Paolo Bandini's Serie A Betting: Napoli To Beat Lazio In Third-Place Playoff


Sunday

Cagliari – Udinese

At last, Simone Scuffet is set to make his first start of the season for Udinese. The 18-year-old goalkeeper starred when thrust into the line-up last spring but was subsequently consigned to the bench for the entirety of this campaign, ostensibly because his manager Andrea Stramaccioni did not want to put too much pressure on, too soon.

Scuffet will be eager to remind us of his qualities ahead of a summer when he is expected to be packed off on loan. His prospects of a clean sheet are not bad against opponents with the worst home record in the league.

Total goals by home team: under 0.5 – 5.25

 

Roma – Palermo

SS Lazio v AS Roma - Serie A : News Photo

Victory over Lazio in the Derby della Capitale has allowed Roma to put their feet up. With second place secured, the Giallorossi did not return to training until Thursday – and even then their session of a far lower intensity than those conducted over the previous fortnight.

Palermo will similarly be lacking in urgency, even if they could still theoretically achieve a top-half finish with a win. I’m not sure this is a great game to bet on, but given the shortage of motivation on both sides, the price on a stalemate might be a little too long.

Draw – 5.15

 

Sampdoria – Parma

A draw should be enough to secure Sampdoria’s place in next season’s Europa League qualifiers. They can no longer catch Genoa in sixth place, but probably do not need to, since the latter applied too late for their Uefa licence and appear unlikely to be granted one on appeal. Instead, Samp must simply make sure they finish seventh – for which a point here will suffice.

Given that Parma have not won on the road since September, it ought to be easily achieved. But Samp continue to struggle for goals at home. They have scored only eight times in their last 10 matches at the Marassi, and just one in three since Eder has been out injured.

Under 2.5 goals – 2.65

 

Napoli – Lazio

Empoli FC v SSC Napoli - Serie A : News Photo

Napoli briefly tried to postpone news of Rafa Benítez’s departure, insisting that his future would not be discussed at a scheduled press conference on Thursday. In the end, they acknowledged that the cat was already out of the bag. Benítez is moving on, and quite possibly to Real Madrid, but has the opportunity to depart on a high note. Beat Lazio, and Napoli will leapfrog the Biancocelesti into third place, claiming a spot in the Champions League’s playoff round by virtue of a head-to-head tie-breaker.

In three meetings so far this season, there has been little to choose between the sides. Napoli won the previous league encounter 1-0 in Rome, but lost 2-1 on aggregate in the Coppa Italia semi-final – after being defeated at home in the second leg. They are missing the suspended Miguel Britos in defence, but Lazio will have to do without the influential Lucas Biglia once again in midfield.

The Biancocelesti have played the better football in 2015, and in my opinion possess the more balanced team. But consecutive defeats cannot have done wonders for their confidence. And conquering the San Paolo twice in one season is not easily achieved. 

Home win – 2.10

 

Torino – Cesena

Torino’s dreams of a second consecutive season in European competition have finally been extinguished. They ought not to be disheartened. To reach the last-16 of the Europa League and finish in the top-half of Serie A still represents an admirable achievement for such a small and modestly-paid squad. Giampiero Ventura’s side ought to conclude the season on a high note with a comfortable win over relegated opponents who have lost their last four in a row.

Torino to win despite a one-goal handicap – 1.92

 

Fiorentina – Chievo

Guaranteed a top-six finish, Fiorentina will be involved in the Europa League next season but could theoretically still be dropped into the qualifying rounds if Genoa were to overtake them this weekend and win their Uefa licence on appeal.

More probable is the scenario in which Fiorentina beat Chievo, removing any notional risk. Do not necessarily expect a high-scoring game, however. Although the visitors are missing centre-back Bostjan Cesar through suspension, only one of their last 13 Serie A matches has featured more than two goals.

Under 2.5 goals – 2.50

 

Inter – Empoli

FC Internazionale Milano v AS Roma - Serie A : News Photo

A win, coupled with a Sampdoria defeat, could be enough to get Inter into Europe. Even if the latter result is unlikely, the Nerazzurri have a duty to try. Empoli drew with Samp in their previous fixture but arrive at this one without the suspended Massimo Maccarone, their leading scorer and joint-leading provider of assists. Inter’s own top marksman, Mauro Icardi, is present and still very much in the running to finish as capocannoniere.

Icardi to score (anytime) and Inter to win – 2.40

 

Sassuolo – Genoa

It is a shame that Genoa are unlikely to play in Europe next season, given how entertaining their performances have been over the final part of this campaign. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have scored 18 goals in their last six matches, picking up 15 points along the way. Sassuolo also arrive in fine form, having won three games on the trot. With nothing to lose, they are unlikely to be shy about getting men forwards.

Away team to win and both teams to score – 3.90