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Verona 3.4, the draw 3.2, Inter 2.15
A game with European implications, as Verona seek to climb back into the top six and Inter fix their sights on leapfrogging fourth-placed Fiorentina. Right now, though, it feels as though these teams are operating on two different trajectories. The hosts, after a sensational first half to the season, are fading, with just one win in their last five games. The visitors have dropped just four points over the same spell.
The most surprising aspect of Verona’s dip is the manner in which their home form has deserted them. After winning eight of their first nine games at the Bentegodi, they have failed to pick up a single victory on their own turf so far in 2014. Nevertheless, I am not sold on Inter – whose defence has improved but whose goalscoring remains patchy – as a clear favourite here. I will take the draw.
Atalanta 2.3, the draw 3.1, Sampdoria 3.2
Safety is close at hand for both Atalanta and Sampdoria – each of them 13 points clear of the relegation zone with 11 games left to play – but neither side seems to be interested in letting up just yet. Both are coming off consecutive victories, and last week the Blucerchiati put four goals past Livorno.
They will be at full strength this weekend, while Atalanta are without starting centre-back Guglielmo Stendardo. I suspect the two sides’ comfortable circumstances might lend themselves to an open game. Try the overs at 2.20.
Milan 1.8, the draw 3.65, Parma 4.2
For Clarence Seedorf, laughing time is over.
The Dutchman cut a less jovial figure at training on Thursday, the fun and frivolity of his early interactions with players replaced by a newfound coolness and distance. Presumably he concluded that a change was required in the wake of Milan’s dismal Champions League exit. So far Seedorf has won just four of his 11 games in charge, drawing one and losing the other six.
Improving that record against Parma would be no mean feat. Roberto Donadoni’s side is unbeaten in 15 league games – only Juventus are riding a better streak – and has only dropped four points in its last nine games. Away win.
Cagliari 2.70, the draw 3.2, Lazio 2.70
In the red corner, a team that got used to playing without fans after a dispute with local authorities left it homeless for months on end. In the blue corner, one which played to an empty stadium last weekend as fans protested against their owner’s leadership. Cagliari and Lazio must go down as two of the most dysfunctional clubs of recent years in Serie A – and there has been some serious competition.
But the Sardinians have had a couple of good results at home lately, beating Fiorentina at the start of February before routing Udinese 3-0 last weekend. With André Dias and Antonio Candreva missing out for Lazio, I like the home win.
Livorno 2.25, the draw 3.2, Bologna 3.3
Bologna’s slide continues, the club extending its goalless run to four games with last week’s draw at home to Sassuolo. Livorno are hardly setting the world alight themselves, though, with just two wins to show for the last four months. A draw does not suit either side especially well, but I can imagine that being the outcome regardless.
Sassuolo 2.25, the draw 3.2, Catania 3.2
We should probably not expect a high-scoring affair between the bottom two clubs in Serie A. Sassuolo will be without Domenico Berardi – the man responsible for 12 of their 25 league goals – due to a suspension, while Catania as a team have only found the net six times in 14 away fixtures. Under 1.5 goals is worth a look, even at a relatively short 3.15.
Fiorentina 1.45, the draw 4.0, Chievo 7.4
After an impressive Europa League draw away to Juventus on Thursday night, can Fiorentina now shake themselves out of their domestic slump? It can only help to have Mario Gómez, who scored the equaliser in Turin, back amongst the goals.
The German had joked with Vincenzo Montella when he returned to training last month, reaching out to shake his manager’s hand and pretending to introduce himself with the words: “My name is Mario and I’m an attacker”. But until Thursday he had not done a lot to prove it, failing to score in any of his first six games back from injury.
Leaning on his renewed confidence, I expect Fiorentina to win without conceding a goal – available at 2.30.
Genoa 7.5, the draw 4.4, Juventus 1.45
Antonio Conte has some tricky decisions to make, as he contemplates how far to rotate his squad ahead of that Europa League second leg against Fiorentina next Thursday. With Roma now 14 points behind, Juventus can theoretically afford to take a few more risks in the league, but the manager might not see things the same way. After all, that third consecutive Scudetto is still his No. 1 priority.
One way or another, Juventus should prevail. I might consider a bet on 2/2 in the half-time/full-time market at odds of 2.08.
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