Cagliari – Torino
The drought continues for Torino, who failed to score against Verona on Sunday despite winning a penalty late on. Omar El Kaddouri was guilty of driving his spot-kick too close to the goalkeeper, as well as failing to force home the rebound, but he has hardly been the only one frittering away chances up front.
Torino are now the only team left in Serie A without a goal. They should at least have chances to get off the mark against Cagliari, whose defending thus far under Zdenek Zeman has been predictably poor. But whether or not either team has the wherewithal to take their opportunities in this game remains to be seen.
Under 2.5 goals – 1.94
Fiorentina – Sassuolo
Who knows what to expect on any given weekend from Sassuolo? A team that has now lost 7-0 to Inter in consecutive seasons – only to then secure creditable draws in its next fixture on both occasions – pulled off one of the great shocks of the 2013-14 campaign when they won 4-3 away to Fiorentina, at a time when they were fighting for top-flight survival and the Viola were still clinging to faint dreams of a Champions League place.
Will we see a repeat of that result on Wednesday? One assumes not. Fiorentina are now, just as they were then, markedly the better team. Significantly, Domenico Berardi – who scored a hat-trick that day, is also out through suspension. Even so, I might steer clear of the outrights in this one.
Under 2.5 goals – 2.28
Inter – Atalanta
If Inter are to make good on their potential as dark horses for a top-three finish this season, they need to learn how to win close games. Last season they drew more times (15) than any other team in the division. Already in this campaign they have dropped two points against each of Torino and Palermo, in matches that they ought to have been able to win.
Atalanta have won this fixture at San Siro in both of the last two seasons, and for all the quality in this Inter team, the Nerazzurri are still making too many miscues at the back. The price on another upset looks tempting.
Double chance: draw or away win – 2.85
Juventus – Cesena
On Saturday, Cesena let a two-goal lead slip at home to Empoli – opponents who had previously failed to score in either of their first two Serie A games. What hope can we give the Seahorses now as they travel to Turin to face the champions?
In short: ‘not much’. Juventus have won all of their last 20 home games, and have not conceded a goal at any ground since April. Massimiliano Allegri may engage in a little squad rotation, with next week’s Champions League visit to Atlético Madrid in mind. But any weakening of the starting XI will also be offset by Arturo Vidal’s anticipated return from injury.
Home team to win without conceding a goal – 1.48
Napoli – Palermo
Depending which reports you believe this week, Rafael Benítez is either on the verge of losing his job at Napoli, or has the full backing of owner Aurelio De Laurentiis to stay and turn this ship around. Either way, the manager needs to do something to snap his team out of their sleep-walking start to this season. Were it not for a 95th minute Jonathan De Guzman winner against Genoa on the opening weekend, Napoli would now be joint-last.
Palermo have been a mixed bag so far on their Serie A return, scoring first in all three of their matches, only to get pegged back on every occasion. Franco Vázquez, in particular, has been a handful, and could do some damage against a defence that has not kept a clean sheet yet.
Franco Vázquez to score – 6.30
Parma – Roma
Mehdi Who? Roma were supposed to be weakened by the sale of their top centre-back, Benatia, to Bayern Munich, but his absence has not been felt too keenly so far by a team that is yet to concede a goal. The only question now is how the Giallorossi will handle the demands of playing twice a week. This will be their fourth match in 12 days. They have another two coming up in the next six.
Injuries to Juan Iturbe, Davide Astori and now Daniele De Rossi have trimmed down the rotation opportunities available to manager Rudi Garcia. Some changes will still be made, but the likes of Radja Nainggolan and Miralem Pjanic cannot easily be afforded a rest. Still, Roma are playing well, and have lost to Parma just once in their last 18 meetings.
Away win – 2.10
Sampdoria – Chievo
This has been a tough start to the season for Chievo, who opened with games against Juventus and Napoli and now have lost one of their most important players, midfielder Mariano Izco, to a thigh injury that required surgery on Sunday night. At time of writing, his prognosis was not yet known but, suffice to say, he will not be play at the Marassi this Wednesday.
Sampdoria still lack a cutting edge up front, but they have played well so far this season under Sinisa Mihajlovic.
Home win – 1.92
Verona – Genoa
For the second year running, Verona are defying all expectations. The assumption was that this team could not possibly repeat its successes of last season, having lost Jorginho during the winter transfer window and then Juan Iturbe this summer. And yet, after three games, they sit third on seven points, behind only Juventus and Roma.
Their match-winner on Sunday was Moldovan midfielder Artur Ionita, officially the first player from his country ever to score in Serie A. Signed from FC Aarau in July, he is not about to make anyone forget those departed stars, but he is indicative of the low-cost but effective reinforcements that Verona have made to keep their team competitive.
Home win – 2.15