Serie A Betting: Unusual Juventus-Inter atmosphere
Dave Farrar predicts the Nerazzurri will win the Derby d'Italia behind closed doors as he previews this week's Serie A
Parma too strong for SPAL
Parma v SPAL Sunday, 14:00 Live on Betfair Live Video
Parma have had a good, if inconsistent season, and they host a SPAL side who have lost 8 of their last 9 games in all competitions. Yet we can back Parma for the win at 2.14 and I think that we should take the opportunity.
The Ducali have Gervinho and Dejan Kulusevski back, while SPAL arrive having lost 5 in a row in Serie A. One curiosity is that SPAL have a 100% Serie A record against Parma, having beaten them three times out of three, but I don't normally concern myself with what has happened historically.
SPAL are capable of the occasional shock result, their win at Atalanta being a case in point, but they are bottom of the table for good reason. They're a poor team, who are hugely over-reliant on Andrea Petagna. Parma should be more than good enough on Sunday.
Parma's game against Torino was suspended last weekend, and so they've had more preparation time than SPAL, and even though the game will be played behind closed doors, I don't think that will help SPAL. Parma have a good away record, are not desperate to be loved at the Tardini, and so should get the job done fairly comfortably.
Inter can take Derby d'Italia
Juventus v Inter Sunday, 19:45 Live on Premier Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
So, the biggest Serie A game in recent years, and the biggest Derby D'Italia in longer than that, will be played behind closed doors. It's a real shame, but it's also important that wider society reminds football of its place within that structure and so we have to accept, reluctantly, that Sunday night will be for the common good.
I may be alone in this, but Thursday night's Inter v Ludogorets game made me realise that I have a real fascination for these "behind closed doors" games. They can be compelling viewing, as every nuance, every minor piece of drama within the drama, is writ much larger when there are no fans to distract from it. Give it a go, you might surprise yourself.
With regards to the result, Juventus are bigger than they might otherwise have been because of the lack of a realistic home advantage, and so we can back them at 2.36, but of more interest to me is the [3.6] that's available about Inter.
I think that Thursday's trial run in front of an empty stadium will help them adjust more quickly to the atmosphere, that Juve's weaknesses and lack of squad depth were once again clearly visible on Wednesday against Lyon, and despite the likely return of Giorgio Chiellini, I think that Inter can get to them.
Lautaro Martinez will be fresh after missing Thursday, Romelu Lukaku has been dominant all season, and it looks as if Samir Handanovic will finally be back after his finger injury. Even though Inter can occasionally frustrate with their lack of consistency, they do have a choice of match winners, while it increasingly feels as if Juventus have just one.
I know that Inter have won only 1 of their last 14 Serie A games against Juve, and that, like in the first meeting, they can crumble psychologically, but I give them the edge on Sunday, and they're far too big at 3.60.
Lecce v Atalanta Sunday, 14:00 Live on Premier Sports 2 and Betfair Live Video
Atalanta are dangerous on any given day, but must be rated as even more so when they've had a weekend off, and I rate them as strong favourites to hand out a lesson to a vulnerable Lecce.
Fabio Liverani got Lecce going with three consecutive wins, but they were given a reality check last weekend against Roma, and face a stern test here against Roma's rivals for fourth.
It won't be news to you that Atalanta score a lot of goals, more than anyone else in the League, and they love opponents like Lecce, who are likely to play positively, and may pay the price for that.
Liverani's team have changed their approach of late, and it has paid dividends with those three wins, but it comes with risk, and with 3 of Lecce's last 4 games going Over 3.5 Goals (the fourth had exactly three, so didn't miss by much), I fully expect this one to do likewise.
It may not be the most original tip, but I suspect that it'll be a winning one.