After Milan’s convincing win over an abject Juventus last Sunday, the hunt for the Scudetto has clearly become a two-horse race, writes Chris Mann.
With Inter scraping past Siena with a last minute winner from Walter Samuel, José Mourinho’s team retained their eight point lead at the top of Serie A, but their vulnerabilities were exposed by the Robur and, with Milan hitting an excellent run of form, Leonardo will be hopeful that his side can catch and overhaul the Nerazzurri.
This weekend sees Siena, who so nearly vanquished Inter last weekend, travel to the San Siro to take on Milan. With Ronaldinho having finally found some form in a red and black jersey and David Beckham providing an added threat down the right flank, Leonardo’s team look stronger and more well-balanced than they have done for quite some time. Having won nine of their last eleven games the Rossoneri need not fear anyone, although they may take Siena, the league’s bottom club, more seriously than they otherwise would have done following their gallant effort against the league leader’s last week. This should be a straightforward win for Milan as they attempt to close the gap on their fierce rivals at the summit of the table.
Defending champions Inter, meanwhile, travel south to face Bari on Sunday evening. Having struggled to overcome Siena last time out, Mourinho’s men will have to put in a much improved performance if they are to beat a Bari side which has been impressive this season and currently sits in tenth place. The Galletti have relied on their excellent home record to keep them in mid-table, and the Nerazzurri should be wary of their opponent’s goal scoring ability on their own turf. If Mourinho’s team are to win the title and keep Milan at bay, then these are the sort of games they need to come through with flying colours.
Under-fire Juventus manager Ciro Ferrara will take his under-performing team to Verona at the weekend to face Chievo. Having been soundly beaten by Milan last week, this weekend’s game is the just the latest of a number of “last chance saloons” Ferrara has frequented in recent times. The Bianconeri, however, have enjoyed an excellent record at Chievo’s Bentegodi Stadium in recent years and should, considering that the home side go into this game on the back of three straight defeats, come away with all three points.
At the Olimpico, Roma are preparing to take on Genoa in what could well be the weekend’s most entertaining game. The Giallorossi may have lost their fourth place to Napoli last week, but Claudio Ranieri’s side are unbeaten in ten games and riding the crest of a wave of confidence. Genoa, despite playing an attractive brand of football, have struggled for consistency of late and sits in eleventh place, a position that perhaps doesn’t reflect the ability and endeavour of the squad. This should be an engaging game between two good footballing sides, but I expect Roma to take the victory.
Week 20 Fixtures in Full:
Cagliari v Livorno
Bari v Inter (TV)
Atalanta v Lazio
Chievo v Juventus
Fiorentina v Bologna
Milan v Siena (TV)
Parma v Udinese
Roma v Genoa
Sampdoria v Catania
Napoli v Palermo (TV)