Paolo Baldini’s Serie A Betting: Juventus to continue home benefits against Roma while Fiorentina may underwhelm yet again


SATURDAY

Empoli v Cagliari, 14:00

Serie A’s worst attack collides with its shoddiest defence. Empoli have failed to score in 13 of their 16 league matches this season, but Cagliari have conceded 37 goals over the same stretch.

Still reeling from a 5-0 thrashing against Napoli, and with their most prolific forward, Marco Borriello, injured, I suspect the Sardinians might conclude that discretion is the better part of valour. A point would suit them just fine. 

Draw - 3.40

 

Milan v Atalanta, 17:00

Is this the best moment to face Atalanta, or the worst? Consecutive defeats to Juventus and Udinese brought La Dea’s run as Serie A’s form team to an abrupt halt. So are they a team on the slide, or one about to deliver an almighty backlash? 

Milan have a selection dilemma up front, with top scorer Carlos Bacca back from injury but not guaranteed to reclaim his place from emerging crowd favourite Gianluca Lapadula. One way or another, an attacking mindset may be required. Atalanta scored in both of their recent defeats, and have hit the net 15 times over their last seven league matches.  

Over 2.5 goals - 2.0

 

Juventus v Roma, 19:45

We knew that this would be a defining month for Juventus and Roma. Thus far, both have come through with flying colours. The champions beat Atalanta before overcoming the best Torino side in decades. Their would-be challengers won a tough derby of their own, against Lazio, before seeing off the Milan team that sat level with them in second place. 

Juventus hope to have Paulo Dybala back in their starting line-up on Saturday, after his brilliant cameo against Torino, but more surprising is the news that Mohamed Salah may return for Roma, barely three weeks after damaging the ligaments in his right ankle. His presence would provide a huge upgrade to the attacking potential of a side that has looked far less dynamic in his absence. 

Even with Salah, though, this would be an uphill task. Juventus have won 24 consecutive home matches in Serie A, and their only defeats this season have come after midweek games. 

Home win - 1.75

 

SUNDAY

Sassuolo v Inter, 11:00

Two years ago, Inter humiliated Sassuolo 7-0 at San Siro. Since then, they have suffered three straight defeats to these opponents. It feels tempting to describe the Neroverdi as their bogey team, but really it is hard to know what that means when Inter have lost to so many others during the same stretch. 

Sassuolo are at a low ebb – with only two wins in their last 15 games across all competitions, and those were at home to Empoli and Crotone. Inter, though, have not won an away game since 21 September (also, coincidentally, against Empoli). It feels difficult to justify backing them at short odds. 

Double-chance: Home win or draw - 1.78

 

Chievo v Sampdoria, 14:00

Chievo are Serie A’s slowest starters – with just three of the 16 goals that they have scored this season coming before half-time. Sampdoria are not quite so uneven, but 12 of their 20 have also come after the interval - and seven of those within the last 15 minutes of a match. It would not be a surprise to see these teams save their best for last once again. 

Second-half: both teams to score - 3.7

 

Napoli v Torino, 14:00

The fixture list has not been kind to Torino, sending them directly from a derby defeat on to an away game against Napoli. The Stadio San Paolo seemed to have lost a little bit of its aura after Roma and Besiktas won consecutive matches there in October, but the pendulum has swung back. Napoli most recently thrashed Inter 3-0 at the venue, and the Champions League draw against Real Madrid has only generated fresh enthusiasm amongst the home crowd. 

Torino are thrilling going forwards, but still too frail at the back. I can see them scoring, but not containing a Napoli attack that – despite losing Gonzalo Higuaín in the transfer window and Arkadiusz Milik to injury – has grabbed four more goals than at the corresponding point last year. 

Home win but both teams to score - 2.75

 

Pescara v Bologna, 14:00

Pescara are yet to win a league match (on the pitch, at least) since their promotion. Bologna, though, have not won away from home since February. An optimist would say that something has to give on Sunday. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that’s true. 

Draw - 3.15

 

Udinese v Crotone, 14:00

This season has been a mixed bag for Udinese, but they are coming off their most impressive result of the campaign – a 3-1 victory away to Atalanta – and they have won every home game so far against potential relegation rivals. Crotone have the worst away record in the league, with only a single point, and a minus-12 goal difference, to show for their eight road games. 

Home win - 1.6

 

Genoa v Palermo, 19:45

As dismal as Palermo are, they have generally performed better on their travels. All of their six points were won outside of the Stadio Renzo Barbera, and they have scored in every away fixture. 

That is a testament first and foremost to the hard work of Ilija Nestorovski, the source of seven of his team’s 11 goals overall. He should find opportunities here, too, against opponents who will be feeling a little extra fatigue after a Thursday night appointment with Fiorentina. 

Nestorovski to score - 4.75

 

Lazio v Fiorentina, 19:45

Beaten by Genoa in midweek, Fiorentina continue to fall short of their own high expectations. Paulo Sousa was criticised for deploying Nikola Kalinic only in the second-half of that defeat, but explained afterwards that he wanted to keep the player fresh after a busy period. 

One assumes he had this match in mind, although it might take more than a rested striker for Fiorentina to get a result at the Stadio Olimpico. Lazio’s only three defeats this season have come against the top three teams in the division – Juventus, Roma and Milan. 

Home win - 2.0