Chievo 2.85, the draw 3.1, Udinese 2.5
All of Italian football has been impacted by the death of Piermario Morosini last weekend, but Udinese have felt his loss more than most. On the club’s books since 2004, he had spent much of the intervening period out on loan (he was playing for Livorno at the time of his death) but remained a very close friend to many players and members of staff in Udine. The captain Antonio Di Natale was particularly affected, describing Morosini as “like a brother”, and pledging to look after the player’s disabled sister. He has since called on his team-mates to push on and claim third place as a means of honouring their lost colleague, but in reality it is hard to know how anyone will react in this emotionally-charged fixture. From a betting standpoint, my best advice would be to look elsewhere on this occasion.
Parma 2.2, the draw 2.65, Cagliari 4.25
How to separate two teams who come into this fixture with not only the same number of points (38), but also the precise same number of wins (nine) and draws (11)? A draw could be mutually beneficial with both sides focussed on safety first and foremost, but the smarter betting move would be to take odds of 2.7 that Cagliari fail to score. Although Mauricio Pinilla – the visitors’ joint-leading scorer, despite only having joined in January – has been passed fit, all of his seven goals for the club so far have come at home. Cagliari as a team have been kept scoreless in six of their last seven away fixtures.
Catania 2.15, the draw 2.7, Atalanta 4.2
Fledgling gaffer Vincenzo Montella, The Little Aeroplane, has taken Catania to new heights this season – the club requiring just four points from their remaining six games to break their all-time points record in the Italian top-flight – but after an otherwise spectacular second half of the season, Montella's team has suffered consecutive defeats in its last two games, away to Chievo and at home to Lecce. But the latter was a freak result, Lecce only equalising in the 89th minute before Catania’s keeper, Juan Pablo Carrizo, was sent off, forcing them to put a forward, Francesco Lodi, in goal. He duly gifted Lecce a soft winner. Catania should get back to winning ways against a modest Atalanta side, but with Carrizo suspended and his replacement, Tomas Kosicky, having struggled in his most recent outing – a 3-1 defeat to Juventus in February, both teams to score at 1.75 is a decent shout.
Napoli 1.25, the draw 5.5, Novara 11.0
Since being knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea, Napoli have collected just two points from five games – leaving their hopes of returning to the competition hanging by a thread. Struggling Novara have actually outperformed them in that period, picking up five points, yet remain 19th. With Christian Maggio – whose absence has arguably been the key element of Napoli’s recent struggles – expected to return, a comfortable home win is on the cards. Take Napoli to overcome the one-goal handicap at 1.74.
Fiorentina 2.8, the draw 3.2, Inter 2.5
Andrea Stramaccioni may be two years younger than his team’s captain, Javier Zanetti, but the latter offered a significant vote of confidence on Wednesday, stating that he would be happy if Inter extended the manager’s deal at the end of the season. Despite a promising start, he may require a few results yet to convince the owner Massimo Moratti. Inter have the toughest run-in of all the teams chasing third place, with games still to come against Udinese, Milan and Lazio. That makes this a game they must win, and at 2.5 I would back them to do so.
Cesena 3.2, the draw 3.1, Palermo 2.3
A fixture which allows us to re-examine an age-old conundrum: what happens when the easily moveable object meets a thoroughly resistable force? Palermo have won a grand total of one game away from home all season, yet Cesena have not won anywhere since 15 January. In such a context the draw probably represents good value at 3.1, but so does a bet on the home team not to score at 3.15. They have failed to do so in seven of their last nine games, and Palermo’s defence will be strengthened by the return of Matias Silvestre, who had been out with a thigh injury since February.
Genoa 2.15, the draw 2.8, Siena 4.0
Rumour has it that the Siena manager Giuseppe Sannino could soon make the switch Genoa after the latter lined up Sean Sogliano to take over as their sporting director at the end of this season. Sogliano and Sannino worked together at Varese for several years, and the latter’s success in steering Siena away from the relegation places has not gone unnoticed. Whether or not Sannino would want the job is another matter – especially if Genoa are playing in Serie B next season: a fate he himself could nudge them towards with a Siena victory on Sunday. The best betting value might be in the scorers’ market; Mattia Destro has found the net in four of Siena’s last five games and is up against what is statistically the worst defence in the division, having conceded 58 goals in 32 games. He is 3.3 to score on
Lazio 1.55, the draw 3.9, Lecce 6.75
A glance at the league table would give the impression that this ought to be straightforward for Lazio – they sit third, and Lecce 18th – but the form guide suggests otherwise. Lecce have lost just once, away to the champions Milan, over their last 10 games whereas Lazio have been beaten six times over the same spell. None of Lazio’s strikers have scored since Miroslav Klose found the net on 26 February, and he is now out with a thigh injury that leaves him doubtful to feature again this season. The draw looks a very good price at 3.9, but if you’re feeling brave you might even go for Lecce in the draw no bet category at 5.6.
Milan 1.22, the draw 6.0, Bologna 11.5
Before last week’s round of games was cancelled I had counselled backing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score against Genoa, the statistics showing that he does his best work against low-to-middling sides. Bologna, too, fall into that category, so my advice is unchanged: back Zlatan to get his name on the scoresheet at 1.6.