Serie A Week 25 Preview - Winds Of Change

This week in Italy could really turn the Serie A table on its head. AC Milan, once thought to have a lock on the scudetto, have been slipping as of late. Although they haven't lost a match in their last seven league games, the Rossoneri have dropped eight points in their last six outings, almost all against teams they were expected to easily beat.

With Champions League play resuming this week, Milan may be of two minds, but if they drop points, Napoli and Inter Milan are waiting just behind. Lazio, with two draws since their win over Fiorentina, are also falling down the table, with Palermo and Udinese desperate to take that fourth slot, and Roma and Juventus eager to climb back into European contention. Meanwhile, five clubs battle to avoid relegation, whereas Bari have likely come to terms with the bottom of the table.

AC Milan versus Parma (Saturday, 12th February 2011, 17:00 GMT)

It's a battle of the wonderstrikers as the weekend's first match pits Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Parma's newest acquisition, Amauri. Ibrahimovic has power, vision, and the uncanny ability to hit both posts with a single ball while not managing to score. Amauri, on the other hand, has a name that's much easier to spell. The Brazilian did score on a fantastic overhead kick against Fiorentina last weekend, whereas Ibrahimović was only able to provide a mere assist to Pato, so we all know which forward is in better form right now.

AS Roma versus Napoli (Saturday, 12th February 2011, 19:45 GMT)

This match has brought out the pessimists on both sides. After losing 5-3 to Inter last weekend, Roma fans are wary. Napoli supporters, meanwhile, know that every time their beloved partenopei are in a position to close in on Milan, the team offers the opposition a win, neatly packaged with a shiny bow on top. Now watch as two teams able to field freely attacking lineups decide to each settle for a point, helping neither side at all and causing Serie A fans to question why they're stuck watching the match.

Palermo versus Fiorentina (Sunday, 13th February 2011, 11:30 GMT)

Pink versus Purple. Palermo haven't lost at home since Lazio visited back on Halloween, so it's clear the spell has worked and Fiorentina's charms won't be able to penetrate the Stadio Renzo Barbera. Then again, the Viola have Adrian Mutu back, and if anyone possesses a voodoo doll it's gotta be him.

Bari versus Genoa (Sunday, 13th February 2011, 14:00 GMT)

Genoa held AC Milan to a 1-1 draw last week. Bari lost their sixth straight match and then elected to sack their coach, which makes perfect sense. Why not wait until your team has fallen seven points adrift of 19th place to make a change? Giampiero Ventura was not the problem at Bari, as supporters will likely figure out when they watch the Galletti fall to Genoa and seal relegation.

Brescia versus Lazio (Sunday, 13th February 2011, 14:00 GMT)

Lazio, so long the surprise table-topper in Serie A, have been up and down as of late. Brescia, meanwhile, are so close to lifting themselves out of the relegation zone that they can taste freedom. Desperation is always off-putting, however. The football gods don't like it and Lazio will end up winning their first away game since the previously mentioned match at Palermo.

Cagliari versus Chievo Verona (Sunday, 13th February 2011, 14:00 GMT)

This match between relegation-battlers...oh, oh wait. No, both Cagliari and Chievo are in respectable, mid-table positions, separated by just a point. So this should be a fun free for all. Or possibly a match in which both teams concentrate on defensive duties and then attempt to hit the opposition on the counter. Wise observers would expect the latter.

Catania versus Lecce (Sunday, 13th February 2011, 14:00 GMT)

Ok, this one really is the relegation battle. Catania and Lecce can both be surprisingly fun to watch, but with both sides desperate not to lose all three points, a stalemate is likely. Move along.

Sampdoria versus Bologna (Sunday, 13th February 2011, 14:00 GMT)

Sampdoria were in the Champions League playoffs this season? Yeah, I'd forgotten too. But now missing two of the players that helped get them there (Giampaolo Pazzini and Antonio Cassano, off to separate sides of Milan) Samp haven't scored in five Serie A matches and are actually below Bologna in the table. Past performance and standings are a clear indicator of the winner of the match, so it's inevitable that the visitors will win.

Cesena versus Udinese (Sunday, 13th February 2011, 14:00 GMT)

Anyone who isn't lusting after Udinese isn't watching Serie A. Unbeaten in seven, with 18 goals in those matches, they're the club on everyone's tongue, or at least at the forefront of everyone's fantasies. And don't try to tell me it's just me who's mad about the Friulani. Anyone who's watched Alexis Sanchez should totally have a crush. Sorry, Seahorses, but you're sure to sink against the combination of Sánchez and Antonio Di Natale.

Juventus versus Inter Milan (Sunday, 13th February 2011, 19:45 GMT)

The biggie to close out Week 25, but will any energy be left for it? Sure, it's important, with Inter possibly able to overtake Napoli, and Juventus anxious to return to the European spots. But Inter seems nearly unstoppable, while Juventus's win over Cagliari may have just been a fluke. Inevitability is really no fun to watch, although the Nerazzurri defensive lapses can be. You'd think professional footballers would remember that it's illegal to use their hands.

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