After a two-week Christmas break, Serie A returns to action on Thursday amid growing positive Covid-19 cases in Italy.
Though another Covid-19 outbreak continues to throw a spanner in the works, the first set of Serie A fixtures in 2022 will go ahead this midweek.
Except for Udinese’s trip to Fiorentina and Salernitana’s home clash against Venezia, the remaining eight games are set to take place on Thursday.
Let’s have a look at the three most exciting match-ups to watch out for today.
Bologna vs Inter Milan
Inter Milan’s 2022 Serie A action gets underway at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara where they take on a Bologna side they hammered 6-1 in the reverse fixture on Matchday 4.
Despite closing 2021 out with a clear-cut 3-0 win at Sassuolo to halt a three-game losing league streak, the scars of a horror evening at the Giuseppe Meazza must be looming in the forefront of Bologna’s minds.
Going into the club-record 150th top-flight meeting with Inter, the Rossoblu will hope to end a run of three consecutive H2H league defeats at home, two of which saw them fail to get on the scoresheet.
Bologna’s last Serie A home victory over the reigning Italian champions dates back to February 2002, with the Emilia-Romagna side going winless in their subsequent 15 league match-ups on home soil (D3, L12).
Inter’s intimidating form from the final stretch of 2021 suggests Sinisa Mihajlovic’s team will have to work their socks off if they are to at least avoid defeat here.
Simone Inzaghi’s men head into proceedings on a run of seven Serie A wins in a row, keeping a clean sheet in each of the last six, including a 5-0 thumping of newly-promoted Salernitana in their most recent travel.
AC Milan vs Roma
Stadio San Siro is the venue as AC Milan and Roma go head-to-head in a mouth-watering Serie A showdown.
Last season’s Serie A runners-up cruised to an action-packed 4-2 win at Empoli to round 2021 off on a high, ending a run of two successive league games without winning (D1, L1).
However, with Inter showing no signs of stopping, Stefano Pioli’s men must launch a substantial winning streak to haul back a four-point deficit on the Nerazzurri.
Roma’s arrival in the town may seem like a daunting task at first glance, but the recent H2H stakes suggest Milan could be in for a stroll here.
In addition to eking out a 2-1 triumph at the Stadio Olimpico in the reverse fixture back in October, the Rossoneri have won twice in their last three top-flight H2Hs at home (D1).
However, the visitors’ overwhelming 4-1 victory at Atalanta in their last Serie A road trips might have laid the foundation for a second-half-of-the-season comeback.
Jose Mourinho’s men are lagging six points behind fourth-placed Atalanta going into the new calendar year, though they can fall back on the ongoing three-game unbeaten run in Serie A (W2, D1).
Juventus vs Napoli
Memories of a painful 2-1 defeat at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona earlier in the season are likely to guarantee a revenge-poised encounter at the Allianz Stadium as Juventus take on Napoli.
The record-time Italian champions have hit the ground running following a stuttering start, racking up four wins from five league outings (D1), all of which came by an identical 2-0 scoreline.
A noticeable upturn in form has seen Massimiliano Allegri’s side climb up the ladder as they enter the new calendar year trailing the coveted fourth place by a mere four points.
However, a lack of consistency in their own backyard has witnessed Juve win three of their last five Serie A matches in Turin while losing the remaining two by a single-goal margin.
In the meantime, Napoli have faltered following a stunning 12-game start to the season, with a return of three losses from their last four league games (W1) seeing them fall seven points behind pacesetters Inter.
With a host of vital first-team members unavailable for selection for various reasons, manager Luciano Spalletti will face the formidable task of improving his side’s humiliating top-flight record at the Allianz Stadium.
Since Juventus ventured to the new host venue a decade ago, they have won nine of their ten Serie A meetings with Napoli, barring a narrow 1-0 defeat in April 2018.