Catania 2.0, the draw 3.2, Torino 3.8
The Serie A season resumes in Sicily, where Catania will aim to pick up where they left off in an impressive first part of the season. Three points on Saturday would vault Rolando Maran’s team – for a day at least – up to seventh in the Serie A table. Given that Torino are 17th, and that the only away teams to obtain a result at the Stadio Angelo Massimino so far have been Juventus, Napoli and Milan, Catania should feel pretty confident of doing so. Take the home win at even money.
Lazio 1.55, the draw 3.75, Cagliari 6.2
Federico Marchetti has shaken off a minor rib injury and will start as usual for Lazio when they take on his former club at the Stadio Olimpico. The goalkeeper, frozen out by Cagliari for a whole year after making some fairly innocuous comments about a potential transfer upon his return from the 2010 World Cup, has kept clean sheets in both the two games he has played against them with Lazio. Back him to do so again at 2.2.
Udinese 2.8, the draw 3.15, Inter 2.5
Inter have already made their first signing of the January transfer window – though it is not exactly one to ignite the fans’ dreams. Tommaso Rocchi turned 35 in September and has scored just eight league goals in his last two-and-a-half seasons at Lazio. But he does at least give them a second out-and-out striker. The lack of depth behind Diego Milito has been a source of concern since Giampaolo Pazzini’s departure in the summer.
The Nerazzurri have lost all three of their away games since beating Juventus in Turin in November, but prior to that had won six from six. Against an Udinese team who are rarely beaten at home, I think this could be the spot where they get their first draw – which is priced reasonably enough at 3.15.
Milan 1.26, the draw 5.0, Siena 12.0
The first order of business for Milan in this transfer window was to further reduce the wage bill, and on Wednesday the club confirmed the sale of Alexandre Pato to Corinthians. It remains to be seen whether Robinho will also return to Brazil, with reports on the same afternoon suggesting that Santos had abandoned their interest in the player.
What we do know is that the Rossoneri, still eight points behind third-placed Inter, need a strong second half to the season if they are to have any hope of securing a Champions League berth. Siena, who have collected just five points away from home, are the perfect opponents to get them off to a good start. Consider backing Milan to win even with a one-goal handicap.
Chievo 2.2, the draw 3.0, Atalanta 3.6
Atalanta toasted the New Year by selling left-back Federico Peluso to Juventus. His departure was hardly a shock – the two teams having almost cut a deal over the summer – but his replacement, Davide Brivio, has yet to prove that he can perform at a similar level. Given that Atalanta were already allowing an average of nearly two goals per game on the road, this could be a more high-scoring fixture than would otherwise be anticipated. The odds on more than 2.5 goals seem fair at 2.25.
Fiorentina 1.25, the draw 5.75, Pescara 11.0
The most intriguing transfer story so far in this window is without doubt that which has Giuseppe Rossi joining Fiorentina. The Villarreal forward – who could reportedly conclude a deal as soon as this weekend – has been laid low by knee injuries for almost a year and a half, and even the most optimistic assessments don’t have him returning to action before March. But the prospect of him playing alongside Stevan Jovetic in Vincenzo Montella’s crowd-pleasing side is thrilling.
For now Fiorentina will have to make do with what they have – which should be more than enough to see off a Pescara side who sit 16th in Serie A. Back Jovetic to get his name on the scoresheet at some point in the game.
Genoa 2.35, the draw 3.1, Bologna 3.1
Plummeting downwards faster than Santa on his final chimney call, Genoa have won just one of their last 14 league games, and would already be last were it not for Siena’s points deduction. Bologna have lost seven of their nine away games this season but their star was in the ascendancy in the weeks leading up to the winter break, and their final road trip of 2012 ended with a 3-2 win at Napoli. The away win, at 3.1, feels like the value bet here.
Juventus 1.2, the draw 6.0, Sampdoria 13.5
Peluso could make his Juve debut on Sunday, but either way it seems that the club’s next piece of transfer business might be with Sampdoria. The Blucerchiati are keen to sign back Reto Ziegler, who they sold to Juve in May 2011 but who has spent the entire time since then out on loan.
Samp, who sit two points clear of the relegation zone after concluding 2012 with three straight defeats, could certainly use the help. They have conceded at least two goals in each of their last six away fixtures and there is a good chance they will do so again against a Juve team averaging more than two per game. I like Juve’s chances to win even with a one-goal handicap.
Parma 1.8, the draw 3.4, Palermo 4.5
Here’s one for the fans of statistical symmetry among you: Parma are undefeated in 13 home games, while Palermo are without a win in 13 away games. What does it all mean? Mostly just that Parma are solid value for the win even at 1.8.
Napoli 2.05, the draw 3.75, Roma 3.2
This weekend’s main event will be missing one of its leading men; Roma are expected to leave Pablo Osvaldo out of their starting XI after he missed their entire winter training camp in Orlando due to a stomach bug. Club officials are understood to be less than thrilled with his no-show and demanded a signed medical certificate confirming his illness.
Into his spot steps Mattia Destro, a player who – after a slow start – has scored three in his last three starts for the club. But regardless of who gets them, there will be goals in this game. I’d go with over 3.5 at even money.