Top sides Juventus and Napoli meet in a cracking start to the weekend’s Serie A matches as Lazio aim to keep pace with the frontrunners.
Most of the attention will be on Saturday night’s clash between table-topping Juventus, who put their 46-match unbeaten streak on the line when they host Napoli, second to the Bianconeri on goal difference alone.
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon remains under an injury cloud however, after reportedly picking up a thigh strain leading into Italy’s 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Denmark on Tuesday night.
Juve chief executive Giuseppe Marotta has been forced to deny Buffon put club ahead of country to be fit for the Napoli clash, saying it was just another conspiracy in a nation full of them.
Another concern for Juventus, however, will be forward Claudio Marchisio, who injured his shoulder.
Marchisio’s 85th-minute goal saved Juve’s blushes against last-placed Siena before the international break, helping Juventus to a hard-fought 2-1 draw against a side who are better than their table position suggests due to a six-point penalty incurred following the latest match-fixing probe.
If either Juventus or Napoli lose, third-placed Lazio will be looking to make up ground on them when they host the desperately out-of-form AC Milan later on Saturday night.
Lazio, four points behind the top two with 15 points, can certainly put pressure on the leaders if they are successful.
Much of the responsibility for this will lie with Lazio’s German striker Miroslav Klose, who scored twice in his side’s 3-0 victory over Pescara before the break.
AC Milan, meanwhile, come into this clash in an unfamiliar 11th place with just two wins this season, following their 1-0 loss to derby rivals Inter.
Adding to Milan’s woes, Robinho is expected to be out for the next few weeks with a thigh injury.
On Sunday, fourth-placed Inter will also be looking to climb up the table when they host Catania (seventh).
The Sicilians were impressive in a 2-0 victory over Parma in their last game but Catania’s three victories have all been at home.
Fifth-placed Roma will also not receive any favours on the road when they travel to Genoa (ninth) on Sunday night, although the capital club will at least take some winning form into the encounter following a 2-0 victory over Atalanta.
Fiorentina (sixth) take on Chievo (16th) with both teams coming off wins, while Parma (15th) will be looking for just their second win this campaign when they host Sampdoria (eighth).
Torino (10th) travel to Sicily to face off against Palermo (17th) who only managed to rise out of the relegation zone following their 1-1 draw with Genoa.
Bologna (11th) will make a long trip south for Sunday’s early clash with Cagliari (19th) while Pescara (13th) will look to move up the table against Udinese (14th).
The match between Atalanta (18th) and last-placed Siena could be an early chance for either side to rise out of the relegation mire.