I’ve spent most of this season waxing lyrical about Internazionale’s problems, so I’m going to keep it brief: with five weeks remaining until Christmas, the Nerazzurri are one place above the relegation zone.
It’s an incredible statement, made more remarkable by the fact that the Beneamata are even worse off than they were at this stage of the 1993/94 season, when they only narrowly avoided relegation come May.
Despite all these issues, Claudio Ranieri’s men are bwin’s 1/2 favourites to overcome the Rossoblu at the Giuseppe Meazza. On first impression, the tie doesn’t seem to be an easy one: the Sardinians are, after all, far in front of the Milanese outfit, and only eight points off the top.
History, however, is on the Nerazzurri’s side: Cagliari have only beaten Inter once over the last decade, and have not triumphed in Milan since 1995.
Though the visitors have been impressive this season – notably on the opening day when they defeated Luis Enrique’s Roma – they have slumped in recent times and haven’t won since early October, when they beat Lecce 2-0 at the Via Del Mare.
They are, accordingly, unlikely to come away with all three points, an eventuality priced at 23/4 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market.
Considering how Internazionale have played at home this season, a repeat of the 1-0 win over Chievo Verona looks to be on the cards: a tense, turgid affair where a set piece will likely make the difference.
Bwin’s experts don’t seem to hot on the notion of Cagliari scoring, either: the away side is priced at evens to fail to hit the back of the net.
At best, Inter can hope to grab two goals (at 23/10), but that 1-0 scoreline is the most likely at 11/2.
For those new subscribers looking to use their free £25 bet, those odds would see a return of £162.50 should Inter stick to their side of the bargain.
It’s certainly a good idea to avoid the odds on the Nerazzurri netting three times (priced at a tempting 2/1), or on Giampaolo Pazzini opening the scoring, top of the list at 5/1.
For one, fatigue might be a factor, not only for a striker back from international duty, but also for a home side full of what the French would call “senators”.
The midfield is a particular problem, as it hasn’t provided either the quantity or quality of service seen during the Mourinho era: Javier Zanetti is getting old, Joel Obi’s feet seem to have a mind of their own, whilst Wesley Sneijder hasn’t exactly been on top form.
It’s certainly one of the reasons why Pazzini has got more goals in the Champions League (two) than he has in Serie A, where so far he has only troubled the scorer once, during in the 3-1 win over Bologna.
Instead of the Nerazzurri’s forward pack, punters might wish to place their bets on the home side’s set-piece demons: Thiago Motta grabbed the only goal against Chievo off a corner, and is 17/1 to score first in this game.
Esteban Cambiasso and Lucio are two more expert headers of the ball, and are 15/1 and 19/1 respectively to get the ball rolling.
The Argentine, who is prone to making effective, last-minute dashes into the box during open play, is particularly ttractive at this price.
Though there is little hope for the visitors winning the match, Davide Ballardini’s return might reinvigorate his players and help tip the balance towards a draw, priced at 29/10.
It certainly isn’t beyond Ballardini’s remit seeing as, when he was in charge of Palermo, he stunned Juventus with a convincing 2-1 win at the old Comunale, with goals from Fabrizio Miccoli and Levan Mchedlidze (who?).
No need to specify who was managing Juventus at the time, either: it was the tinkerman himself.
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