Saturday, March 3rd
Palermo v AC Milan (5.00 pm)
Home win: 19/5 Draw: 53/20 Away win: 7/10
Key fact: AC Milan have only lost three times on the road this season and all defeats were to teams far superior to Palermo.
Betting tip: Though the Renzo Barbera is a traditionally hostile ground for Palermo opponents – the Rosanero have won three consecutive games here – this will hardly make a difference against a resourceful AC Milan, capable of scoring two goals (one disallowed, for those who’ve been living in a cave since Friday) against Juventus when they were short of strikers. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic back, I see Milan scoring at least twice, priced at 7/10.
Juventus v Chievo (7.45 pm)
Home win: 1/4 Draw: 17/4 Away win: 23/2
Key fact: Chievo have only conceded one first half goal over their past five games, whilst Juventus have only scored once in the first half in the same period.
Betting tip: Juventus’ recent dip in form against minor teams seems to underline just how reactive they can sometimes be, unable to take the initiative and set the tempo. Chievo are a tough-as-nails side who have already fought Juventus to a standstill in Verona, and they could be a safe bet to hold their hosts to a draw in the first half (evens), or to ensure that the second half sees more goals than the first, priced at 23/20, as Juventus take time to break them down.
Sunday, March 4th
Parma v Napoli (12.30)
Home win: 27/10 Draw: 11/5 Away win: 21/10
Key fact: Parma have not lost at home since Roberto Donadoni took over.
Betting tip: Can Napoli’s three-man defence keep out players like Sebastian Giovinco and Sergio Floccari? Can Parma’s keep out the likes of Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik? One is tempted to answer both these questions with a resounding “no”. At 13/5, bet on Napoli to surf on the optimism generated by their home win against Chelsea by triumphing at the Ennio Tardini in a game with more than 2.5 goals.
Udinese v Atalanta (2.00 pm)
Home win: 13/20 Draw: 5/2 Away win: 23/5
Key fact: Udinese have only lost once at home in Serie A, while Atalanta are hardly on top form when they travel having drawn against Novara.
Betting tip: Though backing Udinese for the win seems like the best course of action, it might be a good idea to spice up those odds and look for a high-scoring game. Atalanta may have failed to score against Novara, but after mauling Roma at home they should have no problems in catching Udinese on the counter with the reborn German Denis. At 9/5, back the hosts to win a tie which contains three goals or more.
Fiorentina v Cesena (2.00 pm)
Home win: 1/2 Draw: 14/5 Away win: 25/4
Key fact: Fiorentina haven’t won in nearly a month.
Betting tip: Cesena’s away form is nothing to smile about, though with 14 games left in the season they need to get moving as soon as possible and stop relying on the Manuzzi for all their points. Fiorentina’s atrocious recent form might just cost them here. At 17/20, Cesena can be counted on to score, as Adrian Mutu tries to ring in the old legge dell’ex, while Vincenzo Iaquinta has already scored against Lazio. Remember, they took a two-goal lead at the Olimpico and could pull off a similar coup against a weak Viola side far less likely to make a comeback were the visitors to open the scoring. It might be a long shot, but 25/4 on a Cesena win is a good price for an eventuality which is well within the realm of the probable.
Lecce v Genoa (2.00 pm)
Home win: 23/20 Draw: 9/4 Away win: 47/20
Key fact: Genoa’s away form is the stuff of nightmares: five away defeats in a row, fifteen goals conceded.
Betting tip: Lecce have the means to hurt Genoa at the Via Del Mare and are likely to make it three wins in a row against Pasquale Marino’s men. So far two players have kept them afloat: David Di Michele and Luis Fernando Muriel. Add captain Giullermo Giacomazzi to boss the midfield with ex-Sampdoria man Gennaro Delvecchio and Andrea Bertolacci (who scored last week), and you have a team capable of dominating the game from start to finish, and of netting twice or more at 21/20.
Roma v Lazio (2.00 pm)
Home win: 23/20 Draw: 11/5 Away win: 12/5
Key fact: Roma’s inconsistency cuts both ways: if they are unable to string a few wins together, the same applies when they lose.
Betting tip: Roma have always been able to bounce back from their poor results this season. They have only lost two games in a row twice, and have made progress since then. After their 3-0 defeat at the Franchi, Roma played well at home to Juventus, even taking the lead before Giorio Chiellini equalised. Lazio won the last derby thanks to a last minute Miroslav Klose goal (by the way, the German has reassured Biancocelesti fans that he’ll play), but are likely to be plagued by their defensive troubles. At 23/10, I’m counting on Roma to win a game which’ll see both sides stick to their recent history and net a combined three goals or more.
Bologna v Novara (2.00 pm)
Home win: 7/10 Draw: 12/5 Away win: 87/20
Key fact: Novara feel like a far more confident side since Emiliano Mondonico took over and won’t be pushed over so easily.
Betting tip: Both teams have one thing in common: they have recently defeated Inter Milan and look far more convincing for it. Though Bologna are favourites, I think Novara have what it takes to score, an eventuality priced at 3/5.
Siena v Cagliari (2.00 pm)
Home win: 11/10 Draw: 43/20 Away win: 13/5
Key fact: Cagliari haven’t won once in their last five away games.
Betting tip: Siena look to be favourites in this one as they recently smashed four past Palermo at the Franchi. It was good to see Franco Brienza score his first goal of the season, while Erjon Bogdani has made the transition from Cesena smoothly. Add them to the likes of Mattia Destro and Emanuele Calaio and Siena look a far more dangerous proposition up front. Back them for the win at 11/10.
Inter v Catania (7.45 pm)
Home win: 7/10 Draw: 13/5 Away win: 39/10
Key fact: Internazionale’s decline is there for all to see: even more shockingly, they haven’t scored at all since their 4-4 draw at home to Palermo. That’s four weeks and five games.
Betting tip: Inter can at least claim to be improving over the past week, losing out to Marseille at the last minute and limiting Napoli to one goal at the San Paolo. This leads me to believe they can beat Catania, though it is unlikely that we’ll see a goal bonanza. At 3/1, back Inter to win in a game with less than three goals.
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