Pescara 3.65, the draw 3.4, Siena 2.0
For Pescara, this is might just be l’ultima spiaggia - the last beach, as Italian pundits are fond of saying. Think last-chance saloon, only with less alcohol and more overweight men in speedos. Cristian Bucchi’s side are bottom of Serie A and six points behind Siena, who sit level with two other teams in joint-17th.
Lose, and Pescara will surely be washed off the shores of Serie A with the rest of the flotsam and jetsam. They have collected just one point from their last 12 games, yet even money feels too short a price for Siena, who have won just twice away from home all season. Take the draw at 3.4.
Atalanta 3.1, the draw 3.15, Fiorentina 2.35
Not even Atalanta know how they got away from San Siro with three points last week, Stefano Colantuono’s side recovering from 3-1 down to beat Inter with the help of a mystifying penalty award then a miss Andrea Ranocchia will never forget. Fiorentina were involved in a similarly unlikely comeback from 2-0 down at home to Milan, recovering to draw 2-2 despite playing more than half the game on ten men.
The Viola have more at stake, as they seek to maintain their push for a European spot, but both sides are missing a number of key players – Stevan Jovetic, Stefan Savic and Nenad Tomovic for the visiors; Cristian Raimondi, Carlos Carmona and Luca Cigarini for the hosts. Nine of the last 11 meetings between these sides have produced three or more goals. Over 2.5 is available at 1.9.
Palermo 2.05, the draw 3.2, Bologna 3.75
Like a great movie villain, Palermo’s season just won’t die. Dismissed as a lost cause by their own president, Maurizio Zamparini, a month ago, the club is now level with Siena and Genoa in 17th place. They are favoured to win again this weekend against an opponent nestled safely in mid-table. Past precedent is on their side: Bologna have prevailed just twice in 25 league visits to Palermo.
But recent history must also be taken into account. Palermo’s victories over Roma and Sampdoria these last two weeks represent their first back-to-back wins in more than a year. Is it really a 2.05 shot that they make it three in a row? Instead consider over 2.5 goals at even money.
Cagliari 2.85, the draw 3.2, Inter 2.45
Cagliari’s nomadic existence continues, with yet another home game relocated hundreds of miles away to Trieste. But they have proven themselves remarkably adept at dealing with such circumstances this season and Inter have won just four league games since the start of 2013. Given that the Nerazzurri just added Antonio Cassano to their already lengthy injury list up front, the home win looks well-priced at 2.85.
Chievo 2.35, the draw 3.15, Catania 3.1
Catania need just one more win – or three draws – to surpass their highest-ever points tally in Serie A, yet there were impatient whistles from the club’s supporters last week as they were held at home by Cagliari. Hopes of a European berth have faded amid a run of just one win in five games, and frustration is setting in.
Chievo were soundly beaten by Udinese last weekend but will be a different proposition here with Boukary Dramé, Marco Andreolli and Dario Dainelli – almost an entire defence – returning from suspension. I like the home clean sheet at 2.7.
Genoa 2.40, the draw 3.2, Sampdoria 2.95
The 106th Derby della Lanterna pits together two rivals experiencing simultaneous slumps. Sampdoria have won just once since the end of February. Genoa’s last victory came on the 17th of that month. Both teams, likewise, have injury concerns; Juraj Kucka’s absence is a significant one for Genoa, while there are doubts over Nenad Krsticic, Marcelo Estigarribia and Daniele Gastaldello for Samp.
But while the ‘visitors’ sit eight points clear of the relegation zone, Genoa are joint 17th. On paper they are the team with more to play for, but Sampdoria would enjoy putting their neighbours to the sword. Just a hunch, but I think there will be goals in this one. Try over 2.5 at a generous 2.2.
Parma 1.9, the draw 3.4, Udinese 4.0
Antonio Di Natale, scorer of two goals last week against Chievo, will miss this game through suspension, but neither team has much riding on the game. Udinese might not admit to having given up on Europe just yet, but the six points and four teams between them and fifth place look like a daunting gap. They have picked up too few points all season away from home, and I would back them to draw here at 3.4.
Torino 3.0, the draw 3.2, Roma 2.35
Prior to their topsy-turvy 5-3 defeat to Napoli at the end of March, Torino had dropped just four points in six home games. Roma’s performances over the last two weeks – losing in Palermo then drawing the Derby della Capitale after a woeful first-half – make it hard to justify such short odds on their victory. Consider Torino (draw no bet) at 2.1.
Milan 2.0, the draw 3.25, Napoli 3.7
This was supposed to be Milan’s big chance to leapfrog Napoli. The Partenopei have been second for almost the entire season, stumbling briefly before Christmas but soon resuming their pursuit of Juventus. They never caught the league leaders – indeed, the gap has gradually widened – but since mid-January the table has always shown Juve top, then Napoli right behind.
Milan, though, have been on an improbable charge since October, climbing from 15th to third. Had they held on to beat Fiorentina last week, they would now be two points behind Walter Mazzarri’s side and perfectly positioned to overtake them with a win. Instead they must prevail just to stay within touching distance.
Worse yet for the Rossoneri, Mario Balotelli will miss this fixture after picking up a needless three-game suspension for insulting an official. Nevertheless, they have not lost to Napoli at San Siro since 1986. Take Giampaolo Pazzini in the goalscorers’ market. He has found the net eight times in his last ten games for the Rossoneri, and should be the man to pick up the slack in Balotelli’s absence.
Lazio 3.85, the draw 3.35, Juventus 1.95
A 1-1 draw at home to Fenerbahce, following the previous week’s 2-0 defeat in Turkey, brought down the curtain on Lazio’s Europa League campaign. Fans might wonder if it was worth it. Up to the end of February their team was fighting for a top-three finish but as the games stacked up, fatigue set in.
That much was evident in last week’s derby, which Lazio dominated for 45 minutes before fading badly towards the end. Juventus, too, appeared worn down by Bayern Munich on Wednesday, but I expect the league leaders to put that behind them with a win over opponents who have lost six of their last ten Serie A games.
Bet on all the weekend's Serie A games.