Lazio – Napoli
Just when Felipe Anderson was finally breaking through as a world-class talent, he goes and picks up and injury. The Brazilian sprained his knee in training this week and is expected to be out of action for the best part of a month, which is terrible news for Lazio but very good news for Napoli, who no longer have to worry about containing a player who had five goals and five assists in his last five league games.
Just because Anderson is missing, though, does not mean Lazio will be a soft touch. Antonio Candreva returned against Roma, and remains the leading provider of assists in Serie A, despite having been out of action for a month. Both of these teams are flawed defensively but capable of brilliance going forwards. It should be an entertaining match.
Over 2.5 goals – 2.04
Milan – Atalanta
Milan picked up their first win of 2015 on Tuesday, beating Sassuolo 2-1 in the Coppa Italia. That result might seem more encouraging if the visitors had not fielded a weakened side. The Rossoneri rested a few players, too, but it was hard to know how many positives they could draw from a game in which their best player was Giampaolo Pazzini – who will have to go back to the bench to make room for Jeremy Menez on Sunday.
What we do know is that Atalanta have scored nine times in their last three games. Despite the anticipated return of Philippe Mexes, they might find some joy against the Rossoneri’s frail back-line.
Both teams to score – 2.18
Cesena – Torino
Torino limited MIlan to just a single shot on target (and that from the penalty spot) last Saturday, but ultimately still had to settle for a 1-1 draw. A return of 13 goals from 18 games gives the Granata the joint-worst strike rate in the division, and it is only their failings up front that seem likely to prevent them from taking all three points against the worst team in the division.
But it is also true that Cesena have conceded 11 goals in their last three home games. I would back the resistible force to overcome the movable object in the end.
Away win – 1.80
Chievo – Fiorentina
After a brief bureaucratic delay, Alessandro Diamanti completed his transfer from Guangzhou Evergrande to Fiorentina just in time to make this trip to Verona. He is expected to begin on the bench against Chievo, but he might not stay there much beyond half-time if Mario Gomez continues to struggle up front.
Either way, Fiorentina should win. It does not take a prolific side to overcome one that has failed to score in any of its last three home games.
Away team to win without conceding – 3.00
Genoa – Sassuolo
Little wonder that Sassuolo chose to rest their best players in that Coppa Italia game against Milan. Just three points now separate them from Genoa, and a victory here would propel the Neroverdi right into the thick of the Europa League race.
The Grifone look vulnerable, too, having managed only a single draw from their last four games. Even the return of defender Facundo Roncaglia from suspension is offset by the fact that Sebastian De Maio must now sit out a one-game ban. But Genoa have shown their teeth in second-half fight-backs against Atalanta and Inter over the last fortnight. In the end, they lost at San Siro anyway. But I believe they will do better here.
Draw – 3.15
Parma – Sampdoria
Developments off the pitch continue to condition morale on it for Parma, where new owner Rezart Taci has finally furnished the club with a €5m cash injection with which to pay the players’ overdue wages. With his blessing, the Ducali also signed Antonio Nocerino on loan from Torino. The midfielder trained with the team for the first time on Friday, and could play some part against Sampdoria.
The visitors are close to completing a deal of their own for Samuel Eto’o, and also hope to add Luis Muriel from Udinese before the end of this transfer window – although the latter deal has stalled in the last few days. For now they must content themselves with the same group of players who beat Empoli on Sunday, and who, despite Manolo Gabbiadini’s departure, retain enough quality and confidence to overcome struggling Parma.
Away win – 2.80
Udinese – Cagliari
Gianfranco Zola rebounded from a humiliating defeat in his first game in charge of Cagliari to beat Cesena last weekend, but his team have since been knocked out of the Coppa Italia, and reservations remain about their ability to get results on the road.
Udinese are missing a number significant players, from Sylvan Widmer to Emmanuel Badu, but with Antonio Di Natale and Cyril Thereau both available despite recent niggles, they should have enough firepower to see them through.
Home win – 2.15
Juventus – Verona
A second meeting in the space of three days for these teams, who played in the Coppa Italia on Thursday. Given that Juve’s second-string bounced to a 6-1 victory in that midweek fixture, the visitors might not hold too much hope of getting a result this time around. The hosts will struggle to repeat such an emphatic margin of victory, but with Gigi Buffon returning to the line-up, they should get the clean sheet that eluded them in the cup.
Home team to win without conceding – 1.54