Paolo Bandini’s Serie A Betting: Juve on the cusp of record title but Fiorentina’s away form could cost them Europa League place


SATURDAY

Chievo - Roma

You know we’ve reached the end of the season when players are posting videos of themselves singing odes to their opponents on Instagram. Chievo’s Lucas Castro, Nicolás Spolli and Mariano Izco used that medium to deliver a special homage to Francesco Totti ahead of his last away game in Serie A. Whether or not he will actually get onto the pitch, as Roma continue to defend second place, is entirely uncertain.



The Giallorossi can apply a tiny bit of pressure on Juventus with a victory - closing the gap down to one point at the top - though realistically the title race is done. Either way, this is a game Roma ought to win easily. Chievo are not only demob happy but also missing as many as four starters - including Spolli - through injury.

Three-way handicap: starts 1-0, away win - 1.55

 

Napoli - Fiorentina

Fiorentina have closed to within a point of the Europa League places, but if they ultimately fall short then their away form will be to blame. They have taken one win from seven on their travels, and conceded at least twice in five of those games - including a 2-0 defeat away to Palermo.

What hope can we give them, then, of stymying Serie A’s most prolific attack: a team who just put five goals past Torino for the second time this season? And especially when Fiorentina will be missing their best centre-back, Davide Astori, through suspension, as well as the steadying influence of Borja Valero in midfield?

Total goals by home team: over 2.5 - 1.76

 

SUNDAY

Milan - Bologna

The conspiracy theories which claim that Milan are trying to avoid qualifying for the Europa League are most likely wide of the mark. This is a team which lacks coherence, not cojones, as demonstrated by second-half comebacks to snatch draws against Atalanta and Crotone.

Bologna have been enjoying their football since they pulled clear of the relegation scrap, scoring 10 times in their last four matches. If they keep up this approach, then they should pose some problems for Milan’s flaky defence. Actually taking points off their hosts, though, is another matter.

Home team to win and both teams to score- 2.75

 

Empoli - Atalanta

With their advantage over 18th-placed Crotone now trimmed to a single point, Empoli are under pressure. The return of Guido Marilungo, their leading provider of assists, to training this week was an unexpected boost, but top scorer Levan Mchedlidze remains sidelined by a knee injury.

Of course, some would argue that Atalanta’s qualification for Europe was the best news Empoli could receive before this game - increasing the likelihood that the Bergamo club may take their foot off the pedal. But Gian Piero Gasperini’s still need one more point to be certain of bypassing the preliminary rounds. And they have only lost once since 15 January.

Draw - 3.5

 

Genoa - Torino

Genoa, too, have been drawn into the relegation battle, a fact highlighted by the president Enrico Preziosi’s visit to the training ground on Thursday. Just one point ahead of Empoli, their form is far worse than that of either the Tuscans or Crotone. They have taken just four points in nine matches.

Although Torino have no targets left to play for, it is hard to imagine a Sinisa Mihajlovic-led team failing to deliver some kind of reaction after their 5-0 thrashing by Napoli. The Granata had previously been on a decent run, too - undefeated since mid-March and denied a derby win over Juventus only by an injury-time equaliser.

Draw no bet: away win - 3.0

 

Juventus - Crotone

So, here it is: beat Crotone on Sunday and Juventus will secure their record-breaking sixth-consecutive Scudetto. It will be fascinating to see how the Bianconeri line up. Massimiliano Allegri has rotated his side heavily over the past three games in order to conserve starters’ energy for cup appointments. Juventus have endured two draws and a defeat as a result.

Crotone, meanwhile, are on an improbable tear. The 17 points they have taken over the last seven matches are the joint-most in Serie A, and five more than Allegri’s team. Could they spring one more upset in Turin? I doubt it. But they might give it a better go than some expect.

Home team to win and both teams to score - 3.4

Sassuolo - Cagliari

Finally Sassuolo are back to being the team they were last season, an up-tempo and opportunistic collective who could unsettle most opponents with their directness and verve. They are unbeaten in six despite conceding at least once in all of those games. Theirs should be an entertaining clash with a similarly attack-minded Cagliari team.

Over 2.5 goals - 1.5

 

Udinese - Sampdoria

Whilst neither of these teams stands to gain or lose much on Sunday, Udinese are in markedly better form - taking 11 points from their last five home games. Sampdoria have not won anywhere since they beat Inter on 3 April.

Home win - 2.05

 

Lazio - Inter

As if there was not enough dysfunction at Inter to be getting on with, sporting director Piero Ausilio heaped some more fuel onto the fire on Thursday. During a speech at the University of Milan, he criticised his club’s lack of planning, suggested that the lines of communication between owners and directors were not good enough and said that there was insufficient solidarity between players.

The Nerazzurri might already have been eliminated from Europa League contention by the time this game kicks off, but even if not it is hard to find grounds for optimism for a side that has taken one point from seven games.

Home win - 2.0

 

MONDAY

Pescara - Palermo

Both relegated, and both locked into their respective positions, Pescara and Palermo are playing out the string. The Sicilians have actually picked up a couple of surprising victories in the last month, overcoming Fiorentina as well as a Genoa side still fighting for survival. They have not won away from home, admittedly, since December, but Pescara have only beaten one team all season on the pitch, (their victory over Sassuolo was awarded) so why not embrace the more generous odds in this equation?

Away win - 3.0