Juventus 1.1, the draw 9.0, Pescara 19.0
The fixture list could not have been much kinder to Juve, pitting them against the worst team in the division as they look to regroup after Tuesday’s Champions League mauling in Munich. Antonio Conte is expected to rest a number of players with an eye on next week’s second leg against Bayern, and was always going to have to do without Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli – both of whom are suspended – for this game. Regardless of their starting XI, it is hard to envisage Juventus dropping points. But as there is no value in backing them, consider under 2.5 goals at 2.8.
Bologna 2.05, the draw 3.05, Torino 3.8
These days Torino seem to alternate between clean sheets and calamity. Their goalless draw with Palermo was followed by a 4-1 hiding at Parma. A 1-0 victory over Lazio before the international break preceded a 5-3 defeat at home to Napoli last weekend. Can we infer, then, that Giampiero Ventura’s team are set for a positive result away to Bologna? The Rossoblu are positioned just one point above Torino in the table, but given that they have only lost once at home in 2013 – against Juventus – I’m inclined to think not. The Bologna win is not wonderfully priced at 2.05, but I’m inclined to go with it anyway.
Fiorentina 2.7, the draw 3.15, Milan 2.6
Reports that Mario Balotelli had been included among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people for 2012 proved to be wide of the mark. His seven goals in as many games, however, have certainly exerted an influence on Milan’s season, keeping them on track for a Champions League berth that once seemed impossible. But Giampaolo Pazzini has also scored eight goals since the start of December, and Massimiliano Allegri will be grateful to have him available for selection for the first time in a month. Milan are soaring but Fiorentina have won their last two meetings with the Rossoneri and lost just once at home all season. The visitors have kept four consecutive clean sheets, but I can’t imagine them doing so here. Try over 2.5 goals at 1.9.
Catania 1.8, the draw 3.4, Cagliari 4.25
The Catania forward Gonzalo Bergessio described this game as the “last train” his team can catch if they are to make a push for Europe. But getting a ticket for this particular locomotive won’t be straightforward. Cagliari have lost just once in their last 11 games. I’d back the visitors in the double chance market at 1.9.
Sampdoria 1.9, the draw 3.3, Palermo 4.1
According to their owner Maurizio Zamparini, Palermo have only a 30% chance of top-flight survival. Then again, their odds of beating Roma last weekend were supposed to be even longer. Palermo’s surprising victory over the Giallorossi moved them back to within three points of 17th-placed Genoa but their prospects of further trimming that gap this weekend look slim. The Sicilians have not won an away game in more than 12 months. Stick with the home win.
Siena 2.35, the draw 3.15, Parma 3.1
You won’t find a better-priced top-flight ticket anywhere in Europe this weekend. Siena’s general manager Stefano Antonelli announced on Tuesday that season ticket holders would be entitled to bring two friends with them to the Stadio Artemio Franchi for as little as 50 Euro cents each. The club’s captain Simone Vergassola has implored fans to take up the offer, telling them that the players need their support as they seek to escape the relegation zone for the first time all season.
This may be one of the better opportunities his team gets, against a Parma team which has collected just nine points away from home all season. I’m looking at the home win again at 2.35.
Udinese 1.8, the draw 3.4, Chievo 4.5
The Stadio Friuli is a tough place for any team to visit, let alone when they are without four of their best defenders. Chievo’s Boukary Dramé, Marco Andreolli and Dario Dainelli are all suspended this weekend, while Nikos Spyropoulos is out injured. Udinese’s Antonio Di Natale is well-versed in exploiting uncertain defences, but he has scored just once since 13 January. Luis Muriel, with two goals in his last three games, might be a better bet in the goalscorers’ market at 2.3.
Inter 1.7, the draw 3.5, Atalanta 5.0
What a difference a day makes. On Wednesday Inter celebrated a victory over Sampdoria which brought them level with fifth-placed Lazio and kept their faint hopes of Champions League football alive. Less than 24 hours later, it emerged that Rodrigo Palacio – scorer of both goals in that game – had suffered a thigh injury that is expected to keep him out for the next three weeks.
With Diego Milito ruled out for the rest of the season, Inter were already short of options up front. Tommaso Rocchi, 35 years old and without a goal since signing for Inter in January, does not offer similar quality as a replacement. Atalanta suddenly look tempting in the double chance market at 2.05.
Napoli 1.35, the draw 4.5, Genoa 8.9
Genoa blew their big opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone last weekend, managing only a draw at home to 18th-placed Siena. They will have things a whole lot tougher this Sunday evening away to a Napoli team for whom Edinson Cavani seems to have finally rediscovered his shooting boots. The Uruguayan is available at 1.70 to score against the fourth-worst defence in the division.
Roma 1.95, the draw 3.45, Lazio 3.65
The Derby della Capitale. Can Roma put an end to a run of three consecutive defeats in the fixture which matters most? How will Lazio react after Thursday’s Europa League defeat to Fenerbahce? Most importantly, what did the Roma president James Pallotta mean when he promised to attend wearing a “special outfit”?
Roma have won all three games that Pallotta has attended at the Stadio Olimpico to date, and Lazio’s recent form – with just two wins in their last ten games – provides further cause for encouragement. On the other hand, this will also be Miroslav Klose’s first start for the Biancocelesti since 2 February. He was on the pitch only for 15 minutes last weekend against Catania, but in that time Lazio overturned a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1.
Rome derbies are unpredictable at the best of times, but one thing we have been able to rely on in recent editions is ill-discipline from the protagonists. The last four meetings of these sides have produced seven red cards. My money would be on another one here.
Bet on all the weekend's Serie A matches.