Paolo Bandini's Serie A Betting: Napoli Run To Continue vs Weakened Udinese

Fiorentina – Atalanta

Welcome back, Mario Gomez. The German striker was written off by many after a miserable start to this season, in which he found the net just once in 14 games across all competitions. But Vincenzo Montella continued to show faith, encouraging his player to go back and watch old videos of himself scoring to regain some confidence. Gomez has responded with a run of five goals in his last three appearances. 

His contributions will be even more crucial for Fiorentina now that Juan Cuadrado has left for Chelsea, although the Viola also have high hopes for loan signing Mohamed Salah – who is expected to begin on the bench this Sunday. Fiorentina should win comfortably enough here, but a rout seems unlikely given the loss of such an influential player. 

Under 2.5 goals – 1.87


Cagliari – Roma


Victor Ibarbo will not line up against his former club. He had joined Roma on loan from Cagliari at the end of the January transfer window, but immediately injured his calf during a Coppa Italia cameo against Fiorentina. The Sardinians, whose leadership had been criticised by fans for not playing Ibarbo in the last month, swiftly released a statement asserting that this incident vindicated their belief that he was injured and needed to be brought along slowly. 

Without him, Roma will once again be short of options up front. Gervinho and Seydou Doumbia are yet to return from the Africa Cup of Nations, while Alessandro Florenzi is suspended and Juan Iturbe injured. The visitors have won just twice in their last 10 games, while their opponents have picked up a bit of momentum since hiring Gianfranco Zola as manager. 

Draw – 3.30


Empoli – Cesena

AC Cesena v SS Lazio - Serie A : News Photo

After winning just once in their first 19 games, Cesena have now done so twice in their last two. A third consecutive victory would provide a huge boost to their survival hopes – moving them to within a couple of points of Empoli. The hosts recorded an impressive draw away to Roma last weekend but otherwise have appeared to lose steam lately, with no wins to show from their last nine league matches. 

Suspensions to midfielder Daniele Croce and new loan signing Riccardo Saponara further dent Empoli, leaving the door open for what would not so long ago have been considered as a significant upset. 

Away win – 7.50


Napoli – Udinese


Roma’s stumbles have allowed Napoli to quietly move back into contention for second place. The Partenopei have been playing their best football of the season lately, winning nine of their last 10 games across all competitions (including a couple of penalty shoot-outs) and losing only to Juventus. With better finishing, they might easily have won that game, too.

Napoli have a good chance to keep their run going against opponents who arrive without their suspended leading goalscorer, Antonio Di Natale, and with a number of other starters missing. 

Home team to win without conceding a goal – 2.08


Parma – Chievo

Juventus FC v AC Chievo Verona - Serie A : News Photo

Time continues to slip away from Parma, who remain rooted to the foot of Serie A, 10 points from safety. A victory over 18th-placed Chievo this weekend would at least allow them a semblance of hope, but optimism is not high for a team that must now also do without Antonio Cassano – the only player in their squad to have scored more than three goals this season – after he terminated his contract in protest over unpaid wages. 

By contrast, the Flying Donkeys held their official presentation for three new signings – Nicola Pozzi, Ioannis Fetfatzidis and Federico Mattiello – on Wednesday. Chievo have picked up just two points so far in 2015, and none should kid themselves that these additions will fix all that ails them. But at least they are still showing some signs of life, unlike their opponents.

Away win – 2.85


Sampdoria – Sassuolo 


Samuel Eto’o is said to have made peace with Sinisa Mihajlovic after walking out of training on Monday, although his absence from the practice pitches at Bogliasco was noted a couple of days later. The club quickly clarified that he had been doing some individual work in the gym. The striker is understood to have a minor muscle injury, but is expected to play some role on Sunday. 

With or without Eto’o, Sampdoria need to steady the ship after their 5-1 thrashing by Torino. Given Sassuolo’s recent scoring form – they put three past Inter last weekend, and have not been held without a goal in any of their last 12 matches – that might not be straightforward.

Over 2.5 goals – 2.18


Inter – Palermo

US Citta di Palermo v Hellas Verona FC - Serie A : News Photo

Wednesday brought yet another defeat for Inter, beaten 1-0 by Napoli in the Coppa Italia, and while there is not necessarily any shame in losing to a good team via a 93rd minute strike, the Nerazzurri’s overall form under Roberto Mancini remains colossally disappointing. They have scraped together just 10 points in 10 league matches since he was appointed. 

Palermo are notoriously poor travelers, having won just once in 10 away games, but they find themselves four points ahead of Inter for a reason. Their only defeat in the last three months was away to Fiorentina. 

Double chance: draw or away win – 2.02


MONDAY - Lazio – Genoa


Injuries finally caught up to Lazio in their shocking defeat to Cesena last weekend, but the Biancocelesti will be encouraged by the fact that both Felipe Anderson and Stefan De Vrij retuned to training this week. Their opponents have not won a game since 7 December, and have a void of their own to fill at the back after Nicolas Burdisso was sent off in last week’s draw with Fiorentina. 

Home team to win and both teams to score – 4.00