Atalanta - Empoli
Atalanta celebrate their final home fixture of each year by wearing a special festive strip, which is then auctioned off afterwards to raise money for charity. A welcome tradition, with one small drawback. Since they first introduced the ‘Christmas Match’ concept, in 2010, they have never actually managed to win one.
They ought to grab a first such triumph here. Empoli are 17th in the table, whilst Atalanta are sixth and seeking to finish 2016 in the European places. But the hosts have lost a little momentum lately - failing to win any of their past three matches (even if two of those were against Juventus and Milan). Although I expect them to prevail, the odds on the home win are short enough to make me question the value.
A better proposition might be the home clean sheet. Empoli, despite beating Cagliari in their last game, are still the only team in Serie A to have scored fewer than 10 goals this season.
Total goals by away team: under 0.5 - 1.85
Inter - Lazio
For the first time since September, Inter have won two league games in a row. A third might just reignite their hopes of a Champions League berth. Their manager, Stefano Pioli, insisted in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday that such a goal was still achievable, but said that this match would be a “decisive” test. He knows Lazio better than most, having coached them up until April of this year.
Could that lend him some advantage? Perhaps, but I’m not convinced it would be enough to overcome the gulf in the quality between these teams’ performances so far this season. Lazio are seven points ahead in the table, own the best away record in Serie A and have only lost to Juventus, Milan and Roma.
With Marco Parolo returning to join Lucas Biglia and the ever-more impressive Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in midfield, I can well imagine these Biancocelesti outmanoeuvring an Inter side that is missing Joao Mario and Felipe Melo through suspension.
Away win - 3.50