Dave Farrar predicts the Sampdoria will get back on track against Fiorentina, while Inter-Sassuolo and Napoli-Lazio should provide plenty of entertainment...
“With La Viola proving hard to trust this season, finding a way of supporting Marco Giampaolo’s team here is a no brainer. I can’t understand why Fiorentina are odds on.”
So the greatest League in Europe returns from its Christmas and New Year break with much to look forward to. Juventus would appear to have the title sewn up with a nine-point lead but the race for second and indeed for the Champions League places, is still a fascinating one, and we could yet have a relegation battle for the ages.
Samp too strong for Fiorentina
Fiorentina v Sampdoria
Live on Betfair Live Video
Fiorentina have won only one of their last five Serie A home games, and yet they're odds on to beat a Sampdoria side who are three places higher than them in the table, and who have already signalled their 2019 ambitions by bringing back Manolo Gabbiadini.
He more than likely won't start this one, but Sampdoria are playing with real confidence, and with La Viola proving hard to trust this season, finding a way of supporting Marco Giampaolo's team here is a no brainer. I can't understand why Fiorentina are odds on.
Blucerchiati were beaten in extra time in the Cup by Milan in midweek, but I'm not too worried about that and prefer to focus on the fact that they've lost just one of their last seven League games, and that was against Juventus.
Fiorentina haven't won in their last six against Samp, and when you consider that Giampaolo's side have scored in their last ten Serie A games, you can see the size of La Viola's task. They may well get a draw out of this, but I wouldn't have any confidence in them winning, and Samp are an outstanding bet with a goal start.
Goals guaranteed in Naples
Napoli v Lazio
Live on Betfair Live Video and Eleven Sports 2
Napoli and Lazio come together on Sunday night after underachieving in the first part of the campaign. Napoli because they would have hoped to be challenging Juventus, and Lazio because they'll feel they've played enough to be closer to Inter in third, and indeed to tonight's opponents.
Both of these sides will have welcomed the winter break more than most, as both looked to be tiring badly in December. Napoli lost to Inter, and won three of their last four by a single goal, while Lazio lost at Atalanta and were held by Torino in that mad run of fixtures close to Christmas.
Given the tempo at which both like to play, renewed energy will hopefully mean a high level of performance in these first few weeks back, and I can see there being plenty of goals at the San Paolo on Sunday.
Lazio put four past Novara in their midweek Cup win, and Napoli looked both threatening, and a little vulnerable, against Sassuolo. Over 3.5 Goals is trading at around 3.211/5 for this, and that's a price that I like the look of, especially given the fact that Napoli have scored 19 times in their last six Serie A home games against Lazio.
Inter's bogey team
Inter v Sassuolo
Live on Betfair Live Video and Eleven Sports 2
Inter will renew their bid to finish second in the League (surely the limit of their ambition) with a home game against Sassuolo, and this could also turn into a lively one. Inter looked really fresh and dangerous as they dismantled Frosinone 6-2 in the Cup last week, while Sassuolo acquitted themselves pretty well in Naples, denied an equaliser by an eagled-eyed VAR call.
I can see both teams scoring here, and with Inter losing seven of their last eight Serie A games against Sassuolo, there'll be a sense of trepidation around San Siro, as well as a thirst for revenge.
Luciano Spalletti's side have won three of their last four Serie A games by a 1-0 scoreline, and that doesn't hint at a high-scoring game here, but they too looked tired in December, and I think that we'll see a very different Inter in January and February.
Sassuolo are in awful form, and ended their 2018 by losing 6-2 to Atalanta, but they were better in Naples, and Roberto De Zerbi can take plenty from that performance. Sassuolo's best player, Mimmo Berardi, is a lifelong Inter fan, and enjoys playing against them, scoring four in his last six against the Nerazzurri, and being the architect of Sassuolo's recent success against Inter.
I expect Spalletti's side to win, but I think that there will be goals, which makes the bet a pretty obvious one.
Staked: 57 points
Returned: 53.63 points
P/L: -3.37 points
Back Sampdoria against Fiorentina +1 on Asian Handicap @ 2.166/5
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Napoli v Lazio @ 3.211/5
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Inter v Sassuolo @ 2.89/5