Bologna v Inter Milan
Inter top the table at the half way point and were in imperious form heading into the winter break, holding a W12-D2-L1 record across all competitions since suffering a defeat to Lazio back in mid-October. In fact, Simone Inzaghi’s men have lost just three games all season, as the other defeats were both inflicted by Real Madrid.
The only other sides to take points off the Nerazzurri over this spell were Juventus and Milan, so they don’t look like dropping any more here. Of the 12 victories from those last 15 appearances, 10 of them came by at least two clear goals, while one of the other two wins saw them edge past Napoli.
With Real Madrid the only side to score against Inter over their past eight outings, they’re looking imperious at the moment and will take some stopping. Edin Dzeko and Hakan Calhanoglu might be missing for this one, but they’re by far and away the league’s top scorers this term and only Napoli (14) have conceded fewer goals than the miserly 15 they’ve allowed their opponents.
Bologna lost three of four games prior to Christmas and haven’t fared well against the top five in the table, losing four of five winless clashes with them so far this term as each loss came by minimum two-goal margins. They’ve also lost all five clashes with Inter since 2019/20 and although the later scored in all but one of these games, their meeting this season back in September resulted in a 6-1 hammering at the San Siro.
INTER MILAN -1 HANDICAP
AC Milan v Roma
Milan’s title ambitions and Roma’s top-four credentials should get a stern examination here, with the former four points adrift of defending champions Inter, while the latter are six points behind Atalanta with Juventus in between.
The winter break came at a good time for Milan as they’d only managed a W4-D3-L4 record since the start of November. A tough fixture list didn’t help as they faced Porto, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool in Europe, as well as Inter, Fiorentina and Napoli domestically, going W1-D2-L3 across those encounters. They also have a problem in midfield, with both Ismael Bennacer and Frank Kessie away at the Africa Cup of Nations, so Sandro Tonali should be joined by Tiemoue Bakayoko in the centre of the park.
Roma’s form appeared to be picking up with six wins from nine appearances, including a 4-1 victory over Atalanta, though they did also go down 3-0 to Inter over this period. With further defeats to Juventus and Milan this season, as well as a draw with Napoli, they can’t boast the best of records against the top sides. Indeed, they’ve lost three of their past four winless meetings with Milan themselves.
Inconsistency has dogged Roma all season and it’s hard to know which version will turn up. However, with just three clean sheets from 13 away games in all competitions this season, including a 6-1 humiliation by Norwegian outfit Bodo Glimt, the hosts should be registering on the scoreboard here.
Having Zlatan Ibrahimovic back fit and available is certainly useful in that regard, while he’s bagged three goals in as many encounters with Roma since re-joining Milan. The veteran Swede is still Milan’s top scorer this season despite some fitness issues, netting seven times from nine games where he’s played at least half an hour.
IBRAHIMOVIC TO SCORE ANYTIME
Juventus v Napoli
Juventus were picking up steam following a horrid start to the campaign and had won five of six unbeaten games in all competitions prior to Christmas, registering clean sheets in each of those victories. However Max Allegri is without Giorgio Chiellini (covid) and Arthur (covid), while Leonardo Bonucci, Adrien Rabiot and Moise Kean are all in a race against time to get fit for this clash.
The hosts do have better news elsewhere with key attackers Federico Chiesa and Paulo Dybala back available, and their selection problems pale in comparison with their beleaguered visitors. Napoli were suffering badly from absentees prior to the winter break and they remain without an extensive list of players.
Key centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, defensive midfielder Zambo Anguissa and winger Adam Ounas have departed for the Africa Cup of Nations, left-back Mario Rui is suspended, while midfielder Eljif Elmas has tested positive forward. In attack, Hirving Lozano and Andrea Petagna are also struck down by the virus, while key striker Victor Osimhen remains unavailable having fractured his cheekbone back in November and has also tested positive for covid.
It’s no surprise that Napoli have struggled without numerous players over the past couple months, especially with regards to Koulibaly and Osimhen, as well as Fabian Ruiz and Lorenzo Insigne. The latter two should be back in action, but Luciano Spalletti’s men are a dreadful W3-D2-L5 in all competitions over their last 10 games. In the continued absence of some crucial players and given Juventus have some firepower back and have seen their form pick up, the hosts should edge this one having won eight of their past 10 on their own patch in all competitions now.
JUVENTUS TO WIN