Serie A betting

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Napoli v Inter Milan Betting Preview, 2015-11-30

European Football Tips

Monday 30th November Kickoff: 2000hrs

Napoli v Inter Milan

Football – Italy – Serie A

The top two in Serie A clash at the Stadio San Palo on Monday evening, in a much anticipated clash between Napoli and Inter. One point separate the two club’s heading into this game and although Fiorentina could leapfrog them ahead of kickoff, whoever wins between these two will finish the (extended) weekend on top.

Napoli had to appoint a new manager after Rafael Benitez was lured to Real Madrid in the summer and whilst his replacement may not have been as well known, Maurizio Sarri has been very impressive during his short time in charge. Previously manager of Empoli, Sarri has led Napoli to within a point of top spot and they come into this game on the back of eight wins in their last nine league games and not having been defeated since the opening day of the season, in Serie A. Napoli have also secured top spot in their Europa League – a competition they got to the semi-finals of last year under Benitez.

Roberto Mancini has been in charge of Inter for longer than Sarri has Napoli, after the former Manchester City and Galatasaray coach returned to the San Siro for a second spell in charge back in November last year. It was a rather unforgettable comeback, initially, as Inter struggled to an eighth placed finish last season, looking in need of a great deal of work to get them back challenging for the title. With that in mind, it is somewhat surprising to see how Inter have propelled them into contention. The current pacesetters have – like Napoli – lost just one game this season, that coming in a thumping home defeat to Fiorentina at the end of September. Three draws have been followed by four victories since then, which has been a very good response from Mancini and his players.

Gonzalo Higuain has been one of the main reasons as to why Napoli are in the position they are in at the moment. The Argentinian has scored 10 goals in Serie A and four of those goals have been the decisive strike in Napoli victories. Two of those wins have come against Juventus and Fiorentina which are arguably the biggest wins of Napoli’s season thus far. It has often been a criticism levelled at the former Real Madrid player, that he has not produced when it has come to crunch moments, but he looks as determined as he ever has done. Missing crucial penalties both for club and country in the earlier part of this year has obviously been a great motivation for him.

Mancini enjoyed a lot of success in his first stint in charge at Inter, leading them to three, successive Serie A titles between 2005 and 2008. It would have been unthinkable to imagine that he could repeat that feat this time last year when they were losing regularly and failing to make any impact. It is still pretty unlikely that he can secure the same dominance, now, when you consider the strength of Juventus and emergence of Napoli and Fiorentina, but to have even made them competitive is something of an achievement. Although there is plenty of football left to be played, there’s no doubt that the whole club is much more optimistic compared to 12 months ago.

Napoli v Inter Milan Betting Tips

With only eight and seven goals conceded respectively in Serie A this season, Napoli and Inter Milan hold the best defensive records in the Italian top flight. The hosts have not conceded a goal in any of their last five league games, whilst the current leaders have shipped just one goal in their last six. Those stats would imply it is going to be a very close game on Monday, especially when you consider that Inter have managed just 16 goals this term, with only seven of those coming away from home. What also needs to be factored in, however, is that Napoli are one of the most threatening teams in Serie A – if not the most lethal. Fiorentina and Roma are the only two teams to have scored more than Sarri’s men and after a slow start to the campaign, the Napoli forward line are very much finding their stride.

Inter have already kept clean sheets at home to Roma and in the derby against Milan, but they looked completely unsure how to defend against the variety of the Fiorentina attack when going down 4-1. Napoli pose a very similar threat in that they have plenty of width and break at real speed. It will be very interesting to see what Inter have learned since that humbling defeat as they are bound to be tested.

Napoli have been a dynamic team for a number of years now but they definitely appear to have developed an inner strength and are more resilient this term. I think they will have too much for Inter, particularly in front of their own fans, and whilst I was tempted to back them to score over 1.5 goals (something they have achieved at home to Fiorentina, Juve and Lazio this season) I eventually sided with backing Higuain to score at anytime. The star striker notched in all those victories and as everything flows through him in an attacking sense for Napoli, he looks likely to have a big say once again

Higuain to score anytime 21/20 @ William Hill

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Genoa V Lazio, Sunday 5 February 2012 (LIVE on ESPN) – Pick: Both Teams to Score

European Football Tips

 

Genoa Versus Lazio – Sunday, 5 February 2012 – 11:30 GMT (LIVE on ESPN)

The big games keep on coming for Genoa. In their last seven league games, the Grifoni have faced Inter Milan, Palermo and Udinese, as well as Napoli twice. The fact they were victorious in a few, scoring plenty of goals in the process, means their latest big-name opponent – an in-form Lazio who have suddenly emerged as possible Scudetto contenders – must be wary ahead of Sunday’s encounter.

However, this is a fixture which has served Lazio well over the years. The Luigi Ferraris Stadium has been a fortress for Genoa, winning eight of twelve there so far in the league this season – including each of their last three, against Bologna (2-1), Napoli (3-2) and Udinese (3-2) – but the pair’s goalless draw here last season ended a run of three successive away wins in this fixture for Lazio, who’ve not lost an away from home to Genoa for twenty-years.

The visiting Romans are also in rich form themselves, having backed up their 3-0 rout at Chievo last weekend with a very impressive 2-0 victory at home to AC Milan during the week. Thus confidence should be sky-high. Their midweek triumph over the reigning Serie A champs moved Edy Reja’s charges to within five-points of leaders Juventus, so Lazio head into a very difficult fixture knowing they must record their third win on the bounce if they’re to maintain their Scudetto challenge.

A lot similar to last week’s fixture in Genoa, where visiting Napoli needed to win to keep pace with those chasing Champions League football (top-three finish), Lazio go to a ground where only two teams (AC Milan and Inter Milan) have won all season having to win. The aforementioned game ended 3-2, in Genoa’s favour, who have now scored eight in their last three home league matches. Lazio, meanwhile, have five in their last two, home and away.

Another goal-laden contest could be on the cards here, so it could pay to stick with the same bet I made last week – Both Teams to Score is 8/11 with Ladbrokes. I couldn’t rule out another draw, either; BetVictor go 9/4 on the spoils being shared evenly.

Betting Selections:

Both Teams to Score @ 11/8 (Ladbrokes)

Draw (FT Result) @ 9/4 (BetVictor)

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Italian Football: Sunday’s Serie A Picks (29-01-2012)

European Football Tips

 

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.

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Sunday’s Serie A Picks (22 January, 2012)

European Football Tips

 

Turin giants Juventus turned the screw on their Scudetto rivals by beating overachieving Atalanta 2-0 on Saturday, with the Old Lady now four points clear at the Serie A summit having comfortably maintained their undefeated record with victory in Bergamo – which now stands at 19 games; 11 wins and 8 draws.

So, the onus is now on the chasing pack – spearheaded by reigning champs AC Milan – to reduce the arrears and to at least keep pace with Antonio Conte’s imperious charges.

 

Deja Vu for Novara at home to AC

In a repeat of their Coppa Italia encounter during the week, defending champions AC tussle with Novara, whom they only narrowly managed to overcome at the San Siro. They did so with a much-changed side however, one that did not include the first-team likes of Christian Abbiati (GK), Thiago Alves, Mark Van Bommel or star man Zlatan Ibramhimovic.

When Rossoneri coach Allgeri did inject some star quality late on, in the form of Brazilian duo Robinho and Alex Pato from the bench, Milan raised their game and ultimately secured progression with an extra-time win courtesy of Pato’s late effort.

The aforementioned match winner, as well as numerous other first-team regulars, will all return for the trip to Novara, fresh and raring to go for their omission, as Milan attempt to reduce Juventus’ lead to a single point with a sixth away win of the campaign – what would be their third on the spin, having secured 2-0 wins at Atalanta and Cagliari either side of the New Year.

I expect them to do just sat; Milan have the joint-strongest away record in Serie A (W5 D2 L2), winning three of their last four road encounters without conceding, and although they suffered the anguish of losing to arch rivals Inter last Sunday, they were previously on a three-game winning streak and I fully expect them to resume winning ways against opposition they are firm favourites to despatch.

Their opponents, meanwhile, are without a win in their last six in the league, losing four, and host this daunting fixture having shipped three goals in each of their previous two, in defeats to Fiorentina (0-3) and Cesena (3-1). They did claim the scalp of AC’s fierce Milanese neighbours Inter earlier in the season, but that was at a time when the Nerazzurri were on their knees. Milan certainly are not that, more a wounded animal blood-thirsty for redemption after last week’s Derby della Madonnia loss.

 

Chance your arm with Parma and a surprise outcome in Milan

Odds of around 1/2 on an away triumph for AC Milan aren’t all that alluring on their own. You could, then, try sticking them in a multiple, with Parma smashing value to win what should be an open contest in Bologna (11:30 GMT Kick-Off) while the draw in the late kick-off between Inter and Lazio at the San Siro cannot be discounted. 

The Ducale Club, Parma, are under new management in the form of former Italian national team coach Roberto Donadoni and are boosted by the return of influential playmaker Giovinco, the former Juventus schemer who netted on his return from injury in last week’s 3-1 home win over Siena.

Just one win and six defeats from eight away league games this season is disconcerting, but the desire to impress the new man at the helm could see Parma land all the spoils away to fifth from bottom Bologna, whom have only won three of nine on their own patch and are missing several first-team figures.

As for Lazio drawing with Inter, now this is an intriguing pick considering the majestic form of Claudio Ranieri’s Nerazzurri.

Inter’s workmanlike performance in last weekend’s Milan Derby earned them a deserved 1-0 win, their sixth on the bounce in the league as their revival under the Italian tactician continues to go from strength to strength. They are also on a three-game winning streak at home, scoring 11 and conceding just 1 in the process in recording resounding wins over Fiorentina (2-0), Lecce (4-1) and Parma (5-0).

Lazio, on the other hand, touch down in the capital with the humiliation of a 4-0 loss to Siena in their last away encounter still fresh in the memory. The Romans do, however, boast a strong record away from home with five wins and only one loss, earning impressive draws with Napoli (0-0) and even AC, when they squandered a two-goal lead back in August to draw 2-2 at the San Siro.

Inter have had the upper hand in this fixture in each of the previous six seasons and are odds-on to record their seventh straight home Serie A win over Lazio. Edy Reja’s Romans are a dangerous outfit though and are certainly capable of capitalising on any complacency shown by the in-form hosts, should there be any that is – and there might, on the back of Inter’s Milan derby exploits seven days ago.

 

ESPN’s Serie A Glut

All three games will be shown live on ESPN throughout Sunday, with Bologna V Parma first up at 11:30 GMT followed by AC Milan’s trip to Novara at 14:00. Then it’s the clash of the weekend in Italy as fourth (Lazio) meets fifth (Inter Milan) at the San Siro, from 19:45.

Hence my decision to focus on these three clashes in particular, to give those who subscribe to ESPN a reason, as well as an insight, into Sunday’s live Serie A billing.

My picks are Parma to overhaul Bologna at 11/5 (WilliamHill), AC Milan to claim their second win in the space of five days over Novara at 4/9 (Bet365), and finally, Inter and Lazio to play out a draw at the San Siro at tasty odds of 13/5 (BetVictor).

Stick all three in a treble and we have ourselves a half-decent 15/1 shot with WilliamHill.

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Italian Serie A – Final Day Picks – Sunday, 22 May 2011

European Football Tips

 

The top leagues all across the European continent will conclude this week, though those seeking drama and suspense probably needn’t bother tuning into the final set of Serie A fixtures.

Matters at both end of the table have already been resolved without the need of any final day thrills and spills, to the displeasure of the neutrals.

Inter’s stranglehold over the Scudetto (Italian Championship) came to an end thanks to arch rivals AC Milan’s capture of the 2010/2011 title, doing so in emphatic fashion with several fixtures to spare as the Rossonerri clinched their 18th Italian league title.

Consolation for Inter Milan comes in the form of second, which they are guaranteed meaning they’ll once again ply their trade in the UEFA Champions League next season.

Joining Inter in Europe’s elite club competition will be Napoli, who at one stage were Milan’s closest pursuer for the Scudetto but predictably ended up fading in the closing stages.

Bari and Brescia were relegated from the top-flight of Italian football after collecting a miserly sum of 21 and 31 points respectively. However, the fact Sampdoria will join them in Serie B next season – this a club who were competing in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League at the very beginning of the term – came as a major shock to everyone, in and outside of Italy.

So there you have it, all the important stuff done and dusted. Perhaps not quite. There is still the small matter of who acquires European football next season.

The fourth and final Champions League berth is a two-way tussle between Udinese and Lazio, with the former two-points clear in fourth and head into the final day needing only to avoid defeat at home to the newly crowned champions AC Milan.

Then there’s the battle for the Europa League. AS Roma are hot favourites as they currently occupy sixth position, the last position which rewards occupants with entry into Europe’s second tier competition, three-points clear of Juventus who need to beat third-placed Napoli and hope already relegated Sampdoria defeat the Romans in the Italian capital.

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Juventus V Napoli – Sunday, 22 May 2011 (19:45)

Tip 1: LAY Juventus @ 1.93 Betfair

Napoli’s season has effectively been over for some several weeks now, and boy have the Naples outfit played like a team lacking in motivation. A narrow 1-0 triumph over Genoa at home is their solitary league win in their last five while Sunday will also see them bid to avoid a third consecutive away reverse, having suffered back-to-back 2-1 defeats away at Palermo and Lecce.

Fortunately for Napoli manager Walter Mazzari, who is eager for his side to end a highly successful season – qualifying for next season’s Champions League – on a high, his team face an inconsistent Juventus who are already looking for a new manager for next season after it was confirmed on Saturday that Luigi Del Neri would be relieved of his duties after Sunday’s game following a dismal campaign which is unlikely to be salvaged by entry into the continent’s second tier club competition.

Juventus require a favour in Rome from Sampdoria and victory over Napoli if they’re to sneak into sixth and snatch the final berth into next season’s Europa League. I’m not sure what’s more plausible – relegated Samp, who have won only one of their previous eleven road encounters, beating Roma in the Italian capital or a Juventus side which has drawn its last two home games with mediocre opposition in the form of Catania and Chievo dispatching of third in the table Napoli?

The Turin giants are a club in disarray – especially amid reports suggesting Del Neri has been handed his marching orders, and you’d have to be mad to back them at anything resembling odds-on.

Napoli, meanwhile, have gone off the boil since dropping out of Scudetto contention but haven’t finished third by chance. They’ve been excellent throughout, comprehensively beating Juventus earlier in the season 3-0 in Naples, and will want to end a fabulous campaign on a winning note.

 

 

AS Roma V Sampdoria – Sunday, 22 May 2011 (19:45)

Tip 2: 0-0 Draw (Correct Score) @ 21.00 Boylesports OR Draw @ 5.25 bWin

A constant source of frustration throughout the 2010/2011 Serie A term, Roma are a definite no-go at well odds-on to dispatch of relegated, deflated and damn right awful Sampdoria.

It has been a truly miserable campaign for the Romans, who at the beginning of the season had high hopes of challenging for the championship, a top-four finish at the very least. Instead, because of their lack of consistency, they’ll consider themselves a tad fortunate just to seal a top-six finish, and with it Europa League football next season.

Three-points ahead of seventh-placed Juventus with only one match left to play, Roma only need a point from Sunday’s game to guarantee European Football next season. But, after going down 2-1 in Catania last weekend and having won only one of their last four league fixtures at home, I wouldn’t like to think they are worthy of their 1/3 price quote.

Having said that, they are playing Sampdoria who only last week were confirmed as the third and final team to be relegated from the top-flight of Italian football. It has come as a shock considering the Genoa outfit began the season in the Champions League, albeit in the qualifying round.

But their demise came about through their own wrongdoing, with the club’s decision to depart with their two main strikers – statistics would suggest the only strikers at the club who could actually locate the nets – heavily criticised by everyone in the country, especially their supporters who had to endure the heartache of demotion to the second tier courtesy of some ridiculous decisions from the club’s hierarchy.

Both Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini were sold in January, and from February onwards Sampdoria plundered a mere 10 goals in their final 16 games of the season.

Despite their apparent lack of fire-power, Samp have rarely been overawed at the back, certainly in the second part of the term, and there could be value in getting on both teams drawing a blank. After all, the home side need only a point to lock-in a sixth-place finish while the visitors will just want to get Sunday over and done with.

I’d advise very small stakes with this one.

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Cesena V Bari – Tip: Lay of Cesena – Sunday, 17 April 2011

European Football Tips

 

Cesena V Bari

Date & Kick-Off: Sunday, 17 April 2011 – 14:00 (GMT)
Competition: Italian Serie A

Eleven-points adrift of safety with only six games of the season left to play, Bari have become a hopeless cause and the fact their opponents on Sunday, a Cesena side who do actually stand a fighting chance of staying up, are favourites didn’t come as too much of a surprise. That said, in no which way are third-from-bottom Cesena a 1.50 (1/2) shot, regardless of who they’re up against this weekend.

Granted Bari are rock-bottom and all but certainties for the drop, however they have at least struck all the right chords with their pre-match comments in recent weeks, and credit to them as they’ve kept to their word. Bari coach Bortolo Mutti insists his team will fight to the very end, and while that end may be nigh, the statistics wouldn’t necessarily indicate that Sunday will officially mark the end of Bari’s two-year spell in the top-flight of Italian football, though the odds on both teams would suggest otherwise.

Not only will the Galletti arrive at Cesena’s Dino Manuzzi stadium in the north of Italy riding the crest of a two-match unbeaten run – recording a 2-1 victory away at Parma two weeks previous before a slightly disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Catania last weekend – their opponents, while they may have struck some form in front of goal of late, have managed a jaw-dropping one win in fifteen Serie A games since the early part of January, dismal form which is however mirrored by Bari.

So, anyway, Cesena look an appalling bet at the odds considering there are a number of stats – as well as team news that as many as four players could miss Sunday’s crunch encounter for the hosts – which make them look extremely vulnerable on paper but also Bari a slice of value, even though resignation of their plight back to Serie B is likely to consume them soon enough.

I would definitely advise small stakes, as this almost has an inevitable feel to it judging by their respective odds.

Betting Tip: LAY of Cesena @ 1.54 BetFair

 

Side Bet(s):

Match Outcome: Draw @ 4.20 VictorChandler
Draw 2-2 (Correct Score) @ 23.00 bWin

Bari haven’t had a 2-2 draw since the second game of the season away at now second in the table Napoli. Cesena, though, have drawn three of their last four Serie A fixtures 2-2, as well as their last two home games. Bari don’t tend to score or concede many on their travels, but I consider this to be value nonetheless.

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Fiorentina V Roma – Tip Draw – 20 March 2011

European Football Tips

 

Date & Kick-Off: Sunday, 20th March; 11:30 (GMT)
TV Coverage: ESPN

Roma won three and lost none of their last four domestic matches although were humbled by Skahktar Donetsk in a UEFA Champions League Last-16 tie recently, going down 6-2 to the Ukrainian champions.

Fiorentina are unbeaten in four games in Serie A – two wins and two draws – and have also lost only one of their previous ten league matches at their Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence.


Nor Fiorentina (2.50 WilliamHill) or Roma (3.25 VictorChandler) have enjoyed campaigns that will live long in the memory, with consistency a key area both managers need to focus on in the near future. To their credit, they have done just that in recent weeks, and now both teams will clash in Florence with a tonne of momentum behind them.

I cannot help but give a tenative vote to Fiorentina, the hosts who are formidable on home soil – having lost only one of their last ten Serie A matches in Florence and just three all season – and who are aiming to chalk up their third straight win on Sunday. Roma, meanwhile, while they are unbeaten in their last four league fixtures, the same amount as their opponents, were recently dumped out of the Champions League with aplomb.

A resounding 6-2 defeat on aggregate to Ukrainian title-holders Shakhtar meant Roma bowed out of Europe for another season with a whimper, humiliated you might even say, although their response to such an embarrassing and demoralising result was admirable. The Giallorossi, who are currently sixth in the table but five points adrift of the Champions League places (top-four), recorded a massive 2-0 win at home over city rivals Lazio last weekend in a match where their top-four hopes were ignited courtesy of Francesco Totti’s two-goal haul.

Europe is also the target for Viola, who are nine-points adrift of Roma, whom occupy the last of two Europa League qualifying berths. Their resurgence in form under Sinisa Mihaljovic means they haven’t quite given up hope of a return to the European stage, with Fiorentina not only without defeat in their last four – losing only one of their last eight – they have also conceded just one goal in four games and with Adrian Mutu’s return to the squad adding another dimension to their attack, they’ll fancy their chances up against a Roma side who have shipped a miserly three in the same period but conceded on average nearly two-goals-per-away-game in Serie A this season.

This should be an evenly-fought contest, however it should also be thoroughly entertaining as two in-form teams tussle in Florence. Two of the previous three meetings at Artemio Franchi have produced several goals – the clash in Rome earlier in the season ended 3-2 to the Romans – while four of the last seven have ended in a draw.

Betting Tip: Draw @ 3.20 PaddyPower

Other Selections:

Both Teams to Score @ 1.83 Coral
Over 3.5 Goals @ 4.00 SportingBet

 

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Italian Serie A: Bologna V Lazio

European Football Tips

 

Bologna V Lazio

Kick-off: Sunday, 23rd January – 14:00 (GMT)
Competition: Italian Serie A

There may be some eleven positions in the Serie A table between them but on Sunday, when the two square-up to one another in the middle of the afternoon, we doubt there will be an awful lot to separate the pair as relegation scrapper’s Bologna do battle with Scudetto hopefuls Lazio inside Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.

Alberto Malesani knew it was going to be a long old slog this season down near the foot of the table, and he was correct. Bologna have spent pretty much the entirety of the campaign hovering precariously above the bottom three though have done their utmost to avoid slipping into the dreaded drop zone, where even the shortest of spell can drain so much confidence from a team. Much of that goes down to two factors; their tremendous record at home (W4 D4 L1) and Marco Di Vaio’s goals, the former Juventus striker accounting for 11 of the team’s 20 Serie A goals this season.

The Renato Dell’Ara can house up to 38,000 though Sunday’s attendance isn’t expected to get anywhere near that figure. The Rossoblu (Red & Blues) are averaging less than 20,000 per home game in Serie A this season, but with the team struggling to stay afloat down in 15th, now more than ever do Malesani’s charges need the support of their faithful, especially on Sunday, when they entertain surprise-package Lazio.

Speaking of the Biancocelesti, Lazio could do with their fair share of encouragement as well. Edy Reja’s side have seen their hopes of a surprise Scudetto success diminish rather quickly thanks to a number of poor runs.

No team in the country could keep up with them in the early part of the campaign, Lazio the quickest out of the blocks and the early pacesetters courtesy of an almost infallible start. Seven wins from their opening games of the season saw the Rome outfit put some healthy distance between them and their nearest rivals, though few actually put money on them to maintain their early relentless pace for the whole season, and the punters were right on this occasion.

Since about November, when Reja saw his team suffer back-to-back defeats for the very first time this season, Lazio have been a completely different team. The talent is still there, as is that explosive, big performance they have somewhere in their locker – wins over Napoli (2-0), Inter Milan (3-1) and Udinese (3-2) is evidence of this. The consistency, however, has somehow vanished. The last time they strung a pair of wins together was during that famous winning run of theirs in the early part of the season. I’m afraid decent performances have come in spurts ever since.

The fact Bologna have only strung together one set of back-to-back victories this season isn’t a great surprise, though I for one did not foresee them putting up the sort of stern resistance they have this season, particularly back at home. Only league leaders AC Milan have left Bologna with maximum points thus far, which speaks volumes when it comes to identifying exactly what is required in order to overhaul a team with a clear preference for playing on home soil, which in this instance is a team with the ability to clinch the Serie A outright and a world-class player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Just to lament how strong the Rossoblu are at home, the likes of Inter Milan, Udinese, Sampdoria, Juventus and Fiorentina have left the Renato Dall’Ara without the three points they were gunning for, and although we still await the first real scalp from Bologna this season – a 2-1 victory over Udinese back in September isn’t included considering the visitors were in terrible shape then compared to now, you do get the feeling that if they continue to consistently resist the big guns at home, then a sizeable scalp shouldn’t be too far away.

That scalp could very well arrive on Sunday. Lazio appear as though they’re flying high what with their elavated position in the table, however the Biancocelesti arrive in Bologna in a worrying state. Not only were Edy Reja’s team dumped out of the Coppa Italia during the week, exit that bit harder to take and that touch more painful because the defeat was inflicted by their arch-rivals Roma, whom detest one another. It’s a defeat which will have definitely hurt and will probably even leave a few lasting scars, which will play right into the hands of the Rossoblu.

I won’t lead you down the garden path as Bologna were also eliminated from the same competition in midweek, Napoli doing the damage with a goal right at the death. Still, it was an encouraging display from Alberto Malesani’s men, to compete for the best part of the game with a team currently challenging for the Scudetto. It was a tremendous response to their 4-1 spanking at the San Siro last weekend as well, Bologna showing some real character to put an emphatic defeat behind them when Inter Milan ran riot in Milan a week ago. But it would appear Bologna were quick to drown their sorrows and now they are in prime position to capitalise on Lazio’s fragile state of mind.

 

Betting Tip: Bologna to WIN @ 3.13 VictorChandler

Bologna displayed an abundance of character and strength of mind to overcome their recent humbling away to Inter when pushing Napoli all the way during their midweek Coppa Italia battle. Meanwhile Lazio appear to be wallowing in self-pity still, as they have been for weeks now. Their form has been shaky, extremely inconsistent, and the fact they’ve gone over two months without putting two wins together only decreases their value following last weekend’s late show at home to Sampdoria, where Lazio scored in the 85th minute to seal their first win of the year (1-0). We still await their first away win since October, however.

Resilient but boasting a touch of class and panache up front, Bologna definitely have the potential to spring the surprise result of the weekend provided Marco Di Vaio doesn’t let me down like he did last time. Bologna’s only home loss of the entire campaign occurred when I last backed them, and when I backed the Italian to locate the back of the net as well at tasty odds. Di Vaio would later miss a spot-kick with the score at 1-0 to AC Milan – the rest is history.

It’s a Bologna win for me although I wouldn’t discourage anyone from having a punt on this affair ending in a draw, between two teams stuck in a little bit of a slump, to play out an unfilled draw.

 

Other Selections:

Bologna DrawNoBet @ 2.10 WilliamHill

Marco Di Vaio to Score @ 3.00 Boylesports

 

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Bologna

Last 5 Matches

Coppa Italia: Napoli 2-1 Bologna
Serie A: Inter Milan 4-1 Bologna
Serie A: Bari 0-2 Bologna
Serie A: Bologna 1-1 Fiorentina
Serie A: Parma 0-0 Bologna

Last 5 Matches at Home (Serie A ONLY)

Bologna 1-1 Fiorentina
Bologna 0-3 AC Milan
Bologna 2-1 Chievo Verona
Bologna 1-0 Brescia
Bologna 2-0 Lecce

2010/2011 Seria A Statistics

League Position: 16th
Win-Draw-Lose: 6-7-7 (Home: 4-4-1)
Goal Difference: 20-28 (Home: 9-7)
Top Scorer: Marco Di Vaio (11)

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Lazio

Last 5 Matches

Coppa Italia: AS Roma 2-1 Lazio
Serie A: Lazio 1-0 Sampdoria
Serie A: Lazio 1-2 Lecce
Serie A: Genoa 0-0 Lazio
Serie A: Lazio 3-2 Udinese

Last 5 Away Matches

Genoa 0-0 Lazio
Juventus 2-1 Lazio
Parma 1-1 Lazio
Cesena 1-0 Lazio
Palmero 0-1 Lazio

2010/2011 Serie A Statistics

League Position: 3rd
Win-Draw-Lose: 11-4-5 (Away: 4-2-3)
Goal Difference: 26-18 (Away: 8-7)
Top Scorer: Hernanes & Sergio Floccari (5)

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Pointers

Bologna

– The likes of Palermo, Napoli, AC Milan and even their match day rivals Lazio have all lost more games at home in the Serie A this season than Bologna, although their overall points accumulation at home (16) is rated only as the 14th best.

– Only Parma and Sampdoria have conceded fewer goals on their own patch than the Rossoblu’s tally of 7, which is better than the two Milanese outfits.

– Marco Di Vaio has scored in four of his last five starts at the Renato Dall’Ara, the Italian scoring a little over half of his team’s goals in Serie A this season (11).

– A 2-0 win at Bari a fortnight ago remains Bologna’s only league win in a month, a period of five games – W1 D2 L2.

– Alberto Malesani’s team were knocked out of the Coppa Italia by Napoli in midweek (2-1), a match in which Di Vaio was rested.

Lazio

– Haven’t won any of their last four away matches in the league, drawing with Parma and Genoa but losing to Cesena and Juventus, though Aquile still boast the fourth best away record in the league: W4 D2 L3.

– Edy Reja last saw his side surpass one goal in an away encounter on 17th October, Lazio going their last five away games without scoring more than one goal.

– Eight goals from nine away league games is the worst away offensive record out of those currently challenging for the title/European places (1st-10th).
 

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Italian Serie A: Chievo Verona V Genoa

European Football Tips

 

Chievo Verona V Genoa

Kick-off: Sunday, 23rd January – 14:00 (GMT)

There isn’t a massive difference between these two sides heading into Sunday’s showdown, and we reckon backing neither to come out on top in Verona could pay dividends.

When two teams are so difficult to separate on paper, the home side usually get the tentative vote of confidence. Chievo just might be the exception to the rule however, the Gialloblu having failed to win any of their last three at home in the league and still find themselves win-less in 2011.

Draws have been Mussi Volanti’s main source of points income in recent weeks, Stefano Pioli’s side drawing three of their last four matches in Serie A, all of which were very impressive as well. First came a score-draw with Juventus on home soil before another home stalemate with the usually free-scoring Palermo. In fact, both Juventus and Palermo have found locating the back of the net a doddle this season, so for Chievo to restrict the pair of them to next to nothing in front of goal is an outstanding achievement and testament to what is a very tidy defence they have.

As the results above indicate, Chievo do posses a strong defence, one capable of keeping the team in matches. In total, Pioli’s men have shipped 22 goals while in league action this season, though just 8 of those concession were at home. Their Achilles heel has actually been their blunt attacking-line, having plundered a grand total of 20 altogether, just nine of those coming inside their 39,000 capacity Marc’Antonio stadium in Chievo. In fact, Pioli’s men have failed to score in half of their home fixtures this season and so may understandably struggle to find a way past a Genoa rearguard which has conceded just six goals on their travels all season.

Like Chievo, Genoa have their rock-solid defensive set-up to thank for at least some flow of points, else their satisfactory position in the middle of the table would be a far more precarious one.

In fairness, their defensive record away from home is nothing short of outstanding. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s the strongest away defence in Serie A, one which has kept clean sheets against Udinese, Cagliari, Brescia and Cesena and has conceded more than one goal on just one solitary occasion, when going down 2-1 away at Roma on 16th October.

So why are Genoa sat in mid-table when they have such a tidy defence on the road? Simply really, they have a similar problem to their opponents, worse in fact, as goals really are hard to come by for the Grifone. 15 goals from 19 games is the worst offensive record in the Italian top-flight, and just seven of those have come on their travels.

To further rub salt into the wounds of the Genoa followers, the club has recently lost some of its fire-power, if you could really call it that, with Luca Toni, who was their top-scorer beforehand with a meager 3 goals, and Giuseppe Sculli having moved on in January. Though Antonio Floro Flores and Mauro Boselli have joined on loan from Udinese and Wigan Athletic respectively as the club desperately seek to change their disconcerting fortunes in front of goal. The latter, though, is still sidelined with a hamstring injury.

 

Betting Tip: Draw @ 3.10 PaddyPower

I don’t know how anyone could predict a match winner after some thorough research. Neither stand out or have any credentials of note other than two incredibly strong defences which will take some beating by two ineffective offensive units. This has stalemate written all over it, with 0-0 (8.50 Unibet) standing out like a sore thumb.

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Chievo Verona

Last 5 Matches

Serie A: Catania 1-1 Chievo
Coppa Italia: Palermo 1-0 Chievo
Serie A: Chievo 0-0 Palermo
Serie A: Udinese 2-0 Chievo
Serie A: Chievo 1-1 Juventus

Last 5 Matches at Home (Serie A ONLY)

Chievo 0-0 Palermo
Chievo 1-1 Juventus
Chievo 2-2 AS Roma
Chievo 2-1 Inter Milan
Chievo 0-0 Bari

2010/2011 Serie A Statistics

League Position:
12th
Win-Draw-Lose: 5-8-7 (Home: 3-5-2)
Goal Difference: 20-22 (Home:9-8)
Top Scorer: Sergio Pellissier (7)

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Genoa

Last 5 Matches

Serie A: Genoa 2-4 Udinese
Coppa Italia: Inter Milan 3-2 Genoa
Serie A: Cesena 0-0 Genoa
Serie A: Genoa 0-0 Lazio
Serie A: Genoa 0-1 Napoli

Last 5 Away Matches (Serie A ONLY)

Cesena 0-0 Genoa
Lecce 1-3 Genoa
Brescia 0-0 Genoa
Cagliari 0-1 Genoa
Palermo 1-0 Genoa

2010/2011 Serie A Statistics

League Position: 13th
Win-Draw-Lose: 6-5-8 (Away: 3-3-3)
Goal Difference: 15-19 (Away: 7-6)
Top Scorer: Milanetto, Destro, Ranocchia, Rossi & Mesto (2)

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Italian Serie A: Udinese V Inter Milan (LIVE on ESPN)

European Football Tips

 

Udinese V Inter Milan

Kick-off: Sunday, 23rd January – 11:30 (GMT)

 

Sunday’s early encounter in Serie A – which some lucky folk can see LIVE on ESPN – pits two of the league’s in-form teams against each other, as Inter Milan take their second-half revival to the Stadio Fruili, home of a very dangerous Udinese side boasting a number of eye-catching positives which will seriously put Inter’s 100% start to life in 2011 under threat.

Whereas Udinese are reaping the rewards of their patience and faith in a manager which only took over the managerial reins in the summer – Francesco Guidolin beginning his tenure with four straight losses right at the very beginning of the season before eventually bringing the finer qualities out of his team, Inter president, Massimo Moratti, can be heard ringing out his own applause as his decision to replace Rafael Benitez with Leonardo appears to have worked wonders, and sparked the immediate turnaround in fortune the club were after following a disappointing half of the season under Rafa.

The less said about Rafael Benitez’s tenure as Inter Milan tactician the better, although the Spaniard left behind several worrying flaws in the Nerazzurri system that while Leonardo appears to have instantly found a resolution to some, does leave them exposed in such games as these.

One of the tasks Leo immediately got down to work on was the lack of attacking ambition from Inter, with former manager Benitez having drained all the confidence and belief out of a strike-force with so much quality, let alone potential. The Brazilian was an attack-minded player during his day so the fact he’s already installed some of his forward nous and vigour into his team isn’t a big surprise, though few envisaged we would see such vast amounts of improvement in such a short space of time.

So far, Leonardo has managed four games and in each Inter have expressed themselves in the final third more than they ever did under Benitez. The football has had that free-flowing feel to it, but more importantly the goals have come, and even more important has been the return of some entertainment. It was so often so methodical under Rafa, a manager with a renowned preference for tactics and his cautious attitude. The outcome has been wonderful, for all parties concerned; Moratti back owning a winning club, Inter back in the title race, Samuel Eto has benefited from this new leash of life in attack, while the fans are finally getting their money’s worth.

Since the start of the year, Inter haven’t looked back. A terrible end to 2010, where they suffered back-to-back away defeats and found themselves miles off the pace of their Milanese rivals AC, has been well and truly put to bed thanks to Leonardo and the influence he has had on the team. The Brazilian has guided the Nerazzurri to four straight wins under his stewardship, three of those coming in the league while the fourth was progress in the Coppa Italia. In all, Inter have won all five of their competitive matches in 2011, racking up a staggering 15 goals in the process. The only negative: the fact they’ve yet to keep a clean sheet this year, shipping a rather concerning seven in those same five games.

Few would dare argue that it has been Inter Milan’s year so far, Leonardo’s charges bursting onto the scene with a 100% start which has seen their deficit with AC Milan at the summit of Serie A pegged back to just six points, plus Inter boast a game in hand. Victory on Sunday would reduce AC’s lead further, though probably only for half-a-dozen hours seeing as their local rivals, AC Milan, face Cesena at home later that evening – a straightforward fixture on paper. But Leonardo’s men can ill-afford to even think about what’s going on elsewhere, particularly when they’re well aware that their impeccable record in 2011 will genuinely come under threat in Udine.

The hosts on Sunday have also made a similarly encouraging start to the year, opening with a three-match unbeaten run which includes two victories over Chievo Verona (2-0) and Genoa (2-4), as well as a spectacular 4-4 draw with AC Milan at the San Siro two weeks ago. The latter result proof if ever Inter needed some that this Udinese team cannot be taken lightly.

At home in particular is where the Bianconeri are at their most dangerous. Francesco Guidolin’s men have been unstoppable in their own backyard for some time now and while much of the focus and limelight will be on their visitors and their still new manager, Leonardo, the fact Udinese are defending their own equally impressive sequence of results, having won their last four Serie A matches at their Stadio Fruili, shouldn’t go unnoticed.

This Udinese team are very talented, all round the pitch, though especially up front. Antonio Di Natale has been the focal point up front for Guidolin’s team, the Italian international scoring his 14th of the term during his team’s impressive 4-2 victory in Genoa last week, while he’s also found his way onto the score-sheet in each of his last four starts at home. And at home is where their some of Udinese’s best stuff originates, registering wins over the likes of Palermo, Napoli and Fiorentina inside their Fruili stadium this season, while they haven’t exactly been shy in front of goal either – Just three teams have scored more league goals this season than the Bianconeri this season. However, what makes them most dangerous is the fact that defensively they remain sound – conceding just nine goals in eight home games – and shouldn’t be rolled over on Sunday, not even by an Inter Milan side currently on fire in front of goal.

On paper, this fixture would suggest something of a goal spectacle. Udinese have peaked at four goals in each of their last two league games, while they’ve scored at least twice in each of their last four clash at home. Inter meanwhile are averaging 3-goals-a-game in 2011, amassing 15 in just 5 competitive matches, 12 of those coming under Leonardo’s watch. Moreover, we’re about to see two of Serie A’s deadliest strikers in Antonio Di Natale, whom leads the way in the scoring charts with 14 goals, and Samuel Eto, the Cameroon international who is hot on the heels of the Udinese striker with 12 goals, though the former Barcelona hitman has 21 in 23 for the season, go head-to-head in a Serie A Golden Boot duel, the pair separated by just two strikes.

One factor which may restrict the flow of goals in this particular encounter will be the absences of Wesley Sneijder and Diego Milito for Inter, two key players in the Inter Milan forward machinery. However, history between the two could also strangle some of the attacking life out of this latest tussle. The pair played out a thoroughly entertaining 3-2 thriller last season, Inter prevailing on that occasion, though there were more goals in last season’s fixture than there have been in the six previous meetings between the two, with the pair so often separated by the smallest of margins, if any.

Recent Head-to-Head in Serie A (At Udinese)

2009/2010: Udinese 2-3 Inter Milan
2008/2009: Udinese 0-1 Inter Milan
2007/2008: Udinese 0-0 Inter Milan
2006/2007: Udinese 0-0 Inter Milan
2005/2006: Udinese 0-1 Inter Milan
2004/2005: Udinese 1-1 Inter Milan
2003/2004: Udinese 0-0 Inter Milan
 

 

Betting Tip: Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 Bet365

It is so easy to be drawn in by all the statistics. Inter having scored a rather unbelievable 15 in their last five matches, Udinese four in each of their last two Serie A games. The wealth of attacking talent is as well difficult to simply ignore and brush under the carpet. After all, we have two of the finest strikers in Italy going head-to-head tomorrow in Di Natale and Eto, who between them have 26 goals in Serie A this season.

Before making a decision, though, take into consideration the fact both managers will have so much respect for one another and their team. Udinese and Inter have been playing almost without fear of late, though neither will be taking either lightly on Sunday. Franscesco Guidolin will know Inter’s strengths and will be wary of them, as will Leonardo of Udinese’s. And if there’s too much respect on show then expect to see more cautious play from both sides than you’ve been used to seeing in recent weeks.

Furthermore, the history between the two would strongly suggest another tight encounter. The defences have often prevailed down the years and we see no reason why this particular meeting won’t differ. Inter’s back-line, while it may be without a clean sheet under Leonardo’s watch, is still one of the strongest in Europe, let alone Italy; Lucio, Cordoba, Chivu and Maicon are all household names. Meanwhile Udinese have managed to keep some serious forward prowess at arm’s length this season, restricting Palermo and Napoli – two of the highest scorers in Serie A, to just one goal-a-piece, and have conceded just nine in total at home this season.

A combination of mutual respect and two rock-solid defences makes, what I believe, the odds on Under 2.5 look glorious. The obvious is to back goals, as there is plenty background information available to suggest there should be plenty, but how often does the patently obvious come in? In my experience, it usually ends in tears.

 

Other Selections:

Draw @ 3.30 VictorChandler

We do genuinely believe that there won’t be an awful lot between them come the final whistle; two very strong defences, Udinese with a remarkably strong record at home and Inter, while they are enjoying a hot streak at the moment, still a bit of an enigma away from home. Three of the previous seven encounters in Udine have finished all-square, while even if our worse nightmare does come to fruition, that this match does open up and turn into a goal frenzy, the team who does fall behind has enough about them from an attacking point of view to respond, and that’s always a reassuring feeling when you are on the draw.

Antonio Di Natale to Score @ 3.00 Unibet

I’ve backed him most weeks and I can only remember one occasion  this season where he hasn’t delivered for me, so backing Antonio Di Natale is a no-brainer. The vastly-experienced Italian has scored in his each of his last four appearances at home, so clearly he feels comfortable and confident playing in front of his own fans, while he also scored the final goal of last season’s enthralling encounter, a match Inter won 3-2.

Incidentally, if you’re partial to some Samuel Eto, and why shouldn’t you be; after all, the Cameroon captain does have 21 goals in 23 appearances this season, 12 of those coming while in league action, then you can snap up the Inter Milan striker at 2.63 with Boylesports.

 

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Udinese

Last 5 Matches

Coppa Italia: Sampdoria 2-2 Inter Milan
Serie A: Genoa 2-4 Udinese
Serie A: AC Milan 4-4 Udinese
Serie A: Udinese 2-0 Chievo Verona
Serie A: Lazio 3-2 Udinese

Last 5 Matches at Home (Serie A ONLY)

Udinese 2-0 Chievo Verona
Udinese 2-1 Fiorentina
Udinese 3-1 Napoli
Udinese Lecce
Udinese 1-1 Cagliari

2010/2011 Serie A Statistics

League Position: 8th
Win-Draw-Lose: 9-3-8 (Home: 6-1-2)
Goal Difference: 31-27 (Home: 15-9)
Top Scorer: Antonio Di Natale (14)

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Inter Milan

Last 5 Matches

Serie A: Inter Milan 3-2 Cesena
Serie A: Inter Milan 4-1 Bologna
Coppa Italia: Inter Milan 3-2 Genoa
Serie A: Catania 1-2 Inter Milan
Serie A: Inter Milan 3-1 Napoli

Last 5 Away Matches (Serie A ONLY)

Catania 1-2 Inter Milan
Lazio 2-1 Inter Milan
Chievo Verona 2-1 Inter Milan
Lecce 1-1 Inter Milan
Genoa 0-1 Inter Milan

2010/2011 Serie A Statistics

League Position: 4th
Win-Draw-Lose: 10-5-4 (Away: 4-2-3)
Goal Difference: 32-19 (Away: 9-9)
Top Scorer: Samuel Eto’o (12)

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Pointers

Udinese

– The team from Udine haven’t tasted defeat on home soil in all competitions – nine matches – since they were whitewashed 4-0 by Juventus back on 19th September.

– Since losing to Juventus in September, Udinese have gone on two win six of their following seven matches in Serie A on home soil, and will host January’s in-form side Inter on the back of four consecutive home triumphs in the league; wins over Lecce (4-0), Napoli (3-1), Fiorentina (2-1) & Chievo (2-0) coming with an aggregate score of 11-2.

– Udinese have shown recently (9th Jan) they can mix it with the Milanese clubs, drawing 4-4 with AC Milan at the San Siro earlier in month, although were beaten 2-1 in the reverse encounter with the Nerazzurri.

Antonio Di Natale leads the way in the Serie A scoring charts with 14, two in front of Inter’s Samuel Eto.

– Nine of Di Natale’s fourteen league goals this term have come at home, the Italian international scoring on each of his last four starts at Stadio Fruili.

 

 

Inter Milan

– The Nerazzurri have made a blistering start to 2011, winning each of their five new year fixtures – 4 in Serie A & 1 in Coppa Italia – and are currently January’s in-form side in the Serie A.

– 2011 has also been a fruitful year so far for Inter in front of goal as well, Leonardo’s charges averaging 3 goals a game after netting 15 times in 5 games, though have conceded 7 for their attacking endeavour.

– Their 2-1 victory over Catania (9th Jan), in which Inter needed to come from behind, was their first away win in the league since 29th October – Losing two and drawing one of their previous three away contests beforehand.

Inter have scored in each of their last six away league games, although on five of those occasions the Milanese outfit only scored one goal.

Samuel Eto sits third in the Serie A scoring charts with 12 goals, two behind Udinese’s Antonio Di Natale.

 

 

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