Dave Farrar predicts a surprise at the Olimpico in the Scudetto battle and Napoli to make the most of Cagliari problems in his Serie A weekend preview...
Goals guaranteed in Bergamo
Atalanta v Roma Saturday, 19:45 Live on Betfair Live Video
Atalanta and Roma will go at each other in the Saturday night game in what is a battle for fourth, and will surely be a game that is more than easy on the eye.
La Dea have a huge Champions League game to come against Valencia in midweek, and while that could take away their edge a little, I still believe that Gian Piero Gasperini knows just how crucial Saturday night could be, and that his team will, as they always do, go for it.
Five of Atalanta's last six home games have gone Over 3.5 Goals, and this one seems likely to do likewise. Roma are in poor form, having picked up just one point in their last three Serie A games, and thrown away their advantage in those Champions League places. I fancy Atalanta to win, and they're1.87 to do so, but goals are the more interesting bet.
Roma's last two Serie A games have featured a combined 11 goals, and with them more than likely to join the party we could even end up with the kind of scoreline that we saw in this fixture last season, when the two went hell for leather and drew 3-3.
Over 3.5 Goals is priced at2.10, and Over 4.5 Goals is trading at [3.6]. I'm going to invest in both of those outcomes, and can't resist an interest in Over 5.5 Goals as well at7.20. I'm in trouble if this ends up as a Saturday night snoozefest, but given the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, I just can't see it.
Lazio to leapfrog Inter
Lazio v Inter Sunday, 19:45 Live on Premier Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
The last time that Lazio lost a Serie A match was at Inter back in September, and they host them here in what has turned into a crucial game in the race for the title.
Juve and Inter are level at the top of the table, with Lazio just a point behind, and with Juve having what look like gimmes for the next two weeks, a win in this fixture could make all of the difference for both Lazio and Inter.
Inter have won three in a row against Lazio at the Olimpico, and are trading at3.10 to make it four, but I have a feeling that Lazio could just have the edge here. Inter had a tough Cup game in midweek, and looked weary as they were beaten at home by Napoli, while Lazio have had all week to get ready. If you add to that the emotional nature of Inter's derby win against Milan last time, then you can see why Lazio is the logical choice.
Over 3.5 Goals also has some appeal at 3.00, but there's a chance that this could be cagey, and so I'll swerve that option. Inter are weakened by the continuing absence of Samir Handanovic and presence of Daniele Padelli, and while they got away with defensive errors against Milan, Lazio will be more than likely to punish them.
I don't think that Lazio will end the weekend top of Serie A, but they just start to look like Juve's closest challengers.
No chance for Cagliari
Cagliari v Napoli Sunday, 17:00 Live on Premier Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
Cagliari's desperate form gives Napoli a chance of heading to Sardinia and continuing their measured resurgence of recent weeks.
The Sardinians haven't won a Serie A game since December 5, and have now lost 6 of their last 9 in all competitions, including 2 of their last 3 home games. On top of all that, their best player Radja Nainggolan is suspended.
While Napoli are yet to really convince under Gennaro Gattuso, they have shown an uncanny ability to get results in recent weeks. The home defeat by Lecce was a major disappointment, for all that they were denied a penalty by an awful refereeing decision, but they have won 4 of their last 5 with that game the outlier, and can boast wins against Lazio, Juventus and Inter in that run.
That shows that Napoli are a serious, if flawed, team again, and in this mood they should be far too good for Cagliari. Diego Demme has been a good addition, Allan looks like he might be approaching his former self, and they have enough options in forward areas to provide a threat.
This is a team with no form to speak of against one which has proved that they can beat the very best. Napoli look a bet to me at1.94.