Inter - Milan
At long last, Silvio Berlusconi’s sale of Milan is complete - just in time for the Derby della Madonnina. Lǐ Yǒnghóng will be present at San Siro for his first game as owner, and recent form suggests he might enjoy the experience. Inter are coming off successive defeats to Sampdoria and Crotone, whereas Milan looked reinvigorated by the return of Suso in their 4-0 rout of Palermo.
The counter-point is that Inter have lost just once in 12 meetings with Milan when playing as the home side in their shared stadium. It is hard to imagine them playing with such little conviction as they did last weekend, but still, I find it hard to justify them as significant favourites. They are two points behind Milan in the table.
Away win - 3.60
Genoa - Lazio
Lazio’s hopes of a Champions League berth were all but dashed by last week’s defeat to Napoli, but if nothing else they should be able to pick themselves back up off the floor against this flatlining Genoa.
The hosts have lost four games straight - conceding eight goals in the last two - and have just seen their most reliable player, Armando Izzo, suspended for 18 months as part of a match-fixing investigation. He maintains his innocence, and is expected to appeal, but for this weekend, at least, will be absent from a team that was struggling enough already as it is.
Three-way handicap: starts 1-0, away win - 2.70
Pescara - Juventus
Matches between Juventus and Zdenek Zeman-managed teams always carry a little extra spice, with fans of the Old Lady yet to forgive him for provoking a doping investigation into their club when he remarked on the “muscular explosions” of certain players back in 1998.
But emnity off the pitch is unlikely to translate to drama on it. Juventus are soaring after their 3-0 win over Barcelona on Tuesday, and the only risk here is that they take their eye off the ball as they look towards the second leg. Even with a rotated side, though, I could not imagine the coming unstuck against opponents who have conceded more than two goals per game at home.
Three-way handicap, first half. Starts 1-0, away win - 3.70
Fiorentina - Empoli
Suddenly, Empoli are at risk. A team that has scored just 18 times in 31 games had looked set to survive by virtue of the paucity of the teams below them, but consecutive victories by Crotone have changed the picture. Now the gap is down to three points.
They are unlikely to widen it this weekend, as they make the short trip to face a Fiorentina team that is unbeaten at home. Neither of the players expected to start up front for Empoli - Mame Thiam and Guido Marilungo - has a league goal to their name yet this season.
Home team to win without conceding - 2.18
Torino - Crotone
So, can Crotone maintain their late push for survival? Even after upsetting Inter, this fixture feels daunting. Only two teams - Juventus and Roma - are more prolific on their own turf than Torino, for whom Andrea Belotti is battling to be crowned as Serie A’s capocannoniere.
Still, don’t expect the visitors to go quietly. Diego Falcinelli might not be keeping step with Belotti, but his 11 goals are almost as impressive when you consider how few opportunities his team generate. He can expect a least one or two against Torino, who have conceded the fourth-most goals in the division.
Falcinelli to score - 4.00
Cagliari - Chievo
Six years. That’s how far you would have to go back to find a match between these sides in which both teams put the ball in the net. Since then, they have met nine times and scored nine goals between them. Do not count on a thriller at the Stadio Sant’Elia.
At least one team fails to score - 2.12
Palermo - Bologna
Palermo have conceded three or more goals in each of their last five Serie A matches. That run, at least, ought to end against opponents who have scored 13 times away from home all season.
This is the classic end-of-season game where you might expect the team still scrapping against relegation to overcome the one drifting in mid-table through sheer motivation. But Palermo have been so bad lately that I wouldn’t want to count on it. I do think, though, that their desperation for three points might lead to an open game.
Over 2.5 goals - 1.90
Roma - Atalanta
The good news for Roma is that Atalanta will line up at the Stadio Olimpico without their suspended top scorer, Papu Gomez. The bad news is that they have not beaten these opponents since 2014. Given that this is easily the best Atalanta team in that stretch, I find it tough to abide such long odds on the upset.
Draw no bet: away win - 5.00
Sassuolo - Sampdoria
For all the justifiable buzz around Patrik Schick, it is Fabio Quagliarella who has done the most to drive Sampdoria’s forward momentum over the last couple of months - scoring four times in seven matches and serving as the focal point for his team’s attacking play. News that he limped out of training on Thursday touching his left calf, then, was not exactly what fans wanted to hear.
At time of writing, his status for Saturday’s game is uncertain, making this a tricky betting proposition. Without Quagliarella, Schick would either need to lead the line on his own or be paired with the underwhelming Ante Budimir. I would rule out a Sampdoria triumph in any case - Sassuolo haven’t won at home since January - but it may be helpful to eliminate the draw from consideration.
Draw no bet: away win - 2.28
Napoli - Udinese
Udinese are enjoying their end to the season. Not only have they taken 11 points from their last five games, but they have scored 13 goals along the way. Of course, they have also only kept a single clean sheet in that stretch. Against a Napoli team who are both devastating in attack and prone to lapses at the back, it is a potentially heady mix.
Home team to win and both teams to score - 2.75