It’s a quick turnaround this week as Serie A presents a full program of midweek fixtures as we enter the final months of the season.
Match day 29 threw up a set of interesting results with Napoli’s 4-1 demolition of Roma probably the stand out performance. It was a good day all round for Lazio who – as well as undoubtedly enjoying seeing its bitter rivals go down so badly – managed a very important 1-0 win away at Inter to boost its own hopes of making the top four.
Milan’s problems continued with a defeat to Sampdoria to follow up its Derby della Madonnina loss the week before. The Rossoneri is now only three points clear of Lazio in fifth – and has played one more game.
We are now looking forward to match day 30. The games take place over three days this week – starting on Tuesday – and once again I’m going to take a look at the fixtures from a betting perspective. I’ve chosen Atalanta vs Bologna as my featured game of the week.
Featured Game – Atalanta vs Bologna
Not a game featuring any of the traditional giants of Italian soccer, but this fixture could influence both ends of the table. Atalanta is pushing for European qualification and Bologna is doing its best to escape a prolonged relegation battle.
Here are the latest game odds courtesy of Betway.
Atlanta to Win
Bologna to Win
Sinisa Mihajlovic was brought in at the end of January to save Bologna’s top flight status and although the Rossoblu has not climbed the table it has won three games in succession for the first time this season. A trip to Bergamo now awaits. Before I make my pick and predictions I’m going to take a closer look at both teams.
Atalanta started the year brightly with victories in the league backing up its display in the Coppa Italia where the Bergamo side knocked out holders Juventus with a convincing 3-0 victory. But back-to-back defeats then derailed its European qualification hopes.
Gian Piero Gasperini now seems to have got things back on track however and Atalanta’s win at Parma at the weekend gave Duvan Zapata his 24th goal of the season and kept the pressure on Milan, Lazio and Inter.
Three more points will be expected from this game but Bologna is in a good run of form itself and this may end up being tighter than many pundits predict.
Bologna’s three recent victories may have been over largely middling Serie A teams – Cagliari, Torino and Sassuolo – but those nine points has given a huge boost to its chances of staying up this season.
Rewind a few months and it looked like Bologna’s four year stay in in the top flight was about to come to an end as it had only recorded two wins all season before the surprise victory away at Inter in February.
This game will be a tough one for Mihajlovic’s men but if Bologna could get anything from the trip to Bergamo – and with Chievo to follow at the weekend – the pressure would definitely be on the teams below them as the season starts drawing to a close.
Betting Pick and Prediction
Bologna may have enjoyed a good run of results recently but it is now meeting an Atalanta side that has suddenly rediscovered its own form – and a victory for the visitors in this one seems to be a big ask.
Zapata has started scoring again – and really enjoys playing in front of home fans – and it would not be a surprise if the Colombian added one of two more to his impressive goal tally for the season.
Although the odds are not too interesting for a home win I feel it is the only way this game will go so an Atalanta victory should possibly be considered as part of a multiple bet rather than a single here.
My Pick: Atalanta to Win 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.
Milan vs Udinese
Milan to Win
Udinese to Win
Milan kicks off Match Day 30 on Tuesday as it hosts Udinese in a game that coach Gennaro Gattuso will hope brings back the form that saw his side climb to third a few weeks ago. Defeats to Inter and Sampdoria has changed the complexion of this one as Milan cannot afford to give its rivals any more chances to build a points gap.
Udinese has had struggles of its own recently but followed up expected defeats to Juventus and Napoli with a good win over Genoa at the weekend. Those defeats have drawn the Zebrette into the relegation battle however and even though a win in Milan seems unlikely, Davide Nicola’s side will have to do its best to avoid defeat.
Confidence seems low at the San Siro at the moment but I feel that the Rossoneri should be able to put its recent troubles behind them to be able to get three valuable points at home here.
Cagliari vs Juventus
Cagliari to Win
Juventus to Win
Cagliari’s recent good run of four wins from six has seen the Sardinian club climb away from the relegation places at the foot of the table and will now believe that its Serie A status will be secure for another season.
With Juventus already assured of the title this could turn this fixture into a bit of a none event. The surprise loss to Genoa a few weeks ago means that there will be no unbeaten season this year and the Bianconeri could afford to lose a few more games before now and the end of the season and still pick up the scudetto.
Because of the lack of importance attached to this game I feel that Cagliari may be able to use its home form to pick up what may seem like an unlikely point. The price for a draw is a little low but might hold the best value here.
Empoli vs Napoli
Empoli to Win
Napoli to Win
Empoli fans will not be happy with whoever drew up the Serie A fixture list, handing the club back-to-back games with Juventus and Napoli – but the truth is that every game is vitally important at this stage of the season. Head coach Aurelio Andreazzoli may well be looking beyond this game to the match up with Udinese at the weekend as a more realistic chance of points.
Napoli showed that away games hold no fear for Carlo Ancelotti’s men as it thrashed Roma at the Stadio Olimpico at the weekend. That 4-1 victory was a surprise as the fight for the league title is over and I thought the Europa League would be the main priority.
But the Partenopei has proved that it still considers finishing as high as possible in Serie A as important – and that quest should be helped with another three points away at Empoli.
Frosinone vs Parma
Frosinone to Win
Parma to Win
Frosinone’s impending return to Serie B is looking closer all the time and defeats to Empoli and SPAL in the last two games has not helped the cause. Marco Baroni’s side now sits ten points from safety – and eight points behind Empoli in 18th. Frosinone has actually performed slightly better away from home this season but desperately needs something from this one.
Parma will be happy knowing that – barring any shocking late season collapse – it will be playing Serie A soccer once again next season. But if Roberto D’Aversa’s side loses focus in any of its remaining fixtures it could easily drop some unexpected points from now until the end of the campaign.
Although I don’t believe it won’t ultimately help Frosinone to escape the drop this season, I do feel that it could grab a point here and at least make some of its competitors get a little worried going into the weekend’s games.
Genoa vs Inter
Genoa to Win
Inter to Win
Genoa look like a side who is waiting for the end of the season now – with victories over top sides such as Juventus and Lazio thrown in for good measure. With a mid table place looking very likely it is now a case of seeing out the remaining fixtures and concentrating on rebuilding for next season.
Inter seem to be suffering from incredible inconsistency at the moment – with the impressive win over city rivals Milan followed by a home defeat to Lazio. With the issue surrounding Mauro Icardi’s future refusing to go away, Luciano Spalletti should be happy that his side is still third in the table with 11 games to go.
An Inter win at Genoa would carry on the feeling of not knowing what will happen next with the Nerazzurri but a price of 3.20 for the draw looks like the best value bet here.
Roma vs Fiorentina
Roma to Win
Fiorentina to Win
Speaking of unpredictability, Roma fans must be wondering what is going on at the Stadio Olimpico. Napoli was always going to be a tough game but the 4-1 defeat was a bitter blow for a side looking to get into the top four once again this season – and three points from the visit of Fiorentina now seems crucial to that end.
Fiorentina bucked its trend of drawing games to humiliate Roma 7-1 in the Coppa Italia earlier in the year but it seems unlikely that we will see such a confident display form the Viola again this week. Both defensive units can look particularly shaky at times though, so a high scoring draw could well be on the cards.
SPAL vs Lazio
SPAL to Win
Lazio to Win
SPAL’s surprise victory over Roma before the international break was followed up by a vital win at Frosinone at the weekend – and that has probably ensured that Leonardo Semplici’s side will be back for a third successive Serie A season. SPAL needs to keep its concentration but a few defeats in the remaining games should now not cause too much panic.
Lazio look to have taken over the mantle of form team in the chasing pack now with its victories over Roma and Inter. The Biancocelesti has crept up to fifth in the table and has a game in hand over its closest rivals. With Milan and Roma faltering it is not inconceivable that Simone Inzaghi’s side could qualify for the Champions League.
Lazio has now lost only one of its last seven Serie A games and another three points in Ferrara would really pile the pressure on its European qualification rivals – even if the odds do not look too attractive.
Torino vs Sampdoria
Torino to Win
Sampdoria to Win
After five wins in seven Torino was looking like it may make a surprise play for a European spot – but a shock loss to Bologna at home followed by a draw against Fiorentina has derailed those plans for the time being. With the table so tight, three points here would put Walter Mazzarri’s side back in the running but the form of Lazio and Atalanta could prove to be ultimately disappointing for the Turin club.
Sampdoria has won four of its last five games and quietly positioned itself with an outside chance of Europa League qualification. But in reality Samp will probably be happy with finishing seventh or eighth in the table and look to build on that for next season.
Serie A top goal scorer Fabio Quagliarella will no doubt have some contribution to make in this game but a draw seems the most likely outcome.
Sassuolo vs Chievo
Sassuolo to Win
Chievo to Win
Sassuolo’s amazing rise from amateur regional club to Europa League qualification is nothing short of incredible – and although the Neroverdi has struggled this year, the fact that it should be competing in a seventh successive Serie A campaign next season is a great achievement. After five defeats in its last seven games the visit of woeful Chievo seems like perfect timing.
Chievo can mathematically still stay up but in reality Serie B is calling for the Verona club. With just one win in 29 games, the three points deducted for false accounting has probably not made any difference to the Mussi Volanti’s chance of survival. Never the most attractive side to watch Chievo should now be putting this season behind it and concentrating on a promotion push for next year.
Sassuolo will win this one but a home win against Chievo is never going to attract large odds.
Just when we think that the European places are decided in Serie A there is another surprise set of results to change everything. These midweek fixtures could really alter the look of the table once again – at the top and bottom of the league.
There is still so much more to play for in Italy as we go into the last few months of the season proving Serie A to be a fascinating league even given Juve’s dominance.
As ever, let me know what you think of my predictions and picks – and enjoy the games.