Pitting together two of the teams promoted to the top flight last year, three points from this encounter could go a long way to ensuring the hosts' survival, while their hapless visitors from Calabria need both a win and a miracle to avoid demotion in May.
Despite an eventful defeat to Lazio last time out, 16th-placed Spezia remain seven points clear of the Serie A drop zone and in contention to extend their first-ever spell at the elite level of Italian football.
After Lazio's last-gasp winner through Felipe Caicedo's coolly-taken penalty secured a 2-1 win for the capital club last weekend, there were two red cards shown due to a stoppage-time brawl - with the hosts being reduced to nine men for the final moments.
As former Roma youth product Daniele Verde had forced a merited equaliser for Vincenzo Italiano's men with a spectacular bicycle kick in the 73rd minute - surely a strong contender for the goal of the season award - the loss came as a bitter blow to the expectation-defying outfit.
In their last five games, the Aquilotti have picked up only four points - winning against Cagliari, drawing with Benevento, but losing to top-four contenders Juventus, Atalanta and Lazio - so will be eager to capitalise on home advantage this weekend.
At their Ligurian headquarters, Spezia have gone unbeaten in four games, with two successes and two draws on home turf helping the Bianconeri keep their heads above water in spite of an ever-worsening defensive record; conceding 53 goals represents the third-worst tally in the league.
That rearguard fragility was starkly illustrated when Italiano's side last met Crotone, in December, as they were surprisingly crushed 4-1 at Stadio Ezio Scida while sitting comfortably in mid-table.
Having posted just three other wins in the entire campaign, Crotone remain bottom of the table and are currently nine points from safety – one further away than when colourful head coach Serse Cosmi first arrived in the dugout last month.
Nonetheless, last week's loss - already their 22nd of the season - against high-fliers Napoli was ultimately a close-run affair, despite the two teams being separated by 38 points before kickoff.
Having pulled level at 3-3 in the second half after being outclassed by their Neapolitan hosts in the first, the Squali only lost their 13th out of 15 matches in 2021 due to Giovanni Di Lorenzo's uncharacteristic left-footed strike.
After being mauled by Atalanta in Cosmi's first game, Crotone had bounced back with a 4-2 win over relegation rivals Torino before losing their next fixture at Lazio, having been level until the 84th minute. They also led Bologna by two goals before falling to another late defeat just before the international break.
Though former Perugia boss Cosmi sets his team up in a similar 3-5-2 formation to the now-departed Giovanni Stroppa, his more direct approach has got the best out of his forwards, if not done anything to shore up one of the leakiest defences on the continent.
Nigeria international Simy has been restored to the first XI and has registered eight goals over the last five matches, while the underrated Junior Messias has now struck twice in a row - up to eight this season, with four assists.
Once averaging under a goal per game, thanks to their front pair's return to form Crotone have bagged 12 in their last five – despite facing several top-seven sides during that run.
Against Spezia's comparatively weak back line on Saturday, they should fancy their chances of finding the net again and even pulling off a seasonal double over their Ligurian counterparts.
Spezia coach Vincenzo Italiano must make a call over whether to bring in top scorer M'Bala Nzola - recently capped by Angola for the first time - at the expense of young Roberto Piccoli up front, while last week's goalscorer Daniele Verde also threatens the place of Diego Farias in the hosts' front three.
Although he will be without Federico Mattiello, Juan Ramos, Riccardo Saponara - with an ankle issue - and potentially Nahuel Estevez, the attack-minded Italiano is expected to select a relatively settled lineup, with Jeroen Zoet likely to keep the goalkeeper's jersey ahead of previous COVID-19 victim Ivan Provedel.
Crotone, meanwhile, have Jacopo Petriccione back after suspension and he should replace Niccolo Zanellato in midfield, though Portuguese winger Pedro Pereira must serve a ban on Saturday after accumulating too many yellow cards.
Serse Cosmi is likely to retain the rest of the side that pushed Napoli so close, with in-form striker Simy set to lead the line again and support coming from tricky forward Adam Ounas and his favourite foil Junior Messias.
Spezia possible starting lineup:
Zoet; Ferrer, Erlic, Terzi, Bastoni; Sena, Ricci, Maggiore; Verde, Nzola, Gyasi
Crotone possible starting lineup:
Cordaz; Djidji, Golemic, Luperto; Molina, Petriccione, Benali, Messias, Reca; Ounas, Simy
We say: Spezia 1-2 Crotone
Cosmi's Crotone can pick up just their fifth win of the season, which may come too late to stoke realistic ambitions of survival, but could pull their erstwhile Serie B colleagues Spezia closer within range.
The visitors' goalscoring potential now matches that of their hosts and the Bianconeri are still flaky at the back due to a progressive policy which does not always bear fruit - as they average barely over a goal per game at home this term.
body check tags ::