Bologna 3.10, the draw 3.20, Parma 2.30
There is plenty riding on this Derby d’Emilia, with Bologna fighting to preserve their top-flight status while Parma push for Europe. The visitors are certainly the stronger of the two sides, but do also have a number of key absentees. Marco Parolo, arguably Parma’s most impressive player this season, is suspended, while both Antonio Cassano and Walter Gargano are injury doubts.
Nevertheless, I am not convinced Bologna have enough quality to win. Try the draw at 3.20.
Livorno 2.30, the draw 3.20, Chievo 3.10
Just two points separate Livorno in 18th place from Chievo in 16th, making this a crucial game for both sides – but especially the hosts, whose remaining fixtures look daunting. After this weekend, Livorno face only one more team in the bottom half of the table – and even that, an away trip to Udinese, is hardly an inviting prospect.
Common wisdom would suggest backing the unders in a match-up between two of the lowest-scoring sides in Serie A, but I might go against the grain and take the overs at 2.25. All of Chievo’s last five away games have featured three or more goals, and both team’s desperation for a win could result in an open game.
Napoli 1.62, the draw 3.90, Lazio 6.00
On paper Napoli have little to play for in the next six games. Nine points clear of fourth-place Fiorentina and 12 adrift of second-place Roma, their final standing is effectively already decided. But after last weekend’s loss to Parma, Rafa Benítez will know it is important for his team to get back on track swiftly. Napoli still have a Coppa Italia final to prepare for, and the club’s fans are growing restless.
For that reason, I expect a reaction from the hosts. The odds are not especially enticing, but I would still take the home win at 1.62.
Sampdoria 3.20, the draw 3.20, Inter 2.25
A match within a match this weekend at the Marassi, as Sampdoria’s Maxi Lopez squares off with Mauro Icardi. The two Argentinian forwards used to be close friends, but not so much these days, after Icardi ran off with Lopez’s former wife Wanda Nara. A very public back-and-forth between the two players in the press this week has stoked the flames ahead of Sunday’s fixture.
Between the two of them, Icardi is in better form. He has chipped in three goals and an assist in his last four appearances, and yet Inter have contrived not to win any of those games. Another draw seems quite possible here against a solid Sampdoria team, and the price is right at 3.20.
Torino 1.80, the draw 3.50, Genoa 5.00
Ciro Immobile’s battle with Carlos Tevez to finish as this season’s capocannoniere might just be one of the most intriguing sub-plots of the remaining few weeks of this season. The Torino striker moved level with his Juventus counterpart in first place after scoring his 18th goal of the campaign away to Catania last weekend.
He should have the opportunity to add to that tally against Genoa, who will play this game without the injured Matuzalem or the suspended Giuseppe Sculli. Torino have not beaten these opponents since 2004, but I would back them to end that streak at odds of 1.80.
Verona 3.00, the draw 3.25, Fiorentina 2.35
It is some testament to Fiorentina that, despite playing half the season without Giuseppe Rossi, and almost all of it without Mario Gomez, they remain on course to claim fourth place. The Viola have been deeply inconsistent for most of 2014, interspersing defeats to the likes of Cagliari with away wins over Napoli, and yet somehow remain out in front of the likes of Inter, Parma and Lazio.
Verona themselves have not given up on a top-six finish, their hopes boosted by consecutive wins over Genoa and Chievo. They will seek to play on the front foot at home, which is why I would try the overs at 1.90.
Milan 1.33, the draw 4.50, Catania 9.50
This was the week when Catania sacked Rolando Maran for the second time in less than six months, naming Mauricio Pellegrino as his replacement. The new man does not have much time to salvage the situation; Catania are bottom of the table and seven points from safety with six games left to play.
Milan have hardly been the most reliable side this season, but they should make short work of such dispirited opposition. Back the home team to win even with a one-goal handicap at odds of 1.90.
Udinese 6.25, the draw 3.80, Juventus 1.62
If all goes as expected for Roma on Saturday, then Juventus will once again be under pressure to get a result on Monday night. Udinese are a decidedly better team than the Livorno side that Juve beat last week, but it would still take a leap of faith to bet against the league leaders, who have won 27 of their 32 games so far. The Stadio Friuli, furthermore, is nothing like the fortress that it has been in some past seasons.
With the status of Udinese’s leading goalscorer, Antonio Di Natale, uncertain, I might even suggest Juventus to win without conceding at 2.55.