Four things to watch out for in Serie A
Juventus and Lazio continue their race for the Serie A title on Tuesday as the matches start to come thick and fast amid rising summer temperatures in Italy.
AFP looks at some of the key things to look out for in the midweek round of action.
Lazio try to peg back Juve
Lazio will have the chance to put pressure on title rivals Juventus on Tuesday when they travel to Torino looking to close the four-point gap between themselves and the reigning champions, who take on struggling Genoa.
Missing influential midfielder Lucas Leiva, Simone Inzaghi's side have got off to a slow restart but are still on Juve's tails thanks to their come-from-behind 2-1 win over Fiorentina on Saturday.
Juve have hardly ever looked convincing in Maurizio Sarri's first season in charge but are still favourites for a ninth league title thanks to an ability from their array of stars to dig out important goals when it counts.
Atalanta and Napoli prepare to dazzle
Free-wheeling Atalanta have carried on where they left off since the Serie A restart, crashing in and conceding goals by the bucketload as they strengthen their grip on the final Champions League spot.
Sunday's 3-2 win at Udinese was the second time in a matter or days that they had won by that margin and took their league goals tally to 80, with Josip Ilicic, Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel -- scorer of two stunners in Udine -- sharing 44 of them almost equally.
Gian Piero Gasperini's fourth-placed side have won nine of their last 10 matches in all competitions scoring an average of nearly four goals per game, and are nine points clear of Roma in fifth after their limp 2-0 defeat at AC Milan.
On Thursday they host sixth-placed Napoli, another team looking good following their 3-1 win over SPAL on Sunday -- their fifth league win in a row.
Gennaro Gattuso's side may be 12 points behind Atalanta but the former AC Milan and Italy midfielder looks a solid fit in southern Italy. Triumph in the Italian Cup -- Gattuso's first major honour as a coach -- came after mature performances over both Inter Milan and Juventus.
Two league wins in two have fans hoping for Europe next season and a good showing in August's 'final eight' Champions League tournament in Lisbon.
Rebic pushing Milan towards Europe
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has often stolen the headlines since his return to AC Milan but if the long-ailing club return to Europe this club it could be thanks to another forward -- Ante Rebic.
The Croatian international, on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt, opened the scoring in Milan's 2-0 win over Roma and has scored nine times in his last 12 appearances in all competitions.
Stefano Pioli's outfit are just three points behind Napoli, who hold the last Europa League spot, ahead of Wednesday's trip to SPAL.
Samp's season in the balance
With SPAL and Brescia realistically already down to Serie B, four teams are battling to avoid the third and final spot in the relegation zone.
Still without injured striker Fabio Quagliarella, Sampdoria travel to Lecce on Wednesday hoping to put daylight between themselves and the bottom three after narrowly losing both their matches in June.
Claudio Ranieri's side are fourth-from-bottom, level on 26 points with local rivals Genoa and just a point above promoted Lecce, who are on a run of four straight defeats and conceded four times in both their recent losses to AC Milan and Juventus.
On Sunday Ranieri said that "Sampdoria's whole season is riding on" their cross-country trip to Puglia and the following home clash with SPAL four days later.
With Genoa hosting Juve and Udinese, who are on 28 points and have not won since mid-January, travelling to Roma, Wednesday's match is a great opportunity for both teams to boost their survival hopes.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Torino v Lazio (1730), Genoa v Juventus (1945)
Bologna v Cagliari, Inter Milan v Brescia (both 1730), Fiorentina v Sassuolo, Hellas Verona v Parma, Lecce v Sampdoria, SPAL v AC Milan (all 1945)
Atalanta v Napoli (1730), Roma v Udinese (1945)
© 2020 AFP