Bologna 2.05, the draw 3.15, Chievo 3.8
Described by one former sporting director this week as a “very expensive shop”, Chievo appear to be on the verge of flogging their most valuable piece of merchandise. Stefano Sorrentino has quietly been one of Serie A’s better goalkeepers over the last few years, and is reportedly now being sought by both Roma and Milan. No deal is expected to get done before this weekend, however, so Sorrentino should still be in goal for Chievo as they take on a Bologna team whose leading scorer, Alberto Gilardino, has found the net just once since September. Chievo have kept three clean sheets in their last four games and are well-priced to do so again at 3.7.
Inter 1.25, the draw 6.0, Pescara 10.0
Each of these teams stunned fans with their performances last week – but in very different ways. Pescara’s 2-0 win away to Fiorentina would have been the most impressive upset of the whole weekend, were it not for 10-man Sampdoria’s win away to Juventus. Inter, by contrast, were abject in losing 3-0 to Udinese. Do I expect Inter to bounce back this weekend and win? Yes. But would I be a tiny bit tempted, in the context of those results, to stake a small amount on the away win at 10.0? Also yes.
Torino 2.3, the draw 3.15, Siena 3.1
Siena have gone more than a month since collecting their last point in Serie A, but a lunchtime trip to Turin could be just the tonic they need. Torino have themselves won just once in their last seven games and come into this fixture extremely short-handed after five players picked up suspensions during their draw against Catania last week. Despite losing, Siena played well away to Milan on Sunday and though I’m not sure I’d take them to win this game, the odds on the draw are fair at 3.15.
Cagliari 2.05, the draw 3.3, Genoa 3.65
After a year in which they were shunted around between such faraway cities as Trieste and Parma, Cagliari fans will be hoping that the club’s New Year’s Resolution was simply to play all of its home games at home from now on. They will be back at their Stadio Is Arenas on Sunday for what could be a crucial game against Genoa.
A return of just two points from their last nine games has seen Cagliari slide into the relegation zone – with Genoa moving ahead of them only last weekend following their own 2-0 win against Bologna. The visitors will be without striker Ciro Immobile, but with the hosts involved in some high-scoring games lately I would consider a bet on over 2.5 goals at 2.1.
Catania 2.95, the draw 3.7, Roma 2.2
After getting clobbered by one Rome club in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals on Tuesday, now Catania return home to face the other one. Their manager, Rolando Maran, will have a tough time filling the void left by the suspended Francesco Lodi – though if reports of Milan’s interest in the player are to be believed then he might soon be seeking a long-term solution for the same problem. But while that will be a handicap, I am not at all convinced Roma should be such a short price to win this game. Catania have only lost twice at home all year, and given Roma’s unpredictability are worth backing at 2.95.
Lazio 1.6, the draw 3.75, Atalanta 5.75
Reading the Italian newspapers on Monday morning, you might have come to imagine the Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic as something of a footballing Obi Wan Kanobi, picking up a hologram message from a nation of Princess Leias. ‘Help us Lazio, you are our only hope (of getting a real title race this season).’
Whether Lazio’s squad is really deep enough to mount such a challenge is open to debate, though victory over Cagliari on Saturday did give them 39 points from 19 games – the same number Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Lazio had at the corresponding point of their Scudetto-winning 1999-2000 season. And they should feel confident of beating Atalanta on Sunday. Take the Biancocelesti to be ahead at half-time and full-time at 2.45.
Napoli 1.33, the draw 4.75, Palermo 9.5
After completing his move to Palermo this week, Andrea Dossena will return immediately to Naples to play against his former employers. Napoli themselves may have a new face in the line-up after signing Pablo Armero from Udinese. Neither should fundamentally alter the dynamic of this game. Palermo are horrible travellers – scorers of just four goals in 10 away games so far this year. Take Napoli to win even with a one-goal handicap at 1.92.
Parma 5.0, the draw 3.45, Juventus 1.72
Juventus got the Sampdoria defeat out of their system by eliminating Milan from the Coppa Italia on Wednesday – though the fact that they needed extra time to do so might mean a few tired legs for what will not be a straightforward trip. Parma are unbeaten at home, and with Juve below their best I would certainly consider the home team in the double chance market at 2.06.
Udinese 2.8, the draw 3.1, Fiorentina 2.6
Among the many positive notes for Udinese in that 3-0 win over Inter was the performance of Luis Muriel. Returning to the club this season after a year on loan at Lecce, it was always hoped that Muriel would play a major role but up until now injury had prevented him from doing so.
With him back in the line-up and supporting the still prolific Antonio Di Natale up front, this team will be dangerous going forwards. Given Fiorentina’s open, attacking approach under Vincenzo Montella, over 2.5 goals could be a wise bet at 1.95.
Sampdoria 3.75, the draw 3.3, Milan 2.0
Will last Sunday’s win over Juventus represent a turning point for Sampdoria, or simply an incredible one-off result? It is asking a lot to expect them to repeat such a performance against a Milan team in good form, but certainly Samp do appear to have acquired some fresh steel under their new manager Delio Rossi. With Milan scoring at least two goals in each of their last six away games and Mauro Icardi showing his potential for the Blucerchiati up front, I would be tempted to go with over 2.5 goals again, this time at even money.