Dave Farrar predicts plenty of goals in Milan v Napoli, Sassuolo to take revenge on Pescara, and a surprising lack of entertainment in Roma v Cagliari as he runs us through this week's Serie A tips...
“Whether it's Carlos Bacca or Gianluca Lapadula up front, they'll be able to cause Maurizio Sarri's defence problems, and it goes without saying that Napoli could tear Milan apart.”
Milan v Napoli
Live on BT Sport 3
Our Saturday night entertainment this weekend should be a fabulous game. It's being billed as a battle for the Champions League places in behind Juventus and Roma, but Napoli will still feel that they have a chance of taking advantage of any stumbles and nicking the title. A blistering run of form, of which they're more than capable, would give them a chance.
I expect them to beat Milan at San Siro, as do most people. Vincenzo Montella has proved to be an excellent manager for the Rossoneri, able to conjure up performances and results from an injury-hit and under-par team, but even he has his limits.
Napoli stuttered in mid-season, but now that Dries Mertens has worked out how to play as a centre-forward, and with Arkadiusz Milik back in training, they look the real deal again. They've scored 21 goals in their last six Serie A matches, winning five of those.
They've also been conceding goals, and with both Kalidou Koulibaly and Faouzi Ghoulam away in Africa, they'll be weakened even further. Whether it's Carlos Bacca or Gianluca Lapadula up front for Milan, they'll be able to cause Maurizio Sarri's defence problems, and it goes without saying that Napoli could tear Milan apart. That's without factoring in that Alessio Romagnoli and Manuel Locatelli are suspended with Luca Antonelli and Mattia De Sciglio in doubt due to injury.
I expect a win for Napoli, and that will understandably interest some of you at 2.1211/10, but I'll play Over 3.5 goals in this one, currently available at 3.1511/5.
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Milan v Napoli @ 3.1511/5
Pescara v Sassuolo
Last week I mentioned that Sassuolo could well be a team to follow in this second part of the season, and they did us proud by thrashing Palermo 4-1. They'll take a good deal of confidence from that performance, and I'm surprised to see them trading as big as 2.546/4 to beat Pescara.
I wonder if that's because Sassuolo are the only team that Pescara have beaten? Well, of course, that's what it says in the record books, but it isn't really the case, as Pescara were awarded that game because of an ineligible player being fielded. Sassuolo won the game 2-1.
I realise that Sassuolo aren't a completely watertight bet, as the winter break can't have turned them into a brilliant team in two weeks, but with Domenico Berardi back there's a good feeling around them. They made the mistake of sitting on a 1-0 lead in the Coppa Italia midweek and crashed out to two late Cesena goals.
They didn't just have injuries, but players were playing injured, and I think that they look refreshed and ready to move into the top half of the table. Rather like Atalanta earlier in the campaign, I'm planning to keep them on my side for a while.
Pescara are poor, particularly at home, and have been thrashed here by some on Serie A's lesser lights. I don't see how Sunday will be any different.
Back Sassuolo to beat Pescara @ 2.546/4
Roma v Cagliari
Live on BT Sport 3
I've already mentioned that Saturday night's offering could be full of goals, and yet, despite expectations, I'm not so sure that Sunday night's will follow suit.
On the face of it, the price of 1.374/11 about there being at least three goals in Roma against Cagliari is eminently sensible. Both teams love to attack, both score and concede, and there's every chance that Cagliari will be overrun.
A closer analysis of both teams' form lately suggests that this might not be as clear cut as it appears. Cagliari are madmen at home, playing wide open attacking football and proving brilliant to watch. On their travels, as I mentioned last week, they're something else entirely.
Cagliari's last four away Serie A games have all gone Under 2.5, let alone 3.5, goals, and last time in Milan they defended well and lost narrowly. Their gung-ho style changes completely and that's because Massimo Rastelli isn't stupid. He made a conscious decision to change things away from home after his team lost 5-1 at Torino.
As for Roma, their 3-1 win against Chievo in December and a midweek 4-0 Coppa Italia drubbing of Sampdoria were the only times in their last eight in all competitions that their games went Over 2.5 Goals. They're easier to stop than you think, and Mo Salah's absence in Africa is a blow on the attacking front too.
There's a strong case for laying Over 2.5 goals at a stupidly short price, but let's take the insurance of an extra goal at odds-on, and hope for a quiet evening at the Olimpico.
Lay over 3.5 Goals in Roma v Cagliari @ 1.981/1
Staked: 60 points
Returned: 74.47 points
P/L: +14.47 points