Livorno 3.0, the draw 3.2, Parma 2.4
The new calendar year began for Livorno in much the same way as the last one had ended: with another defeat. The Amaranto have now collected just a single point from their last seven games, and have won only once since the middle of September. Given that their next game is away to second-placed Roma, they really cannot afford another defeat here.
Standing in their favour is the fact that Parma will be without a number of first-team players, including the suspended Mattia Cassani and the injured Walter Gargano. And Roberto Donadoni’s side do not have the best away record to begin with.
The draw looks like a good possibility to me.
Bologna 3.1, the draw 3.1, Lazio 2.4
Lazio players celebrated the 114th anniversary of the club’s formation on Thursday, with Hernanes giving the team’s mascot, Olimpia the eagle, a slightly uncomfortable kiss to mark the occasion.
The return of manager Edy Reja has lifted the team’s spirits, as has a 1-0 victory over Inter in his first game back, but the Biancocelesti still need to show they can build on that result.
They have not won a single game away from home so far this season, and with Alessandro Diamanti returning to the hosts’ line-up, the odds on a Lazio win seem too short. I will take the draw again.
Torino 2.9, the draw 3.1, Fiorentina 2.5
Fiorentina put Giuseppe Rossi’s injury behind them as best they could, beating Chievo 2-0 on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia. In the striker’s absence, Vincenzo Montella designed a 4-3-3 formation without a true striker, using the 21-year-old Polish prospect Rafal Wolski instead as a false nine. The manager might consider something similar here, with Mario Gómez now thought unlikely to return before February.
It is not an ideal spot in which to be experimenting. Torino, despite losing to Parma on Monday, are flying high this season, and especially at home, where only Juventus have beaten them to date. They will take the game to Fiorentina, as is their wont, but despite Rossi’s absence the Viola still have plenty of ways to hit back. At 1.9, I like the overs.
Atalanta 1.9, the draw 3.4, Catania 4.0
Francesco Lodi’s return proved to be just the tonic for Catania, the midfielder helping them to beat Bologna on Monday for just their third win of the campaign. Can they build on that result away to opponents who were handily beaten by Milan at San Siro? Perhaps, but I might just stick with the unders at 1.75.
The last six meetings between these teams have produced a grand total of seven goals.
Cagliari 7.75, the draw 4.1 Juventus 1.44
Can anything stop Juventus now? After crushing Roma in Turin, the Bianconeri sit eight points clear at the top of Serie A. Rather than asking whether Antonio Conte’s side will win the Scudetto, journalists are now pondering whether they are capable of breaking the 100-point barrier. Win on Sunday, and Juve will have 52 at the season’s halfway stage.
Cagliari have actually played pretty well at home this season, losing only once in nine games, but it would take an optimistic punter to go against the reigning champions on present form. I might go with the overs at 1.9.
Roma 1.36, the draw 4.4, Genoa 8.5
Roma will have a chance to avenge that defeat to Juventus sooner rather than later, after they set up a Coppa Italia quarter-final against the Bianconeri by beating Sampdoria this Thursday. New signing Radja Nainggolan made his debut in the 1-0 victory, putting in a solid performance before he was withdrawn midway through the second-half. He is expected to start again on Sunday in place of the suspended Daniele De Rossi.
His new team ought not to have too much trouble beating Genoa, but the odds on the home win are too short to be appealing. Consider the unders at 1.85; Roma have still conceded just two goals at home this season, but have also looked subdued up front in their two games back since the winter break.
Verona 3.8, the draw 3.35, Napoli 1.95
Verona have collected 24 points from a possible 27 at home so far this season, their eight victories offset by a single defeat to city rivals Chievo. But the next three fixtures at the Bentegodi will test their form to the limit. After Napoli on Sunday, Verona’s next two home games are against Roma and Juventus.
They are quite capable, though, of springing an upset against any of those sides. Luca Toni’s form up front has been such that pundits are beginning to call for him to be recalled to the national team, while Jorginho’s midfield displays have caught the attention of some of Europe’s leading clubs. At 3.8, I might take a chance on the home win.
Sassuolo 4.9, the draw 3.6, Milan 1.72
At long last, Milan have some reasons for optimism, with the club ringing in the new year with an overdue victory.
Their 3-0 win over Atalanta was rendered all the sweeter by the fact that it included a first goal for highly-touted 18-year-old prospect Bryan Cristante, who you can learn more about here. His emergence, along with the arrival of Keisuke Honda on a free transfer, could provide a much needed boost to this team’s spirits.
So would picking up three points against Sassuolo, who seem to have lost their momentum again after stringing together some impressive results through the month of November. Away win.
Paolo Bandini's tips for Monday night's Serie A games will be available on Monday morning