Sampdoria – Torino
Sampdoria will show off their new Sin City-branded shirts on Sunday, kicking off a new sponsorship deal that will see the club wear the titles of different films throughout the year. This is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Giorgio Ferrero, head of the club’s marketing and communications department, who has promised high-profile movie stars at the stands for future games as well as a forthcoming feature film about football.
As neat as these gimmicks are, though, most fans just want to see the team win games. Samp drew their opener, away to Palermo, and there are concerns about a lack of firepower up front. Torino’s new-look attack of Amauri and Fabio Quagliarella may also need some time to bed in.
Under 2.5 goals – 1.59
Cagliari – Atalanta
The sparks did not exactly fly as some of us had envisaged on Zdenek Zeman’s return to club management, but his Cagliari team have the chance to kick-start their season now as they return home to the Stadio Sant’Elia. With Victor Ibarbo returning to training this week, Zeman has his full-first team squad available for selection.
Home win – 2.25
Fiorentina – Genoa
Another year, and another injury set-back for Giuseppe Rossi, who has been ruled out for four to five months after yet another knee surgery. With Mario Gómez looking rusty during Fiorentina’s opening game against Roma, the Viola’s fans are already growing anxious about the state of their team’s attack, but they do at least welcome a new face in defence, with Micah Richards expected to make his debut.
Uncertain are the availabilities of Tomás Rincón and Mauricio Pinilla for Genoa, after both players returned late in the week from call-ups with Venezuela and Chile respectively. With or without them, I expect Genoa to be overmatched against a strong Fiorentina team.
Home win – 1.55
Inter – Sassuolo
Little Sassuolo have had plenty of media attention this week, as Simone Zaza put in a man-of-the-match performance on his Italy debut and then scored the opening goal in the Azzurri’s 2-0 victory over Norway in Euro 2016 qualifying five days later. His club team-mate, Domenico Berardi, also hit the winning goal in an Under-21 European Championship qualifier against Serbia at the end of last week.
The Neroverdi have been praised for developing domestic talent, with more than one columnist noting that they were the only Serie A team to field an all-Italian XI on the opening weekend of the season. They were walloped 7-0 in their first meeting with Inter last season, but this ought to be a much tighter affair – especially with the hosts missing Nemanja Vidic through suspension.
Over 2.5 goals – 1.73
Lazio – Cesena
A busy summer in the transfer market had bred some considerable optimism at Lazio, only for the Biancocelesti to receive a rude awakening as they were soundly beaten by Milan. For all the additions made, Stefano Pioli’s team still lack alternatives to Miroslav Klose up front, and at 36 years old the harsh truth is that he is not as effective as he once was.
Cesena had a surprising, but well-deserved, win over Parma last weekend, and despite their squad having received little investment since finishing fourth in Serie B, might be more capable than many observers had assumed.
Draw – 4.80
Napoli – Chievo
There were reports that Rafael Benítez might be on his way out of Napoli this week, after the manager disappeared for a few days’ break in Liverpool. In the wake of the club’s premature exit from the Champions League last month, this was condemned by some as a shocking dereliction of duty.
But the truth is that Benítez was only repeating a trip that he had taken one year previously, taken with the full consent of Napoli’s owner, Aurelio De Laurentiis. With a large chunk of his first-team squad away on international duty, it was hardly the most crucial time for him to be around. He returns now for what should be a straightforward win over a Chievo side that looked desperately poor during its defeat to Juventus in week one.
Napoli to win with a one-goal handicap – 2.10
Parma – Milan
Fernando Torres is all set to make his Milan debut, with most media outlets predicting that he will start. Can he turn back the clock and play as he did in his Liverpool days? That’s asking a little much, but the Rossoneri are optimistic that he should at least be more effective than he was during his three-and-a-half year stay at Stamford Bridge.
Parma arrive at this game off the back of a surprising defeat to Cesena, a result which gives some indication of how greatly this team has been damaged by the summer departures of Marco Parolo, Walter Gargano and Amauri. Even so, the Ducali do not lose a lot of games at home.
Draw – 3.35
MONDAY: Verona – Palermo
Both Verona and Palermo performed above expectations in their opening matches, but neither came away with all three points. The hosts hope that their deadline-day capture of Javier Saviola will restore some of the pace and incisiveness that had been lost up front with Juan Iturbe’s sale to Roma.
Palermo, meanwhile, may look for a spark to Andrea Belotti, who scored three goals in two games for Italy’s Under-21 team during the international break.
Home win – 2.15