Paolo Bandini's Serie A Betting: Higuain Cannot Be Stopped But In-form Lazio Could Halt Napoli


Frosinone - Bologna

Bologna have improved on all fronts under Roberto Donadoni, but it is their away form which is the most striking. The Rossoblu have won four out of five games on their travels since the manager was appointed, and kept a clean sheet in every one of those victories.

I would not necessarily expect them to shut out Frosinone, who, for all their problems, have found the net 15 times in 11 home games. But I do expect Bologna to take all three points at the Stadio Matusa.

Away team to win and both teams to score - 4.75


Empoli - Udinese

A chastening weekend for Empoli, thrashed 5-1 by Napoli despite taking a first-half lead. But this was less a reflection on their failings than the brilliance of the league leaders. Empoli should be grateful for the opportunity to bounce back quickly against opponents who will be missing two-thirds of their starting back three, as both Danilo and Molla Wagué serve suspensions.

Home win - 2.11


Fiorentina - Carpi

Despite reclaiming third, form remains a concern for Fiorentina. They have taken four points from their last four games, and had hoped for more than the one they got on Sunday away to Genoa. They must not take lightly a Carpi side that, despite residing in the relegation zone, is undefeated in five.

On balance, I would still expect the Viola to win. But the odds on that outcome are shorter than I think they should be in light of these clubs’ recent results - not to mention Facundo Roncaglia’s suspension.

Draw - 4.75


Inter - Chievo

Inter’s season is unravelling at a startling pace. Top of the table at Christmas, they have now slid to fourth while taking just five points from their last six Serie A fixtures. Most alarming of all, for a team whose early season success was founded on defensive solidity, they have conceded three goals to both Milan and Juventus in the last week.

Chievo pose less of an attacking threat, and especially now that Alberto Paloschi has been sold, but they have taken points off Juventus, Roma and Lazio this season. On the other hand, their form is identical to Inter’s over the last six games and I worry that they, too, are entering a slump. The odds on the Nerazzurri are just long enough to merit backing them here. 

Home win - 1.55


Juventus - Genoa

Not even an injury to Mario Mandzukic could slow down Juventus, who smashed Chievo 4-0 on Sunday and now have the chance to set a new club record as they pursue a 13th consecutive league win. Genoa have improved in recent weeks, but the departure of Diego Perotti - so important to the team’s build-up play - does manager Gian Piero Gasperini no favours, and especially when facing opponents who have kept five consecutive clean sheets between league and cup.

Home team to win without conceding - 1.73


Lazio - Napoli

The most intriguing match of the midweek round takes place in Rome, where Lazio have quietly returned to form after a disastrous two-month spell from October into December. Their present seven-match unbeaten run in Serie A includes wins over both Inter and Fiorentina.

Between injury and suspension Lazio are missing almost an entire starting XI, with the likes of Stefan De Vrij, Lucas Biglia, Filip Djordjevic, Stefan Radu, Alessandro Matri, Danilo Cataldi and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic all absent, and yet there is still enough talent here to cause an upset. Whether there is enough to slow down Gonzalo Higuaín is another question entirely.

Higuaín to score - 2.23


Palermo - Milan

After a morale-boosting win in the derby, Milan must demonstrate that they can perform to a similar level in a less emotive fixture. The Rossoneri have lost only once in any competition since being sunk by Juventus in November, but they have thrown away too many points cheaply in draws against relegation battlers such as Carpi and Verona.

The goals have tended to flow freely in recent appointments with Palermo, and I suspect they might do so again. Only three teams have conceded more often than the Sicilians this season, and Carlos Bacca arrives in red-hot form, with a goal in each of his last four games.

Bacca to score (any time) and Milan to win - 3.60


Sampdoria - Torino

Fabio Quagliarella travelled to Genoa as a Torino player, but if he plays on Wednesday night it will be for their opponents. Loaned to Sampdoria on the final day of the transfer window, he is eligible to start against his parent club and it was noteworthy that Vincenzo Montella should shift team training from the morning to the afternoon on Monday to allow the striker could take part.

Samp need a lift from somewhere, after losing seven of their first 10 games under their new manager. Of greater concern than the attack is a defence that is now statistically the second-worst in the league, and which has conceded at least twice in all of their last five matches.

Both teams to score - 1.89


Verona - Atalanta

Winless they might still be, but Verona have at least become hard to beat, drawing four of their past six. Atalanta have fewer points over the same stretch and have scored only six times all season away from home. Could this be the occasion, then, for Verona’s first win? Perhaps, but I’m going to have a hard time justifying them as favourites in any fixture as long until they achieve that particular landmark.

Draw - 3.20