Monday, January 24, 2022

Top five Serie A games to watch this week: Inter host Torino; AC Milan look to regain form before winter break

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Before Serie A enters a brief winter break, there is still one midweek slate of games prior to the holidays. Play then resumes Jan. 6 after the transfer window will have opened. As injuries mount, a small break will be welcomed by clubs as they need the time to reassess and get their rosters back. Especially after a weekend that saw AC Milan and Atalanta drop points, teams can use the break to plan how they’ll tackle the race for European spots since the entire top half along with a few other teams have a realistic shot at finishing within the top six.

Let’s look at the five best Serie A games this week:

1. Sassuolo vs. Bologna

  • Date: Wednesday, Dec. 22 | Time: 10:30 a.m. ET
  • Live stream: Paramount+
  • Caesars Sportsbook odds: Sassuolo +106; Draw +255; Bologna +250  

Why watch: Sassuolo were not able to grab all three points vs. a 10-man Fiorentina side on Sunday, and should consider themselves lucky to only allow two goals. Bologna will want a bounce-back performance after losing to Juventus with the teams separated in the table only by goal difference. When two leaky midtable defenses come together for a midweek fixture, it has the potential to be a 4-3 thriller.

2. Inter Milan vs. Torino

  • Date: Wednesday, Dec. 22 | Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
  • Live stream: Paramount+
  • Caesars Sportsbook odds: Inter -325; Draw +420; Torino +950  

Why watch: Winners of their last two, Torino have a slightly tougher challenge facing Inter. The Nerazzurri have won six straight, scoring 19 goals and allowing two with five consecutive shutouts. Torino have been organized, not scoring or allowing many goals, but stopping Inter is easier said than done. 

3. Empoli vs. Milan

  • Date: Wednesday, Dec. 22 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
  • Live stream: Paramount+
  • Caesars Sportsbook odds: Empoli +350; Draw +295; Milan -135  

Why watch: A good run of form has seen Empoli rise to ninth in the league while a flat showing from Milan saw Napoli pip them over the weekend. Milan will look for an improvement but they will need an answer for Liam Henderson and Nedim Bajrami, who have created 21 chances together during the month of December to keep Empoli ticking. The loss of Simon Kjaer to begin the month has placed a massive hole in Milan’s defense, and they will need to rally to regain form.

4. Napoli vs. Spezia

  • Date: Wednesday, Dec. 22 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
  • Live stream: Paramount+
  • Caesars Sportsbook odds: Napoli -410; Draw +500; Spezia +1100  

Why watch: After regaining second place in the league, Napoli have to continue winning to keep pace with first-place Inter. Hopefully the winter break will bring injury relief but brushing off a Spezia side that is winless in their last six matches shouldn’t be too hard. Spezia’s defense isn’t that bad, but they haven’t been able to score, only putting the ball in the net three times during those six matches. 

5. Juventus vs. Cagliari

  • Date: Tuesday, Dec. 21 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
  • Live stream: Paramount+
  • Caesars Sportsbook odds: Juventus -550; Draw +550; Cagliari +1800  

Why watch: Juventus welcomed Weston McKennie back during a win over Bologna and will hope to keep their form going against a Cagliari side with their backs against the wall. Sitting in 19th place, Cagliari will need to make a change to get out of the relegation zone but this won’t be an easy one for them to get a result.

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