Italian expert Dave Farrar is back with a New Year's Serie A tipping column, and he fancies an easy win for Fiorentina and a victory for Inter in Rome against Lazio...
"Ricky Alvarez is back for Inter, and Diego Milito looks like he'll be in the squad too. All good vibes, all exactly the opposite of what's happening in Rome."
Juventus v Roma
Live on BT Sport 1
I'm still not sure whether it's a good or bad thing that the biggest game of the Serie A season so far, and one that could go a long way to deciding the title, is happening directly after a winter break. The good thing is that Juventus and Roma will both be fresh, the downside is that the build up has been a little muted, and I feel that we may have a game to match.
Juventus are 1.75/7 for the win, with Roma trading at 5.79/2, and my first thought when looking at those prices is that Roma are a little bit big. They're still unbeaten, and have conceded only seven goals all season. Drawing too many games this season may end up costing them the title, but they will not lie down easily, as they have proved time after time so far. So instinct tells me that Roma have a chance, and then the statistics favour Juve, and then some. They have a 100% home record, they have won 14 of their last 15 games in Serie A, and Roma have lost 6 of their last 10 in Turin, winning only once. This is the best attack in Serie A against the best defence in Europe, and that makes it extremely hard to call, and for all the magnitude of the fixture, it's not one that really attracts me as a betting heat.
Juventus won 4-1 last season, and you can make a case for them to assert their superiority again, but equally there's a way for Roma to win. I think that any decision on a game like this has to made on the basis of value, and while Juventus are the better side, I don't think that the prices reflect how close Roma are to them, and the 4.03/1 that's available about the match finishing in a draw is the price that makes most appeal. I'll level with you, I HATE tipping the draw, but on this occasion it seems the best route to profit, and so the draw it is.
Lazio v Inter
Live on Betfair Live Video
Thoughts of Argentina are never too far away where Inter Milan are concerned, and the state of their opponents going into this game had me dusting down the "Evita" songbook. "Oh what a circus, oh what a show" perfectly sums up the goings on at Lazio in recent weeks, with Vladimir Petkovic seemingly on the brink of being sacked, then opting to announce that this season would be his last, and now Lazio having one coach in technical charge, while another (Edy Reja) takes training.
This is an absurd situation for a big club to have got itself into, and Inter will fancy that they can go to the Olimpico and win. They're 3.185/40 to do so, and I'll be backing them. Lazio were destroyed by Verona before the winter break, and while you could argue that the brief layoff will have given them time to reorganise, I'm not so sure. The atmosphere at the club can't be good, whereas Inter are buzzing after their derby win over Milan, a potential building block for a positive second half of the season. Ricky Alvarez is back for Inter, and Diego Milito looks like he'll be in the squad too. All good vibes, all exactly the opposite of what's happening in Rome. Reja will set his team up to be hard to beat, as that's what he always does, so I don't expect it to be high scoring, but I think that Inter will have enough quality going forward to steal a win.
Fiorentina v Livorno
Live on ESPN
Fiorentina have come up short this season so far because of, Juventus aside, their failure to win the big games. If La Viola had beaten those around them, then they'd be pushing for second place at least, but as it stands they'll have to be content with being involved in the fight for the Champions League spots. They've been very good at dismissing teams like Livorno, though, and with the team well rested, I expect them to dismantle a side that has claimed only four points away from home this season, and whose coach, Davide Nicola, is under mounting pressure.
Livorno lost 4-0 in Naples, and 2-0 against Milan, and even Chievo beat them 3-0 at the Bentegodi. With Fiorentina keen to make a statement, and with Giuseppe Rossi fresh after his break, I think that Fiorentina will tear Livorno apart with their quick passing game and cover a two goal concession on the Asian Handicap.
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