Genoa 2.0, the draw 3.3, Atalanta 3.9
Seven games removed from their last victory, Genoa have finally slipped into the relegation zone. This weekend provides an important opportunity to for the Rossoblu to turn their fortunes around. Atalanta are safely ensconced in mid-table and will be without their leading goalscorer, Germán Denis, who was sent off last week in the defeat to Fiorentina.
Unfortunately for the hosts, they too will be without their most prolific forward: Marco Borriello picked up a suspension of his own after collecting his eighth yellow card of the season last weekend. In the light of such absences the obvious move would be to take the unders, but at 1.68 the price seems a little short. Instead I might be tempted by Atalanta in the double-chance market at 1.8.
Udinese 2.3, the draw 3.25, Lazio 3.15
A victory for Udinese would move them level with Lazio in the standings, an outcome which would once have seemed nigh on impossible. The Friuliani are strong at home and scoring freely now that Luis Muriel has discovered both form and fitness. Lazio, by contrast, are a team in free-fall, one whose thin squad seems to have hit a wall as fatigue from two concurrent cup runs sets in. Take the home win.
Inter 2.0, the draw 3.3, Parma 3.9
The Inter owner Massimo Moratti says he has “no choice” but to support his manager, Andrea Stramaccioni, even though the club’s season is coming apart at the seams. Wednesday’s defeat to Roma means there will be no Coppa Italia final to mitigate Inter’s slide from second to seventh over the last four months. Moratti believes that Stramaccioni has simply been dealt a bum hand. Inter are presently missing 13 members of their first-team squad through injury, after Fredy Guarin limped out of training on Thursday. Parma, though, have won just twice away from home all year. Go with the unders at 1.85.
Bologna 2.2, the draw 2.95, Sampdoria 3.75
This is the time of year when cynical Italian minds turn to biscotti – and not the kind you might dip in a coffee. Sampdoria and Bologna might feel they are already safe from relegation, sitting nine and ten points clear of the drop zone respectively, yet for both teams it remains a mathematical possibility. Both teams may approach this game with the mindset that it is better to preserve a point than take risks in pursuit of victory. The draw is well-priced at 2.95.
Catania 2.25, the draw 3.2, Palermo 3.3
There is no such possibility of arms being downed in the Derby di Sicilia, with Palermo fighting for top-flight survival and Catania chasing a Europa League berth. Even without such stakes, this fixture is never taken lightly. “We’ve been waiting six months for this match,” said the Catania general manager Sergio Gasparin.
Palermo will once again be without their captain, Fabrizio Miccoli, and though his fellow forward Abel Hernandez should play at some stage, it is unclear if he will be fit enough to start. I like the home win here, but Josip Ilicic has scored in each of Palermo’s last three games, and is worth considering in the goalscorers’ market at 4.7.
Fiorentina 1.48, the draw 4.0, Torino 7.5
The Champions League dream is still alive for Fiorentina, a remarkable turnaround when you consider that the team was flirting with relegation at around this time last year. They shouldn’t have too much trouble with a Torino side that seems to have misplaced its former defensive solidity. The home win does not have a huge price attached, but might be a solid choice to pad out an accumulator.
Napoli 1.48, the draw 4.0, Cagliari 7.5
A draw away to Milan last week kept Napoli firmly on course for second, preserving their four-point advantage over the Rossoneri. Less encouraging for the club’s supporters were the comments made by Edinson Cavani’s mother, Berta, on Thursday, when she told a Uruguayan TV station that her son was keen to change clubs over the summer.
If that is the case then he will doubtless want to go out with a bang before the supporters who adore him. Berta, indeed, noted in the same call that she doubted that any other city could match the affection her son has been shown in Naples. The truth is, though, that Cavani has not been at his sharpest lately, and Cagliari have lost only once in their last 13 games. The draw is the best value bet here at 4.0.
Roma 1.15, the draw 7.25, Pescara 18.0
Having secured their place in the Coppa Italia final, Roma can now turn their attentions fully to the pursuit of fifth place and a Europa League berth. They should take another stride in that direction with victory over a Pescara team which is not only bottom of the league but has also lost its last eight games. Sadly the odds for this game have been priced accordingly, making it hard to find any great value. The best may be Erik Lamela in the goalscorers’ market at 2.05. He has scored 14 goals in 27 appearances for Roma this year, most of them against better defences than this one.
Siena 2.2, the draw 3.1, Chievo 3.5
A run of five games without defeat has propelled Siena out of the relegation zone for the first time this season. They are two points clear of their nearest rivals, Genoa and Palermo, but a long way off being in the clear. Their remaining fixtures include trips to Roma, Napoli and Catania, as well as home games against Milan and Fiorentina. This, in other words, is the most straightforward game left on Siena’s schedule. They need to win it. I think they will.
Juventus 1.75, the draw 3.6, Milan 4.85
It is indicative of the gulf between these two teams in the standings that the Juventus director Pavel Nedved was able to tell reporters this week that he hopes to see Mario Balotelli in Milan’s starting line-up. Balotelli is presently serving a three-game suspension for comments made to a goalline official at the end of his team’s draw with Fiorentina earlier this month, but will have his appeal against that verdict heard on Friday.
Nedved argued that fixtures such as this one lose something when their biggest stars are absent, but that is an easier position to take when your own side is already 11 points clear at the top of the table (and 15 ahead of third-placed Milan). This will be a tricky game for Juve, who are themselves likely to be without the injured Giorgio Chiellini. Milan are unbeaten in 14 games. Try the draw at 3.6.
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