Sampdoria 2.4, the draw 3.25, Atalanta 2.9
It has been all or nothing for Atalanta so far in this campaign, with four wins and four defeats from their first eight games. Sampdoria, by contrast, had not beaten anybody until their 2-1 victory away to Livorno last weekend. But while the Blucerchiati seem to be improving, Atalanta must play without the injured Stefano Lucchini and Giacomo Bonaventura. I like the home win.
Inter 1.4, the draw 4.4, Verona 7.5
Not even the most optimistic of Verona supporters could have predicted that they would sit ahead of Inter after eight games. Especially if you told them that the Nerazzurri themselves would be fifth. “We’ve gone well beyond our expectations,” said the Verona manager Andrea Mandorlini this week. “But at the same time I would say that we deserve it.”
They most certainly do, with the likes of Jorginho, Juan Iturbe and Luca Toni establishing themselves as some of the stars of this season so far. Verona have played to win every time, although Mandorlini, a lifelong Inter fan, joked that this week he would happily settle for a draw. I would instead suggest backing Verona in the double-chance market, at 2.75.
Napoli 1.36, the draw 4.6, Torino 8.25
The only Italian team to win in the Champions League this week, Napoli return home anxious to get their Serie A campaign back on track after last weekend’s defeat to Roma. That may be a less straightforward a task than it first appears; Torino have lost just twice this season, and have drawn already against both Milan and Inter.
Rafael Benítez’s team selection will be closely scrutinised, as the manager continues to rotate his starting XI. Goran Pandev and Lorenzo Insigne could return to the attack, but each of Dries Mertens and Duván Zapata made a compelling case for more playing time during the win in Marseille. Either way, the one thing we should be able to count on is goals: these two teams have scored 31 goals between them so far, as well as conceding 19. Over 2.5 goals is 1.72.
Bologna 2.05, the draw 3.25, Livorno 3.65
These are not happy times for Bologna. Bottom of the league, they are winless after eight games for the first time in club history. Last weekend, they were beaten by Sassuolo – a club who had never before won a top-flight fixture.
Little wonder that the club’s directors decided to send honorary president, and Italian pop legend, Gianni Morandi down to the club’s training ground this week for a pep-talk. His 1960s hit Scende La Pioggia (The Rain Is Falling) would have felt all too appropriate given the violent downpour that compounded Bologna’s misery during the Sassuolo defeat. Even Morandi, though, might struggle to lift his team’s spirits. Take Livorno in the double chance market at 1.72.
Catania 1.82, the draw 3.4, Sassuolo 4.4
So, was last week’s victory the start of better things to come for Sassuolo, or simply indicative of the depths to which Bologna have sunk? We may have a better idea after this game against a Catania side which also has just one win to date. These teams have scored just 13 goals between them so far, so take the unders at 1.75.
Chievo 3.65, the draw 3.4, Fiorentina 2.0
Two games, two wins, and seven goals. This has been a satisfying week for Fiorentina, who followed up their incredible come-from-behind victory over Juventus by squashing Romania’s CS Pandurii 3-0 in the Europa League on Thursday night. Better yet, they did it despite making eight changes to the team that faced Juve. There will not be too many tired legs when they travel to Verona this weekend. Away win.
Juventus 1.22, the draw 6.0, Genoa 12.0
As the fury over Giorgio Chiellini’s red card subsides, Juventus might just be able to see the positives in Wednesday night’s defeat to Real Madrid. Despite losing, Antonio Conte’s team played well. “We showed that we can belong at this level,” said the manager. Pep Guardiola agreed, telling Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday that he still expected the Bianconeri to qualify.
Juve will have the chance to make amends in two weeks’ time, but for now they will have to make do with taking out their frustrations on Genoa. There is not a lot of value to be had in backing them to win, so instead consider a bet on both teams to score at 2.25. Juventus have only kept two clean sheets in 11 games across all competitions.
Parma 3.1, the draw 3.3, Milan 2.25
Ricky Kakà gave Milan fans a reminder of the good old days this week, knifing through Barcelona’s defence to tee up Robinho’s goal in the 1-1 draw at San Siro. But his team-mates had recognised his value long before that. Even while he was recovering from injury over the last few weeks, Kakà was an ever-present at Milanello – the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night.
“I will play at full-back if it helps the team,” he told reporters when asked about his role. Milan, of course, would rather just have him behind the attack where he belongs. His spirit, as well as his talent, has given this team a lift; I expect them to win on Sunday.
Udinese 3.4, the draw 3.35, Roma 2.1
Another week, and another tough test for Rudi Garcia’s Roma. Udinese are unbeaten at home – conceding just two goals in four games. Roma will face them without either of Francesco Totti or Gervinho, both of whom had excelled so far in this campaign.
And yet their prospects are not necessarily bleak. Coming in to replace those two are Marco Borriello – who is certainly no Totti, but did score 12 goals in 28 games for Genoa last season – and Adem Ljajic – the highly-touted young Serbian forward who has already scored three times in five appearances (all but one of them off the bench) since joining in the summer. Away win.
Lazio 1.8, the draw 3.5, Cagliari 4.3
For now, at least, Vladimir Petkovic remains in charge of Lazio. The manager was reported to have handed in his resignation after last week’s defeat to Atalanta, but those claims turned out to be false. Since then we have heard that he could soon get the sack, his club supposedly losing patience after a disappointing start. And yet the evidence of the past decade suggests that a midseason firing would be quite out of character for the president Claudio Lotito, unless the club was in truly dire straits.
Either way, the Biancocelesti could do with a shot in the arm after a run of five games without a win in all competitions. I think they will get the win this time around.
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