Serie A weekend preview: Inter Milan to close the gap?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice in AC Milan's last game. (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Serie A is showing the potential for a thrilling title race this season. It’s arguably never looked more likely that Juventus’ run of nine consecutive titles is coming to an end.

This means every single matchday feels steeped in importance. Match-week 19 has some fascinating fixtures, including a tough test for league leader’s AC Milan.

Friday 22nd January

The weekend’s action kicks off on Friday night with a chance for out of form Torino to break the spell. Toro only have one win from their last 12 league matches, meaning they’re sat in 18th place.

Although ambitions weren’t too lofty heading into the season, Davide Nicola would have hoped to avoid a relegation scrap. Friday’s 19:45 (GMT) kick-off away at Benevento presents an opportunity to get some points on the board and regain some confidence.

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That being said, Benevento are confounding expectations so far this season. Pippo Inzaghi’s men are in 11th place on 21 points, eight more than their opponents on Friday. Defeat for Torino could see them plunge further down the table.

Saturday 23rd January

Saturday contains the biggest game of the weekend. Table-toppers AC Milan welcome Atalanta to San Siro for what should be a fascinating spectacle. Gian Piero Gasperini’s team were expected to have more involvement in the title race this season but inconsistent form means they’re currently in sixth.

The ongoing fallout between Gasperini and the talismanic Papu Gomez has been disruptive, and the goals haven’t quite flown as freely as the last two seasons. They are still however the second-highest scorers and a very dangerous team.

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Milan have recovered from their recent defeat to Juve by winning the next two games without conceding. City rivals Inter Milan have closed the gap to three points, so a win is vitally important to Stefano Pioli’s side.

Challengers Inter will kick off at the same time as Milan (17:00 GMT), away at Udinese. This is exactly the sort of game that Inter have tripped up in this season, but the confidence must be flowing through the side after they comfortably dispatched of Juve 2-0 last time out.

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Earlier in the day, AS Roma will take on Spezia for the second time in four days at the Stadio Olimpico. Coach Paolo Fonseca will be looking to avoid a repeat of Tuesday’s embarrassing 4-2 Coppa Italia defeat, in which Roma had two players sent off in extra time and appeared to make a substitution after using the permitted five.

Saturday’s fourth game sees Fiorentina face Crotone at home. La Viola have been inconsistent this season, but a home game against Serie A’s bottom side is an appealing chance to build some confidence.

Sunday 24th January

There are five games on Sunday, starting with Juve at home against Bologna. This is a very winnable game for Andrea Pirlo’s side, but Bologna re capable of an upset. Juve are 10 points behind Milan but do have a game in hand. Dropping points in games like this could be what keeps them out of the title race.

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At 14:00 (GMT) Genoa take on Cagiliari as they both look to distance themselves from the relegation zone, and Hellas Verona welcome Napoli to the Bentegodi. This will be a tough test for Gennaro Gattuso’s side, although they come into the match off the back of a 6-0 battering of Fiorentina.

In the late afternoon, there’s a fascinating game taking place in Rome, where Lazio host Sassuolo. Two attacking sides sat just outside the Europa League spots, just one point separating them.

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The weekend is rounded off with Parma hosting Sampdoria. In a similar position to Torino, Parma will be looking to get some points on the board and get out of the relegation zone as quickly as possible. They currently occupy 19th place.

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