Sampdoria v Udinese Saturday, 17:00 Live on Betfair Live Video
It isn't a fixture that leaps out of you. But make no mistake one of the major storylines of the weekend in Serie A is due to unfold at the Luigi Ferraris on Saturday evening. If Fabio Quagliarella scores for a 11th straight game he will match the record Gabriel Batistuta set in 1994. The veteran striker who turns 36 next week is in the form of his life and can expect to be recalled to the Italy squad for the March internationals.
Historically Quagliarella is ruthless against his former clubs and when he scored against Juventus before the winter break belief in his ability to challenge Batigol's record really began to take off. Curiously though the spectacular Neapolitan has struggled to make a mark against Udinese since moving to Samp three years ago. He has scored against them for other clubs. But never for the Blucerchiati.
Quagliarella's teammates will do everything possible to ensure he doesn't fire a blank this weekend. Recently Samp have had no problem pushing Udinese to one side. They have lost only one of their last 13 games against the Zebrette at Marassi, which has become something of a fortress under Marco Giampaolo. Since December Europa League chasing Samp have taken nine points from nine at home without conceding a single goal.
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Champions League play-off
Milan v Napoli Saturday, 19:30 Live on Eleven Sports 2 and Betfair Live Video
So far it's been a positive week for AC Milan. Monday's win in Genoa meant Rino Gattuso's side reclaimed fourth spot while on Thursday the club unveiled another big January signing, Krzysztof Piatek. The Pole is only one goal behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the Serie A scoring charts and has been the revelation of season so far in Italy. Expected to make his debut in Saturday night's big game, Milan still have their work cut out for them if they are to get a result against Napoli.
It's common to hear people say Juventus are in a league of their own. However, the same can also be said of the Partenopei. Carlo Ancelotti's side may be nine points behind the champions but are also seven points ahead of Inter in third. In terms of performance, Napoli have only ever done better on two other occasions; the club's first title defence in 1987-88 and last year under Maurizio Sarri.
Going to San Siro to play Milan holds no fear for them. Napoli have won three of their last five visits to the Giuseppe Meazza. In August they came back from 2-0 down to beat Milan 3-2 with a stunning second half display in Fuorigrotta. Napoli fans also firmly believe their Polish striker is better than the one who has just signed for Milan. Arkadiusz Milik has scored 11 goals in 12 starts this season and is making a habit of winning games with clutch free-kicks. Take Napoli to win @2.10.
Champions League play-off
Atalanta v Roma Sunday, 14:00 Live on Betfair Live Video
Quagliarella isn't the only one gunning for Batistuta's record. Duvan Zapata is currently the hottest striker in Europe's top five leagues. The Colombian has scored in eight consecutive games and hit four in a 5-0 win against Frosinone last weekend. Only two teams - Samp and Sunday's opponent's Roma - have scored more goals than Zapata since the start of December. His form could well be the difference in deciding fourth spot this season.
Milan hope Piatek can fire them to Champions League qualification but it remains to be seen if he can perform under greater pressure and be decisive in big games. Advanced metrics demonstrate the Pole has scored four more goals than expected and six of his 13 strikes have come against the bottom five teams in Serie A.
As for Roma, Eusebio di Francesco's side are the league's most prolific team at home and have shared the goals around 16 different players this season. But Edin Dzeko's form remains a concern. Only Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi scored more goals than him in the Champions League group stage but the Bosnian has found the net just twice in Serie A.
Sunday's game in Bergamo has the feel of a Champions League play-off. If a victor emerges the momentum and belief derived from the win could prove crucial. They would take the points, the edge on head-to-head and will reasonably expect to gain on Milan and Lazio who play the top two. Atalanta hammered Inter 4-1 here in November and were unlucky to draw 2-2 against 10-man Juventus before the winter break. Take Gian Piero Gasperini's side to win @2.30.
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