Sunday sees the biggest match of the Serie A season so far as top-of-the-table Inter put their 100% record on the line against champions Juventus. Dave Farrar previews the game and picks out bets for the matches involving Milan and Sampdoria...
“These massive occasions have become Juve’s, not Inter’s, and I don’t think that the tide has turned enough for that to change. Juve look a big price at [2.9]”
First real Inter test
Inter v Juventus
Live on Premier 2 and Betfair Live Video
There's a real feeling among Serie A observers that the tide at the top of the table could be turning, and that Inter will lay down a serious challenge to Juventus that could take us right to the end of the season.
Inter have won their first six games and lead Juve by two points and I can understand the optimism. Antonio Conte has given Inter an edge and a sense of confidence, and they've played relatively well so far in this campaign.
Inter haven't been as good as their results make them look, though, and a truer sense of where they are comes from their Champions League displays. Watch them being held by Slavia Prague and beaten by Barcelona, and suddenly the doubts about their 1-0 wins against Udinese and Lazio, and their narrow triumph at Cagliari begin to surface.
This will be a true test, unlike the game against Milan which looks like the biggest win on their CV so far in this campaign. That was never going to be a contest though, with Milan floundering and lacking direction.
So, I harbour serious doubts about Inter's stickability, and also about Juve under Maurizio Sarri. They've taken a while to find any realistic rhythm, but they've now won four in a row, and already beaten Napoli, albeit dramatically, and brushed aside Bayer Leverkusen.
The logic over the last eight seasons has been to back Juventus in any clutch game, and I'm not deserting that here. They are the masters of winning these kind of fixtures, they'll be desperate not to fall five points behind Inter, and remember that Inter have won only one of their last 13 games against Juventus. These massive occasions have become Juve's, not Inter's, and I don't think that the tide has turned enough for that to change. Juve look a big price at [2.9]
For more tips and insight on the game, check out this week's Football...Only Bettor podcast
Genoa to doom Giampaolo
Genoa v Milan
Live on FreeSports and Betfair Live Video
Both Genoa and Milan are in desperate form, and both Aurelio Andreazzoli and Marco Giampaolo seem certain to be sacked if they lose this game. The pressure at Marassi will be huge on Saturday night, and given how disjointed Milan have looked so far this season, I think that Genoa look a bet at [3.1].
Krzysztof Piatek has been in awful form in this campaign, only scoring from the penalty spot, and there's a feeling that a return to the stadium at which he made his name for Genoa last season may somehow improve him, but that seems unlikely to me. He's receiving little help from the likes of Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu, and with Milan scoring only four times in their first six games (twice with penalties), there's every chance that Genoa can keep them quiet.
Genoa are in the bottom three, but have shown spirit in drawing at Roma and beating Fiorentina here, while losing at Marassi to Atalanta and drawing here with Bologna weren't results to be overly ashamed of. Milan will be a different challenge, and I think that, at the prices, it's one to which Genoa might just rise.
Verona wield axe on EDF
Verona v Sampdoria
Live on Betfair Live Video
Another coach who's facing an early dismissal is Eusebio Di Francesco of Sampdoria, and he takes his team to Verona after losing all three of their away games so far this season.
Ivan Juric's team are proving to be teak tough, and having lost 2-1 at Juve, they have ground out two draws, firstly here against Udinese, and then at Cagliari, a result which cost this column a clean sweep.
Samp feels like an unhappy club at the moment, with issues off the field, a group of players who seem unconvinced by Di Francesco, and a sense that there's a soft underbelly which can be exploited. A side like Verona who appear to make the most of every advantage they have must be licking their lips.
I don't think that this will be a thriller, and goals are an issue for Verona, but Samp have lost five of their opening six, and this is a trip that may be beyond them, and their under fire coach.
Staked: 15 Points
Return: 15.53 points
P/L: + 0.53 points
Back Juventus to beat Inter @ [2.9]
Back Genoa to beat Milan @ [3.1]
Back Verona to beat Sampdoria @ [2.6]