Paolo Bandini's Serie A Betting: Higuaín to fire Juve to comfortable win while Immobile can boost his top scorer hopes


SATURDAY

Atalanta - Bologna

Bologna have been beset by injuries ahead of their visit to Atalanta, with both Simone Verdi and Antonio Mirante joining a long list of absentees. The former is their most prolific forward, and the latter their starting goalkeeper, so it’s hard to feel optimistic about their chances against opponents gunning for a Europa League spot. They had already failed to score in their last three league matches.

Home team to win without conceding - 2.12

 

Fiorentina - Inter

That’s four games without a win for Inter, who once aspired to a Champions League place but now are on course to miss out on Europe altogether. They have conceded twice in every match during this dismal stretch. 

The newspapers are awash with talk of bids for central defenders, but what can Stefano Pioli do to stop the rot in the immediate term? It helps that Nikola Kalinic, Fiorentina’s top scorer, is suspended, but his replacement, Khouma Babacar, has scored in nine of 14 matches when he has been afforded at least 45 minutes on the pitch. 

Babacar to score - 2.9

 

SUNDAY

Sassuolo - Napoli

Napoli will not catch Juventus this season, but the race for second is back on after Roma slipped up last weekend. The Partenopei have been showing well lately, too, with consecutive 3-0 wins over Lazio and Udinese. 

Both of those teams were in better shape than Sassuolo, who have never come close to having a fully fit first-team squad at their disposal during an injury-disrupted campaign. The latest players to go down hurt are Federico Peluso - their starting left-back - and Matteo Politano.

Three-way handicap: starts 1-0, away win - 1.97

 

Lazio - Palermo

Another mismatch between teams at far ends of the table, it would be a huge shock if this turned out to be anything other than a straightforward win for Lazio. Sure, the Biancocelesti have stumbled a tiny bit lately, losing to Napoli and then drawing away to Genoa, but Palermo’s only victory of 2017 came by a one-goal margin at home to 10-man Crotone. 

The Sicilians have conceded three or more goals in all of their last four away matches. This could be an occasion for Lazio’s Ciro Immobile to make up some ground in the race to become Serie A’s capocannoniere. 

Immobile to score and Lazio win - 1.77

 

Chievo - Torino

The wheels seem to have come off for Chievo now that they have effectively secured their top-flight survival for another year. Rolando Maran’s team have lost all of their last four matches - a stretch that includes defeats to Bologna and Crotone - and conceded 12 times along the way. 

Torino, though, have only won three away games all season, and two of those against sides who currently reside in the relegation zone. Once again, it is the goalscorers’ market which interests me most. Andrea Belotti has struck in each of his last three games, and should be capable of exploiting opponents who are missing three members of their starting back four.

Belotti to score - 2.1

 

Udinese - Cagliari 

Cagliari might be drifting happily towards a midtable finish, but Marco Borriello remains a man on a mission as he seeks to beat his personal record of 19 goals in a Serie A campaign. He has 15 so far in this one, but has hit the net five times in his last six outings.

Udinese have been robust at home, but their most recent games have become a little more open as they slip into end-of-season mode. All of their last five matches have featured a minimum of three goals.

Borriello to score - 3.35

 

Sampdoria - Crotone

Crotone have taken seven points from their past three games, but remain five away from safety after Empoli secured an improbable win away to Fiorentina. The Calabrians will be hard pressed to keep the pressure on this weekend, as they travel to face a Samp side whose only home defeats have arrived against Juventus, Lazio and Milan. Despite having no obvious targets left to play for, the Blucerchiati are still playing like a side that intends to finish the season strongly. 

Home win - 1.83

 

Milan - Empoli

It took a 97th minute goal for Milan to snatch a point against Inter last weekend, but should we be surprised? Almost a quarter of the Rossoneri’s 49 goals this season have arrived from the 75th onwards. The troubling note for Empoli is that they have conceded 11 times in the same segment of their own matches. 

Half-time/Full-time: X/1 - 4.25

 

Juventus - Genoa

The return of Ivan Juric seemed to lift Genoa last weekend, as they earned their first point in more than a month, but it is unrealistic to imagine that he will follow up with more here. Juventus could hardly be feeling any better about themselves after brushing Barcelona aside to reach the Champions League semi-finals, and their home winning streak in Serie A now stands at 32 games. 

All that remains is to ask who will score the goals, and how many. Gonzalo Higuaín is an obvious candidate to feature prominently, having hit the net six times in his last three domestic outings. 

Higuaín to score and Juventus to win - 1.71

 

MONDAY

Pescara - Roma

Attention in the capital has already turned to the future, with Sevilla’s director of football, Monchi, confirming that he has accepted a position with Roma. This, in turn, has provoked speculation about who he will choose to be the team’s manager next season. Luciano Spalletti’s time at the helm is thought to be drawing to a close. 

Could that backdrop prove distracting for a team whose title hopes have faded? Perhaps, but this Roma team would need to be a long way beneath itself to come unstuck against a Pescara side that is conceding more than two goals per game. 

Three-way handicap: Starts 2-0, away win - 2.4