It was another fascinating week in Italy as some of the favorites consolidated their positions in the race for scudetto – and European spots – and others kept the pressure on at the top of the table.
There was more misery for most of the sides at the bottom of Serie A but Frosinone upset the odds by recording a 1-0 victory away at Sampdoria – and proved how unpredictable Italian football has been this season.
We are now looking forward to match day 24 – which starts with Juventus looking to extend their lead at the top of the table to a surely unassailable 14 points.
I’m going to once again take a look at the weekend’s fixtures from a betting perspective and have chosen Atalanta vs Milan as my game of the week.
Featured Game – Atalanta vs Milan
It’s fourth vs fifth in Bergamo this weekend as Atalanta host a rejuvenated Milan side. The race for the fourth Champions League spot is getting very tight now and three points for either side will be just as important on a psychological level.
Here are the latest odds courtesy of Betway.
Atalanta to Win
Milan to Win
Atalanta is on an excellent run at the moment and has looked one of the most exciting sides in the division over the last few months. The goals of Zapata have put them in a great position to qualify for the Champions League and a price of 2.05 is not particularly off putting for a home side.
Milan has definitely improved recently – and has recruited impressively in the January transfer window – so the away win is not out of the question. But 3.30 for the draw is the price that stands out for me at first glance given the pressure both sides will be under to get a result.
But before I make my pick and predictions I’m going to take a closer look at both teams.
As happy as Gian Piero Gasperini must be with Atalanta’s recent form, he must be ruing the results at the start of the season in which his side only managed one win in their first eight games. One of those was a creditable draw at the San Siro against this weekend’s opponents but they were as low as 17th in the table at one point.
Atalanta’s change in fortune coincided with Duvan Zapata’s incredible goal scoring streak. The Colombian striker has looked unplayable in some of their games and now has 20 for the season – including 15 in the league. The highlight has to be the four away at Frosinone but the whole team has performed making Atalanta the top goal scorers in Serie A – recording one more goal than leaders Juventus at this point.
The question over Atalanta is how long can they keep this form up for? Already wonderfully overachieving, they don’t have the budget to compete with the majority of the sides around them.
But they do have a very favorable fixture list following the visit of Milan and could separate themselves from the following pack with another good run of victories.
I have to admit I was skeptical about Gennaro Gattuso’s appointment at Milan on the basis that ex-players returning to take over at their former clubs has a long history of disappointment. But he steadied the ship last season after taking over from Vincenzo Montella and only a late season drop in results denied Milan a Champions League place.
This season Milan has recovered from an indifferent start to push for the top four – and some excellent signings in the shape of Lucas Paqueta from Flamengo and Krzysztof Piatek from Genoa have immediately paid off. They are looking a like a side who could even challenge for the scudetto next season if they keep on progressing.
Milan hasn’t lost away from home since October – and that was to Inter so wasn’t really ‘away’ from home anyway. It is the amount of draws that Gattuso’s team has recorded that has stopped them from pulling away from the other fourth place challengers but a point at Atalanta would be welcomed by everyone at the club.
Betting Pick and Prediction
It is difficult to bet against Atalanta with the form that they are showing. Zapata in particular has been on fire but I’m worried that the wheels are about to come off for them. They won’t suddenly start losing every game but I feel that they may start to fall away slightly.
Saying that, I think odds of 3.80 for a Milan victory are not long enough considering how well Atalanta have been at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia. That is why I’m going for the draw at 3.30. With both sides looking to pull away it promises to be a tight game and one that I feel will finish all square.
My Pick: The Draw 3.30
Predictions for the Week’s Other Serie A Games
Here is how I think the rest of the weekend’s Serie A games will shape up.
Juventus vs Frosinone
Juventus to Win
Frosinone to Win
Juventus was held by Parma a few weeks ago but bounced back with an impressive 3-0 victory at Sassuolo last week and are overwhelming favorites to get another three points on Friday night.
Even with such generous odds I’m not at all tempted by a Frosinone win. They may have got an unlikely victory at Sampdoria but Juventius are a different proposition all together and I can’t see that happening two weeks in a row.
The home win is the obvious wager here but with a price of just 1.12 I’m going to look elsewhere for value.
Cagliari vs Parma
Cagliari to Win
Parma to Win
Cagliari is on a run of three successive defeats and is in serious danger of being dragged into a relegation battle. They had to contend with protesting farmers who delayed their flight to Milan last week and although they won’t have that kind of trouble on Saturday I can’t see them getting a positive result.
Parma were unable to follow up that great comeback away at Juventus with a home victory over Inter and consistency has been their main problem this season.
But 3.75 for an away win is very tempting and I’m confident that the attacking pace of Gervinho can give them three points to take away from Sardinia.
SPAL vs Fiorentina
SPAL to Win
Fiorentina to Win
Fiorentina’s 7-1 mauling of Roma in the Coppa Italia was very much the exception to the rule as the Florence club have drawn 10 of their last 15 Serie A games and has fallen away from European qualification contention.
SPAL are too close to the bottom of the table for comfort and really need a few wins if they are to pull away from trouble.
One of the smallest clubs in the division they also have a great spirit and that is why I think that they could come away with a home win here – and odds of 3.30 make this good value too.
Empoli vs Sassuolo
Empoli to Win
Sassuolo to Win
Empoli is on a terrible run of eight games without a win and it is looking like they will make an immediate return to Serie B. They have scored more goals than any of the other clubs around them at the bottom of the league but they are not turning those goals into victories and that is what they desperately need.
Sassuolo already look safe in the middle of the table and actually has a relatively good away record this season. The price for a Sassuolo win is too short but I do like the look of 3.30 for the draw.
Genoa vs Lazio
Genoa to Win
Lazio to Win
Genoa is another team who already seem to have accepted their mid table fate for the season and is now picking up the odd win to keep them out of any serious danger at the bottom of the table. Their early season form has put them in the position they are now and just two wins in their last 17 shows that they are not the ones to back – even with odds of 3.60 at home.
Lazio, on the other hand, is picking up the points recently and will push their city rivals Roma all the way in the pursuit for fourth. They may not be successful in that quest but they should win at the Marassi. Odds of 2.05 do not interest me though.
Udinese vs Chievo
Udinese to Win
Chievo to Win
Udinese is in serious danger of ending its 25-year stay in the top flight of Italian football. They are on a four game winless streak and are not scoring nearly enough goals for my liking.
But Chievo is in even more of a mess. They are one of only two sides not to have won a single game away from home this season – and they have only won one at home as well.
A home win seems the most likely result here but odds of 1.80 are too short for a wager.
Inter vs Sampdoria
Inter to Win
Sampdoria to Win
Inter may be third in the league but they are going through their annual start of the year problems. They surprised me with a win last week at Parma though and are heavily favored to win at home here.
Sampdoria suffered that shock defeat at home to Frosinone last weekend and started to undo some of the good work they did before Christmas where they picked up 13 points out of a possible 15.
The odds for an away win are tempting but 4.20 for the draw looks like the real value bet here.
Napoli vs Torino
Napoli to Win
Torino to Win
Napoli’s inability to beat either Milan side in the last month or so has put paid to their scudetto hopes for another season but they should still have far too much for Torino.
The Turin club has actually picked up some impressive victories in the last few weeks – including the 1-0 win against Inter – and has climbed to eighth in the table. I can’t see them coming away from Naples with any points though and the home win price is too short.
Roma vs Bologna
Roma to Win
Bologna to Win
Roma is a difficult team to predict recently. Eusebio Di Francesco looked like he would be shown the door after Fiorentina humbled them in the Coppa Italia – but then he inspired his team to a good draw with Milan and a 3-0 win at Chievo to keep up their good league form.
Bologna turned around some woeful results with a shock win at Inter but has looked anything but confident for the majority of the season and could well lose their top flight status at the end of the season.
This will finish in a home win at the Stadio Olimpico but the odds are too short for a bet.
Match day 24 has some intriguing fixtures and there is enough value in some of the odds to be potentially profitable for anyone looking to make a wager on Serie A this weekend.
Juventus look like they will pull further ahead on Friday but it is the race for fourth that is becoming the real point of interest at the moment and this week’s games will only increase the excitement.
As always, let me know what you think of my picks and predictions.