Italian football expert Dave Farrar expect goals in the big derby of the weekend, and Atalanta to upset Inter at the San Siro...
Having backed Fiorentina for a Top Four finish at the start of the season, it's becoming agonising to see them throw away points in the manner that they did last week against Cagliari. Analysis of La Viola's season shows that they could be in with a real chance of finishing second, and already have a Champions League place sewn up. They have dropped 17 points against teams in the bottom half of the table so far, and that's something that's worth remembering when you look at their "easy" run in. It will only be as comfortable as they make it for themselves.
Sunday morning's match at the Artemio Franchi will be well worth watching: Fiorentina beat Milan at San Siro back in November, and the Rossoneri will be out for revenge. Max Allegri's side have their sights set firmly on second place, and they too will look back at the end of the season and consider the points that they threw away in its early stages. The defining moments of Milan's season start here, with Napoli and Juve to come in the next two weeks, and they will be looking to win. A draw will cede ground to Napoli, and they can't afford that given the nature of their next two challenges. Fiorentina are priced at 3.02/1 for the win, with Milan 2.68/5 and I don't see too much wrong with those prices. Given how closely matched the teams are, in fact, the draw at 3.412/5 may be the smartest play of all.
I'm more interested in the goals markets, though. Since Ezequiel Schelotto scored the equaliser in the derby, Milan have gone 379 minutes without conceding a goal in Serie A, and that must be the main reason why over 2.5 goals is available at 2.0621/20. Given the way that the game is likely to be played, that's an attractive proposition. Although Fiorentina will be without Stefan Jovetic, Vincenzo Montella will look to use the pace in his team to unsettle Milan, and I think that he'll have some success. At the other end of the field, Milan can cause La Viola problems, and I actually fancy the Rossoneri to edge this, but the best bet is on the overs at odds against.
Back over 2.5 Goals in Fiorentina v Milan @ 2.0621/20
The Rome derby on Monday night rounds off a brilliant weekend of TV fixtures, and this is a tough one to call. There have been seven red cards in the last five runnings of this fixture, and while that doesn't necessarily lead you to lump on 'Yes' in the Sending Off? market, it does make you realise that anything could happen here. Roma MUST beat Lazio to rekindle any hopes that they have of a Top Four finish, and they know that a win would draw them level on points with their city rivals. The identity of the Top Four will be the glue that binds the rest of the Serie A season together. Roma are justifiably favourites, but they look a little short to me at 2.021/1.
I can't support a team that lost in Palermo (and failed to score) at that kind of price in a game of this magnitude, especially given the fact that Lazio have won the last three derbies. All season long we have seen that Lazio are a better team with Miroslav Klose, and even though he's on his way back, he still won't be fit to start. Roma are missing the suspended Pablo Osvaldo, and that creates a conundrum in terms of the Match Odds market: Roma are justifiably favourites, but are short enough at 2.021/1. I think that Lazio will score at least once, and we know that Roma, even after the departure of Zdenek Zeman and without Osvaldo, are capable of producing goals at home (3 and 2 in the first two post Zeman games).
Earlier this season, these two produced a 5 goal thriller, and while tiredness and nervousness may not lead to a classic in the mould of last weekend's Torino v Napoli game, I still think that over 3.5 goals at around 3.412/5 is a fair price.
Back over 3.5 Goals in Roma v Lazio @ 3.412/5
A couple of weeks ago, we profitably supported Bologna at a price to win at Inter. Something similar may happen this weekend as Atalanta visit San Siro. Atalanta are priced at 5.14/1 to win against Inter, and with the home team's striking issues reaching crisis point, Stefano Colantuono's side can cause a surprise this weekend. Atalanta have already beaten Inter once this season, in a brilliant game, and they've already won at San Siro, when they frustrated Milan, and caught them on the counter with a Luca Cigarini goal.
In their last two away games, Atalanta have won in Siena, and then caused Napoli a world of pain before being beaten. They were unable to break down Samp last week, but there's a big difference between having to break down a rock solid defence at home, and playing on the counter attack away, and given Inter's problems in forward areas, Atalanta may have enough about them to keep a clean sheet, and grab a prize at the other end. Rodrigo Palacio has been Inter's only threat in recent weeks, scoring 5 of their last 6 Serie A goals, and his injury means that Andrea Stramaccioni is down to Antonio Cassano plus one other.
Whatever the combination, it won't strike fear into Atalanta, and, at the risk of going to the well one time too many, I'll be supporting German Denis and Inter loanee Marko Livaja to inspire an away win. If you think that Atalanta look safely midtable, and that this could be one of those bloodless performances that we can see in late season, I wouldn't worry: they have a tough run of games to come, and won't want to take any chances.
Back Atalanta to beat Inter @ 5.14/1