Dave Farrar predicts no clean sheets at San Siro, goals galore in Sampdoria v Lazio, and Cesena to cause Napoli problems...
“Five of Juve's last six games in all competitions have seen both teams find the back of the net, and with that outcome having also played out in three of Inter's last four, that's the conservative selection.”
Inter v Juventus
Way to go, Serie A: once more, the famous and fabled Derby D'Italia is played at a throwaway time on a Saturday afternoon. I know there's not a great deal at stake, but it still feels wrong, especially as Juve's returning heroes from Madrid deserve a better stage.
Anyway, our job is to try and find a winning bet, rather than worry about Italian politics, and that has to revolve around the state of Juventus.
Two big Cup finals to come, a weary squad, and maybe there for the taking? The market would certainly suggest that, with Inter priced at 2.3211/8 for the win and Juve 3.45. You don't get many chances to back the Champions at that price, and given that Inter are a little overrated, it's mighty tempting.
Don't think for a minute that Juventus will go to San Siro and roll over: that's not in their make up, and Max Allegri will send out a team that he believes can win the game.
That said, Juve have lost to Parma and Torino away from home in recent weeks, and were dreadful against Cagliari last week. With Mauro Icardi keen to impress and with a good scoring record against Juve too, Inter have a chance, but not at these prices.
I'm more interested in the way that the game might be played. Five of Juve's last six games in all competitions have seen both teams find the back of the net, and with that outcome having also played out in three of Inter's last four, that's the conservative selection.
Roberto Mancini will want to take a scalp of this size into Inter's summer, and I think that they'll attack. Juve can make defensive mistakes (see Cagliari last week) and offer more than enough going the other way, whichever team Allegri selects.
Hernanes is suspended and Fredy Guarin's season over, so Xherdan Shaqiri should finally get a starting spot.
Back "Yes" to Both Teams to Score in Inter v Juventus @ 1.84/5
Sampdoria v Lazio
Live on BT Sport 1
The alleged "big one" is followed on Saturday evening by a much more significant game at Marassi. Sampdoria play Lazio with both teams trying to keep up in the European race, and Lazio potentially distracted by the Coppa Italia final.
Lazio were unfortunate to lose to Inter last week: they nearly held out with nine men, but found their old player Hernanes too good for them in the end, and now they're under pressure to perform.
I expect a hatful of goals in this: Samp thrashed Udinese 4-1 last weekend (as Serie A went goal crazy folks) and Sinisa Mihajlovic will send them out with a similar mindset here.
Three points are unquestionably more useful than one right now, and there's really no point in Samp sitting back. Recent statistics would suggest that this might be an "unders" game at odds against, but I think that the way the match will be played will buck that trend.
Lazio have defensive injuries and suspensions (missing Federico Marchetti, Mauricio, Lucas Biglia and Lorik Cana) and can be thrilling going forward, while Samp will play on the front foot and look vulnerable at the back. There's every reason to back Over 3.5 Goals in this one at around the 3.1511/5 mark.
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Samp v Lazio @ 3.1511/5
Napoli v Cesena
Live on BT Sport 1
Finally, a word about Monday night. Napoli have been awful lately, and fully deserved to go out of the Europa League on Thursday. I really question their appetite for the fight, and they may have a game on their hands as relegated Cesena visit the San Paolo.
Napoli are priced at 1.192/11 for the win, and while it's tempting to lay them at that price (they drew at PARMA last week for goodness' sake), I think that the more interesting bet is once more in the Both Teams to Score market. "Yes" is 2.1211/10 which looks like a touch of value to me.
You can look at their position in the table and say that they'll be overwhelmed here, but lately Cesena have played with freedom, and the presence of a player as gifted as Franco Brienza in their side means that they've found the net in their last four games.
Napoli conceded twice against Parma last week, and in both games against Dnipro, and while their defensive record has been good for much of the season, I sense that they're fading, and fast.
I'd love to make a case for Cesena winning here at 19.018/1 but I'm not sure even Napoli can make a mess that big. They will be vulnerable, and this is far more likely to be three points via a nervy 4-2, than a bloodless 1-0. BTTS should be favourite here, and we should take advantage of the fact that it isn't.
Back "Yes" to Both Teams to Score in Napoli v Cesena @ 2.1211/10