Serie A Betting: In-form Catania to beat Fiorentina



Saturday

Lazio 1.53, the draw 3.75, Chievo 7.0

Many teams might fear a trip to face Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico – where the Biancocelesti have dropped just five points all season – but Chievo can go there with more confidence than most. Serie A’s Flying Donkeys are unbeaten in six league visits to Lazio, drawing five and winning the remaining fixture 3-0 back in 2009.

Their away form this year – just six points from ten games – tells another story, while the departure of goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino to Palermo will also hurt. But that recent history between these two teams, combined with the absence of Miroslav Klose from the Lazio attack, makes the draw tempting at 3.75.

Juventus 1.18, the draw 6.5, Genoa 15.0

A seventh change of manager in just two-and-a-half years for Genoa, with Davide Ballardini returning to the club for another rescue mission following his success replacing Gian Piero Gasperini in 2010-11. There remains more than enough quality in this squad to turn things around but, for a team sat 18th in the league, an away match against Juve hardly represents the easiest start.

Genoa have scored just seven times in ten away games this year, and the odds are against them increasing that tally on Saturday. But I would expect Ballardini’s arrival to bring some improvement, so I’m not anticipating a repeat of Juve’s four-goal haul last week against Udinese either. I’m inclined towards under 2.5 goals at a generous 2.25.

Sunday

Bologna 3.2, the draw 3.4, Roma 2.2

The Roma optimists will note with satisfaction that their team outplayed Inter in Wednesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final, coming away with a 2-1 victory that makes them slight favourites to progress to the next round. The pessimists will observe that they had been 2-0 up before another defensive lapse, and that both Marquinhos and goalscorer Mattia Destro are now set to miss Sunday’s match against Bologna with injuries sustained in that cup fixture.

It is the latter point, allied to Bologna’s strong recent record at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara – where they have lost just once in the last six league games – that have me leaning towards the home team in the draw no bet market at 2.26.

Atalanta 3.5, the draw 3.2, Milan 2.15

For the last month, Milan fans have entertained heady dreams of Ricky Kaka making his return to San Siro. Instead the big news on Thursday surrounded an imminent deal for Parma’s Cristian Zaccardo. He should help to shore up a defence which has leaked 28 goals already this year, though any benefit will be offset to some extent by the departure of Ignazio Abate. In the short-term, with upheaval in the back line but Milan scoring relatively freely at the other end, I’d be tempted to back over 2.5 goals at even money.

Cagliari 2.0, the draw 3.3, Palermo 3.75

This will be a particular game for the Palermo manager Gian Piero Gasperini, whose mother Antonietta passed away on Wednesday. He was already mourning the loss of his father, Giuseppe, who died last month.

It is also a hugely important game for his team, who sit 19th – four points behind 17th-placed Cagliari. With the deal to sign Sorrentino not yet completed at time of writing, it is uncertain who Palermo will have in goal on Sunday, but the greater concern is kick-starting an attack which has scored just four away goals all season. The home clean sheet looks a good price at 2.55.

Catania 2.85, the draw 3.4, Fiorentina 2.4

Vincenzo Montella returns to Sicily to face a Catania team in rude health. The Etnei recorded their best-ever top-flight season under Montella last year, but if they carry on the way they have started 2013, they could be about to set the bar even higher. Catania have collected seven points from the first three games of this calendar year; Fiorentina, by contrast, have just one.

The Viola will re-capture their pre-winter break form before too long, but this might not be the spot where it happens. Catania have been formidable at home, and I would take them to win at 2.85.

Parma 2.95, the draw 3.25, Napoli 2.4

Speaking of teams with impressive home records, Parma are the only team in Serie A not to have lost a game on their own turf so far this season. Napoli, contrary to old assumptions, have been some of the best travellers in the division in 2012-13, so I might consider the draw here at 3.25.

Sampdoria 1.65, the draw 3.65, Pescara 5.25

It was not just Sampdoria but all of Italian football which mourned the passing of the team’s president, Riccardo Garrone, this week. Garrone was a popular and influential figure renowned for his understated, old-fashioned style and firm commitment to good sportsmanship. He famously invited opposing team’s presidents to sit beside him at games – all-too rare a gesture in Serie A.

But of course his death will be felt most keenly by his own team, who attended the funeral on Thursday. They have failed to score in their last three home games, but those were against Milan, Lazio and Udinese. The emotions around this game make me inclined to steer clear, but probably the best value is Pescara in the double chance market at 2.16.

Udinese 1.6, the draw 3.5, Siena 6.25

Siena are coming off a big win against relegation rivals Sampdoria, but don’t expect a repeat here against opponents whose last home defeat was on September 9th, against Juventus. I like Udinese to win with a one-goal handicap at 2.8.

Inter 1.6, the draw 3.6, Torino 6.25

The midweek defeat to Roma confirmed that all is still not right with Inter, who – by their manager’s own admission – could still do with a creative player behind the attack. Like the one they just sold to Galatasaray, for example.

More important in the short term will be getting at least one of Antonio Cassano or Diego Milito back from injury. The former looks more likely, but at time of writing his status is still uncertain. Inter should still have enough to win, but the goals will not flow quite so freely without that pair. Less than 2.5 in the game is worth a punt at 1.8.


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