Palermo 2.95, the draw 3.25, Lazio 2.4
Can Lazio really be considered legitimate challengers for the Scudetto? We may be about to find out. Vladimir Petkovic’s team sit just three points behind Juventus at the top of Serie A, but the one nagging question has always been how they would cope if Miroslav Klose went down injured. After straining his thigh this week, the German is expected to miss Saturday’s game.
Palermo hardly represent the most daunting opposition – they have collected just one point from the last six games and sit second-last in the division – but so far this season the only Lazio striker other than Klose to score even a single league goal is Sergio Floccari, who needed the help of a rather blatant handball. My hunch is that odds of 2.4 on the away win are still worth taking, but certainly this is not as attractive a bet as it might first appear.
Juventus 1.35, the draw 4.6, Udinese 9.2
Just one point from two games for Juventus so far in 2013, but Udinese finally seem to have found their form. The return of Luis Muriel from injury has provided a huge boost – the Colombian forms a potent partnership with Antonio Di Natale up front – and in the last two weeks they have put six goals past Inter and Fiorentina.
Both those games were at home, and Francesco Guidolin’s team will be without their starting goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic after he fractured a finger last weekend. This is not an easy game for Juve, though, and for all that I would expect them to win it, the odds are too short. Even with a one-goal head-start in the three-way handicap market, Udinese are still priced as long as 3.1. That looks like a good price to me.
Fiorentina 2.3, the draw 3.3, Napoli 3.0
The two-point deduction handed down to Napoli as part of Italy’s latest match-fixing scandal was revoked on Thursday, after the evidence against them was ruled to have been inconsistent and therefore unreliable. The club’s captain, Paolo Cannavaro, and his fellow defender Gianluca Grava also had their suspensions withdrawn.
It is unclear if Cannavaro will go straight back into the line-up, but the verdict could lend fresh urgency to the team’s pursuit of Juventus – moving them back to within three points of the league leaders. But despite Fiorentina’s poor start to the year, this feels like a tough game to call. I might opt for a bet on over 2.5 goals instead at 1.90.
Milan 1.38, the draw 4.5, Bologna 9.0
Could Kaká be on his way back to Milan? Even at 30 years old and with his career trajectory having taken a notable dip over the last 18 months, the prospect is too enticing for most Milan fans to bear. And despite the club’s protests about the player’s salary making a deal “impossible”, Kaká’s reported comment that “I am ready to make a sacrifice to return to Milan” has left the door very much open. For now, though, they must focus on Bologna – a team who have failed to score in six of their last eight away games in the league. The home clean sheet is available at 2.1.
Atalanta 2.05, the draw 3.25, Cagliari 3.75
Cagliari ended a run of five straight defeats with a come-from-behind victory over Genoa last weekend, but it would be wrong to assume that a corner has been turned. They have conceded 16 goals in their last six away games, and I am inclined to go with the home win here at 2.05.
Chievo 2.55, the draw 3.15, Parma 2.85
It never speaks too highly to the relationship between a player and his club when the latter feel moved to publish a statement on their official website reminding him that he is supposed to show up for work. That is precisely what Chievo did on Thursday after their starting goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino missed training for two days running amid reports of an imminent move to Palermo.
Despite conceding four goals last week, the keeper’s absence would be a significant one against an opponent who showed their quality in drawing with Juventus last week. Parma have been less impressive on their travels than at home, but could be decent value at 2.85.
Genoa 2.35, the draw 3.2, Catania 3.05
Catania will be missing two-thirds of their starting midfield on Sunday – Francesco Lodi continues to serve a suspension, while Sergio Almirón is out with a thigh injury. Genoa have struggled badly this season – far more than they ought to, given the apparent talent within their squad – but against a Catania team with just one win in their last 15 away games, I’m leaning towards the home win.
Pescara 2.65, the draw 3.15, Torino 2.7
After watching Pescara lose 3-0 to fellow newly-promoted side Torino back in September, one or two analysts pondered whether they would even win a game all season. Four months later they have managed six – including a sterling victory away to Torino earlier this month. Three of those have arrived in the last seven games under new manager Cristiano Bergodi, hired to replace Giovanni Stroppa in late November. They will go seeking revenge for that early season defeat here, but I might consider the draw at 3.15. Seven of Torino’s 10 away fixtures have ended with the scores level.
Siena 2.4, the draw 3.2, Sampdoria 2.95
The last time Sampdoria went away from home to play a team wearing black-and-white stripes, they came back with one of the most remarkable and unlikely victories Serie A has witnessed in years. So should they really be underdogs against a team who have lost their last six – conceding at least two goals each time – and who, even without their points deduction, would still be in the relegation zone? I’m not sure they should. Try the away win at 2.95.
Roma 1.95, the draw 3.75, Inter 3.4
This will be the first of three games in 11 days between these two teams, whose two-legged Coppa Italia semi-final begins in Rome on Wednesday. The timing would appear to suit Roma better – with Pablo Osvaldo returning for the Giallorossi just as Inter lose Diego Milito and Antonio Cassano to injury.
Nevertheless I am reluctant to get behind Roma at such short odds. Inter have the second-best away record of any team in the league this season and although Andrea Stramaccioni has not had much luck against either Rome team so far, he does otherwise have a strong record in the big games. A price of 3.4 on the away win is just a little bit too big to ignore.
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