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Serie A Games to Watch This Week: Can Roma Help Rivals Lazio Close in on Juve?

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Serie A Games to Watch This Week: Can Roma Help Rivals Lazio Close in on Juve?
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Can Juve's oft-profligate Alessandro Matri transfer his midweek scoring prowess from the Champions League to Serie A?

As Cupid playfully pings arrows between acquaintances this week, don't expect the coquettish chubby cherub to be aiming his bow anywhere near Serie A. 

With only 14 rounds of games remaining in Italy's premier division, there is little love lost during the final stretch.

Last weekend saw Napoli and Lazio, both in hot pursuit of leaders Juventus, drop points - albeit against each other. Their 1-1 draw, coupled with the Turin team vanquishing Fiorentina 2-0, enabled the chasm to stretch to five points.

Granted, many twists, turns, jolts and surprises do still await us as the title race weaves it's way towards completion. And whilst Juve do hold a clear advantage, history has taught us that the final furlong isn't always black and white.

Those at the opposite end of the scale will also be hoping they can drag themselves away from the trapdoor. Basement boys Palermo-four points adrift of safety-went to great lengths to help their plight last weekend.

At home against fellow dropzone-dwellers Pescara, they found themselves 1-0 down in the final quarter. Diego Fabbrini grabbed a late equaliser to rescue a point which failed to mask their deficiencies.

This weekend sees another instalment of table-turning ties: those in the pursuit of the title, Europe or safety will be hoping to gain vital points.

If you're lusting for a high-octane encounter, look no further than the stand-out fixture of Roma vs. Juventus.

The leaders travel to the capital in imperious form: as well as vanquishing Celtic 3-0 in the week, they have only lost once in their last 10 league games in a run which has seen them keep five clean sheets.

If Juventus are experiencing a honeymoon period with Serie A - in pole position and indomitable form - that spark, that lust, that feeling of wanton has vacated Roma's relationship. After sacking Zdenek Zeman two weeks ago, they are winless in six and yet to collect three points in 2013.

With Aurelio Andreazzoli taking his place until the end of the season, fans of i Giallorossi will be hoping that he can do what no man has yet managed under Thomas DiBendetto's ownership: deliver cohesion amongst his expensive squad to, ultimately, make Roma a formidable force.

A home victory against Juventus would be the perfect springboard. Defeat the champions and the fans will support his cause. It may also prove the catalyst to surge up the table and away from their current position of ninth.

However, therein lies a caveat that city rivals Lazio still hope to gazump Juventus. 11 points and two places behind, they are losing touch with the summit but hope still remains.

If Roma can upset the Old Lady, it would be doing Lazio a massive favour: away to 19th placed Siena, they will fancy their chances of a fifth victory on the road.

Staying in the nether regions of the table, Pescara vs. Cagliari will be anything but romantic. Having seen a crucial away victory against Palermo slip from their grips, Pescara will be hungry to dispel any doubts about their Serie A credentials.

They might be in for a rough ride: their visitors, in 16th, are in high spirits following their 1-1 draw with AC Milan last weekend. Having defeated Roma 4-2 the week before - and ultimately signing Zeman's death warrant - they are in good form, unbeaten in five.

Friday night's match-up should be more entertaining than your average romcom. AC Milan welcome Parma, a team in 10th who, pending a rich vein of form, could still qualify for Europe.

Despite Mario Balotelli last week scoring his third goal in two games, their prolific strikeforce will need to improve it's effectiveness: twice in as many weeks they have depended on their new arrival to rescue points.

Another game to glean is the mid-table clash of Torino vs. Atalanta. The Turin team are in 12th and a victory would sustain their faint hopes of qualifying for Europe. Their visitors require maximum points to quash any fears they could become embroiled in the relegation mire.

 

FRIDAY 15 FEBRUARY (All times CET)

AC Milan v Parma, 20:45 

SATURDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2013

 Chievo v Palermo, 18:00

Roma v Juventus, 20:45

SUNDAY 17 FEBRUARY 2013

Catania v Bologna, 15:00

Genoa v Udinese, 15:00

Napoli v Sampdoria, 15:00

Pescara v Cagliari, 15:00

Torino v Atalanta, 15:00

Fiorentina v Inter Milan, 20:45

MONDAY 18 FEBRUARY 2013

Siena v Lazio, 20:45

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