Serie A Betting: Milan to pip Fiorentina to Champions League spot



Saturday

Sampdoria 3.55, the draw 3.25, Juventus 2.05

Antonio Conte will remain as manager of Juventus next season. That news did not come as an especially great surprise, but it was still splashed across the front pages of all Italy’s sporting newspapers on Thursday after Conte met with the club’s president and directors to thrash out their vision for the future. Conte is said to have demanded two new strikers as well as insisting that the club retains both Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal.

But while the focus in Turin is already on next season, Conte has warned his players not to let up in their final game. Sampdoria, on the other hand, have been winding down since long before their top-flight safety was secured. Take the away clean sheet at 3.15.


Sunday

Atalanta 2.0, the draw 3.1, Chievo 4.0

Atalanta have been docked a combined eight points over the last two seasons, and yet avoided relegation on each occasion. They have earned the right to celebrate this weekend, though there is no guarantee that they will get to end the season on a high note. So far they have won just six home games all season.

Chievo, meanwhile, have won away to Roma, Siena and Pescara in the last month – keeping a clean sheet on each occasion. It’s hard to know what to expect between teams with nothing to play for, but Chievo are generously priced at 1.76 in the double chance market.


Bologna 2.15, the draw 3.15, Genoa 3.4

Genoa, too, are safe for another year. They have finished the season strongly, going unbeaten through their last six games, albeit they did face some rather compliant opponents. Only one of those games produced more than two goals. Try the unders at 2.15.


Cagliari 5.25, the draw 3.65, Lazio 1.65

Lazio can secure fifth place, and with it a place in next season’s Europa League, if they win this weekend and Udinese do not. Failing that, they will get another chance next weekend in the Coppa Italia final. Because neither of Lazio or Roma have qualified for the Champions League, the latter will be an all-or-nothing shot for both teams. Roma would not go into Europe as runners-up, even if Lazio had already secured fifth place.

The players themselves, of course, are unlikely to spend time dwelling on the various permutations. Lazio, after three consecutive victories, will want to maintain their momentum ahead of the final. The price is not huge, but I’m taking the away win.


Inter 3.5, the draw 3.5, Udinese 2.0

Is this the worst Inter side of all time? A loss this weekend would be their 16th of the league season, breaking the club record set in 1946-47. It is hardly an unthinkable outcome; Udinese need a victory to be sure of preserving their Europa League berth and have won their last seven games.

The biggest question is whether Antonio Di Natale will be available for the visitors. He was stretchered off towards the end of Udinese’s win over Atalanta last weekend and although the injury turned out to be less serious than first thought, he is yet to resume full training. If Di Natale – responsible for 22 of his team’s 54 goals this season – misses out, then the home win might begin to look tempting.


Palermo 2.3, the draw 3.15, Parma 3.1

Nine years of top-flight football come to an end for Palermo on Sunday, their fate sealed by last week’s loss to Fiorentina. They will hope to at least end this miserable season on a high note, but that might not be straightforward. It was only the phenomenal form of Josip Ilicic that allowed the club to ever dream it might avoid relegation, and he is expected to start on the bench as the club seek to preserve the health of their most marketable transfer commodity. Parma, after an otherwise woeful second-half of the season, have also shown signs of life lately, winning two of their last three. Consider the draw at 3.15.


Pescara 15.0, the draw 6.5, Fiorentina 1.17

For Fiorentina, the equation is simple. To land Italy’s last Champions League berth, they must win their last game of the season and hope that Milan fail to do the same. Of course, things would be even more straightforward if they had simply beaten Pescara last time around. Instead they lost 2-0 when the two teams met in Florence on 6 January. Pescara have not won a game since.

Vincenzo Montella’s side should get their revenge on Sunday. Pescara have failed to score in five of their last six home games, and the odds on them failing to do so again are appealing enough at 1.75.


Roma 2.45, the draw 3.4, Napoli 2.75

What better way could there be to celebrate your club’s Champions League qualification than with pasta shaped like the trophy itself? Napoli rewarded their players and coaches with a grand dinner on Wednesday, and to some this trip to Rome might just feel like an extension of the festivities. This game is little more than a warm-down for Napoli at the end of a long and broadly successful season. Roma, conversely, will use it as a warm-up for the Coppa Italia final.

Goals seem likely between two of the league’s highest-scoring teams, but the overs are too short at 1.4. Instead consider the draw between two teams lacking any great reason to go for the jugular.


Siena 14.0, the draw 7.0, Milan 1.16

Mario Balotelli has warned that he will walk off the pitch the next time he is racially abused during a game. An admirable stance, though the fear must be that some opposition fans might take advantage by setting out to make him do exactly that.

Siena’s supporters, however, have little inclination to do anything that would help their Tuscan rivals Fiorentina. Given that their team has already been relegated, many might even be cheering for Milan this weekend. Back Milan to lead at half-time and full-time at 1.65.


Torino 2.15, the draw 3.1, Catania 3.55

Catania might not have much left to gain in the standings, but this fixture does at least provide them with the opportunity to get a monkey off their backs. Never in their club’s history have they won away to Torino. This might be the best opportunity they have in a while; Torino’s last eight games have yielded three draws and five defeats. At 3.55, I’ll take the away win.