Soccer Italy Serie A Prediction
Empoli vs Inter - Match Preview
⚽ 23 April 2023 - 10:30 GMT +0
Empoli failed to score for a second Serie A (SA) game running as they fell to a 1-0 defeat against relegation-threatened Cremonese last week, prompting coach Paolo Zanetti to admit his side “deservedly lost.” With a nine-point cushion to the drop zone, relegation isn’t an immediate threat, but Empoli do now risk going three-successive SA games without a goal for the first time since March 2017.
The arrival of Inter Milan offers a chance to create the right kind of history though, as the hosts could win back-to-back league H2Hs for the first time ever after edging the reverse fixture 1-0. A return to Stadio Carlo Castellani bodes well in search of securing that slice of history as Empoli have won four of their last eight SA home games (D2, L2), and with four matches in that sequence ending 1-0, securing the first goal could prove pivotal.
Inter reached their first Champions League semi-final since 2009/10 after edging Benfica 5-3 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, but they will be acutely aware that their league form hasn’t quite matched up to their European exploits. A 1-0 defeat against Monza last Saturday marked the first time since 2011/12 that the Nerazzurri accrued 11 defeats from their first 30 matches of a top-flight season. With only two goals scored across their last five SA games (D1, L4), it is evident where Inter’s problems lie, although coach Simone Inzaghi was adamant after the Monza loss that his side “created more and better chances.”
Such dire form has left them five points behind the top four, and with the upcoming Coppa Italia semi-final second-leg against Juventus, Inter could be forgiven for being distracted. Still, if they were to win, they would become only the second team alongside Juventus to post five consecutive away league wins over Empoli.
📋 Players to watch: Empoli’s Tommaso Baldanzi has scored the match opener with each of his four league goals this season, including in the reverse fixture. Meanwhile, Inter’s Nicolò Barella has two goals in his last three matches, but his last five personal league H2Hs have seen contributions elsewhere (A1, YC2).
⚡ Hot streak: Empoli has failed to score in seven straight home SA H2Hs (D1, L6).
AC Milan vs Lecce - Match Preview
⚽ 23 April 2023 - 16:00 GMT +0
AC Milan’s players and staff might still be recovering from securing their first UEFA Champions League (UCL) semi-final appearance since 2006/07 (incidentally, the last time they lifted the coveted trophy) after beating Serie A (SA) league-leaders Napoli 2-1 on aggregate. Yet Milan won’t be leaving Italian borders any time soon, even whilst chasing European club football’s most elite piece of silverware, as they’ll now meet fierce city rivals Inter Milan in the semi-finals!
The Rossoneri might need to put all their eggs in the UCL basket once reality hits regarding their recent league form, as winning only one of their last six SA matches (D3, L2), coupled with Juventus’ points deduction being reversed, as they currently sitting outside the top-four spots. Manager Stefano Pioli will have his work cut out should he wish to get his side back to winning ways, considering they’ve drawn their last two league matches immediately following a UCL game.
Lecce manager Marco Baroni will also be pondering what it will take for his side to secure all three points on the SA stage, since they’ve failed to do so in their last seven attempts (D1, L6) with the relegation zone lurking just over their shoulder. This task becomes all the more difficult when taking on Milan, as Lecce has only ever won two of 40 H2Hs (D14, L24).
The Yellow and Reds will be on red alert when they hit the road here after their last three away games all ended in scoreless defeats. This has helped Lecce retain their infamous tag of accumulating the fewest clean sheets this SA season with only three, although they are remarkably still the only top-flight side yet to concede 3+ goals in a match in 2022/23.
📋 Players to watch: Rafael Leão, Milan’s hero after assisting both their goals in their UCL tie, will be keen to become the goalscorer here, having scored in back-to-back games against Lecce. Visiting Assan Ceesay might beat him to the prize, though, having scored the match opener with eight of his last 11 strikes.
⚡ Hot stat: Only two of Lecce’s last 10 away matches have seen both sides score on the day.
Juventus vs Napoli - Match Preview
⚽ 23 April 2023 - 18:45 GMT +0
Thursday proved to be a great day for Juventus, who not only celebrated their progression to the UEFA Europa League semi-final after a 1-1 draw against Sporting Lisbon sealed a 2-1 aggregate victory, but they also moved back into the Serie A (SA) top four as new legal developments prompted a reversal of their 15 point deduction.
Trying to avoid the first three-game losing streak in SA since 2011, Juventus can at least rely on their fans again after their partial stadium closure was suspended. That raucous support has been influential for Juventus this season, and they can cement their record as the best-performing home SA side this term (W11, D3, L1) with another win here, something that is firmly within the realms of possibility, having won four home league outings in a row.
Napoli stands in their way and the league leaders are looking for only their fourth-ever league double over Juventus after a stunning 5-1 win in the reverse fixture. It may not be quite as straightforward as Napoli would’ve hoped though, as they come into this clash at probably the most difficult time of their season on the back of just one win from the previous five competitive outings (D2, L2), a run which saw them eliminated from the UEFA Champions League (UCL) and have a few points shaven off their comfortable SA lead.
Coach Luciano Spalletti had presented a list of five complaints about the refereeing in both recent UCL ties, but he now has to deal with a growing absentee list after a further three of his players left the pitch with an injury on Tuesday. However depleted the Partenopei may be, they are top of the table for a reason, with a seven-match winning away league run being one of them.
📋 Players to watch: Aiming to down his former club, Arkadiusz Milik has already registered seven SA goal contributions for Juventus, including an assist in the reverse fixture. After missing a crucial penalty in the UCL, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia will be looking for redemption hereafter contributing to three goals in the first H2H (G1, A2).
⚡ Hot stat: Juventus (17) and Napoli (15) rank in the top four for the cleanest sheets in the top five European tournaments this term.
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