Serie A betting: Improving Lazio to earn draw in Italy's Derby della Capitale


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Saturday


Fiorentina 1.45, the draw 4.25, Atalanta 7.0

Can Germán Denis bring his son with him to Florence?

The Atalanta striker seemed to be out to impress young Matias last weekend, larking around with his kid – who plays in the club’s youth team and also serves as a ballboy for the senior side – before kickoff against Napoli and then running over for a hug after scoring in a shock 3-0 win.

That result also did Fiorentina a favour, preventing Napoli from increasing the gap to third place, but the Viola desperately need a win of their own after three games without one in all competitions. Giuseppe Rossi’s absence has been felt up front, but so too, more recently, has that of Borja Valero in midfield. Although I expect Fiorentina to win on Saturday, I would bet against them keeping a clean sheet (1.75).

 

Udinese 1.82, the draw 3.25, Chievo 4.75

Udinese beat Fiorentina 2-1 in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final on Tuesday, but such impressive cup form has been at odds with their lacklustre efforts in the league. The Friuliani sit 15th in Serie A, and were on a run of four consecutive defeats prior to last weekend’s victory away to Bologna.

Chievo are struggling to an even greater degree, and have not won a game yet in 2014, but they have earned draws away to both Inter and Napoli in the last month. With Udinese likely to rest players ahead of their second leg against Fiorentina, another stalemate seems eminently feasible.

 

Napoli 1.9, the draw 3.4, Milan 4.0

 

Rafael Benítez was criticised for resting key players in that defeat to Atalanta, a decision he took with one eye on his team’s Coppa Italia semi-final against Roma. Napoli subsequently lost 3-2 in the away leg of that latter tie, but will have every chance to recover in the return fixture at the Stadio San Paolo next Wednesday.

But before then comes another fixture that the manager cannot afford to take lightly. It would be a shock to see Gonzalo Higuaín left out of the side once again this weekend. Milan have problems of their own, with Kaká’s status uncertain after he missed training on Wednesday and Thursday with a virus, but they are still yet to lose a league game under Clarence Seedorf.

I might try the overs at 1.8; both teams are flawed, and neither has kept many clean sheets lately.

 

Sunday

 

Torino 1.66, the draw 3.6, Bologna 5.5

Alessandro Diamanti’s sale to Guangzhou continues to drag on, with the Chinese transfer window not due to snap shut until the end of this month. In the meantime, the forward remains available for selection, and is expected to start against Torino – despite another wave of stories this week claiming that a deal had finally been agreed. But there is a 15-point gap between Torino and Bologna right now, and even Diamanti’s presence will likely not be enough to breach it. Home win.

 

Lazio 3.8, the draw 3.35, Roma 1.95

 

Roma won this season’s first Derby della Capitale, beating Lazio 2-0 in September, but many things have changed since then. The Biancocelesti have a different manager, for a start, while their midfielder Senad Lulic also has a new clothing line. The Lulic 71 brand was formally launched last month, that number celebrating the minute in which he scored the winning goal during last year’s defeat of Roma in the Coppa Italia final. Suffice to say that this game, just like that one, will have plenty of needle.

Both teams have been playing well lately. Lazio are yet to taste defeat in Edy Reja’s second tenure, while Roma have won six straight in all competitions since losing to Juventus on 5 January. But the odds on the Giallorossi are a little too short for my liking, especially given their Coppa Italia distractions. Try the draw instead.

 

Livorno 2.45, the draw 3.2, Genoa 2.85

Mimmo Di Carlo’s impact in Livorno has been immediate, the Tuscan club picking up four points in two games since the manager’s appointment. Perhaps more impressively still, they have scored six goals along the way, putting three past each of Catania and Sassuolo. Genoa will provide sterner opposition than either of those two, but can also be flaky at the back. I like the overs at 2.16.

 

Parma 1.53, the draw 4.0, Catania 6.5

Parma’s players should certainly be well rested. They played for just eight minutes against Roma last weekend before that game was abandoned, and have not had any midweek cup duty to worry about since. Their last complete game, at home to Udinese, took place almost a fortnight ago. It ended in a Parma victory – their fourth in as many league fixtures.

Catania, despite consecutive draws, continue to sit bottom of the table and have scored just six times in 11 away games. Back Parma to win without conceding at 2.5.

 

Sampdoria 2.15, the draw 3.2, Cagliari 3.55

Monday’s derby victory came at a cost for Sampdoria, who saw starting centre-back Shkodran Mustafi pick up a suspension while goalscorer Maxi Lopez injured his foot. Losing the striker, who only joined on loan from Catania at the end of the transfer window, is certainly a blow, but one that Samp can likely withstand. Even before he arrived, they were doing just fine under Sinisa Mihajlovic. Home win.

 

Verona 7.5, the draw 4.4, Juventus 1.4

So far, Verona’s run through the most daunting part of their calendar is not working out all that well. The Gialloblu had lost just one home game by the start of this calendar year, but since then have been defeated by both Roma and Napoli at the Bentegodi, as well as losing away to Milan in-between.

Could they reverse that recent trend by slowing down the champions? On paper it looks unlikely, especially after Verona sold Jorginho to Napoli during the transfer window. But the hosts still have Luca Toni and Juan Iturbe up front, and have shown before this season that they are capable of inflicting damage. At odds of 4.4, I might chance my arm on the draw.

 

Inter 1.35, the draw 4.8, Sassuolo 8.0

Hernanes will make his Inter debut on Sunday night, with fans hoping that he can be the catalyst for immediate improvement. The Nerazzurri have recorded just two draws and four defeats so far in 2014, slipping out of the European places altogether.

On paper, Sassuolo look like the perfect patsies, sat 19th in the table and with just one win to their name since November. But Inter’s problem in recent weeks has been not so much creating chances as converting them, and their failure to bring in a top-class striker during the transfer window leaves them open to the risk of another frustrating afternoon. Between their struggles up front, and Sassuolo’s diminished form, I think the unders represent good value at 2.25.


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