Serie A betting: After Napoli Cup loss, Roma could struggle against Sampdoria


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Friday

Milan 1.35, the draw 4.5, Bologna 9.0

Clarence Seedorf says Milan have not yet spoken “even the tiniest bit” about next week’s Champions League last-16 clash with Atletico Madrid, but it is hard to believe that the prospect has not been on his mind.

After playing in so many great European fixtures with Milan, here is his first chance to take up a different role on club football’s grandest stage. It would take quite the sensational sequence of events, at this stage, for him to get the opportunity to lead the Rossoneri back into the competition again next year.

Milan, indeed, still have a long way to go just to get into contention for the Europa League places. They need to start winning games such as this one with a great deal more consistency than they have shown to date. Given the odds and the fact that Bologna are coming off a good win away to Torino, I might be tempted to try the draw.

 

Saturday

Fiorentina 2.1, the draw 3.2, Inter 3.65

 

Inter finally got their first win of 2014 last weekend, beating Sassuolo with a goal from Walter Samuel. They will have a hard time repeating that victory against opponents who have lost just once at home all season. The Viola could have an extra weapon this Saturday, too, with Mario Gómez expected to play some part for the first time since going down with a knee injury in September. He was an unused substitute during Fiorentina’s Coppa Italia win over Udinese in midweek. Home win.

 

Sunday

Catania 3.2, the draw 3.2, Lazio 2.25

Catania remain rooted to the foot of the table – a position they have occupied since November – but they have at least shown some grit of late, battling to three consecutive draws against Inter, Livorno and Parma.

Unfortunately they have also failed to score in three of their last four games, and are up against opponents who have been decidedly stingy at the back since appointing Edy Reja as manager last month. The away clean sheet looks tempting at 2.65.

 

Atalanta 2.55, the draw 2.95, Parma 2.95

Parma have now gone 11 games unbeaten in the league, not that you would have known it from the jeers and whistles that followed their draw at home to Catania last week. Perhaps knocked out of their rhythm by the abandonment of their game against Roma a week previously, they were actually lucky to grab a point.

They face a far more daunting task here against Atalanta, who have lost just twice at home so far in this campaign. But the hosts’ midfield will be missing its most effective distributor, Luca Cigarini, who is suspended, and Parma are a resilient side under Roberto Donadoni. I’ll take the draw.

 

Cagliari 1.72, the draw 3.4, Livorno 5.0

Victor Ibarbo is expected back for Cagliari for the first time since having his appendix out in January, providing a timely boost to his team’s attack. The Sardinians have scored just four times in their last eight games, perhaps unsurprising when you consider that Ibarbo’s fellow forward Mauricio Pinilla has also been out injured for several of those fixtures.

Livorno have not been a whole lot better, finding the net just 22 times all season, with only eight of those coming away from home. I would counsel the unders if the odds were not so short. Instead look for this game to finish in a draw between two anxious teams who already have survival on their minds.

 

Genoa 2.7, the draw 3.0, Udinese 2.7

Tuesday night’s Coppa Italia elimination was painful for Udinese, but might have been celebrated by their opponents this weekend. Fiorentina’s win should, after all, free up an additional European place for whoever finishes sixth in Serie A, since both they and their fellow finalists Napoli are already on course to claim spots in Europe through the league.

Genoa, having closed to within six points of sixth-placed Verona, are very much in the hunt for that newly-available Europa League berth, but will have to contend with a rejuvenated Antonio Di Natale on Sunday. Try the overs at 2.2.

 

Juventus 1.14, the draw 7.5, Chievo 16.0

After drawing with one Veronese club last weekend, Juventus get the chance to unleash their frustrations on another this Sunday.

The champions should not have anything like as much trouble at home to 17th-placed Chievo as they did away to Hellas, where they drew 2-2. And Juve’s players will not want to disappoint Antonio Conte again after he cancelled their day off on Monday and imposed extra training sessions instead.

The manager expects a reaction from his team, and is likely to get one. The odds are not all that exciting, but I would go with the Juve to win even with a one-goal handicap at 1.53.

 

Sassuolo 6.25, the draw 3.7, Napoli 1.57

Whatever happened to the Sassuolo team that beat Milan 4-3? In short, Domenico Berardi stopped scoring. It would be quite unreasonable to blame the striker for his team’s poor form, but their reliance on him to connect ball with net is astonishing.

The 19-year-old has scored more than half of Sassuolo’s 23 goals so far in this campaign, but has struck just once since his foursome against Milan in January. It is no coincidence that his team have lost every game since.

New manager Alberto Malesani has been unable to halt the tide of bad results, and Sassuolo are in danger of sinking without a trace. They drew with Napoli at Stadio San Paolo earlier this season, but it is hard to imagine a repeat. Away win.

 

Roma 1.33, the draw 4.8, Sampdoria 9.0

Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia mauling by Napoli was a low moment for Roma, but it is up to the Giallorossi now to ensure that it does not derail the rest of their season.

They will be tested by a Sampdoria side that is far better than its league standing would suggest. The Blucerchiati collected just eight points from their first 12 games, but have taken 20 points from 11 games since hiring Sinisa Mihajlovic as manager in November.

At such generous odds, I would consider the draw.

 

Monday

Verona 2.45, the draw 3.1, Torino 2.95

When the fixture list came out, some fans might have presumed that this game could be a relegation six-pointer, but instead both Verona and Torino find themselves battling for a Europa League spot.

The hosts’ momentum does not seem to have been dented by the sale of Jorginho, while Ciro Immobile’s exceptional form for the visitors has almost guaranteed them a goal per game over the last couple of months.

But Verona remain an especially imposing prospect at the Bentegodi, where only Juventus, Roma, Napoli and city rivals Chievo have been stopped them from winning so far. I’ll take the home victory.  


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