Dave Farrar predicts a rough intercity battle at the San Siro in the Milan derby, Napoli and Empoli to put on a show of entertainment, and a Bologna boost...
“Inter's last four Serie A games have gone Under 2.5 Goals, and the same can be said for three of Milan's last four. I'm tempted by Under 1.5 Goals here at 3.39/4, and Inter also look on the big side at 3.185/40, but Under 2.5 goals looks the safest play at 1.875/6.”
Thanks for all of the kind messages about last week's piece, and thanks for your patience with regard to a pretty ordinary tipping display. The irony was this: the "2-2" betting game was always the Saturday late match and last week I got my kick-off times mixed up, thinking Empoli v Milan was the earlier game. It wasn't. And the only game that finished 2-2 last weekend was, as always, the Saturday late game. Funny how life works, isn't it?
Milan v Inter
Live on BT Sport Europe
Onto this week's fun and games, and the weekend will be rounded off by the Milan derby. Not one for the ages, but a game that's interesting as Milan can move to within five points of an Inter side whose title aspirations have vanished in a puff of smoke.
They're still technically in the race, but a run of only one win in five has cost Inter, and emphasised the false position into which they had got themselves in the first place.
These two will more than likely finish in the top six, and a positive end to the season could see either of them doing a little better than that, but this looks like being a tight game. It took a Fredy Guarin winner to separate the sides when they met earlier in the season, and I'm expecting a similar outcome here.
Inter's last four Serie A games have gone Under 2.5 Goals, and the same can be said for three of Milan's last four. I'm tempted by Under 1.5 Goals here at 3.39/4, and Inter also look on the big side at 3.052/1, but Under 2.5 goals looks the safest play at 1.875/6.
Under 2.5 Goals in Milan v Inter @ 1.875/6
Napoli v Empoli
Live on BT Sport ESPN
So it looks like Juve's winning machine against flawed but brilliant Napoli for the title, and a critical few weeks for the Partenopei start right here, culminating with their trip to Juventus on February 13th.
Before they host Carpi and travel to Lazio, they must get past a well-coached and gifted Empoli team, who are a kind of Napoli lite. Marco Giampaolo believes in roughly the same footballing principles as his predecessor Maurizio Sarri and as a result they can be involved in high scoring games against progressive opposition. Witness their matches against Roma, Bologna, Milan, Fiorentina and even Juve. Napoli fit into that bracket.
When the two sides met earlier in the season, it finished 2-2 and it was the kind of excellent entertainment that we can expect this weekend at the San Paolo. This is a dangerous fixture for Napoli and "Yes" in the Both Teams to Score market is certainly worth a second look at 2.26/5, as is Over 3.5 Goals at 2.77/4.
Empoli have only failed to score once since the start of October, and with Napoli always likely to find a way past any backline, both of those bets rate serious consideration.
Back "Yes" to Both Teams to Score in Napoli v Empoli @ 2.26/5
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Napoli v Empoli @ 2.77/4
Bologna v Sampdoria
2.26/5 might look a bit short for a team playing at home who have failed to win their last three home games, but I think that we can make an exception for Bologna. Roberto Donadoni's much improved team is certainly more dangerous and successful away from Emilia Romagna, but I think that they should be odds on to beat fading opponents this weekend.
Samp have been dreadful of late and their season just got worse. The goal that Eder scored against Napoli last weekend looks certain to be his last for the club. He's off to Inter, leaving Samp in a proper relegation battle, one that they may not escape, and they're set for more misery this weekend.
Samp have lost their last three, and aside from a brief flurry at the turn of the year when they looked a team again, they have sunk like a stone. They and their cross city rivals Genoa are only five points away from the Bottom three, and even the mighty Vincenzo Montella has his hands full.
Donadoni against Montella deserves a better fixture than this, but for now it's the ex-Milan man in the ascendancy, and I'll take Bologna to win this one, however short they might look.
Back Bologna to beat Sampdoria @ 2.26/5
Staked: 60 points
Returned: 46.22 points
P/L: -13.78 points