Paolo Bandini's Serie A Betting: Napoli Can Cope Without Higuain And Rampant Roma To Blitz Bologna


Sunday

Empoli - Fiorentina

The goals have dried up for Fiorentina, causing Champions League dreams to fade. Paulo Sousa is expected to restore Nikola Kalinic to his starting XI this weekend, but the striker has scored only twice in his last 21 matches across all competitions. It was his 10 goals before the end of November that had allowed the Viola to dream big in the first place.

Empoli are in even worse form, without a win since 10 January, and they too are having a hard time connecting ball with net. The Tuscans have failed to score in three of their last four matches.

At least one team fails to score - 1.96

 

Napoli - Verona

No Higuaín no party? Napoli are appealing against the four-game suspension handed to their striker in the wake of his tantrum against Udinese, but they knew he would miss this match from the moment the red card was shown. His absence will hurt. Higuaín has scored 30 of Napoli’s 63 league goals so far this season.

But the man who replaces him, Manolo Gabbiadini, is no slouch, and Verona are bottom of the league for a reason. I still expect Napoli to win this weekend, though I do believe Higuaín’s absence might make this a less emphatic victory than would otherwise be expected.

Three-way handicap: starts 0-2, away win - 2.07

 

Sampdoria - Udinese

Not yet clear of the relegation scrap, both of these teams need to build on encouraging recent results if they are to enjoy a more serene end to the campaign. A draw would not delight either side, but if neither is able to break the deadlock early on then both might conclude that it is a better to settle for a point than risk losing ground to a direct rival.

Draw - 3.25

 

Torino - Atalanta

Atalanta’s season calls to mind the old cliché about London buses. The Bergamese club waited three full months for a win, and then two came along at once. Can they make it three in a row against Torino? My suspicion is that they will play things more cautiously now that they have taken a big stride towards safety. Their opponents, after beating Inter last week, are in much the same boat.

Under 2.5 goals - 1.66

 

Palermo - Lazio

Lazio have a new manager, Simone Inzaghi promoted from the youth team to take charge until the end of the season after Stefano Pioli was fired. Inzaghi’s introduction to the job has not exactly been gentle. On Thursday a group of Ultras from demanded an audience with his squad at the training ground in order to chastise them for a lack of effort in recent defeats.  

Perhaps it will all serve to galvanise the players. Or perhaps it will only serve to make them more anxious. Either way, I cannot get behind this dismal Palermo team, which will be without its one genuinely top-class performer as Franco Vázquez serves a suspension

Away win - 2.15

 

Monday

Roma - Bologna

Roma are not just winning games but sweeping opponents away at the moment. They have taken 28 points from their last 10 games, and have led by half-time in five of the past six. Their momentum is unlikely to be slowed by a Bologna side that has scored only a single goal since 14 February.

Half-time/Full-time: Home/Home - 1.97