Atalanta 2.2, the draw 3.2, Sampdoria 3.45
Nearly three weeks have passed since Sampdoria last took part in a competitive fixture, their game against Inter on 17 March having been called off due to inclement weather. The manager Delio Rossi must hope the additional rest has done his players – or at least those not called up for international duty – some good. Samp have won just one of their last 12 away games.
Standing in their favour is the fact that Atalanta’s home record is among the weakest in the league; Stefano Colantuono’s side has scored just 16 goals in 14 games at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia. Take the draw at 3.2.
Cagliari 3.35, the draw 3.2, Fiorentina 2.25
“We’ve reached Rome, now we just need to go and see the Pope,” said the Cagliari manager Ivo Pulga on Saturday. In other words: salvation is just a few short steps away. The club’s owner Massimo Cellino remains under house arrest, and the team will once again be forced to play behind closed doors this weekend after their appeal to have 5,000 fans allowed into the IS Arenas stadium was rejected. Despite it all, Cagliari have 35 points with nine games left to play.
Safety seems assured, though Pulga knows his team cannot afford to be complacent. Seven of their remaining fixtures are against teams above them in the Serie A table, including this one against a Fiorentina side which has won four of its last five. I like Stevan Jovetic to be among the goals at 2.65.
Genoa 1.95, the draw 3.4, Siena 4.0
The Siena manager Beppe Iachini has insisted this game will not be “decisive” in the relegation battle, yet it would certainly be a long way back for his team should they lose. Siena are 18th, on 25 points, while Genoa are 17th on 26. 16th-placed Atalanta have 33. It is highly probable, then, that at least one out of Genoa or Siena will be relegated, and a home victory would put a four-point gap between the two teams.
But is that such a probable outcome as the odds suggest? Genoa have won just four home games all season, and are coming off three consecutive defeats (albeit to strong teams – Roma, Milan and Fiorentina). Siena won 4-1 in the corresponding fixture last season, and while I wouldn’t call it the most likely outcome, the away win is very generously priced at 4.0
Inter 3.4, the draw 3.25, Juventus 2.2
Less than five months have passed since Inter stunned Juventus in Turin, handing the champions not only their first league defeat under Antonio Conte but also their first-ever loss at Juventus Stadium. Victory moved Inter to within one point of the Bianconeri at the top of Serie A, prompting many to anoint them as Juve’s number one challenger for the title.
Instead, as they prepare for the return fixture, Inter find themselves 18 points behind the leaders and, worse yet, seven points adrift of the Champions League places. As if that wasn’t bad enough, their preparations for this game have also been disrupted by plane trouble, with both Walter Gargano and Alvaro Pereira delayed on their return to Milan after their flight home from Chile was grounded due to a mechanical fault. Fredy Guarin simply missed his plane back from Venezuela.
None of those players will return to training before Friday. It all adds up to make the away win look appealing at 2.2.
Lazio 2.0, the draw 3.3, Catania 4.0
Could this be the moment when we finally see Louis Saha start a game for Lazio? The former Everton and Manchester United striker has played just 42 minutes – split across four substitute appearances – for the Roman club so far, but with Lazio failing to score in any of their last three league fixtures and Miroslav Klose not yet ready to return, this could be the moment. Either way, my inclination would be to go with under 2.5 goals – even at a relatively short 1.75.
Palermo 3.55, the draw 3.4, Roma 2.08
Thursday marked the 20th anniversary of Francesco Totti’s debut for Roma, an event celebrated with fireworks and applause from his team-mates at the club’s training ground. Totti himself, of course, would prefer to toast such a landmark with a goal. He should have his chances against a Palermo team which hasn’t won since November. Totti is 2.65 to score at some point in the game, but from a betting standpoint I would just stick with the away win.
Parma 1.35, the draw 4.8, Pescara 9.5
The picture could not be much more bleak for Pescara, a team not only five points adrift of safety but which has also collected just a single point from its last ten games. Given that Parma have lost only twice at home all season, this one does have the feel of a foregone conclusion, but the Gialloblu’s recent form is poor and it is worth noting that Pescara won the reverse fixture 2-0 back in November. Either way, under 2.5 goals is my suggestion here at even money.
Udinese 2.0, the draw 3.3, Bologna 4.0
Stefano Pioli took advantage of the international break to extend his contract as Bologna manager through to 2015. With wins over Fiorentina, Inter and Cagliari in the last month, it is easy to see why the club was keen to offer such a deal. Even so, another victory here might be too much to ask. Udinese’s only home defeat this season came at the hands of Juventus back in September. Try the draw instead.
Chievo 5.0, the draw 3.5, Milan 1.75
Already this week Mario Balotelli has publically declared his love for girlfriend Fanny and scored a brace in Italy’s World Cup qualifying win over Malta. Now Milan want to know whether he can cap off a lively few days with another strike against Chievo. The hosts have conceded less than one goal per game at home, but Balotelli has seven in six Serie A appearances since joining Milan at the end of January. At odds of 2.35, I’d back him to get his name on the scoresheet once again.
Torino 3.3, the draw 3.15, Napoli 2.3
Delayed in Chile along with his Uruguay team-mates Gargano and Pereira, Edinson Cavani might be required to make his way directly to Turin without even returning home to Naples first. Either way, given Napoli’s reliance on the forward, he is almost certain to find his way into Walter Mazzarri’s starting line-up.
Whether he is able to perform to the best of his ability is another question entirely, and Napoli have more problems besides with goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis nursing an elbow injury and a total of 13 players worn down by international duty. Napoli have performed poorly in such circumstances this season – with four of their five league defeats arriving at the end of weeks which included either an international round or a European fixture. Consider Torino in the double chance market at 1.62.
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