Serie A took a week off for the international break but match day 29 kicks off on Friday as lowly Chievo host Cagliari at the Bentegodi.
The round of fixtures before the break saw Inter triumph in the Derby della Madonnina, surprising Milan with its speed and power early on. The 3-2 score line does not really reflect how much in control Luciano Spalleti’s side was and Gennaro Gattuso will now have to pick up his team to ensure that Champions League football is still a possibility next season.
There were plenty of goals elsewhere as Sampdoria won 5-3 at Sassuolo, Napoli beat Udinese 4-2 and Lazio scored four at home to Parma. The only team not to find the net was Juventus, amazingly. A much-changed Bianconeri lost 2-0 in Genoa with minds obviously more on its Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid. Check out match day 28 here.
We are now looking forward to match day 29. I’m going to once again take a look at the weekend’s fixtures from a betting perspective and have chosen Napoli’s trip to the Stadio Olimpico to take on Roma as my featured game of the week.
Featured Game – Roma vs Napoli
Napoli is unlikely to be caught in second with just ten games to go but this match up is far more important for Roma who need three points to keep the pressure on its rivals for the Champions League places.
Here are the latest game odds courtesy of Betway.
Roma to Win
Napoli to Win
Napoli’s defeat at home to Juventus a few weeks ago all but confirmed that the scudetto would remain in Turin this season and Napoli has not shown quite the same intensity since. Roma being touted as the underdogs at home is interesting but before I make my pick and predictions I’m going to take a closer look at both teams.
A shock 2-1 defeat at SPAL just before the international break has hampered Roma’s European ambitions – especially coming so soon after the humiliation of the Derby della Capitale thrashing at the hands of Lazio.
But Roma had been on a decent winning streak before that loss and is always much more comfortable at home than on its travels. Nicolo Zaniolo featured as a substitute in Italy’s two Euro 2020 qualifying victories and will be looking to add to his goal tally against Napoli – especially if Edin Dzenko ends up not playing.
With Champions League dreams put on hold for at least another season, new boss Claudio Ranieri has one goal – and that is to finish in the top four. A victory or even a draw would be seen as a good result here.
Napoli’s results since that defeat at the San Paolo to Juventus have been positive at least but the Europa League will have taken on more of a priority than Serie A now – especially as the Partenopei has drawn Arsenal in the quarter finals.
Carlo Ancelotti has been lauded by the Napoli owners and his team now have a very favorable run in after the visit to Rome so I feel it is highly unlikely that it will drop further down the table, even with it having one eye on continental glory.
The attacking talent of Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens – along with the goals of Arkadiusz Milik – means that Napoli should never be discarded however and the visitors have won in the Stadio Olimpico on its previous two visits to Rome.
Betting Pick and Prediction
All the pressure seems to be on Roma to kick start its quest for a Champions League spot and it worries me that the Giallorossi sometimes come up short when it most needs to get a result – the capitulation to Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia springs to mind.
But facing a Napoli side who will feel confident of its position in Serie A, I think that Roma will be given more time to build up its attacks and use its home advantage to pick up a positive result.
Three points might just be out of Roma’s reach – although that would definitely make the race for fourth even more interesting – but a draw looks good value to me.
My Pick: The Draw 2.50
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.
Chievo vs Cagliari
Chievo to Win
Cagliari to Win
Match day 29 kicks off on Friday with Chievo looking to push on from the surprise draw away at Atalanta and – at the very least – keep itself mathematically in Serie A. That point in Bergamo will have given the Mussi Valanti some confidence at least and with pride all realistically left to play for, the Verona side might be able to emulate the six successive draws it managed earlier in the season.
Cagliari has beaten Fiorentina, Inter and Parma in its last three home games but it is when Rolando Maran’s side leaves Sardinia that it finds itself in trouble. Cagliari has not even scored a goal away from home since before Christmas and has only won one game outside the Sardegna Arena all season.
Chievo is not an attractive side to watch – and this game doesn’t promise to be pretty – but I fancy the home side to use Cagliari’s woeful away form to its advantage and pick up its second win of the season.
Udinese vs Genoa
Udinese to Win
Genoa to Win
Udinese are flirting too closely to the relegation places for its own liking and although two successive defeats away at Juventus and Napoli are not anything to be embarrassed about they have not helped the Zebrette’s Serie A safety concerns.
Genoa was able to beat Juventus the week before the international break and those three points have just about confirmed its Serie A status for another season. The pressure is off the visitors now and given that Genoa’s away form has been woeful this season a home win seems most likely.
Juventus vs Empoli
Juventus to Win
Empoli to Win
Juve’s defeat at Genoa was surprising even given the much-changed side Max Allegri put out with the tie against Atletico Madrid in mind. The head coach will feel his tactics were vindicated as the Bianconeri progressed to the quarter finals of the Champions League – although it does mean that we now won’t have an unbeaten season in Serie A this year.
Empoli desperately needed the three points it picked up against Frosinone last time out but will more than likely be involved in the relegation scrap until the last day of the season. New coach Aurelio Andreazzoli will no doubt have his eyes on other results as much as this one and would take a defeat here if it meant that his side stayed up.
Juventus is not going to lose two in a row – especially at home. It may only offer meager returns but the home win is the only sensible bet here.
Sampdoria vs Milan
Sampdoria to Win
Milan to Win
Serie A top goal scorer Fabio Quagliarella grabbed another one in the 5-3 victory over Sassuolo – plus two more for Italy in the 6-0 drubbing of Liechtenstein – and the 36-year-old is sure to cause the Milan defense some problems in this one. A good run could put Samp in the frame for a Europa League place but a mid table finish is more likely.
Milan won’t have enjoyed the international break stopping it from being able to immediately forget the Inter defeat and it is likely that an attacking Rossoneri will attempt to gain all three points in Genoa. Gennaro Gattuso’s side had been on a very good run before the derby so will want to get back to winning ways.
Although Milan need a win to keep up its hopes of a Champions League place I can see Quagliarella spoiling the party and forcing the two sides to share the points.
Parma vs Atalanta
Parma to Win
Atalanta to Win
Parma’s first season back in Serie A since 2015 has been up and down to say the least – and in recent weeks the defeats have become more common. But, if anything, Roberto D’Aversa’s side has overachieved and a mid table finish looks to be within its grasp.
Atalanta had been looking good at the turn of the year but back-to-back defeats to Milan and Torino had just about been forgotten before the surprise loss to Chievo. I feel as though Gian Piero Gasperini’s side will bounce back once again however and three points in Parma will put pressure back on Roma in fifth place.
Fiorentina vs Torino
Fiorentina to Win
Torino to Win
Fiorentina has drawn more games than any other side in Serie A side this season – 13 in 28 – and it is that lack of decisiveness that has cost it a chance of European qualification. Just two wins since the start of the year, against Chievo and SPAL, mean that a mid table finish is more likely and coach Stefano Pioli needs to rethink his tactics if he is to lead his team to greater success next season.
Torino’s shock defeat at home to Bologna on match day 28 ended a seven game unbeaten streak that had seen the Turin club climb to sixth in the table. Fiorentina knocked Torino out of the Coppa Italia earlier in the season so there is a small matter of revenge to deal with here.
Although the price for an away victory is attractive I think these two could cancel each other out in what promises to be a very entertaining draw.
Frosinone vs SPAL
Frosinone to Win
SPAL to Win
Frosinone is desperate for a victory having spent the vast majority of the season in the bottom three. Just two wins since October explain its predicament and Marco Baroni’s side will be going all out in an attempt to pick up three much-needed points at home to SPAL.
SPAL is in no way clear of relegation trouble itself, although a victory here would ease its worries considerably. The Biancazzurri has found killing off games difficult this season however and Leonardo’s Simplici’s side may go for practicality rather than excitement if it means picking up a valuable point away from home.
A draw will do Frosinone little good but a share of the spoils seems the most likely result here.
Bologna vs Sassuolo
Bologna to Win
Sassuolo to Win
If anyone can keep Bologna up it is Sinisa Mihajlovic – and the former Yugoslavia international has certainly had an effect on the Rossoblu who has won both its last two games. Another victory here would really put the pressure on Empoli and Udinese and go a long way to ensuring Serie A football is played in Bologna next season.
Sassuolo was stunned by Sampdoria in its last game before the international break and – in all honesty – has been coasting in mid table for the majority of the season. Its last victory was back at the end of January and it seems as though the season cannot end quick enough for the Neroverdi.
Only one team will be looking to win this so a home win is the wager to make.
Inter vs Lazio
Inter to Win
Lazio to Win
Inter host the final game of the weekend on Sunday evening and will surely still be buoyant after its victory over archrivals Milan before the international break. Another three points against Lazio would consolidate its position in the top three and partly make up for a humiliating double exit from European competition this season.
Lazio had its own derby success a few weeks ago and the 4-1 victory over Parma on match day 28 will have only emboldened the Rome club’s desires for its own European qualification this season.
This game promises to be a lively end to match day 29 and a draw looks good value at 3.25.
Aside from a few clubs already looking forward to their summer holidays there is a lot to play for still in Serie A – at both ends of the table. This round of fixtures promises to be just as exciting as the last and the results will have a lot to say in how the table looks on Monday morning.
As ever, let me know what you think of my predictions and picks – and enjoy the games.