Paolo Bandini's Serie A Betting: Napoli To Be Breached Again, But Still Win


Friday

Juventus - Sassuolo

Three points clear with 10 games to go, Juventus have only dropped two in their last 18. But it was Sassuolo who inflicted the champions’ most recent Serie A defeat, and the Neroverdi come into this fixture on the back of three straight victories. Although missing joint-top scorer Gregoire Defrel through suspension, they still boast viable threats in Domenico Berardi and Nicola Sansone.

Juventus may rotate, with one eye on Wednesday’s visit to Bayern Munich, but theirs will still be a strong team. Gigi Buffon has kept nine consecutive clean sheets and stands just 93 minutes shy of the all-time Serie A record for longest run without conceding. So call this a hunch, rather than a certainty, but I have a suspicion that Sassuolo - who scored away to Napoli and Roma this season - are going to find a way past him.

 Both teams to score - 2.50

 

Saturday

Empoli - Sampdoria

UC Sampdoria v Frosinone Calcio - Serie A : News Photo

A fortnight ago, Sampdoria were teetering on the brink of the relegation zone. Now, after seeing off Frosinone and Verona, they have a chance to leapfrog 11th-placed Empoli.

Quite a good chance, at that. Empoli’s season has not just come off the rails at this point but slammed into the side of a tunnel. The Tuscans are winless in nine games and without a point from their last four. They will once again have to do without starting centre-back Lorenzo Tonelli, and to me the odds look tempting on a Samp team that has the bit between its teeth.

Away win - 3.50

 

Inter - Bologna

The goals have dried up for Bologna, but Roberto Donadoni’s side have offset such struggles by ensuring that their opponents endure similar difficulties. All of the Rossoblu’s last three matches have ended 0-0. Not since January have they been involved in a game in which either team scores more than once.

Inter are trending in the opposite direction, their matches becoming more open as the season progresses. But given that this Bologna team denied Juventus even a single shot on target three weeks ago - something that no other side had done in five years - I am inclined to trust in their ability to set the terms of the encounter.

Under 2.5 goals - 1.74

 

Sunday

Chievo - Milan

AC Milan v US Alessandria - Tim Cup : News Photo

A single loss at the end of a 12-game undefeated sequence is hardly a disaster. But Milan’s run of success, which came to a halt against Sassuolo last Sunday, had been inspired in significant part by the pairing of M’Baye Niang and Carlos Bacca up front. Fans cannot help but feel unsettled that defeat should arrive in the very first match after Niang was injured.

Will Mario Balotelli get another chance alongside Bacca this weekend, or will Sinisa Mihajlovic prefer the fit-again Luiz Adriano? Would either partnership function smoothly enough to take down opponents who have only once at home since November?

Double chance - home win or draw - 1.86

 

Carpi - Frosinone

As anticipated, both Carpi and Frosinone have found the going tough in their first-ever seasons of top-flight football. But as we enter the home stretch, neither is sunk quite yet. A win for the visitors would lift them out of the relegation zone - at least until Palermo play on Sunday evening. Carpi, meanwhile, could pull to within a point of these opponents with a victory.

The hosts are listed as clear favourites. But should they be? True enough, Frosinone have the worst away record of any team in the division. But Carpi have claimed the second-fewest points at home. They are, furthermore, missing a host of players, including starting centre-forward Jerry Mbakogu, and have not beaten anyone for almost two months. Frosinone have won three of their last six.

Draw no bet: away win - 3.10

 

Fiorentina - Verona

ACF Fiorentina v SSC Napoli - Serie A : News Photo

It has been a damaging few weeks for Fiorentina, eliminated from the Europa League and then dumped out of the top three with a thrashing by Roma. But all is not yet lost. A three-point gap to the Giallorossi is hardly insurmountable, and this could be the perfect opportunity to restore morale. Over the last fortnight, Verona have lost to relegation rivals Udinese and Sampdoria by a combined 5-0 scoreline.

Home team to win with a one-goal handicap - 1.77

 

Genoa - Torino

Home form has been essential to Genoa this season. Since losing the Derby della Lanterna at the start of the year, the Grifone have not been beaten again at the Marassi. That is unlikely to change on Sunday against opponents who have two wins to show for their last 15 matches in all competitions, and who have not won here since 1981. But with both teams edging towards safety, a cautious stalemate seems eminently possible.

Draw - 3.05

 

Udinese - Roma

FBL-EUR-C1-REALMADRID-ROMA : News Photo

Luciano Spalletti was furious at the end of Roma’s loss to Real Madrid in midweek, accusing his team of mental weakness after they missed a series of golden chances to score early and give themselves a hope in the tie. Shabby finishing aside, though, this was another highly accomplished performance from the Giallorossi, who have won seven straight in Serie A to put themselves back in the Scudetto conversation.

Only a truly wasteful afternoon from Roma’s forwards could deny them a further triumph against Udinese. The hosts average fewer than one goal per game at home.

Away win - 1.85

 

Lazio - Atalanta

Italy’s last remaining Europa League representatives, Lazio battled to a useful 1-1 draw away to Sparta Prague on Thursday but may suffer for it - with both Keita and Stefan Radu appearing to play through injuries after all substitutions had been used. Atalanta have not won since early December but, given the Biancocelesti have taken all three points only twice in seven matches played immediately after European fixtures, I am tempted to think the odds on a home win are too short.

Draw - 3.90

 

Palermo - Napoli

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-NAPOLI-CHIEVO : News Photo

Yet another new manager for Palermo, Walter Novellino succeeding Beppe Iachini amidst complaints from the club’s fans that owner Maurizio Zamparini is already making plans for life in Serie B. The Sicilians have not actually been in the relegation zone all season, but now sit just one point clear after collecting a total of two from their past six games.

A miracle against Napoli seems unlikely, given that the visitors are back to winning ways and no longer have the additional strain of European football pulling on their squad’s resources. With all that being said, Palermo could at least trouble the scorekeepers. Napoli have not kept a clean sheet in six matches.

Away win and both teams to score - 2.80