Dave Farrar predicts another thriller at San Siro on Friday night, Sampdoria to stall Napoli and Luciano Spalletti's men finding their feet at Bologna
“Both Milan and Roma have big ambitions, and both Coaches remain unproven at this rarified level. It’ll be less than perfect, then, but certainly entertaining.”
More fireworks for Milan and Roma
Milan v Roma
Live on Betfair Live Video and Eleven Sports 1
The weekend starts with Roma's trip to Milan on Friday night, an appetiser that seems certain to provide goals. Milan are committed to playing passing football in all areas of the field under Gennaro Gattuso, and while it cost them against Napoli, it should bring them success as well. It just might take a while.
While they adjust to Gattuso's first full season in charge, the Rossoneri will look vulnerable, even though they'll be stronger this week given the return from suspension of Hakan Calanoglu. The excellent Mattia Caldara looks set to start at the back too, but even that doesn't convince me that Milan will be watertight.
Roma won 1-0 at Torino on the opening day, but were feeling their way into the season, and we saw all of their frustrating brilliance against Atalanta on Monday night. Trailing 3-1 and outplayed, but then roaring back into the game to draw 3-3, showing commendable spirt, and yet enough vulnerability to suggest that they will keep conceding.
This is a big game for both Gattuso and Eusebio Di Francesco, who can't afford too many more unconvincing displays. Both Milan and Roma have big ambitions, and both Coaches remain unproven at this rarified level. It'll be less than perfect, then, but certainly entertaining.
Napoli too short at Samp
Sampdoria v Napoli
Live on Betfair Live Video and Eleven Sports 2
It will be a hugely emotional night at Marassi for the second week in a row, as the Sampdoria fans take their turn to pay tribute to the victims of the terrible tragedy which has affected the city in recent weeks.
Samp lost at Udinese last week as they tried to adjust to what has been going on off the field, and we'll see a better version of them on Sunday night. They'll need to be as well, against a Napoli team that has now come from behind to win on the opening two matchdays, and Carlo Ancelotti will want a much more measured performance here.
I'm still unsure about Napoli: they obviously possess significant attacking options, but they have become a little predictable, and Milan stopped them pretty comfortably last weekend, before a defensive error allowed the Neapolitans back into the game.
I suspect that this match will be played at a rather slower tempo than that one, and that will nullify Napoli even more. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Samp get something from the game, and Napoli certainly look too short for the win.
The issue for the home team will be goals. They have signed Gregoire Defrel who was unconvincing at Roma, they still have the evergreen Fabio Quagliarella, and I'm taking the chance that they can find a way to expose Napoli. If they do, then they have every chance of pulling off a shock win, or a solid draw, both of which would suit us.
Inter keep it clean
Bologna v Inter
Live on Betfair Live Video
Inter's campaign started badly, got significantly better, but then suffered another big blow when they threw away a two-goal lead to be held by Torino at San Siro last weekend.
Following the opening day defeat against Sassuolo, there's now a sense of a mini crisis at Inter, and they'll need to react well as they head for the Dall'Ara in Bologna this weekend. The news that Radja Nainggolan looks like he'll be fit to start is a big boost for Luciano Spalletti, and I expect this to be the weekend that Inter finally click into gear.
They were undercooked in Sassuolo, played pretty well for the most part against Torino, and now they're up against a team that had had a poor start to the season under their new Coach Pippo Inzaghi. How ironic that such a great goal scorer should be in charge of a team that appears to be so poor in front of goal. The eventual loss of Simone Verdi was huge, and they haven't replaced his creativity.
Bologna are yet to score in this campaign, and I don't think that they're going to break that habit against Inter, who will continue to play with three centre-halves and may just be getting used to Spalletti's new ideas. I think that this will be the story of an Inter clean sheet, a return to form for Mauro Icardi, and the sense of some green shoots at San Siro, with the visitors having every chance of winning by two clear goals.
Staked: 6 points
Returned: 7.4 points
P/L: +1.4 points
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Milan v Roma @ 3.185/40
Back Sampdoria +1 on Asian Handicap against Napoli @ 2.77/4
Inter -1 on Asian Handicap v Bologna @ 2.77/4