Pescara 3.3, the draw 3.3, Catania 2.15
The new comeback kids of Italian football, Catania have fallen behind in their last four games but gone on to win all of them (albeit only on penalties in the case of their Coppa Italia tie away to Parma). Their away record is poor, with just one league win outside of the Stadio Angelo Massimino, but Pescara have lost five of their last six. If you fancied a long-shot Christmas punt, backing Pescara to lead at half-time but Catania to eventually win at 30.0 in the HT/FT market would have some logic behind it.
Cagliari 7.5, the draw 4.2, Juventus 1.42
The year ends with yet another organisational shambles for Cagliari, whose long-running stadium saga was re-opened this week when the local council deemed their new IS Arenas home to be unfit for use – despite its having already been in use for the past several weeks. On Wednesday the Mayor of Cagliari, Mauro Contini, reversed that decision, but by that point it was already too late. The league had ruled that the match must now be played at Parma’s Stadio Tardini.
Juventus clinched the Scudetto last season against these same opponents with a 2-0 win at another neutral venue, the Stadio Nereo Rocco in Trieste. Even without the injured Giorgio Chiellini, I would back the visitors to record another clean sheet at 2.05.
Inter 1.35, the draw 4.5, Genoa 9.5
Since ending Juve’s unbeaten run, Inter have picked up just seven points from six games in Serie A. An injury to Yuto Nagatomo further weakens them ahead of this fixture, but recent evidence suggests they should still have nothing to worry about. Inter have not lost to Genoa in their last 11 meetings and the Grifone, second from bottom with just 13 points from 17 games, are at a particularly low ebb. Take Inter to lead at half-time and full-time at 2.05.
Atalanta 2.2, the draw 3.2, Udinese 3.3
As with the last two years, Atalanta will celebrate their final home game of the 2012 with reduced ticket prices – as low as €1 for members in certain sections – and a special commemorative shirt. On the pitch the Atalanta forward Germán Denis will hope to get one over on his former employers, but previous encounters between these two have not exactly proved high-scoring. There has been just one goal scored in their last four meetings, so consider a bet on under 1.5 goals at 3.05.
Bologna 2.35, the draw 3.15, Parma 3.1
Stefano Pioli was roundly ridiculed after telling reporters that his Bologna team was “not far off” becoming a force to be reckoned with in the wake of their loss to Cagliari in late October. After two wins in four days over Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo, one or two of those sceptics might be reconsidering their assessments.
Parma are likely to be without a number of important players on Sunday. Centre-back Gabriel Paletta is suspended, while goalkeeper Antonio Mirante, wing-back Aleandro Rosi and midfielder Daniele Galloppa are all struggling with injury. The home win is fairly priced at 2.35.
Palermo 3.1, the draw 3.2, Fiorentina 2.3
The Fiorentina owner Andrea Della Valle expressed delight at the team’s progress under Vincenzo Montella this week, noting not only their impressive league standing – they sit fourth in Serie A – but also the manner in which they have entertained their fans. And yet Montella has rarely been able to field his first-choice midfield of Alberto Aquilani, David Pizarro and Borja Valero. When he did last weekend against Siena, Fiorentina duly stormed to a 4-1 victory.
That trio will start together again this Sunday, but a note of caution is still required: Fiorentina have won just twice away from home this season. Rather than pick a winner, I would bet on more than 2.5 goals in the game at 2.05.
Sampdoria 3.2, the draw 3.2, Lazio 2.25
“I hope that this team doesn’t need to be slapped about,” said the new Sampdoria manager Delio Rossi at his first press conference with the club this week. “But if they do, you’ve seen that I’m capable of it.” Rossi was making light of the incident which cost him his last job – when he took a swing at Adem Ljajic in the dug-out during Fiorentina’s draw at home to Novara in May. Samp fans will hope he has acquired more effective methods for motivating his players. When Rossi took first took charge of Fiorentina in November 2011 they were 13th. By the time of his firing they had dropped two places.
It’s always hard to know what to expect from a first game under a new manager but back Lazio’s Miroslav Klose at 2.2 to get his name on the scoresheet – as he has in four of his last six games.
Siena 4.0, the draw 3.25, Napoli 1.95
Napoli’s aforementioned two defeats to Bologna are part of a wider malaise for a team who have lost their last four games in all competitions. They must now travel to Siena without their captain Paolo Cannavaro, as well as the reserve defender Gianluca Grava, after both were suspended for six months for alleged failure to report an attempted incident of match-fixing.
Siena have lost three in a row but will be playing their first game under a new manager – Giuseppe Iachini. Given Napoli’s struggles, and their historically poor away form, I might be tempted by the home win at 4.0.
Torino 2.5, the draw 3.2, Chievo 3.75
No team has drawn more games than Torino this season, with only Udinese matching them on eight. They have won just once in their last 11 games, and though Chievo come into this game in better form, the visitors have won just twice on their travels. Take the draw at 3.2.
Roma 2.3, the draw 3.6, Milan 2.8
Milan were dealt yet another appointment with Barcelona in the Champions League draw on Thursday – having faced them in the group stages and quarter-finals of last year’s tournament – but they must not let that news distract them from the task at hand. Roma had won four straight prior a contentious defeat to Chievo in thick fog last weekend.
The potent nature of each team’s attack, plus the relative frailty of their respective defences, makes goals a virtual certainty. Back Erik Lamela – who has eight in 13 appearances this season – to be among the scorers at 2.65.