Cesena v Catania
Home win: 7/5 Draw: 21/10 Away win: 2/1
Betting tip: Cesena have hardly been a guarantee at home of late: out of their last five Serie A games at the Manuzzi, three have ended in defeat as the Romagnoli maintain their inconsistent form. They’ll lose to Lecce one week, then draw with Napoli the next. This game’s outcome seems too hard to call, as Catania are made of sterner stuff than their opponents, though I am uncertain as to whether they’ll turn up for this one. Rather than predicting the outcome or the score, back Adrian Mutu to net in what looks to be an exciting game, possibly full of goals. The Romanian has netted five of his six league goals here at the Manuzzi and looks good at 7/5. Otherwise, Vincenzo Iaquinta could be a good punt. Boosted by his recent arrival from Turin, he’s certainly got the skill set to impress at a club away from the sharp end. Rejected strikers tend to thrive in situations like these, hence justifying the interesting 11/10 on him netting at any time.
Roma v Internazionale
Home win: 27/20 Draw: 9/4 Away win: 39/20
Betting tip: In a word (or several): Diego Alberto Milito. Is there any point in recounting exactly how many goals he’s scored over the past few weeks? Claudio Ranieri’s tenure at Inter has seen him produce quite a few miracles, and this one surely rates as high as that of bringing the Nerazzurri back to the respectable part of the table. The Argentinian has fantastic memories of the Olimpico, as he netted the winner here in the Coppa Italian final back in 2010. He’d scored in Inter’s defeat just a few weeks before with another rapacious lunge. Another man who will relish his time here is a certain Giampaolo Pazzini, who ironically helped Inter win the title that same year with a fantastic brace against… AS Roma of course! Milito and Pazzini are respectively quoted at 11/10 and 7/5 to score at any time.
Genoa v Lazio
Home win: 31/20 Draw: 21/10 Away win: 9/5
Betting tip: What can one say about Genoa’s recent form, apart from the fact that they’re just about one of the most entertaining teams in Serie A? Their central pairing of Andreas Granqvist and Kakha Kaladze will have a tough time keeping out a Lazio side that recently beat AC Milan, confirming their progress since the start of the season, when the Romans’ two goal lead wasn’t enough to keep Milan at bay. Genoa’s last seven games have seen at least three goals, though odds for this outcome are a little flat at 87/100. How about adding a risk factor and going for four or more, quoted at 2/1? Remember, Miroslav Klose is waiting in the wings…
AC Milan v Napoli
Home win: 73/100 Draw: 49/20 Away win: 4/1
Betting tip: A tough tie to call. AC Milan come off the back of a disappointing away defeat to Lazio, whilst Napoli seem to have completely lost their mojo. Those odds on an away win are tempting, partly because they’re so high that they’re worth chancing a couple of quid just for the sake of it. Generally speaking, however, Walter Mazzarri’s men tend to thrive on big occasions having only lost to one big club this season in Serie A, at home against Roma. They beat Milan in a spectacular display at the San Paolo and are still to concede against Inter, who they recently knocked out of the Coppa Italia. In Marek Hamsik and Edinson Cavani the visitors have all they need to punish their opponents with lightening attacks, while their five-man midfield could strangle the life out of AC Milan’s ageing line-up. I myself still favour a draw as both sides are recovering from some poor patches of form and am backing both sides to grind out a tense, nervy game in which they will struggle to find rhythm and continuity.
Chievo v Parma
Home win: 13/10 Draw: 21/10 Away win: 11/5
Betting tip: Parma haven’t won a single one of their last five away games so it might seem strange that I’m betting on them to score against their opponents. Then again, Parma’s squad is pretty strong: Jonathan Biabiany and Sebastian Giovinco are two players capable of making marauding runs either down the flanks or behind Sergio Floccari, the lone striker. Chievo, for all their fighting prowess, allowed Lazio to rack up three goals at the Bentegodi last time they visited. Odds of 12/25 on the visitors scoring seem a little mean so I’d recommend betting on them to do so once at 7/5.
Fiorentina v Udinese
Home win: 29/20 Draw: 21/10 Away win: 39/20
Betting tip: Michele Pazienza’s experience with his new club has started well: one game, one goal for the ex-Juve and Napoli midfielder. Now he has to help Udinese turn the tide away from home, as Francesco Guidolin’s men look to achieve the consistency that’ll allow them to truly compete for top spot. Though the Viola should not be expected to go down without a fight, I’m going with Udinese on this one, if anything because Delio Rossi has yet to properly inculcate his ideas on his team. Do the Viola have what it takes to break down an admittedly frail defence, one that conceded three in Genoa recently? It’s possible, but unlikely to happen: if I were you, I’d ignore Fiorentina’s odds of netting twice or more at an inviting 29/20 and bet on the Udinese to win at 39/20.
Juventus v Siena
Home win: 7/25 Draw: 4/1 Away win: 10/1
Betting tip: Siena’s away record speak for itself, with five consecutive Serie A defeats coming in a season in which Giuseppe Sannino’s men are winless on the road. Juventus, for their part, are unbeaten in all competitions, and are unlikely to let Siena cause them any headaches. 83/100 says the Old Lady will take home all three points despite a 1-0 handicap in the visitor’s favour.
Lecce v Bologna
Home win: 5/4 Draw: 43/20 Away win: 9/4
Betting tip: The Cosmi renaissance continues, with Lecce welcoming Bologna at the Via del Mare. The Salentini would normally be the team to back in a tie like this, but Bologna’s knack of scoring away goals might just see them pull through. They have managed to net once on six consecutive occasions on the road, whilst Lecce will undoubtedly be exhausted following their impressive performances against Juventus, Lecce and Inter. A draw seems the best bet for this tie, whilst keeping an eye on an eventual away goal will yield a return of 7/5.
Novara v Cagliari
Home win: 7/4 Draw: 43/20 Away win: 31/20
Betting tip: New manager Emiliano Mondonico takes over a Novara side in free-fall: following six consecutive defeats, they are in desperate need of points, having not won since November. Cagliari, however, are unlikely to be pushed over by “new manager” syndrome, and have moreover already beaten Novara this season, just after they began the season with Roma’s scalp. Just a few days ago, the Sardinians did it again, this time scoring twice as many goals against the Giallorossi in a deserved 4-2 victory. Thiago Ribeiro was on top form, putting two past Maarten Stekelenburg. Having already found the back of the net against Novara back in September, he must be a good bet to take his tally to five for the season, quoted at a tempting 2/1.
Palermo v Atalanta
Home win: 4/5 Draw: 47/20 Away win: 18/5
Betting tip: For those still rubbing their eyes thinking that 4-4 was merely a dream, or a Pro Evolution Soccer flashback from their university days, you will be happy to know that it was all real. Fabrizio Miccoli’s stunning hat-trick was only bettered by Diego Milito’s own “poker”, as they call them here in Italy. Expect a rejuvenated Rosanero side to put in a thrilling display against a Bergamasque team likely to fancy their chances. Though a home win seems a safer bet, why not bet on an even safer three-goals-or-more formula, priced at 87/100? Atalanta have a powerful strike partnership and recently won on the road against Cesena. Palermo are still in the search for some stability, though they are likely to continue to produce cardiac-arrest inducing scores, such as their 5-3 win against Genoa.
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