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Bologna 6.7, the draw 3.9, Roma 1.5
Rudi Garcia celebrated his 50th birthday on Thursday. His cake was a little more understated than the one that Francesco Totti had received for his 37th last September, but the Roma manager probably won't mind. He would much sooner commemorate the occasion with three points this weekend to put the pressure back on league leaders Juventus.
The Giallorossi won 5-0 when these two teams met in Rome just two days after Totti’s celebration, so can they match that scoreline now after Garcia’s?
I might not go that far, but I will take them to win without conceding at 2.5.
Livorno 2.4, the draw 3.15, Verona 2.95
Sixteen points separate these two sides – both of whom were promoted from Serie B last summer – but it is 17th-placed Livorno who might just arrive at this fixture with a little more confidence than their seventh-placed opponents.
Verona’s previously excellent form has been dented by a run of challenging fixtures against the likes of Roma, Napoli, Juventus and Milan. They have won just twice since the turn of the year, and last week’s loss to fellow Europa League challengers Torino was damaging to morale.
Both of those victories that they did earn, however, have been away from home, and Andrea Mandorlini’s side have been scoring more consistently on their travels. With Livorno losing their captain Andrea Luci for the season, the hosts may be soft in the middle of the park. I think there could be goals in this one. Try the overs at 1.96.
Chievo 2.1, the draw 3.2, Catania 3.5
No team has done worse on its travels than Catania, who have just two points to show for their 12 games outside of Sicily. But no team has done worse at home than Chievo, who have scraped together only eight points from their 11 matches at the Bentegodi. Suffice to say, this might not be the best game on display this weekend. I will take the draw.
Inter 1.4, the draw 4.2, Cagliari 8.5
‘Disarray’ seems to have been the default setting at Cagliari for the best part of two years now, and they pivoted back in that direction this week as word leaked out that the manager Diego Lopez had been fired, only for it to later turn out that he would be staying, but that his assistant Ivo Pulga had lost his job instead. None of this will have aided their preparation for this fixture, and nor will a suspension to captain Daniele Conti.
Inter have finally strung together two consecutive wins for the first time since November, and should be in good shape to add a third. Against opponents who have scored just four away goals all season, I would back them to win and keep a clean sheet at 2.16.
Sampdoria 3.2, the draw 3.2, Milan 2.25
Milan were unfortunate to lose to Atlético Madrid on Wednesday night, but cannot afford to waste time feeling sorry for themselves.
Sampdoria, despite a heavy defeat to Roma last weekend, remain more than capable of doing further damage to the Rossoneri and given Mario Balotelli’s expected absence I would go so far as to say that the odds against them seem a little too generous. Home win.
Udinese 1.75, the draw 3.5, Atalanta 4.75
A run of two wins and a draw has been enough for some journalists to start asking the Udinese manager Francesco Guidolin whether his team is ready to make a late run at the Europa League. Given that they are still nine points and seven places shy of that goal, he probably did well to answer in the negative. After a miserable start to the campaign, the Friuliani will be happy simply to steer themselves clear of relegation.
Udinese could take a good step in that direction by beating an Atalanta team which lost 4-0 at home to Parma last week, but despite the visitors’ poor away form, I expect them to show a little more fight. Back both teams to score at 2.16.
Juventus 1.24, the draw 5.5, Torino 12.0
Not since 1995 have Torino beaten their city rivals, and the odds are rightly stacked against them ending their drought this Sunday. As well as Giampiero Ventura’s side have played in manoeuvring themselves up to sixth in the table, there remains a gulf between them and Juventus, who are yet to drop a point at home.
Torino, though, might be in position to update a different statistic. The Granata have not even scored against Juventus since 2002, but with Ciro Immobile (co-owned by Juve, of course) in especially fine fettle, they are capable of breaching their rivals’ defence. Back Torino to score at some point in the game at 1.96.
Lazio 1.43, the draw 4.1, Sassuolo 8.0
The momentum generated by Edy Reja’s return as manager of Lazio has been stopped dead over the last week by consecutive defeats to Catania in Serie A and then Ludogorets Razgrad in the Europa League. But their problems pale by comparison with those of Sassuolo, who have now lost 10 of their last 11 games, slumping to the foot of the table.
With the hosts tired from their midweek exertions, and the visitors just digging in to halt the slide, I would expect a low-scoring game. Try the unders at 1.96.
Parma 2.45, the draw 3.2, Fiorentina 2.9
Vincenzo Montella demonstrated his intention for Fiorentina to compete on all fronts by fielding a strong side for his team’s Europa League game against Esbjerg on Thursday night. They rewarded him with a 3-1 away victory that moves them significantly closer to a place in the last 16.
But will there be a cost to his team as they prepare for a challenging league fixture against a Parma team that is unbeaten in 12 games? The home win is a good price here.
Napoli 1.28, the draw 5.0, Genoa 11.0
After barely escaping Swansea with a draw, Napoli may be glad to be back on more familiar territory this weekend at the Stadio San Paolo. Rafael Benítez is sure to rotate his side – as he usually does – but must be careful not to underestimate opponents whose last five games include a win over Inter and a 3-3 draw away to Fiorentina.
I expect Napoli to win, but at 5.0, I might consider a punt on the draw – especially if the home team rest the likes of Gonzalo Higuaín and José Callejón.
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