Cagliari 2.2, the draw 3.25, Catania 3.3
Saturday is expected to be the day when Cagliari’s new Is Arenas stadium is finally opened fully to the public – with only a small portion of the stadium deemed fit for use up till now. Then again, with the way this saga has played out, you might want to wait for the inspectors’ final judgement – which at time of writing has not yet been delivered.
Catania are coming off a 4-0 rout of Lazio, but if they are underdogs here it is not without good reason, the team having failed to win their last 12 away games in Serie A. Cagliari were thrashed 4-1 by Fiorentina last weekend but had previously won four in a row under their new coaching team of Ivo Pulga and Diego Lopez. Still, the value bet for me here is on the better team – Catania – to win at 3.3.
Pescara 10.0, the draw 4.5, Juventus 1.35
The unbeaten run is over for Juventus, but the Bianconeri rebounded in the best way they could with a 4-0 drubbing of Nordsjaelland in the Champions League in midweek. There is little reason to believe they will have much trouble with struggling Pescara, despite the hosts’ win over Parma last week. Take the away clean sheet at 1.95, Juve having conceded just three on their travels so far.
Palermo 2.15, the draw 3.2, Sampdoria 3.4
In the blue corner, a team that has lost its last six games in Serie A. In the pink, a side that has won just one of its last 19. Palermo are further dented by the loss of Fabrizio Miccoli with a thigh complaint, and both teams will be without arguably their two best forwards – with Abel Hernandez also missing for the Rosanero and Samp shorn of Nicola Pozzi and Maxi Lopez. With each side lacking the means and confidence to win, the draw seems a fair price at 3.2.
Milan 1.9, the draw 3.45, Fiorentina 4.0
At last, the real Milan have awakened. Or was that just an illusion? A 5-1 demolition of Chievo last weekend provided a much-needed boost to the spirits of the Rossoneri – not least since it also included Bojan Krkic’s first goal for the club, as well as Giampaolo Pazzini’s first in over two months. Alexandre Pato followed up by opening his account for the season in the Champions League draw with Malaga on Tuesday.
That could be especially significant before this game, Pato being Fiorentina’s bête noire. He has scored five times in six games against the Viola and on every occasion that he did find the net, Milan won. Yet while reporters have triumphantly trumpeted Milan’s run of four games unbeaten (two of those draws), perspective seems to have been lost. Fiorentina have won four of their last five and even with Stevan Jovetic likely to be absent, are being underestimated. They are a steal in the double chance market at 1.86.
Chievo 2.35, the draw 3.1, Udinese 3.1
Asked by the Veronese newspaper Arena on Thursday what was going wrong for Chievo – sat 16th in the table and fresh from their splattering by Milan – leading Italian sportswriter Gianni Mura succinctly summarised: “they have one of the worst attacks and one of the worst defences in the division.” Correct on both counts: only two teams have scored fewer than the Flying Donkeys – and none have conceded more. Yet Chievo have performed respectably at home, picking up all 10 of their points there, and Udinese will be tired and depleted from a Thursday night defeat to Young Boys in the Europa League. I’m leaning towards the draw at 3.1.
Genoa 3.8, the draw 3.2, Napoli 2.05
If it would be unfair to describe Napoli as a one-man team, then there are certainly days when they feel like it. Thursday was the latest such occasion, Edinson Cavani scoring all of the team’s goals as they came back from 2-1 down to win 4-2 against Dnipro. He will doubtless be the key figure once again as they take on a Genoa team who have lost four in a row. The wisest bet, given the lack of goals from elsewhere in the team, might be on under 2.5 goals at 1.72. Genoa are likely to spend much of the game on the back foot, and even Cavani cannot score four in every game.
Lazio 2.6, the draw 3.4, Roma 2.6
Back in his first stint at Roma in the late 1990s, Zdenek Zeman once deemed the Derby della Capitale to be “a game like any other”. The reaction to his words told him it was anything but. The significance of this fixture to players, fans and city is hard to overstate. With the teams separated by just two points in the standings, this year it feels more important still.
The mood among some Roma fans is already touchy after the team’s general manager Franco Baldini told reporters they would still listen to offers for Daniele De Rossi. Helping matters none is their anxiety about Zeman’s derby record, the manager having won just one of six matches against Lazio during his previous stint as manager and having started out by losing four in a row. He had done marginally better when on the other side of the divide, winning two of five as manager of Lazio.
Roma’s preponderance for playing brilliantly one minute then awfully the next makes them a tricky enough betting proposition at the best of times, and Lazio too have been up-and-down of late. The obvious bet would be on over 2.5 goals were it not priced at a paltry 1.4. Instead perhaps wager on a red card in the game. There have been five in the last three meetings between these two.
Parma 1.85, the draw 3.4, Siena 4.35
Siena remain rooted to the bottom of Serie A – though were it not for their points deduction they would be up to 13th following last week’s win over Genoa. Prior to that they had picked up just one point in five games. Parma, by contrast, had won three in a row before a surprising defeat away to Pescara.
As unlikely as it might sound, the key factor may have been the absence of Amauri, who had scored three in three games before missing that game due to a badly split lip suffered against Roma a few days earlier. He is the man to back in the scorers market against an opponent that has conceded an average of two goals per game away from home.
Torino 2.0, the draw 3.3, Bologna 3.8
If Torino have had a solid enough start to life back in the top-flight, then curiously they have enjoyed greater success on the road – where they are unbeaten in six games – than at home, where they have picked up just four points in five attempts. Bologna have collected just one point anywhere in their last five games, so this is more a hunch than a calculated move, but I like their chances of an upset at 3.8.
Atalanta 3.3, the draw 3.2, Inter 2.25
With victory against Partizan on Thursday, Inter have now won all 10 of their away games so far this season. At this stage, I’m taking them to continue the run until given reason to do otherwise, especially at 2.25 against an Atalanta team who have conceded more than they have scored at home this season.