It’s Milan vs Rome! Just four points separate Italy’s top three in what could be a pivotal weekend in Serie A title race as the Rossoneri travel to Lazio, city rivals Inter host Roma while Napoli look to make up ground against Empoli
- AC Milan, Inter Milan and Napoli are separated by four points in Serie A
- Inter host Roma this weekend, while Milan play Lazio and Napoli face Empoli
- This could prove to be a pivotal weekend in a tightly-contested Serie A title race
This season’s Serie A title race has been one of the most fascinating in recent memory.
The campaign started with AC Milan and Napoli both winning 10 of their first 11 league matches as they threatened to race away from the chasing pack.
However, both sides then endured dips in form, allowing Inter Milan to take full advantage as they moved into top spot in January.
Simone Inzaghi’s side looked like they might run away with the league at the start of 2022
However, an Olivier Giroud brace brought AC Milan and Napoli back into the title picture
The top three are only separated by four points heading into this weekend’s matches
Just as it looked like Inter may cruise to back-to-back titles, Simone Inzaghi’s men were pegged back in the Milan derby in early February as a second half double from Olivier Giroud condemned them to a 2-1 defeat – their first loss since October.
They were beaten again by Sassuolo two weeks later, and dropped points against Genoa, Torino and Fiorentina opened the door for Milan and Napoli to claw their way back into contention.
Milan picked up three consecutive 1-0 wins in March, but have faltered in April as they were held to consecutive goalless draws against Bologna and Genoa.
Napoli have failed to capitalise on Inter and Milan dropping points recently
Meanwhile, Napoli have lost just twice since the turn of the year, but one of those came earlier this month, and their tally of one point from their last two games has harmed their title chances.
All this leaves things tantalisingly poised at the top. Milan currently lead the standings by two points from Inter, but the Nerazzurri have a game in hand.
Napoli are a further two points back, waiting to pounce on any slip-ups from their rivals.
Sportsmail takes a look at this weekend’s big games, and who could capitalise in the closest title fight in years…
Inter Milan vs Roma (Saturday, 5pm kick-off, UK time)
Inter are the first title contenders in action, and they will have their work cut out against an in-form Roma side.
Jose Mourinho remains immensely popular at Inter after leading the club to an unprecedented treble back in the 2009-2010 season.
However, he will be out to scupper his former club’s title push on Saturday.
Lautaro Martinez (L) has been in fine form for Inter Milan in their recent matches
Inter face a major test of their title credentials when they face Jose Mourinho’s Roma
INTER MILAN VS ROMA – LAST FIVE MEETINGS
Inter 2-0 Roma (Coppa Italia, February 2022)
Roma 0-3 Inter (Serie A, December 2021)
Inter 3-1 Roma (Serie A, May 2021)
Roma 2-2 Inter (Serie A, January 2021)
Roma 2-2 Inter (Serie A, July 2020)
Roma are unbeaten in their last 12 top-flight matches, and still have hopes of overhauling Juventus for the final Champions League spot.
Mourinho’s men are also through to the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League, and they held Napoli to a creditable 1-1 draw on Monday, proving they can compete against the best sides in the league.
Inter have every reason to be confident, though, having beaten Roma in both of their previous encounters this season.
The reigning champions have also won each of their last three Serie A games, while they swept aside Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals on Tuesday to progress to next month’s final.
Lautaro Martinez scored twice in that match, and could have a key role to play if Inter are going to battle past Roma.
Inter’s final five matches all come against bottom-half opposition, suggesting that a win on Saturday could be a giant step towards retaining their crown.
Empoli vs Napoli (Sunday, 2pm kick-off, UK time)
Napoli were a matter of minutes away from getting a huge victory against Roma on Monday, but Stephan El Shaarawy’s injury-time equaliser meant they had to settle for a point.
This has left them with it all to do if they are to win their first Scudetto since 1990.
Then again, if they could pick a fixture to get them back on track, it might well be this one.
Napoli are still pushing for their first Serie A title win since 1990
Luciano Spalletti will hope his team can get back to winning ways against Empoli on Sunday
In their first season back in Serie A, Empoli started their campaign impressively, securing eight wins before Christmas, with the last of those coming in the reverse fixture in Naples back in December.
Their form has fallen away dramatically in 2022, though, and they are still looking for their first win of the calendar year.
Still, with a 12-point gap between themselves and the bottom three, there is very little chance of Empoli being relegated this term, and it could be argued that they have very little left to play for.
With this in mind, Napoli should enter this clash as clear favourites, with Victor Osimhen leading the line, having scored five goals in his last four appearances.
Lazio vs AC Milan (Sunday, 7:45pm kick-off, UK time)
While Inter and Napoli may be relying on Martinez and Osimhen, respectively, to fire them to the title, Milan will have their defence to thank if they get over the line in first place.
Mike Maignan has proved to be an outstanding replacement for Gianluigi Donnarumma, and the blossoming partnership of Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu at the heart of the back four seems to be growing stronger with every passing week.
Milan have not conceded a league goal since February, but goals at the other end have been hard to come by. Stefano Pioli’s team have netted just five goals in their last six league fixtures.
Fikayo Tomori has had a very impressive campaign at the back for AC Milan
Tomori will be tasked with keeping Ciro Immobile quiet in Rome on Sunday night
On Sunday, Milan will face a Lazio side spearheaded by Ciro Immobile, who currently leads the way in the Serie A goalscoring charts with 25 to his name.
This promises to be a major test for Milan’s resolute back line, and the side cannot afford a setback if they are to keep Inter and Napoli at bay.
The Rossoneri arguably have the toughest set of games left to play as they are set to take on European contenders Fiorentina and Atalanta in the coming weeks.
A confidence-boosting win at the Stadio Olimpico is needed if they are to move a step closer to earning their first Scudetto in 11 years.
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