Serie A Betting: Paolo Bandini's expert preview


Saturday 

Cagliari 1.95, the draw 2.8, Chievo 4.6

Another home game to be played 500 miles from home for the Sardinian side, whose owner Massimo Cellino has relocated the team to Trieste for the remainder of this season in frustration at the present state of disrepair of their communally-owned home Not that it seems to have disrupted their performances as much as you might expect – Cagliari were unfortunate to draw with Inter in their first game at the Stadio Nereo Rocco and on Wednesday thrashed Catania there 3-0. 

The man of the moment is Mauricio Pinilla, scorer of eight goals in his last 10 matches for Massimo Ficcadenti’s side. Odds of 2.5 that he finds the net at some point during the game would appear very reasonable in that context.

Palermo 2.25, the draw 2.6, Catania 3.75 

As surely as we know that the sky is blue and water is wet, so we are aware that “all logic goes out the window in a derby”. Especially a Sicilian one. Despite never having finished above their neighbours since returning to the top-flight in 2006, Catania have won five of the past seven league meetings between the two sides, losing only once. Should it follow, then, that now they sit five points ahead of Palermo, the trend will be reversed?

Possibly, but it’s probably wisest not to count on it. More certain is the unreliability of both teams’ back lines. Only two teams have conceded more often than Palermo this season, and with Catania giving up two goals per game away from home, a punt on over 2.5 goals at 1.9 looks a decent shout.

Sunday

Bologna 2.35, the draw 3.2, Genoa 3.0

In the last week Genoa have lost twice, had their manager sacked and seen two of their players – Bosko Jankovic and Giuseppe Sculli – come to blows during training. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the players being intimidated into removing their shirts by angry Ultras during the 4-1 defeat to Siena .One place and one point above the relegation places, to say this is a team on a precipice would be an understatement.

But Bologna are no great shakes either, having won once in their last seven matches, and will be missing a raft of first-team players through injury, while Genoa did look improved in their first game under the new manager Luigi De Canio. I’m not sure I see any great value here, but if you’re feeling bold maybe try Genoa in the draw-no-bet market at 2.06.

Atalanta 2.7, the draw 2.55, Fiorentina 3.25

Not so long ago, Fiorentina were right there with Genoa on the brink of the relegation zone, yet after an otherwise miserable season they have emerged with eight points from a four-game run in which they faced Milan, Inter, Roma and Palermo. With both teams across the 40-point barrier and edging closer to safety after wins on Wednesday, the draw would suit everyone. Even at a relatively short 2.55, that’s what I’d back.

Inter 1.28, the draw 5.25, Cesena 9.5

The gap between Inter and third place has been trimmed from 10 points to just three in the space of five games since Andrea Stramaccioni took charge, despite the fact the Nerazzurri have drawn twice in that time. On paper this should be a routine home win against the worst team in the division, but in practice Cesena had drawn five in a row before making life very tough for Juventus on Wednesday. The draw at 5.25 is not unthinkable, but I’d go for under 2.5 goals at odds of 2.1. Cesena have conceded just six times in their last six games, and the chances of them contributing at the other end are slim, as they have scored only eight goals away from home all season.

Lecce 2.15, the draw 3.2, Parma 3.4 

Lecce have hardly been performing like a side sat 18th in the table, losing just once in 10 games prior to this week’s defeat to Napoli, but Parma too are enjoying a strong spell – having won four of their past five.

The absence of Juan Cuadrado thrgh suspension deprives Lecce of a key creative element, and though the presence of Luis Muriel and David Di Michele means they are still more than capable of causing damage, there is a risk they may be knocked off course by the Napoli defeat – especially knowing that such an extended strong run still hasn’t been enough to get them out of the relegation zone. I think Parma might just be value for the win at 3.4.

Novara 8.5, the draw 4.4, Juventus 1.36

Just four games stand between Juventus and an unbeaten season and the sense that this team is destined to get the job done grows stronger by the game. Novara hardly represent an insurmountable obstacle, though they did beat Lazio on Wednesday, while the one team below them in the table – Cesena – proved no pushovers for Juventus. The away win, while probable, does not offer enough sufficient returns at 1.36.

Nor can the scorer’s market be considered safe ground. Antonio Conte continues to rotate up front, and in any case it’s hard to know what to make of a situation where Marco Borriello got to be the hero on Wednesday – and Andrea Pirlo very nearly the villain. What does seem likely is a Juventus clean sheet – they have kept eight in their last 10 away games – and Novara’s attack is the second least potent in Serie A. Odds of 1.75 on Novara failing to score are OK – but given that their home defensive record is also relatively sound, 1.92 on a total of less than 2.5 goals might be better value. 

Siena 5.4, the draw 3.4, Milan 1.65 

If Juventus do indeed win at Novara, then Milan must do the same to preserve their increasingly slim hopes of the title. That is no straightforward task against a Siena team whose 20 points from the last 10 games is only one less than the Rossoneri have managed over the same period (and only four less than Juventus).  History is against the hosts – who have won just once in 15 attempts against Milan, but with Mattia Destro and Emmanuele Calaiò both in excellent form, odds of 4.1 on the home win in the draw no bet market are very tempting.

Udinese 2.25, the draw 3.2, Lazio 3.15

Once upon a time this looked likely to be the decisive fixture in determining which of these two would take Italy’s third and final Champions League berth, but that was before both team’s seasons came off the rails – each having collected just four points from their last five games. Lazio remain third for now, but it is hard to imagine them staying there long as the injuries mount – with Hernanes the latest key player to go down hurt – and form continues to dip.

Udinese aren’t in much better shape – with even their solidity at home no longer looking like a given after a meek defeat to Inter. Even Antonio Di Natale’s form has dipped – the player having failed to score in five of his last six games. With no Lazio striker having found the net since February, a bet on under 2.5 goals at 1.95 makes sense.