Verona 2.20, the draw 3.40, Catania 3.40
Catania ended their run of six straight defeats by beating Sampdoria last weekend, but their chances of avoiding relegation still look extremely slim. Five points from safety with four games left to go, all they can do is win and hope. Easier said than done, when you have collected just two points so far from 17 away games.
Verona have have lost three of their last five at the Bentegodi, but those defeats were against Torino, Inter and Fiorentina. At 2.20, I would back them to win on Sunday.
Cagliari 3.20, the draw 3.30, Parma 2.35
Whatever happened to the all-conquering Parma team that went unbeaten for 17 games from November into March? In the six games since that run came to an end, Roberto Donadoni’s team have collected just four points.
All but one of those fixtures, admittedly, have been against teams that are at least challenging for Europe. Cagliari, 15th in the table and feeling rather comfortable as they sit eight clear of the relegation zone, ought to represent less of a challenge. They will be missing Albin Ekdal and Victor Ibarbo, too, although Parma themselves are without the suspended Gabriel Paletta. I like the draw at 3.30.
Livorno 3.30, the draw 3.30, Lazio 2.25
In Serie A, it is never too late to sack your manager. That was the lesson Livorno taught us this week, firing Domenico Di Carlo and bringing back Davide Nicola – whom they had previously ditched in January. He has less than a month to rescue a club that is three points adrift of safety.
Worryingly for him, this might be the easiest game left on Livorno’s schedule. Next up, the Tuscans travel to Udinese and then Parma, with a home game against Fiorentina sandwiched in-between. So can they get something here against a Lazio side that is missing a several starters, including Federico Marchetti and Miroslav Klose? I suspect not. Away win (2.25).
Sampdoria 2.40, the draw 3.10, Chievo 3.20
On paper, Chievo are facing Sampdoria at exactly the right moment. The Blucerchiati have lost three games in a row and have nothing obvious left to play for. But Sinisa Mihajlovic is not a manager who takes any defeat lightly. Furthermore, both of the hosts’ top two goalscorers – Eder and Manolo Gabbiadini – returned to training on Thursday after each missing time due to injury.
The Flying Donkeys, hovering just above the relegation zone, might still find a way to get something from the game, but I doubt it will be more than a draw – priced reasonably enough here at 3.10.
Torino 1.90, the draw 3.40, Udinese 4.50
Alessio Cerci returns from a one-game suspension to renew his partnership with Ciro Immobile up front for Torino. Enjoy it while you can; owner Urbano Cairo will have a tough time holding onto both players beyond this summer.
Torino already beat Udinese away from home back in December, and ought to repeat that result here. But I might be tempted to pursue some slightly longer odds by once again backing Immobile to get his name on the scoresheet at 2.75. The price is right for a player who has scored 20 goals in 30 appearances this season, and seven in his last five.
Atalanta 2.20, the draw 3.30, Genoa 3.50
Serie A’s Sunday evening fixture is typically reserved for one of the biggest matches of the weekend. On this occasion, it will involve two mid-table clubs whose goals for the year have already been achieved. The Atalanta-Genoa match was moved into this time slot at the request of local authorities in Bergamo, who did not want to risk any clash with events linked to the canonisation of Pope John Paul II earlier in the afternoon.
But a lower quality encounter does not have to mean lesser entertainment. Reduced pressure on both teams to get a result will allow both to play a more attacking game. Try the overs at 2.02.
Sassuolo 8.00, the draw 4.75, Juventus 1.40
Beaten in the first-leg of their Europa League semi-final against Benfica on Thursday night, Juventus return home to face rather less daunting opponents. Sassuolo have shown impressive fight these last few weeks, beating Atalanta and Chievo to drag themselves out of the relegation zone, but they still have less than one-third as many points as the Bianconeri.
Which is not to say that they cannot at least make a game of it. Given Juve’s tired legs and need to rotate their starting XI, I expect Sassuolo to at least create some chances. Backing both teams to score could be a decent shout at 2.00.