Dave Farrar thinks he's spotted a great bet in backing Cagliari to beat Inter on Sunday. He also fancies goals at Atalanta...
"Cagliari may be in the bottom half of the table, but they have won their last three home games against Torino, Sampdoria and Fiorentina, and this Inter team, with injury problems to the fore, is no better than any of those sides. Cagliari are an outstanding bet."
The big game of the weekend is unquestionably at San Siro, where Milan take on Napoli. The big news is that Mario Balotelli is out for Milan, and so the Rossoneri will have to rely on a strikeforce of Stephan El Sharaawy and Giampaolo Pazzini. This makes a big difference, as Balotelli makes Milan a different side, and I think that Napoli will be confident of at least getting a draw, which in the context of the table, wouldn't be a bad result.
Milan are [2.1] favourites to win, which is too short, and Napoli are [3.9]. The key to a Napoli win is whether they can supply Edinson Cavani: that job will fall to Marek Hamsyk, Goran Pandev and the new goal scoring sensation (and I never thought that I'd be saying this) Blerim Dzemaili, who has now got 4 in his last 2 games. Milan had looked rock solid defensively until they conceded those two penalties against Fiorentina last week, but there is a chance that the season is starting to take its toll, and with Balotelli out, and Napoli looking typically businesslike at home against Genoa last weekend, I'm tempted to chance Napoli at a decent price to put the argument about second place to bed.
I have a nagging feeling that Napoli may settle for a draw if the game is level with half an hour to go, though, and so rather than try and be too clever, I'll play this a little more conservatively. Milan are too short at [2.1], and so let's lay them and keep the draw onside.
Lay Milan against Napoli @ [2.1]
Fiorentina's attempts to nail down a 4th place finish could make great strides this weekend. Inter and Lazio both have awkward looking games, and, with a win in Bergamo, Vincenzo Montella's team could find themselves with a 4 point advantage and with games running out. Fiorentina showed great spirit in their 2-2 draw against Milan last week. They were 2-0 down and down to ten men, but a couple of penalties brought them level, and Montella will hope to see that momentum continue into this match.
Atalanta pulled off an extraordinary win at Inter (and provided a decent priced winner for this column) and they won't roll over here. Atalanta are [3.4] for the win, with Fiorentina available to lay at [2.34], and while that Atalanta price looks tempting, I wouldn't be surprised to see Fiorentina put in a performance inspired by last week.
La Viola have lost 8 times away from home, and will miss Stefan Jovetic, Stefan Savic and the suspended Nenad Tomovic here, but rather than lay them, I'm once again interested in the goals markets. Over 2.5 goals are trading at [2.1], and that seems a value pick to me. Atalanta are pretty much safe, and so there's a devil may care aspect to their play at the moment, which has led to 5 of their last 7 matches going over 2.5 goals (the other two were a strange 0-0 v Sampdoria and a 2-0 win in Siena). With Fiorentina looking more vulnerable than at any stage this season, 5 of their last 6 matches have gone over 2.5, and the only reason I can see for 'overs' to be odds against is that Atalanta's last home game finished 0-0. That match against Samp, as I have already intimated, is best ignored.
Over 2.5 Goals in Atalanta v Fiorentina @ [2.1]
The Italian newspapers this week have been full of the Inter President Massimo Moratti and his conspiracy theories regarding the make up of the top four. Moratti's argument is that Milan have more money than Inter, and therefore that they were always destined to finish in a Champions League place. These passionate and pretty misguided comments followed Inter's capitulation against Atalanta last week, a match in which we saw all of Inter's recent failings: defensive uncertainty, bad organisation, an apparent lack of a plan. Andrea Stramaccioni's lack of attacking options has become almost comical. Antonio Cassano is injured, joining Rodrigo Palacio and Diego Milito on the sidelines. With Ezequiel Schelotto suspended, this means that the coach will be entirely dependent on Ricky Alvarez and Tommaso Rocchi. One hugely inconsistent, the other ageing.
Cagliari have been playing well under Ivo Pulga, and their strikeforce of the revelation Marco Sau and the rejuventaed Mauricio Pinilla look to have a good understanding. I can't understand why Cagliari are as big as [2.94] for the win here, and couldn't make Inter favourites as they currently are on Betfair; Cagliari [3.0] for the win, Inter [2.6]. Cagliari may be in the bottom half of the table, but they have won their last three home games against Torino, Sampdoria and Fiorentina, and this Inter team, with injury problems to the fore, is no better than any of those sides. Cagliari are an outstanding bet.
Back Cagliari to beat Inter @ [2.94]