serie A championship will end up, the most exciting title race in recent memory is beginning to hot up. Out in front at the moment, leaders AC Milan will be eyeing up yet another victory this weekend. Three points would keep the Rossoneri’s noses out in front, whereas any slip-up and the chasing pack will be ready to pounce.

Napoli currently sit just behind Milan, whereas Serie A giants Inter Milan and Juventus make up the rest of the top four. The reigning champions do boast a game in hand over second-place Napoli, but shaky form in recent weeks has seen Simone Inzaghi’s side drift away from the top two.

At the opposite end of the Serie A table, a fierce relegation scrap is beginning to unfold, as a number of desperate sides look to mount their bids for safety. Bringing up the rear, Salernitana’s chances of survival are beginning to dwindle, with an immediate return to Serie B looking more and more likely.

While in a similar predicament, both Venezia and Genoa will remain confident of escaping the bottom three before the end of the season. The two teams from the north are level in the table, with the gap between themselves and safety a manageable three points.

As the season drags ever closer to its conclusion, every team’s results from here on in will no doubt harbour huge ramifications for the eventual table. With plenty on the line, here is what you need to look for in this weekend’s Serie A action.

Juventus vs Inter Milan: Derby d’Italia delight

After the anguish of missing out on qualification to the 2022 World Cup at the hands of minnows North Macedonia, this weekend’s Derby d’Italia provides the perfect tonic for any Italian football fan still nursing the heartbreak.

A classic of the Serie A genre in seasons gone by, Sunday’s clash between an in-form Juventus and last season’s Scudetto winners Inter is gearing up to be another cracker. With both sides still harbouring faint hopes of topping the Serie A title come the end of the campaign, anything but a win in this fixture will likely extinguish their remaining title ambitions.

For Juventus, the fact they are even in the conversation at this late stage is nothing short of a miracle. Woeful for much of the season, a second-half revival under Massimiliano Allegri has seen the Old Lady thrust themselves back into contention.

Winless from their first four league matches of the season, it appeared the hangover from Andrea Pirlo’s unsuccessful reign as Juventus manager was heavier than first imagined. As the campaign rumbled on, the side from Turin’s hopes of a 37th Scudetto looked to disappear with it.

A first-ever home defeat to Sassuolo in late October was followed by an equally humiliating 2-1 loss to Hellas Verona, meaning Juventus slumped to as low as 11th heading into November.

However, since that defeat to Verona, Juventus have only lost one of their last 19 Serie A outings, with the record champions unbeaten in their previous 15 league games. Granted, the football under Allegri hasn’t always been mind-blowing, yet there is a feeling within Italy that Juventus have found a groove that works.

Of course, that groove came unstuck in the Champions League, where Juventus crashed out of the competition at the last-16 stage. Astonishing 4-1 aggregate losers to Villarreal, the Europa League holders netted three times without return in the second leg to send Juventus crashing out of Europe’s most prestigious competition.

With a healthy eight-point buffer between themselves and fifth-placed Atalanta, it is likely Juventus will have little issue qualifying for next season’s Champions League, but the Old Lady are now looking to end the season with more to show for their efforts. Should they bridge the seven-point gap to Milan in first, it would represent one of their most impressive Scudetto victories to date.

It won’t be easy though, as Juventus remain firm outsiders in the four-horse race for the title. Just ahead of them in the battle are current holders Inter, whose hopes of back-to-back league championships are beginning to fade away.

Having lead the way themselves at the turn of the year, a disappointing drop-off has seen Inter hand over top spot to their city rivals. Just two defeats in their last 22 Serie A games does represent strong form for Inzaghi’s side, but a failure to turn draws into wins has cost Inter in recent weeks.

Consecutive 1-1 stalemates just prior to the international break stretched Inter’s stuttering Serie A run to one win in their last seven games. Troublesome times for last season’s champions, Inter will be hoping April yields more profitable results compared to the past two months.

Winless during February, Inter’s only win since beating Venezia back in mid-January came against bottom-placed Salernitana at the beginning of March. A long way off the sort of results prospective champions should be recording at this late stage, a spring revival will be crucial for Inter if they wish to retain the title.

Unfortunately for them, a visit to face Juventus is not the ideal way for Inter to relaunch their Scudetto challenge. A horrific head-to-head record against the Old Lady is unlikely to fill manager Inzaghi with confidence heading into Sunday’s meeting, nor will their recent results at the Allianz Stadium.

Last victorious at the home of Juventus back in November 2012, Inter have been forced to endure a painful eight Serie A visits to the Allianz Stadium without picking up a win. Hoping to stop the rut this weekend, the visitors will be looking to end a run of scoring in just one of their last eight away games across all competitions against Juventus.

Inter’s only goals at the Allianz Stadium in the last six years came during last season’s visit, where the Nerazzurri ended up on the wrong side of a 3-2 thriller. Clawing their way back into it twice, Inter’s comebacks would count for little, as Juan Cuadrado netted two minutes from time to secure the points for Juventus.

While the scoreline may not be repeated, expect this edition of the Derby d’Italia to be just as intriguing, with both teams in the knowledge anything but three points is likely to end their Scudetto challenge.

AC Milan vs Bologna: Milan looking to maintain Scudetto charge

With at least one of their title rivals set to drop points this weekend, Milan will hope to capitalise on the Derby d’Italia result when they welcome Bologna to San Siro on Monday night. The last match of this weekend’s Serie A schedule, three points for Milan will take them a step closer to their first title in over 10 years.

Having competed with rivals Inter for the title last season, a post-new year drop off saw the Nerazzurri be crowned eventual champions. Looking to make amends for their mistakes last time around, Milan remains in pole position to finish top of Serie A heading into the final few weeks.

Recent form suggests Milan are worthy leaders of Serie A. Unbeaten in their last 10 matches across all competitions, the Rossoneri have found a system that allows them to grind out results. Having won the past three league matches by a 1-0 scoreline, Milan’s low-scoring but effective approach has aided their quest for a Serie A title.

Last lifting the league in 2010/11, failure to go on and secure the championship this time around would represent a bitter blow for Milan. Forced to endure a spell in the wilderness, a Scudetto win should reaffirm the Rossoneri’s status as one of Europe’s elite clubs.

What’s more, it would also mean Milan qualifies once again for the Champions League group stage, having returned to the competition for the first time since 2013/14 this season. While they may have finished bottom of a group containing Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Porto, the Rossoneri would be handed a more favourable pot for the draw, if they enter as league winners.

Looking to put a blockade in their opponents’ route to the Serie A title will be midtable Bologna, who have enjoyed a relatively comfortable campaign so far. Since earning promotion to the top flight in 2014/15, Bologna have established themselves amongst the division’s middle-class, without ever really threatening the top half.

It’s 10 seasons since Bologna last finished a campaign above 10th in the table, with the Rossoblù once again looking likely to miss out. Sitting in 13th heading into the weekend, a whopping 10 points sit between Bologna and a top-10 finish.

However, they will look to make things as hard as they can for Milan this weekend, having pushed them all the way in the reverse fixture. A second-half resurgence saw Bologna come from 2-0 down to claw Milan back, only for the visitors to go on and score two late goals. Eventually winning the match 4-2, Bologna will be keen to avenge October’s agonising defeat.

Unsurprisingly though, the odds are not in Bologna’s favour, given their torrid head-to-head record against Sunday’s opponents. Out of the pair’s last 24 meetings, the Rossoblù have notched up just two victories, with Milan often found taking points off the team from the Emilia-Romagna region. Likely victors once again this weekend, it’s difficult to see Bologna having enough to challenge the league leaders.

Atalanta vs Napoli: Neapolitans looking for sweet treat in Bergamo

It’s over 30 years since a Diego Maradona inspired Napoli side last lifted the league, with the Azzurri looking to end that drought this season.

Another club that had looked at one point as if they were going to run away with the title, Luciano Spalletti’s side were unable to maintain their lead at the top and have since slipped into second. However, a run of one defeat from the last 11 league games has seen Napoli regain a foothold in the title race and they’ll be hoping to cut the gap to leaders Milan when they visit Atalanta this weekend.

Having qualified for the previous three Champions League group stages, Atalanta face an uphill task to secure a fourth consecutive top-four finish this time around. Seven points behind fourth-placed Juventus, La Dea’s most likely route into the Champions League looks set to be via winning the Europa League.

After edging past Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen in the previous round, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have been paired with German opposition once again in the quarter-finals, this time against RB Leipzig. Yet, before they return to the continental stage, Atalanta welcomes a Napoli side they have already beaten this season.

Coming from behind to take three points at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, Atalanta extended their unbeaten run against Napoli to an impressive four matches with December’s win. Three of those games have been won by La Dea, who will be targeting another triumph when they take to the pitch at the Gewiss Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Elsewhere in Serie A this weekend

While the battle at the top rumbles on, a cutthroat relegation scrap is unfolding at the bottom of Serie A, with a number of teams looking to avoid the drop.

One of those sides being Venezia, who currently occupy the third and final relegation spot. The Leoni A?ati face a tricky test away to Spezia, with a victory for the hosts probably enough to ensure their own survival.

An immediate return to Serie B beckons for bottom-placed Salernitana unless they can start to pick up points at a regular pace. A good place to begin would be this weekend, but they come up against a Torino side they have only managed one win against in their last five meetings.

Since being promoted from Serie B in 2007/08. Genoa have enjoyed 15 consecutive seasons in Serie A, but relegation also looks like a likely prospect for the Grifone. Marooned in 19th, victories are the only currency Genoa can afford to deal in, with all eyes on their Monday evening clash with Verona.

Elsewhere in the league, José Mourinho will be hoping his Roma side can back up their impressive 3-0 win over Lazio with another victory this weekend. The Giallorossi travel to face Sampdoria, who they haven’t beaten away from home since April 2016.

Lazio themselves are in action on Saturday evening, with Sassuolo the visitors to the Stadio Olimpico, whereas Fiorentina welcome Empoli to the Stadio Artemio Franchi for the early Sunday kick-off, and Cagliari take on a Udinese side that have just one win in the last six Serie A matches.

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