Just two games to go in Italy’s top flight this season and there are still a lot of unanswered questions at both ends of the table.
There were victories for Roma, Atalanta, Lazio, Milan and Torino last weekend to keep up the excitement over European qualification going into the final two match days. It was a similar story at the bottom of the league where both Udinese and Empoli won away from home to extend the relegation battle.
There is Coppa Italia action in midweek when Atalanta takes on Lazio in a game that would guarantee Europa League qualification. But with both those sides still in contention for a top four spot it may be a case of them taking it easy for the weekend.
We are now looking forward to match day 37 with the games taking place over three days this week – and once again I’m going to take a look at the fixtures from a betting perspective. I’ve chosen Juventus vs Atalanta as my featured game of the week.
Featured Game – Juventus vs Atalanta
Juventus wore their controversial new half and half shirts last week as they lost to Roma – and it does seem as though the foot is definitely off the pedal after claiming the scudetto a few weeks ago. Atalanta can keep the gap between it and the Europa League places with a victory, so this one looks like being a very interesting game.
Here are the latest game odds courtesy of Betway.
Juventus to Win
Atalanta to Win
It looks like the bookmakers have taken Juve’s recent form into consideration in pricing this game, as earlier on in the season the odds would have been lower for a home win here. With Atalanta’s recent good form the price for an away win is not that attractive but its midweek game has to be taken into consideration before thinking of backing the Bergamo side.
Before I make my pick and predictions I’m going to take a closer look at both teams.
Max Allegri’s side has now not won in three successive Serie A games but there will not be much concern in Turin as the league title has already been secured and thoughts have obviously already drifted to summer plans.
There has been talk of Allegri’s exit as head coach so it will be interesting to see how much effort is put in from players and coaches in Juve’s final two games of the season. The champions have still not lost a game at home this season though so thoughts of a stunning Atalanta victory should probably be kept on hold.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side is the form team in Italy at the moment – having not lost in eleven Serie A games – and has timed a challenge for a top four finish at exactly the right time.
The Coppa Italia on Wednesday will be the main focus at the start of the week but Atalanta will travel to Turin believing that it can pick up at least a point in the hunt for Champions League qualification. Duvan Zapata will be the main goal threat for the visitors but the Colombian is ably backed up by the rest of his team.
Betting Pick and Prediction
A lot depends on Atalanta’s midweek cup game but the Bergamo side is the one to watch here, with Juventus unlikely to put up much of a challenge if the game starts badly for the Turin club.
Roma needed the three points last week against the Bianconeri and although Atalanta is facing the title winners at their own place there is a general feeling that Juventus could be there for the taking. I think that Juve could keep its unbeaten home record intact but a share of the points is very possible.
Pick: The Draw 2.40
Here is how I think the rest of the weekend’s Serie A games will shape up.
Udinese vs SPAL
Udinese to Win
SPAL to Win
The win at already relegated Frosinone last week was a huge boost to Udinese’s hopes of staying up this season – and Igor Tudor’s side will now be looking at this game as very winnable considering SPAL’s position in the league. A draw could even prove to be enough for the Zebrette.
SPAL will be very happy with its likely mid table finish this season and is now mathematically safe in Serie A. Leonardo Semplici’s side sill have the opportunity to wreck Udinese’s and Milan’s end of season dreams over the next two weeks but is more likely to finish off the campaign without adding to its points total.
Udinese need the points to keep the pressure on Empoli who plays on Sunday – so a home win should be the expected result here.
Genoa vs Cagliari
Genoa to Win
Cagliari to Win
Genoa has now won just one game since the middle of February and is in real danger of being caught by teams who were a long way behind them just a few months ago. A home win is vital for the Rossoblu going into the final match day but confidence is not high at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Cagliari’s positive results in March and April has seen the club just about safe for another year – but a defeat here would set up a massive last day game with Udinese next week. The Sardinians are not the greatest of travellers, having only won two league games away from the Sardegna Arena all season, so this could be a tough trip.
Genoa have seemed unable to force a victory since the shock win over Juventus two months ago – but Cesare Prandelli will know that three points here should be enough to keep his side up and I think Genoa should manage that.
Sassuolo vs Roma
Sassuolo to Win
Roma to Win
Thanks to a better head to head record against SPAL, Sassuolo finds itself in the top half of the table, which is a great achievement for a club its size. Hopes of further European experience were never very realistic this season and head coach Roberto De Zerbi will already be planning for next season with little concern about how this one goes.
Roma’s victory over Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico last weekend kept up its Champions League hopes up – even though the Giallorossi’s head to head record against both Atalanta and Milan means it needs a higher points total than those two to qualify.
Roma is playing like a team who finally believe that it might be able to grab a top four spot. It might be too late for that but three points here should help in that quest.
Chievo vs Sampdoria
Chievo to Win
Sampdoria to Win
Chievo has been putting in some spirited performances towards what has been a largely disappointing season for the Flying Donkeys. With relegation confirmed weeks ago there is just pride to play for now and it could be argued that the Verona club were unlucky against Inter last week.
Fabio Quagliarella scored his 26th Serie A goal last week in the defeat at home to relegation threatened Empoli – and if truth be told there is little to play for as far as things go for Sampdoria. Any outside hopes of a Europa League spot were dashed a few weeks ago and the team may not be 100% up for giving it their all against Chievo.
Not the most enticing of Serie A games and anything could happen in a game that has no bearing on the final table. Samp should be too good for Chievo though.
Empoli vs Torino
Empoli to Win
Torino to Win
Surely Empoli is not going to pull this great escape off? Six points from the last two games has put the Azzurri in with a chance of getting out of the bottom three but this game against Torino – and the trip to Inter next weekend – might prove too much for Aurelio Andreazzoli’s men.
Torino still has an outside chance of Champions League qualification, but it is the Europa League that the Granata has a better chance of making with games against Empoli and Lazio to go. Walter Mazzarri’s side has only lost twice since Christmas and will be expecting three points from this one.
As much as an Empoli victory would make the final match day even more nail biting, Torino is a very good side playing very well. This should end in a win for the visitors.
Parma vs Fiorentina
Parma to Win
Fiorentina to Win
Parma’s record of one win in its last 16 games has seen it fall down the table and include itself in a relegation battle that looked beneath them even just a few months ago. It is only five consecutive draws that has kept Parma as high in the table as it is now – and with Roma next week Roberto D’Aversa’s side desperately need a win here.
If Parma’s recent record has been unimpressive then at least it has not capitulated quite as badly as Fiorentina. The Viola will have been harboring slight hopes of European qualification – either through the Coppa Italia or the league – just a few weeks ago but has now lost five of its last six and look devoid of ideas. Roll on next season for the Florence club.
This is a battle between the two sides that have been playing some awful soccer over the last few weeks. Fiorentina was the draw king but recent form suggests that may not even be possible. Parma should win this to ease its relegation fears.
Milan vs Frosinone
Milan to Win
Frosinone to Win
Milan is the biggest favorite to win this weekend and it is not hard to see why. Tension within the team seems to have disappeared and results have picked up again after a blip a few weeks ago. Lucas Paqueta is suspended but Gennaro Gattuso’s side should be far too strong for Frosinone.
It has been a frustrating season for the Canarini whose victories over Parma and Fiorentina at the start of April proved to be a false dawn for the club playing in only its second ever top flight season. A home game against Chievo is all that is left after this trip to Milan that should end in more misery for Marco Baroni’s side.
Milan need to keep the pressure on if it is to make the top four this season so a big morale boosting win would be just the trick here for the Rossoneri.
Napoli vs Inter
Napoli to Win
Inter to Win
This game might have been a tense affair if results had gone differently over the last few months but, as it is, both sides will feel that they have done enough this season. Napoli has already cemented its top four spot but may enjoy testing Inter’s nerves by winning at home here.
Inter has survived through Mauro Icardi’s squad omission and a better than usual post Christmas slump to probably finish third this season – and Luciano Spalletti will still be out of a job in the summer. With Empoli at home on the last day of the season the Nerazzurri should qualify for the Champions League whatever the result in Naples.
A final home game of the season for Napoli may be enough reason for Carlo Ancelotti’s side to muster the energy to take all three points.
Lazio vs Bologna
Lazio to Win
Bologna to Win
By the time this game comes around Lazio will know whether it has qualified for next season’s Europa League thanks to its Coppa Italia cup final date on Wednesday. But either way manager Simone Inzaghi will want to see three more points won against a Bologna side that has struggled for the majority of the season.
Bologna found itself in the bottom three just over a month ago but manager Sinisa Mihajlovic has worked wonders since taking over at the end of January and managed to get the club safe with a few weeks to spare. A great effort from the management team and players alike.
It could be a case of ‘job done’ now for Bologna so Lazio must be favored to take all three points at the Stadio Olimpico.
Depending on how results go this weekend we may find that there is a clearer picture at the top and bottom of Serie A come Monday night. But the way Italian soccer has been this season I feel there are more twists and turns in store.
The race for European qualification is probably the closest race to call with six clubs still battling for the two remaining Champions League spots.
Whatever happens this weekend we are sure to see some more fascinating games and results to take us into the final day of the season.
As ever, let me know what you think of my predictions and picks – and enjoy the games.