Crisis clubs Inter, Roma face-off
Inter Milan and Roma will aim to put mediocre starts to the season behind them when they meet on Saturday at the San Siro, when defeat for either club could set alarm bells ringing.
Inter have played two and lost two so far this season, including a humiliating home loss to rank outsiders Trabzonspor in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday. Roma have two defeats and a draw from their three games and have already been eliminated from the UEFA Europa League.
Gian Piero Gasperini and Luis Enrique are both desperate for a victory to set them back on the right path, or else the already significant pressure building on each coach will only intensify.
Inter boss Gasperini has not only had to deal with two defeats but also sharp criticism of his tactics having chosen to play three at the back in their 4-3 defeat at Palermo last Sunday. He changed to a back four against Trabzonspor but to no avail as Inter, the European champions in 2010, succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to the Turks.
Inter president Massimo Moratti denied his coach's position was under threat, but he got rid of Rafael Benitez last season despite the Spaniard having just led Inter to victory in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Gasperini admitted time is of the essence: "I'm well aware the club's confidence is not unlimited, we have to get results quickly because if we don't our problems will grow. I need to find the key to getting results right now but after an unlucky match like the one (against Trabzonspor) it becomes even more difficult to understand how to win points."
Roma's new American owners have publicly backed Enrique but the overly demanding Roman press, and also the club's fans, have already been on his back. As if getting knocked out of Europe by Slovakian minnows Slovan Bratislava wasn't enough, losing at home to a Cagliari side expected to struggle this season shows the task facing the Spaniard.
Enrique has also had to deal with the gripes of captain Francesco Totti, who made no secret of his displeasure against Bratislava when he was a substitute in one game and replaced in the other. Roma icon Totti, however, has openly attempted to quash rumours of a rift with Enrique by urging supporters to get behind team and coach.
North-south rivals meet
Elsewhere Napoli face an early test of their title credentials as they host champions AC Milan on Sunday night. Both sides earned impressive away draws in the Champions League in midweek, Milan securing a 2-2 draw in Barcelona and Napoli also claiming a point in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
Napoli started the league season rather better than Milan, who drew 2-2 at home to Lazio, as they won 3-1 at Cesena. Last season Napoli's form against their title rivals was what ultimately cost them, picking up just one point from their four matches against the two Milan giants.
Taking away the direct clashes between the top three, Napoli garnered more points than both their rivals. After their midweek result they should be looking to pose a threat when up against the best of domestic opposition this season.
Leaders of the embryonic league table, Juventus will hope to continue their fine start to the campaign as they travel to newly-promoted Siena.
Another newly-promoted side, Atalanta, face Palermo - currently being led by interim-coach Devis Mangia - looking to close the gap at the bottom.
Following a draw at Genoa on the opening week of the season, Atalanta sit bottom with minus five points having begun the season with a six-point penalty for their role in a betting scandal.