Catania 3.2, the draw 3.2, Milan 2.25
Another week, another Silvio Berlusconi visit to Milan training, dropping in by helicopter to gee his team up for the week ahead. With the owner continuing to offer advice on team selection to his beleaguered manager Massimiliano Allegri, too, it is tempting to wonder how long it will be till we see Berlusconi simply take up his post in the Milan dugout.
His visits seem to be having the desired effect, though – Milan capping an impressive last week with victory over the champions Juventus. Still, it would be wrong to assume they will have it all their own way against a Catania side whose only home defeat was a highly contentious one against Juve, and who thumped Lazio here 4-0. Milan are undefeated in their last 10 meetings with Catania, but I would consider a punt on the draw at 3.2.
Juventus 1.35, the draw 4.75, Torino 9.0
For the first time in half a century, Juventus and Torino meet at a ground they do not share. The opening of Juventus Stadium last year marked the end of a near 50-year cohabitation between Turin’s two biggest clubs, who had previously been tenants together at the communally owned Stadio Olimpico and, for a time, the Stadio delle Alpi.
The Torino manager Giampiero Ventura fielded a reserve side against Siena in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday to keep his team fresh for this game, but Juventus’s priorities lie elsewhere. They are expected to rest players for the derby itself, with an eye on Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk. Giorgio Chiellini will not play unless he can prove he is 100% recovered from a calf problem, while others such as Arturo Vidal and Kwadwo Asamoah may also be held back. The draw is priced well at 4.75.
Napoli 1.19, the draw 6.4, Pescara 12.5
Edinson Cavani returns from suspension for what should be a straightforward home win, but odds of just 1.5 on him scoring are too low to be worthwhile. Instead consider Marek Hamsik, who has six league goals this season – just two fewer than Cavani – to add another at 2.5.
Bologna 2.4, the draw 3.0, Atalanta 3.2
Stefano Pioli has made no attempt to shift the blame for his team’s poor start to the season, telling reporters this week that “I am the first one responsible for this situation”. But rather than consider parting ways with their manager Bologna have entrusted him with even more control: it was reported in Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday that he was effectively being made the club’s interim sporting director – with responsibility for the January transfer campaign. Before the window opens he needs to start getting results from games such as this one. Take Bologna for the first goal at 1.7 – they have scored eight in the first 50 minutes of home games this season, whereas Atalanta have just three goals in the first 50 minutes of their away fixtures.
Genoa 2.1, the draw 3.1, Chievo 3.65
At last, Gigi Del Neri has his first win as Genoa manager. He also seems to have the club’s fans back onside. On Wednesday a statement released on behalf of Ultra groups from the north stand of the stadium said that they intended to restore the banners, flags and chants that had recently been withheld in protest. Of course, what will really encourage him is not that, but instead the fact that Chievo have lost all six of their away games this season, scoring just three goals and conceding 16. But closer inspection shows that those games included trips to Juventus, Milan, Napoli and Catania. The draw, at 3.1, tempts once again.
Inter 1.45, the draw 4.0, Palermo 7.75
Since ending Juve’s unbeaten run, Inter have lost to Atalanta, Rubin Kazan and Parma, as well as drawing with Cagliari. Palermo are hideous travellers, with just two points from seven games, and the most likely outcome is of course a home win. But Inter’s recent form is poor enough to make 7.75 look like a generous price for the upset.
Lazio 1.75, the draw 3.35, Parma 5.0
Both teams are entering into an important period – seeking to establish their European credentials as the season approaches its midway point. Lazio are just two points outside the Champions League places following their 3-0 rout of Udinese on Tuesday, while Parma’s victory over Inter last week moved them up to seventh. I’d be looking at the home clean sheet at 2.5; Lazio have not conceded a goal in their last three games, and have held Parma without one on seven of their last eight meetings.
Siena 3.45, the draw 3.65, Roma 2.05
Has Zdenek Zeman turned over a new leaf? Over the last two games his team have scored just three goals and conceded none – displaying new-found defensive responsibility, though they were also grateful to Pescara last week for an almost total absence of attacking intent. But I’m not convinced a leopard changes its spots quite so easily. Now is the time to get back in the goals market, backing over 3.5 in the game at 2.0.
Udinese 1.95, the draw 3.2, Cagliari 4.25
More than a month has passed since Udinese last won a game in Serie A, a statistic which only looks more troubling in light of Tuesday’s humiliation at the hands of Lazio. Cagliari are fast approaching that same mark after two draws and two defeats in their last four games, though they will be boosted here by the return of Andrea Cossu. This will be a low-scoring game between two teams short on confidence and missing players up front. Bet against both scoring at 1.8.
Fiorentina 1.48, the draw 4.0, Sampdoria 7.5
Samp might finally have rediscovered the winning habit, but Fiorentina’s season to this point has been flat out remarkable – Vincenzo Montella’s team sat level in third place with Inter after 14 games. With Stevan Jovetic looking set to miss out once again for the Viola, Luca Toni remains the best choice in the goalscorers’ market at 2.0.