Serie A Tips: Back Cagliari revival, goals in Bergamo & Crotone
Dave Farrar predicts another high-scoring round, including the Atalanta vs. Juventus showdown for third, but a relegation dogfight piques his interest...
Last chance saloon
Cagliari v Parma
Live on Premier Sports 2 and Betfair Live Video
I was impressed with Cagliari and their efforts against Inter last weekend. They lost 1-0, but came close to earning a point, and their improvement under Leonardo Semplici makes me believe that they have it in them to beat Parma this weekend.
Cagliari are the definition of that team that looks too good to go down. Quality veterans and leaders in Godin and Nainggolan, a consistent goalscorer in Joao Pedro, and enough elsewhere on the pitch (Rugani, Pavoletti, Sottil) to make them look like a squad with top 10 potential.
They were poor under Eusebio Di Francesco though, were late in sacking him, and now Semplici knows that they have to win this weekend against a Parma team that are a place below, and are in a similar situation. Lose this, and it's over. Torino's win at Cagliari last week created a five-point gap between them and the Sardinians, and with Parma two points behind Cagliari, their plight looks even more desperate.
I don't think that it'll be a great game, the circumstances surely won't allow that, and while I don't want to get suckered into thinking that Cagliari's big names mean that they are destined to survive, I think that they're good enough to win this. They've been woefully short of goals this calendar year, but I believe that will change.
I was hoping to see Cagliari a little bigger than 2.24 for the win here, but there's still enough juice in that price to make it a sensible bet. One of these teams needs to click on Saturday night, and I think, against a poor Parma, it will be Cagliari.
Crotone mean overs
Crotone v Udinese
Live on Premier Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video
They've served us well in recent weeks, Crotone, and even though they're up against an occasionally turgid Udinese side this weekend, I'm not going to desert them now. Price alone determines that, as 3.2 is available for there to be at least four goals in their game against Udinese, and that's generous.
I waxed lyrical about Serse Cosmi and his team last week, and so won't repeat myself here, but there's a gung-ho feel to both him and them, and that has led to a remarkable run of results. Not in terms of the job that Cosmi was brought in to do, as they are surely going to be relegated, more in the way that they have gone about their business.
Crotone's last six games have produced a combined total of 34 goals, and each of those matches has gone Over 4.5 Goals. That eventuality is priced here at around the 7.0 mark, and that's because of the nature of the opposition. An Udinese side who are not a good watch under Luca Gotti, but who will do enough to stay in Serie A for another season. Never threatening the top 10, nor in danger of going down. Friuli fans rejoice.
Udinese though can get drawn into higher scoring games away from home, and that's my expectation here. They lost their last away game 3-2 in Bergamo, drew 1-1 in Genoa and Milan before that, and 2-2 in Parma the previous week. I appreciate that it's not overwhelming evidence, but given who they are playing and the price that's on offer, I'm happy to play the Over 3.5 Goals market.
Showdown for third place
Atalanta v Juventus
Live on Premier Sports 2 and Betfair Live Video
I'm going to swerve any interest in the Sunday night game between Napoli and Inter, as I could see Napoli winning it, and think that they may be a sporty price at 3.15, but don't quite trust them enough against the best team in the League. I feel the same about Torino against Roma, as Torino are getting better by the week, but fear that Roma will be just too good.
That leaves us with Juve's trip to Bergamo to face a dangerous Atalanta side who are in thrillingly good form, and who will start the afternoon as favourites at 2.5 to win, a market that would have been unthinkable five years ago.
It shows how far Atalanta have come and also reminds us that Juventus have slipped a fair bit this season. I have no issue with that price and see Atalanta as the likelier winners, but I'm not sure that there's much mileage in them at 2.5. Juventus showed against Napoli two weeks ago that they can still dig out the big results, and they are a serious danger here. If I was having a bet in the Match Odds market, they would be it at 2.88.
Goals, though, are the answer again here. Juventus have looked increasingly porous in recent weeks, and remain a threat going forward, which is why six of their last seven in all competitions have gone Over 3.5 Goals. And Atalanta, well, we know all about them and their capabilities. Their last six Serie A home games have all had at least four goals. At 2.6, that has to be the bet again here.
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