Carpi – Torino
Fabrizio Castori became the first Serie A manager to lose his job this season when he was sacked by Carpi on Monday. The club’s fans responded by hanging a banner in the centre of town with the words “CAstori immortAl” – the capping up of the letter ‘A’ in each word reminding the world that he was the one who took them into the Italian top-flight for the first time.
Into his shoes steps Beppe Sannino, a man with a mixed record in relegation battles. He begins with a daunting fixture against a Torino side who have played out of their skins lately. The visitors are missing a host of players, from the suspended Joel Obi and Cristian Molinaro through to the injured Daniele Baselli, Bruno Peres, Nikola Maksimovic and Danilo Avelar, but will still boast the more talented XI.
Away win – 2.20
Chievo – Verona
Just six games into the new season, an eight point gulf exists between these two neighbours. For Chievo, the Derby della Scala offers an opportunity to reinforce their local superiority whilst maintaining an improbable early position among the Europe-chasing pack. For Verona, the hope must simply be for a win that could jump-start their season.
The hosts are in far better shape. Whilst Verona are without their one difference-maker, Luca Toni, Chievo are missing only Paul-Jose M’Poku – yet to make his first appearance for the club. And the Flying Donkeys have not soared up to seventh by accident. A study this week found that their players have run further than those of any other team in this Serie A campaign.
Home win – 2.10
Empoli – Sassuolo
The only unbeaten team left in Serie A, Sassuolo have collected seven points from three away games so far and are surprisingly generous odds to add another three in Tuscany. Although the visitors are missing Francesco Acerbi in defence, they hope to have Paolo Cannavaro back from injury and can expect better things from Domenico Berardi as he recaptures full fitness up front as well. All this, while Empoli are forced to do without Ricky Saponara – their leading scorer, assist-man and all-around best player.
Away win – 3.00
Palermo – Roma
The murmurs of discontent grew a whole lot louder at Roma this week following a humiliating defeat to BATE Borisov, a result described by Gazzetta dello Sport as “the lowest point of [Rudi Garcia’s] tenure”. Since beating CSKA Moscow in his first Champions League match with the club last September, the Frenchman has presided over a run of four defeats and three draws in the competition. Roma have conceded 17 goals along the way.
He cannot right those European wrongs on Sunday, but a win might raise the morale of a group that is struggling. Palermo have lost momentum themselves lately, losing three on the bounce, but they have tasted defeat only once in their last six home games against Roma and the visitors are still missing Edin Dzeko, Francesco Totti and Seydou Keita.
Draw – 3.45
Sampdoria – Inter
With their perfect start to the season now ended, this might be the moment in which we learn what Inter are made of. The Nerazzurri’s next game is the Derby d’Italia against Juventus, and they have a match against Roma to look forward to before the end of the month.
Samp have collected maximum points at home so far this season and have lost at the Marassi just twice in their last 22 league matches there. They still boast the league’s most prolific player, Eder now boasting six goals in as many games, while Inter are missing their own top scorer, Stevan Jovetic.
Eder to score and Samp to win – 8.00
Udinese – Genoa
Each of these teams doubled their points tally with a win last weekend, but both might yet face long seasons ahead unless performances improve. Goals are not coming easily for either of them, and Udinese’s victory over Bologna was marred by a thigh injury to leading scorer Duvan Zapata – who could be out for two months. Antonio Di Natale steps back in to replace him, but is yet to find the net this season. The 37-year-old is slowing down, but his drought will not go on forever.
Di Natale to score – 2.85
Juventus – Bologna
Will a big win in Europe finally launch Juventus’s season? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. To be fair, the Bianconeri did follow up their win over City a fortnight ago by claiming their first Serie A victory of the campaign, away to Genoa. Unfortunately, they then went on to drop points against Frosinone and Napoli.
But there are good reasons to believe that this week’s Sevilla win could be a turning point, not least because it marked the debut of Sami Khedira. They ought to win comfortably against struggling Bologna.
Home team to win with a one-goal handicap – 1.67
Lazio – Frosinone
Since losing 5-0 to Napoli, Lazio have gone on to win their next three games across all competitions. Despite a minus-three goal difference they have already risen to fifth in the table and have options up front again now that Filip Djordjevic is back to full health and alternating with Alessandro Matri.
Frosinone, though, are also on the rise, following up their draw away to Juventus with a win over Empoli. They have been increasingly resolute at the back, but might struggle to punch through Lazio’s defence with an attack that continues to look overmatched at this level.
Under 2.5 goals – 2.18
Milan – Napoli
If Lazio have rebounded strongly from their thrashing by Napoli, then the Partenopei have used it as a springboard as well. Between Serie A and the Europa League, their last five matches have yielded four wins and one draw, with 14 goals scored and only one conceded.
Before wagering on them to beat Milan, though, you might also want to consider that Napoli are yet to win an away game in the league under Maurizio Sarri. And the Rossoneri, who will likely start Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano up front after Mario Balotelli missed time in training with a muscle injury, have won both of their home games. With potent attacks and uncertain defences on both sides, the only thing I really feel confident of is goals.
Over 2.5 goals – 1.82
Fiorentina – Atalanta
Thursday night’s visit to Portugal could not have gone much better for Fiorentina, whose 4-0 rout of Belenenses was capped with a first goal in 501 days for Giuseppe Rossi. It speaks to the strength of Paulo Sousa’s team that the Italy striker will likely be obliged to return to the bench against Atalanta, making way for Nikola Kalinic – who can hardly be expected to relinquish his own place after scoring a hat-trick against Inter last weekend.
Atalanta have quietly put together an impressive run of their own, though, going five games without defeat and beating Sampdoria last weekend. Fiorentina are rightly favourites, but given the potential for fatigue after their midweek exploits, the odds on their victory look a little too short to me.
Draw – 3.90