Serie A Betting: Final showdown in Rome during goal-packed conclusion
Dave Farrar predicts Lazio and Inter will provide a battle royal at the Olimpico for fourth place, while Milan see off Fiorentina for sixth and Crotone excitement with Napoli...
“With that end of season feeling also in the air I see a very open game with the race for fourth going down to the final few minutes.”
We head for the final weekend of a Serie A season which has been full of life and drama, and comfortably the most exciting of the major European Leagues, in terms of the title race anyway. We've learned, as if we needed to learn, that a team of the quality of Juventus will always take some beating, and that mental strength can often be more important than pure ability.
Juve quite simply were tougher, significantly tougher, than Napoli, and that was the deciding factor in the end, along with the size of Napoli's squad. Napoli were offered Ciro Immobile before his move to Lazio, and had they taken him, this title race may have had a different outcome. Lessons learned, and maybe chance now gone.
The relegation battle is fascinating and still very much alive, but I must confess that I didn't like some of the results last weekend. They smacked of deals done and the bad old days of Serie A. That means that we must tread carefully on this final weekend.
Thanks as always for reading, and thanks too for your kind words. We're in double figure profit again, so into battle we go for one final time this season.
Lazio v Inter
Live on BT Sport 1 and Betfair Live Video
This is the game of the weekend by some distance, as Inter need to win to jump above Lazio in the table and clinch fourth place in the table on head-to-head record. There's also a subplot featuring the Capocannoniere race, with in-form Mauro Icardi just one goal behind Ciro Immobile, and Immobile rated as a doubt for this final game of the season.
If Immobile is anywhere near fit, I think that Simone Inzaghi will play him, but Inter's approach here will be significantly different to the way that they have gone about playing the big teams this season. They have often shut up shop, battled for a 0-0 draw (as they did against Lazio earlier this season) and been happy to walk away with a clean sheet.
That won't be good enough here, and with that top scorer prize up for grabs as well, I think that we might see a shootout of sorts. Lazio are the top scorers in the League, but look tired and may be vulnerable, while Inter look very weak defensively when they have to take risks, and with that end of season feeling also in the air I see a very open game with the race for fourth going down to the final few minutes.
This will be worth watching, and I think that there will be at least four goals.
Rossoneri can't waste this
Milan v Fiorentina
Live on BT Sport 3 and Betfair Live Video
Backing Milan at odds on at home is normally a sign of madness, but I think that they'll get the job done at home against Fiorentina on the final weekend.
La Viola were desperately poor last weekend at home against Cagliari, and I wonder if the understandable emotion that this group of players have been feeling since the death of their captain Davide Astori has finally worn them down. They have shown extraordinary resilience and I wouldn't begin to blame them if it has.
La Viola went on a magnificent run of wins after they lost Astori, and those few weeks have probably been the story of this Serie A season, but they have tired and faded, beating Napoli to hand Juventus the title and then succumbing to Cagliari last time.
Milan have to win this game to make sure that they will go straight into the Group Stage of the Europa League and they will be highly motivated to avoid those UEL preliminary rounds, while Fiorentina need a miracle to get into Europe: this result plus an Atalanta defeat, as well as a seven-goal swing. It isn't going to happen.
Milan are flawed and troubled, but not so badly that they will miss this particular open goal. They look a fair price to win, and that's the bet at San Siro.
Blaze of glory
Napoli v Crotone
Live on Betfair Live Video
Crotone have battled hard to avoid relegation, but it looks as if they'll come up short, although they will go down fighting. With SPAL looking strong favourites to win at home against Samp, it seems that Crotone will have to win at the San Paolo to have any chance of saving themselves, and given the way that they've approached their tilt at survival, this could well be full of goals.
The last four Crotone games have all gone Over 2.5 Goals, and they'll have to try and get at Napoli here, almost from the start, to turn this relegation picture in their favour, and apply pressure to the other teams under threat.
Napoli, as we know, are full of goal-scoring potential, and even though they've been a lot more attritional this season than some would have you believe, they've reverted to type as the season has reached its end, and their last two home games have gone over 3.5 goals.
They'll want to thank their fans for believing right until the end and certainly won't want to leave this season behind with another defeat, but they may have to win this by outscoring, rather than outmuscling, Crotone, and so I'll go with a hatful here for the final tip of the season.
Until we all meet again, I'll bid you a wonderful summer.
Staked: 113 points
Returned: 126.36 points
P/L: + 13.36 points
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Lazio v Inter @ [2.6]
Back Milan to beat Fiorentina @ [1.89]
Over 3.5 goals in Napoli v Crotone @ [2.4]