Serie A Key Battles This Weekend: Huge Games for Teams in Black and White
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There are just six games left of this Serie A season, as it winds its way towards a pulsating climax.
With each team looking to get their mitts on as many of the 18 points up for grabs as possible, every weekend looks set to be jam-packed with nervy, table-defining encounters.
This installment will be no different.
Come Sunday evening, Serie A will be re-jigged some more, with teams jostling to either board proverbial planes destined for Europe, fasten their seatbelts for assured guarantee of top-division football next season or climb aboard life rafts to escape the crash landing of relegation.
If you're on the lookout for unadulterated frenzied feast of football, this weekend has an a la carte menu to leave even the most seasoned palate salivating.
In years gone by—when the likes of Christian Vieri, Dino Baggio, Hernan Crespo and (the original) Ronaldo would have been taking to the field—there's a fair chance this game would have a been a playoff for a Champions League berth or potentially who won the league.
With Parma only just rising from the ashes after being declared insolvent in 2004 and Inter suffering from an almighty hangover after their treble-winning season of 2010, both teams are in a state of mediocrity—Inter especially, as a lack of a cutthroat ruthless streak in front of goal proves costly.
Finishing eighth last season, Parma are now 11th and, whilst not in danger of being relegated, look set to scrap it out to place in the top half of the table.
Whilst that will be an entertaining bout—and one which will garner attention from Nevio Scala and Jose Mourinho, both of whom experienced cup success with Parma and Inter respectively—this weekend has particular magnitude for three teams who all play in black and white.
First up, there's Udinese, the original team to play in Bianconeri. Denied a place in Champions League group stage after Maicosuel's comical penalty miss, they have struggled for consistency in Serie A.
In eighth place, it looks like unlikely that Udinese and the Brazilian midfielder will have the chance to exorcise his demons in the Champions League: the Zebrette are 11 points off the hallowed third place which would yield qualification.
In Miroslav Klose, fans loyal to the blue half of Rome thought they had found a striker who could deliver the goals that would run Juventus close to the league title. The German veteran, however, hasn't scored in 2013, with his last goal coming in December's 1-0 vanquish of Inter.
His burden hasn't been helped by fellow strikers Libor Kozak and Louis Saha yet to register a goal.
A win for Udinese—who have picked up maximum points in their last two outings—and they will be back on the fringes of qualification for Europa League. Anything less, however, and their players will not need to renew their passports anytime soon.
Another black-and-white-striped team who face a pivotal weekend is Siena. Having earned a massive three points in last week's relegation encounter with Pescara—who now look doomed for the drop—the team from Tuscany are unbeaten in their last five and are one place and two points above the drop zone.
This weekend they face Chievo, a team who are just one place but six points above them. A win for Siena would go a long way to placing distance between themselves and the trapdoor, especially seeing as Palermo just below them face a tricky away tie against a resurgent Catania.
To complete our triumvirate of Zebrette teams, there's Juventus, league holders and champions-elect.
Who will win this week's standout, top of the table crunch match: Juventus or AC Milan?
Their home game against Milan is the standout blockbuster tie for footballing fans everywhere, pitting first against third in a battle of Italy's powerhouses.
Having dropped only two points from their last seven league games, Juventus will look to wrap up the league title as soon as possible having crashed out of Europe to Bayern Munich.
However, fans of La Vecchia Signora may not want to bust out the Moet just yet.
They face a Rossoneri team who are unbeaten in 2013 and boast an intimidating strikeforce of Robinho, Giampaolo Pazzini, Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy.
Saturday, 20 April (All times CET)
Udinese vs. Lazio, 20:45
Sunday, 21 April
Internazionale vs. Parma , 12:30
Napoli vs. Cagliari, 15:00
Siena vs. Chievo, 15:00
Roma vs. Pescara, 15:00
Juventus vs. Milan 20:45
Which game are you most excited about? Will Juventus end Milan's unbeaten run? Can Udinese salvage a Europa League berth? Let me know your thoughts—either in the comments section below or via Twitter.
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