Lecce 2.05, the draw 3.25, Fiorentina 3.65
As Donald Rumsfeld might have put it, there are a lot of known unknowns ahead of this game. It is unknown how Fiorentina will play under their caretaker manager Vincenzo Guerini after Delio Rossi was sacked for punching Adem Ljajic it is unknown if Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic will be fit to play; at time of writing it is even unknown whether this game will take place on Saturday, with Lecce officials asking for the game to be moved so they can kick off at the same time as their relegation rivals Genoa.
What is known is that Lecce will be without the Colombian pair of Juan Cuadrado and Luis Muriel – both suspended and together two of the team’s most important performers this season. I’d wait to see if Jovetic is fit, and if so back Fiorentina in the draw no bet market so long as the price is still above 2.5.
Roma 1.65, the draw 3.75, Catania 5.0
What a time to be reminded of the one that got away. Just at the point where Roma’s oft-discussed ‘project’ under Luis Enrique seems to be at the point of collapse, onto the stage steps Vincenzo Montella – the much-loved former Roma striker who served as caretaker manager of the Giallorossi for three months last year but was passed over for the full-time job. Since then Montella has gone on to steer Catania to their all-time record points tally in Serie A (47).
Montella’s side, however, have been struggling for form too of late – like Roma winning just once in their last six games. Neither side defends well and with Simon Kjaer missing training on Thursday, Roma’s could be exacerbated even further. Over 2.5 goals would be my suggested bet, even at a short 1.6.
Siena 2.3, the draw 3.1, Parma 3.2
Mathematically safe from relegation as of Wednesday, Siena get to toast their achievement with a visit from Serie A’s most in-form side. Parma’s victory over Inter was their fifth in a row – equalling the club record for consecutive top-flight wins set in 1999-2000. Can they surpass that mark on Sunday? Certainly I would say they have a better than one-in-three chance against a Siena team who have won just one of their last five, and who are expected to be without joint-top scorer Emanuele Calaiò. Take Parma at 3.2.
Atalanta 2.4, the draw 3.1, Lazio 3.0
As any self-help manual will tell you, the best way out of a bad situation is to start setting yourself small, realistic goals. In Lazio’s case, this week’s target should probably be to simply get 11 players out on the field. Cristian Ledesma – scorer of the club’s equaliser against Siena on Wednesday – and Giuseppe Biava are the latest to be added to a combined injury and suspensions list which already included six first-team players.
With the Biancocelesti having collected eight points from their past 10 games, the two-point gap to third place already feels more like a chasm. Atalanta have kept clean sheets in both of their last two home games and against a decimated attack I would back them to do so again at 3.15.
Bologna 4.85, the draw 3.7, Napoli 1.67
With Cristian Maggio back in the team and Edinson Cavani back in goalscoring form, Napoli are flying once again – taking 10 points from their last four games to move back up into third. All they must do now to secure Italy’s last Champions League berth is win both of their two remaining games – each against sides with nothing left to play for. Bologna will be no pushovers, though, unbeaten as they are in six games. Rather than wade into the win market I might simply take Cavani to score during the game at 1.9. He has in each of Napoli’s last four fixtures.
Novara 1.95, the draw 3.2, Cesena 4.0
A match between the bottom two teams in Serie A with not even last place at stake, as Cesena are seven points behind Novara with two games to play. Yet somehow I suspect that could make for a more entertaining fixture – with both teams now in a position of having nothing to lose and therefore being able to go out and just enjoy their football. Novara have been playing a more open brand of football in the last few games, so maybe consider over 2.5 goals at 1.85.
Palermo 2.0, the draw 3.0, Chievo 4.1
This fixture, by contrast, risks being flatter than two week-old Chinotto, Chievo having failed to score in any of their last five games, while Palermo are without a win in six. While the expected returns of Fabrizio Miccoli and Federico Balzaretti should give the Sicilian side a lift, they feel like a team who have simply run out of steam under Bortolo Mutti. Given Chievo’s drought, I might even be inclined to back under 1.5 goals for the game at 3.9.
Udinese 1.62, the draw 3.85, Genoa 5.0
Although level on points with Napoli, third place will remain beyond Udinese as long as the Partenopei keep on winning – since head-to-head records serve as the first tie-breaker in Serie A. All Francesco Guidolin’s side can do is win their remaining games and hope – though even the former task may prove harder than it looks on paper. Before Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Cesena, Udinese had not won back-to-back games since December.
But Udinese’s home record is good, and Genoa had gone 14 games without a win before beating Cagliari this week. Their defence is abysmal, and Antonio Di Natale rarely passes up such opportunities. Take him to score at 1.78.
Cagliari 10.0, the draw 4.9, Juventus 1.3
What might have been straightforward has now become a little more fraught for Juventus after Gigi Buffon’s howler cost them the win against Lecce. They still control their own destiny, but there is now no margin for error. But while it is hard to legislate for freak incidents such as that which allowed Andrea Bertolacci to score on Wednesday, it is also true that Juventus had previously conceded just one goal in eight games. The Juventus clean sheet is fair value at 1.85.