Serie A Predictions and Best Bets – April 20-22, 2021
The media might be concentrating on the European Super League announcement, but Serie A has a crucial midweek set of fixtures taking place over the next few days, with all 20 clubs involved.
Inter could only draw at the weekend but still looks on course to claim its first scudetto in 10 years. The real interest concerns which of the chasing pack will qualify for the Champions League, though. There is also an increasingly intriguing story at the bottom of the table.
I’ll be looking at all ten Serie A fixtures over the next few days, kicking off with Hellas Verona vs. Fiorentina on Tuesday. I will also pick out three of the best bets to consider for matchday 32 in the Italian top-flight.
Hellas Verona to Beat Fiorentina
Both these clubs lost after taking first-half leads at the weekend and showed a worryingly familiar fragility as their games went on. Verona should have put its game against Sampdoria out of reach, but some poor finishing allowed the Blucerchiati to come back decisively in the second half. That inability to score goals has been the main problem for Verona all season.
It may have a better chance of finding the net on Tuesday, as Fiorentina has conceded a fair few in the last few weeks. Beppe Iachini is still awaiting his first win as head coach after another 3-1 defeat on Saturday – this time at the hands of Sassuolo. Two second-half penalties for the home side changed the course of that game, and now the Viola are right back in the relegation scrap. Another defeat this week will not help.
Milan to Beat Sassuolo
It was far from convincing, but Stefano Pioli will gladly have taken the three points after beating Genoa at the San Siro at the weekend. It was the first time the Rossoneri had won at home for two months and keeps it just ahead of the chasing pack in Serie A.
A recent poor run of form has probably ended any hopes of European qualification for Sassuolo. But there was good news at the weekend as Domenico Berardi made a comeback off the bench – and scored two second-half penalties against Fiorentina. He has been a target for several clubs this season and is the biggest threat for the Neroverdi. He might not get as many chances on Wednesday, though.
Bologna and Torino Top Draw
Bologna made easy work of Spezia at the weekend, scoring twice in each half to thrash the visitors 4-1. It was a timely result for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side that had not quite made things safe as far as relegation goes before this game. Now the Rossoblu can probably ease off a little – and that may allow Torino a chance to pick up another vital point as it attempts to stay out of the bottom three.
The Granata has already begun its great escape once again and the 3-1 win against Roma at the weekend was a huge step in ensuring top-flight status for another year at least. That could play a big part in convincing Andrea Belotti to stay – and he was very influential in that victory, although he wasn’t able to get on the scoresheet himself. If he could manage to power his side to a draw on Wednesday, Torino could be well on the way to safety.
Sampdoria to Beat Crotone
Crotone has still not been officially relegated, but it remains rock bottom of the Serie A table and 15 points from safety after losing at home to Udinese on Saturday. The Calabrian side never really looked like getting anything from the game and only scored thanks to a penalty. The visiting side took the lead again just minutes later and condemned Crotone to its fifth straight defeat. It could well be six on Wednesday.
Samp did well to concede just once in a first-half barrage from Verona at the weekend – and then changed things around completely in the second period by scoring three of its own. Half-time substitutions swung the game and contributed to a goal just a minute after the restart. Claudio Ranieri’s men then took complete control. It should be an even easier task this week.
Genoa to Beat Benevento
Genoa may have lost its last two games, but considering the fact that they were against Juventus and Milan – and were the first back-to-back defeats since the end of November – I’m not sure too much can be read into that.
Benevento’s own top-flight status is far from assured after another defeat at the weekend. Le Streghe traded eight goals with Lazio but came off the worse, losing a very entertaining battle in the Stadio Olimpico 5-3. It was three goals down before a strike of its own just before the break and was never as close to gaining anything as the scoreline might suggest. There could be a further disappointment for Benevento in the week.
Juventus to Beat Parma
It is not surprising that Andrea Agnelli is pushing for a European Super League considering that Juventus will not be claiming its customary scudetto this season and now runs the real risk of missing out on the Champions League altogether. A late Atalanta goal took all three points on Sunday, and now the Old Lady must make the most of these easier-looking games to pick up the points required for a top-four finish.
Parma should be a perfect opponent for Juve as it attempts to take one of the top-four berths, as it is struggling to stay in the Italian top-flight after another high-scoring defeat at the weekend. Parma lost 4-3 to Cagliari but has now managed to find the net twice in a game in six of the last nine fixtures. Roberto D’Aversa’s side now sits ten points from safety and looks like being relegated. It might not even get the chance to score twice on Wednesday.
Inter to Beat Spezia
Spezia was very much the second-best at the weekend as it went down 4-1 to Bologna, but there is still a lot to celebrate for the club this season. Staying up in the Serie A is a huge achievement for a club its size, and a seven-point lead over the bottom three with just seven games to go should be enough to be successful in that aim. There probably won’t be much chance of getting anything from this midweek fixture, but a few more points over the coming weeks will be enough.
Inter can also afford to take things a little easier thanks to its nine-point lead at the top of the table. Antonio Conte’s side faced Napoli at the weekend and managed to take a point in the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, using the now-familiar tactics of allowing the opponent the bulk of possession and hitting on the counter. Three points away at Spezia should be achievable without too much fuss – and the scudetto will inch that little bit closer to the San Siro.
Cagliari to Beat Udinese
Udinese should finish in a very comfortable mid-table position this year, and a lot of that will be down to the talent and goals of Rodrigo De Paul, who scored twice in the 2-1 win away at Crotone on Saturday. But he was also sent off in stoppage time for an inexplicable karate kick to the chest of Salvatore Molina and will now miss this fixture. That could make a huge difference to the Friulani’s chances of beating a Cagliari side desperate for points.
The Rossoblu gave itself a huge boost to its hopes of staying up this season with a 4-3 win against fellow-strugglers Parma at the weekend.
Cagliari dominated the game but was 2-0 down in the first half and still losing 3-2 with just stoppages to play. Incredibly, Parma threw away yet another lead, and Cagliari ended up triumphant. That confidence boost could well carry onto this game on Wednesday.
Atalanta to Beat Roma
It is a well-known fact that Roma has been unable to beat any of the top sides in Serie A this season – and it is the main reason why the Giallorossi is unlikely to qualify for the Champions League this year. Luckily the defeat to Torino at the weekend is unlikely to stop the capital city club qualifying for Europe at all, thanks to the current points gap. But it did suggest that Paulo Fonseca’s job might not be quite as secure if he hadn’t guided the club to a Europa League semifinal this season.
It still might not be the safest position in the division – unlike Gian Piero Gasperini’s at Atalanta, which is just about assured for life. Even after the falling out with club legend Papu Gomez, Gasperini has enjoyed the support of the fans and his players. He guided La Dea to a first Serie A win against Juventus in 20 years at the weekend and gave Atalanta a great chance of another top-four finish. Three points against Roma on Thursday would help with that as well.
Napoli to Beat Lazio
Napoli faces another tough game on Thursday to finish off matchday 32 in Serie A, as it welcomes Lazio to town. The Partenopei couldn’t quite break down Inter enough at the weekend but still managed a very creditable draw against the champions-elect. That point will help in the race for a top-four finish, but things are getting very tight now. Beating Lazio in midweek will be a huge plus for Gennaro Gattuso’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
Lazio is also in that race, of course. It was involved in an eight-goal extravaganza with Benevento on Sunday in a game billed as the battle of the Inzaghi brothers. Simone wasn’t actually present due to his current COVID status – and may miss the trip to Naples as well. Lazio should still be able to put up a good fight in his absence, but the five-game winning streak may be coming to an end.
My Top Serie A Picks for April 20-22, 2021
Here are my top three selections for the weekend’s games on matchday 32. Odds are courtesy of Betway.
The games come thick and fast at this time of the season, and fatigue could also play a big part in the results of these midweek fixtures. Leonardo Semplici seems to have steadied the ship at Bologna after it previously looking a little worrying for the Rossoblu. A spirited Torino might be able to snatch a point on Wednesday, though.
Davide Ballardini has done an even better job at Genoa since taking over a club next to the bottom of the league just before Christmas. The Grifone is now comfortably clear of the relegation zone, and I think it has more than enough to overcome Benevento this week.
My final pick of the week is for a club that hopes to emulate Genoa’s rise from the bottom of the table. Cagliari is leaving it late, but the very late goals it scored to beat Parma on Saturday could work as a real boost for the Rossoblu in the remaining fixtures. That winning streak could continue against an RDP-less Udinese on Wednesday.