Milan 1.57, the draw 3.8, Udinese 6.5
Why always him? Mario Balotelli’s arrival in Milan was never going to go off quietly, yet the public’s enthusiasm for his return still managed to catch local authorities off guard. A crowd of 300 fans congregated outside a restaurant where the striker was dining with the Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani on Wednesday night, cheering and chanting songs in support of the new signing.
Or at least that was how things began. At a certain point their enthusiasm is reported to have spilled over into violence, which in turn brought clashes with the police. Tear gas was released to disperse the crowd and at least one officer had to be taken to hospital for treatment for head injuries.
The manager, Massimiliano Allegri, will hope only that his new signing can have as great an impact on the pitch as he has made off it. Balotelli’s arrival creates the prospect of the Rossoneri fielding one of the youngest and most dynamic attacking trios anywhere in Europe. Alongside Balotelli this Sunday against Udinese could be the club’s 20-year-old leading scorer, Stephan El Shaarawy and their latest teenage prodigy, M’Baye Niang.
Balotelli has already scored his first Milan goal, albeit only in a friendly against the Brescian Serie D side Darfo Boario. He is priced at 2.1 to repeat that feat against Udinese on Sunday, but bettors should be wary – reports suggest that the new arrival is likely to start this game on the bench.
Nevertheless, there should be opportunities to be had. The visitors have conceded 19 in 11 away games so far this season and remain without their first-choice goalkeeper, Zeljko Brkic. El Shaarawy got his first goal of 2013 against Atalanta last Sunday, and I would be tempted to back him to score at some point in this game at 2.25.
Given Udinese’s defensive frailties, a bet on over 2.5 goals in the game might also make sense at 1.8. The home win certainly feels like the most likely outcome, but at 1.57 the odds are too short to make it worthwhile.
Score prediction: Milan 2-1 Udinese (8.25)