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WEEK 26 SUNDAY:
Bologna vs Genoa
On saying all of that, this is as mid-table as it gets!
Neither club is in the race for Europe nor facing a relegation battle.
The hosts will be without veteran forward Rodrigo Palacio with a thigh strain, while Genoa are in good form with Goran Pandev and Ervin Zukanovic among their stand-out performers last time out.
Inter Milan vs Benevento
Inter need to bounce back from that reverse at Genoa as they chase a return to the Champions League next season.
Benevento are unlikely to do the impossible this season, but it would be one of the greatest escapes of all time if they did.
Nicolas Viola helped them to their third win of the campaign last weekend and he’s likely to be their danger man again.
Crotone vs SPAL
This is arguably the alternative main match of the weekend.
Focus centres on the clubs third and fourth from bottom.
A home win would give them daylight from the drop zone; an away success would make an already close bid to stave off relegation even tighter.
Fiorentina vs Chievo
The Viola know they have likely left themselves too much to do to make a run for a European berth in the final third of the season.
Yet Stefano Pioli has spoken of a need for improvement, and this fixture presents an ideal opportunity.
Chievo will surely start with Emanuele Giaccherini after he changed the game against Cagliari – scoring an equaliser and setting up the winner during his short stint on the pitch.
Sampdoria vs Udinese
Sampdoria would have been bitterly disappointed to go down at the San Siro, allowing Milan to move level on points in that all-important sixth spot.
Likewise, Udinese coach Massimo Oddo after they conceded two goals in the final 20 minutes to lose to Roma.
If goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano maintains his fine form, Udinese may be in for another frustrating afternoon.
Sassuolo vs Lazio
Sassuolo’s late defeat at Bologna, after Edoardo Goldaniga’s sending-off moments earlier, means he is suspended for the arrival of Lazio.
It was their seventh straight match without success and they have slumped to within six points of the bottom three.
Lazio are back up to fourth, boosted by the goals of Ciro Immobile who has increased his lead at the top of the scoring charts to 22 with last weekend’s double.
Hellas Verona vs Torino
Torino gave the reigning champions Juventus a real battle in the Turin derby so a trip to Verona will hold no fear.
They will be boosted by the return to the squad of Lyanco, who has had little luck since his summer arrival from Sao Paulo.
Verona need to win their home matches to have a survival chance.
WEEK 26 MONDAY:
Juventus vs Atalanta
Yet again Juventus have the chance to return to the summit before leaders Napoli play.
Mattia De Sciglio may miss the match with a thigh problem as they warm up for a trip to Wembley and Spurs in the Champions League.
Could this be one match in a week too far for Atalanta, coming less than 72 hours after what is sure to be an energy-sapping Europa League clash with Borussia Dortmund?
AS Roma vs AC Milan
The main match of the weekend as Roma aim to hold onto a Champions League spot and Milan seek a Europa League place.
Davide Calabria’s form has been a major factor in Milan’s post-Christmas upturn and will be an important figure in the Italian capital.
For Roma, defeated in Europe in midweek and with Lazio and Inter hot on their heels domestically, Radja Nainggolan and Diego Perotti will be key.
WEEK 26 TUESDAY:
Cagliari vs Napoli
The weekend ends with the leaders facing a potentially tricky trip to Cagliari.
They will be aware of the danger of frontman Leonardo Pavoletti, whose coach Diego Lopez this week said can’t solely be relied on to score the goals.
Napoli will be glad of a slightly extra recovery due to Europa League exertions.
Realistically, the longer they stay in that competition, the more damaging it could be to their Scudetto hopes.
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