Chievo 4.8, the draw 3.55, Napoli 1.72
Perhaps Aurelio De Laurentiis can save himself a lawsuit after all. The Napoli owner threatened to sue the local authorities in Capri for €100m this week, after Gonzalo Higuain cut his jaw open against a rock while falling into the sea beside the island. De Laurentiis was livid about the supposedly insufficient medical care that his striker had received, yet Higuaín has been deemed fit to play on Saturday after getting eight stitches put in across his cheek and chin.
This will be an intriguing test for Napoli, who have lost without scoring on each of their past three visits to Chievo. And yet after an impressive start under Rafael Benítez, I am expecting an away win.
Juventus 1.4, the draw 4.4, Lazio 7.5
Lazio left their transfer business late this year. About 24 months late, to be precise. It was reported on Thursday that the club was close to tying up a deal for the Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz. If that deal goes through, it might just be the first time since Miroslav Klose arrived in 2011 that the club has had a viable alternative up front to the German.
Yilmaz will not arrive in time for this game, however, and Lazio’s starting XI might not look so different to the one that lost 4-0 to Juventus in the pre-season Super Cup. Yet experience tells us that fixtures rarely pan out the same way twice. Lazio, and in particular the goalkeeper Federico Marchetti, raised their game in Turin last year. At a price of 4.4, I am tempted by the draw.
Roma 1.35, the draw 4.5, Verona 9.0
Goodbye, then, Erik Lamela. And hello, Adem Ljajic. This was a week of mixed emotions for Roma, as they sold one player of immense potential, but simultaneously replaced him with another. Ljajic is less far along in his development, but showed what he is capable of in the second half of last season – scoring 10 goals for Fiorentina in the last five months of the campaign.
He will likely be named in Roma’s squad this weekend, but it would be a surprise to see him start. Rudi Garcia’s team, after all, coped fine without Ljajic or Lamela as they won 2-0 last week at Livorno. The home win, even at 1.35, is the obvious choice for this game.
Milan 1.42, the draw 4.3, Cagliari 8.0
Adriano Galliani does not take transfer tips from supporters. “[Alessandro] Matri: No Thanks!” read a banner unfurled at San Siro during Milan’s Champions League victory over PSV on Wednesday night. One day later, Galliani signed the striker anyway. Matri will be reunited in Milan with his former manager Massimiliano Allegri. In a neat twist of fate, this weekend’s opponents are Cagliari, the team where they worked together in the past.
Matri could play a role on Sunday, as his new team-mates recover from their midweek exertions. But even if he doesn’t, Milan ought to win regardless. Back the Rossoneri to lead at half-time and full-time, at odds of 2.1.
Atalanta 2.1, the draw 3.2, Torino 3.5
Some wise words arrived this week from the lips of Stefano Colantuono. “If you don’t score goals,” said the Atalanta manager, “then you won’t win games of football.”
True enough, though it is worth pointing out that his team scored against Cagliari last weekend and lost anyway. In fact, they have not won any of their last eight games dating back to last season. Torino, meanwhile, have not an away game since January. Take the draw at 3.2.
Bologna 2.25, the draw 3.2, Sampdoria 3.2
Both of these teams began their season with a defeat last weekend, and neither of them can have been all that surprised. Bologna’s opponents, after all, were last year’s runners-up, Napoli. Samp hosted the champions Juventus.
This weekend’s game is altogether more important; these two teams, after all, could easily finish up as relegation rivals. Sampdoria will be missing the defender Paolo Castellini after he was sent off last week, whereas Bologna have no such concerns. With the additional advantage of playing at home, I expect them to win.
Catania 2.95, the draw 3.25, Inter 2.35
Massimo Moratti continues to maintain that he has no deal in place to sell Inter just yet. He is in advanced talks with the Indonesian businessman Erik Thohir, but insisted that a board meeting on Thursday would not be his last. “The deal with Thohir can still finish in any different way,” he said. “Maybe we will have a club together.”
Nevertheless, the sense persists that a deal will be struck soon after the transfer window snaps shut. With an international break coming up next week, that would almost certainly make this his last game as the sole owner of the club. If history is a guide, then it could be an entertaining one; only once in the last eight meetings has this fixture produced less than three goals. Go with the overs at 2.1.
Genoa 3.75, the draw 3.5, Fiorentina 1.95
Fiorentina limped through to the Europa League group stage on Thursday after a 1-0 defeat at home to Grasshopper. Vincenzo Montella had made four changes to the team that had won the first leg in Switzerland 2-1. His team might have had half an eye on this fixture. On just three days’ rest, there might be some tired legs, but Genoa remain a poor team who lost their top scorer over the summer. Away win.
Sassuolo 2.0, the draw 3.3, Livorno 3.7
Promoted together from Serie B last season, Sassuolo and Livorno each began the season with a 2-0 defeat. Both teams might draw confidence from facing more familiar opponents, but the hosts will also know that the pressure is on them to claim maximum points.
The newly-signed Ezequiel Scheloto will lend Sassuolo a greater attacking impetus, as well as better service to Simone Zaza up front. At even money, the home win seems like the right way to go.
Udinese 2.0, the draw 3.2, Parma 3.85
Serie A only kicked off last week, but Udinese’s season is nearly a month old. It began back on 1 August, with a Europa League qualifier against Široki Brijeg. They won that tie by an aggregate scoreline of 7-1, but have not managed another victory since. Knocked out of Europe by Slovan Liberec, they began their new Serie A campaign with a 2-1 defeat away to Lazio.
Udinese ought to be doing better; unlike in past years when three or more star players have been sold all at once, their only significant departure this year was the (admittedly talented) centre-back Mehdi Benatia. In Antonio Di Natale and Luis Muriel, they have one of the more potent attacks in the league. They are usually strong at home, and I think they will win this weekend, but from a betting perspective, I’d sooner take the overs at 2.1.