Serie A Betting: Massive weekend with top four facing off
Dave Farrar predicts goals galore in Rome when Lazio host Juventus, along with other Serie A bets for the weekend...
Epic at the Olimpico
Lazio v Juve Saturday, 19:45 Live on Premier 1 and Betfair Live Video
And so we approach a massive weekend in Serie A knowing that we have a real title race. I expected Sassuolo to trouble Juventus last weekend, but not to the extent that they took two points off them and came relatively close to beating them. Juve remain unbeaten in all competitions, but there are signs that they're slipping, and there are many who feel that Lazio have every chance of inflicting a first defeat of the season on Maurizio Sarri's team.
Regular readers of this column over the years will know my feelings, and be able to predict my conclusions. Lazio are in stellar form, have a striker in Ciro Immobile who has produced remarkable figures in this campaign, but when push comes to shove, this is Juve in a clutch situation, and they have proved over and over that they are the masters of getting results in games like this.
To be clear, I think that the Match Odds prices are about right, and so will steer clear of that market, but if I HAD to choose, I'd go Juve every time. The goals markets are more interesting, as we have Serie A's top scorers in Lazio, who have 18 goals in their last five home games, against a Juve team who are struggling defensively, but who have serious threats of their own going forward.
Juve's last two Serie A games have gone Over 3.5 Goals, both against attacking teams in Atalanta and Sassuolo, and I think that this will be a similar kind of game, watchable and wide open, with Juve edging an epic.
Roman invasion hits Inter
Inter v Roma Friday, 19:45 Live on Premier 1 and Betfair Live Video
Inter face Roma on Friday night, hoping to extend their lead at the top of the table to four points before Juve face a tricky journey to the Olimpico to take on Lazio. It feels like a pivotal two days.
The Nerazzurri have won only three of their last 14 Serie A home games against Roma, and I fear for them again this Friday. They have two key midfield absentees to contend with in the shape of Stefano Sensi and Nicolò Barella, and the natural replacement, Roberto Gagliardini, is also out.
With Antonio Conte down to the bare bones in his engine room, focus inevitably turns to whether or not Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku can keep making their beautiful friendship work in Inter's favour. Lukaku will be up against his old Manchester United team-mate Chris Smalling, which will be a different challenge for him, and if Roma can deal with the Belgian, then they may be able to stifle Inter.
Roma are in great form coming into this. They've won six of their last eight, and have lost only twice in Serie A this season. Their strong running and skilful midfield look like Conte's worst nightmare, given his injury issues, and Edin Dzeko will be very keen to prove a point against the team for whom he very nearly signed over the summer. Make no mistake, Roma come into this with a massive chance, and are overpriced at4.10 for the win.
The lay of Inter at1.97 is tempting, and a bet that I certainly wouldn't discourage you from, given Roma's propensity to draw games, but I can't ignore that headline price for Paulo Fonseca's team to storm the San Siro. Inter are a little overrated, and this weekend they're depleted. I'm taking Roma to create another surprise at the top of the table.
SPAL ruin Corini comeback
SPAL v Brescia Sunday, 14:00 Live on Betfair Live Video
The bottom two face off in what could prove to be a massive weekend at the foot of the table, as well as the top. I was impressed with the way that SPAL played in the second half at Inter last week, coming close to battling to a draw, and they franked that form against a disinterested looking Lecce in the Cup in midweek, winning 5-1.
SPAL look to be a team on the up, and this is a game that they'll believe they can win. Both of their victories, against Parma and Lazio, have come at home, and they face a Brescia team who have now lost eight of their last nine Serie A games.
A sign of the shambles at Brescia is that Eugenio Corini is back in charge after Fabio Grosso's month-long tenure was ended on Monday, a sign that no-one in a position of power really has an idea of what's right for the club.
In short, this is a team that might just be hitting form against one that has forgotten what form looks like, and we should take advantage of the fact that SPAL are odds against.