Genoa versus Napoli – Both Teams to Score @ 4/6 (Ladbrokes)
Goals look an inevitability in this fixture – a contest between two sides oozing confidence and who will equally rate their chances against one another.
With them being six-points adrift of the Champions League places, Napoli find themselves in a must-win scenario. They’ll fancy their chances too, for a number of reasons. Firstly, confidence is sky-high following their midweek success in the Coppa Italia, beating in-form Inter Milan 2-0 at home to progress to the semi-finals, while just before Christmas they comfortably prevailed in the reverse of this fixture, dismantling Genoa 6-1 in Naples.
Following that horrific scoreline, revenge is definitely on the agenda when the pair reconvene in Genoa. The Grifone (Genoa) will seek home comforts at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, where they are certainly at their most potent; five of their seven Serie A wins this season were earned there, which includes highly impressive victories over Roma (2-1) and Udinese (3-2), the latter their most recent encounter on home soil.
Genoa went and followed up their success over title-chasing Udinese by losing 5-3 away to Palermo, but the fact they scored another three times highlights their rich vein of form in front of goal at the present time and they can exploit the nerves of a Napoli side who have gone their last nine league matches without a clean sheet and know they must prevail here.
Palermo versus Novara – Both Teams to Score @ Evens (Boylesports)
Incredible odds really. There isn’t a team in Serie A who have shipped more goals than Novara this season (38 in total from 19 games; 2 on average), while Palermo haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last six and have conceded precisely three goals in each of their previous two league matches at La Favorita, funnily enough to the two teams above (Genoa and Napoli).
Of course, it almost goes without saying that Palermo are favourites to run up a cricket score; they’re positioned twelve places higher in the standings and are formidable at home (W7 D0 L2), whereas Novara prop up the division having accrued just 12 points from 19 matches so far, which leaves them some seven points adrift of safety. Last season’s Serie B Play-Off winners have also not won on their travels all season (W0 D2 L7).
The result almost seems a formality, certainly on paper, but Aquile (Palermo) are a precarious sort so expect them to make any backers at around 4/7 sweat.
Chievo versus Lazio – Lazio to WIN @ 13/8 (StanJames)
For some odd reason I quite like the look of Lazio at Chievo, a fixture the Romans have been triumphant in in each of the previous three seasons. All, incidentally, by narrow one-goal margins.
Lazio were humiliated at Siena recently, losing 4-0 to a side embroiled in a relegation dog-fight. They do, though, boast one of the stronger away records in Serie A (W5 D2 L2 / GF15 GA12) and were mighty unfortunate to suffer two quick-fire defeats at the San Siro within the space of a week; losing 2-1 to Inter Milan in the league on Sunday before bowing out of the Coppa Italia with a 3-1 loss to AC Milan. With Brazilian Hernanes back pulling the strings, in behind experienced German goal-getting Miroslav Klose, Edoardo Reja’s men are looking menacing again.
Their opponents, meanwhile, have only lost once at home all season and are currently unbeaten in four league games on their own patch – but they have found goals hard to come by; only third from bottom Cesena have found the net fewer times than a Chievo team who have fired blanks eight times (3 at home, 5 away). And, like Lazio, they too were dumped out of the cup in midweek, with the Flying Donkeys suffering a shock 1-0 home defeat at the hands of a side who sit second from bottom in Serie A, relegation favourites Lecce.
Because both were involved in the Coppa Italia during the week, neither should boast an edge with fitness or conditioning. However, I can’t help but feel that Lazio left the San Siro on Thursday with some positive food for thought, whereas Chievo are left dwelling on what might of been after losing to lowly Lecce on their own patch – a defeat which could take some time to digest, for a club who were bidding to reach the last-four for the first time in their history.