Atalanta – Napoli
With Gonzalo Higuaín back among the goals and José Callejón top of the scoring charts after Sunday’s 6-2 walloping of Verona, could the good times finally back for Napoli? Probably not, but they do at least have a promising midweek match-up to look forward to. Atalanta have only scored once in their last six games, and that against a Parma team in free-fall.
They have been slightly more impressive at the back than up front, but 10 goals conceded in eight games suggest they are hardly impassable. Callejón has found the net in each of Napoli’s last five games, and the odds are tempting enough that it is difficult to look past him again.
Callejón to score – 3.15
Cagliari – Milan
Silvio Berlusconi is back to his meddling best in Milan, reportedly dropping in on the Pippo Inzaghi at half-time during Sunday’s draw against Fiorentina, so as to encourage him to get Fernando Torres off the bench. The manager demonstrated that he is a man of his own mind by waiting until the 79th minute to do so, but he is expected to give the Spaniard a start in Sardinia on Wednesday.
Cagliari have given some indication that they might be finally warming up to Zdenek Zeman’s uber-attacking methods of late, sticking four goals past Inter at the end of last month, and then repeating the trick against Empoli at the weekend. But they are still far too unreliable week-to-week.
Away win – 2.14
Fiorentina – Udinese
It was supposed to be Fiorentina chasing Champions League football this season, but eight games in it is instead Udinese who find themselves occupying third place. Whilst few would expect the Zebrette to sustain this form through an entire campaign, Andrea Stramaccioni has been getting the very best out of the likes of Allan in midfield and Ivan Piris in defence. This team still ultimately relies far too heavily on the goals of Antonio Di Natale up front, but he remains very good at getting them.
Udinese’s weakness so far has been their away form, with two defeats in three games. But they are priced longer than they should be here, against opponents who have not been playing up to their usual high standards.
Draw or away win (double chance) – 2.35
Genoa – Juventus
Barring any huge surprises, Gigi Buffon will make his 500th appearance for Juventus at the Marassi on Wednesday night. He hopes to celebrate the occasion with what would be his 300th Serie A win (including those he claimed at Parma, before joining the Bianconeri).
His six clean sheets in eight games this season speak to Juventus’s solidity at the back, although Genoa might prove less meek than some opponents they have faced so far. Buffon’s former team-mate Alessandro Matri has four goals and two assists in his last five appearances, and should be well rested after playing only as a second-half substitute in his team’s win over Chievo at the weekend.
Both teams to score – 2.40
Inter – Sampdoria
Sampdoria travel to San Siro seeking to extend an unbeaten start founded on exceptional defensive solidity. Only Juventus have conceded fewer goals than Sinisa Mihajlovic’s team. Nineteen-year-old centre-back Alessio Romagnoli was defined by his manager recently as being “like [Alessandro] Nesta, but with more technical skill”.
He and his team-mates will have their hands full against an Inter team that, for all its flaws, has scored 14 times in eight games. But after drawing with Roma at the weekend, Sampdoria have good reasons to believe they can get a result.
Draw or away win (double chance) – 1.94
Palermo – Chievo
Luca Rigoni lines up for the first time against his former club, the Palermo defender having spent six-and-a-half seasons with Chievo before moving to Sicily in the summer. The Flying Donkeys might be regretting that sale, after conceding 14 goals in their first eight games, although his new club have actually shipped even more (17). In a match-up between two such horrific defences, I might be inclined to look for goals.
Over 2.5 goals – 2.28
Roma – Cesena
Held without a goal by Sampdoria, it goes without saying that you should not expect a repeat when Roma host Cesena on Wednesday. The Giallorossi are expected to bring Juan Iturbe and Mattia Destro back into the starting XI at the Stadio Olimpico, in place of Adem Ljajic and Francesco Totti, though frankly it should not matter too much which trio they plump for against opponents who sit 18th in the table.
Home team to win without conceding – 1.53
Torino – Parma
How greatly the fates of these two clubs have turned since 18 May. It was on that day that Alessio Cerci’s missed penalty cost Torino a sixth-place finish, allowing Parma to leapfrog them into sixth place. But the Ducali’s celebrations proved short-lived, as an unpaid tax bill caused them to be stripped of their Europa League place. Instead, Torino were handed a reprieve.
Five months later, the Granata have lost both Cerci and Ciro Immobile, but they are top of their Europa League group and muddling along in mid-table at home. Parma, by contrast, are dead last in Serie A. On paper it seems probable that Roberto Donadoni’s team should lose tomorrow, just as they have in seven out of eight games so far, and yet for some reason I think they might surprise. The desire to achieve some small measure revenge against the team who took their European berth may provide the motivational kick this team needs.
Draw – 3.50