Saturday, January 29 2022

Simone Inzaghi takes defending Serie A champions Inter Milan to former club Lazio this weekend, while Jose Mourinho’s Roma travel to a resurgent Juventus who are hoping to climb back into title contention.

Free-scoring Inter, unbeaten through seven matches with five wins and two draws, have plundered a league-high 22 goals — the club’s best return at this stage of a season since 1950-51.

But the late return of Argentina duo Lautaro Martinez and Joaquin Correa from Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Peru in Buenos Aires could leave Inzaghi without two key attackers.

Lazio supporters are preparing a warm reception for the man who led them to an Italian Cup and back into the Champions League last season for the first time in 13 years, despite the divisive nature of his exit.

Inzaghi, who played for Lazio between 1999 and 2010, ended a 22-year affiliation with the Roman club when he turned down a contract extension to accept the challenge of replacing Antonio Conte at Inter.

As part of the coaching merry-go-round this summer which saw 12 managerial changes in Serie A, Maurizio Sarri was chosen as the successor to Inzaghi.

Lazio began the new campaign with back-to-back victories but have won just one in five tries since, defeating Mourinho’s Roma in the Derby della Capitale.

They are aiming to avoid successive league defeats for the first time since March and could have Ciro Immobile available again after injury. The Lazio captain has six goals in six matches.

After going four games without a win, Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus have picked up maximum points over the past three matches to surge up the table.

Juve host Roma looking for successive victories over the Giallorossi for the first time since 2016. Roma have battled inconsistency following three straight wins to launch their campaign.

Alvaro Morata is not expected back until next week’s Champions League tie with Zenit, but Juve may be able to call upon Paulo Dybala off the bench.

Roma are sweating over the fitness of England forward Tammy Abraham after he picked up an ankle injury during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Hungary.

Leaders Napoli hope the international break will not disrupt their superb form as they bid for an eighth consecutive win at home to Torino.

If successful, Luciano Spalletti’s team would equal the best start in their history, having won the first eight games under Sarri in 2017-18.

Roma hold the Serie A record with 10 wins in a row to begin the 2013-14 campaign.

AC Milan lost goalkeeper Mike Maignan until the new year after he underwent surgery on his injured left wrist. Milan, who trail Napoli by two points, are at home to Hellas Verona.

Atalanta warm up for their trip to Manchester United with a game at Empoli.

Player to watch: Dusan Vlahovic

The Fiorentina star could become the subject of a bidding war as soon as January after turning down an offer that would have reportedly made him the highest-paid player in the club’s history.

Vlahovic, under contract until 2023, scored 21 goals in Serie A last season and struck three times for Serbia over the past week in wins over Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

He has four goals in seven league appearances this term for a Fiorentina side currently fifth under new boss Vincenzo Italiano, who vowed Vlahovic’s uncertain future would not affect his commitment.

“He’ll give everything for Fiorentina. I believe that, when he has to go out onto the pitch and push hard, he’ll always do so. I hope non-football problems won’t interfere,” Italiano told Corriere dello Sport.

Key stats

16 – Lazio’s unbeaten run at home.

99 – Serie A goals scored by Torino striker Andrea Belotti. His first came against Napoli in 2014.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Saturday

Spezia v Salernitana (1300), Lazio v Inter Milan (1600), AC Milan v Hellas Verona (1845)

Sunday

Cagliari v Sampdoria (1030), Empoli v Atalanta, Genoa v Sassuolo, Udinese v Bologna (all 1300), Napoli v Torino (1600), Juventus v Roma (1845)

Monday

Venezia v Fiorentina (1845)

mw/jc

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