Serie A Predictions and Best Bets – April 3, 2021
Juventus looks like it has thrown away the chance of winning the scudetto this season after sensationally losing to Benevento just before the international break.
It was nearly a very good day for Inter when Milan looked like it was going to lose to Fiorentina as well, but the Rossoneri came back to take all three points. Thye remain six behind Inter, whose game with Sassuolo was postponed.
Now all 20 Serie A clubs return to action on Saturday as we get ready to enjoy matchday 29. I’ll be looking at all ten top-flight games, as usual, as well as picking out three of the best bets to consider this weekend.
Milan to Beat Sampdoria
Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t have the international comeback he probably envisaged. However, he still put in a good shift for Sweden in its World Cup qualifiers and will be helped by several returning injured players for Milan’s game against Sampdoria on Saturday. Ante Rebic is also back after having his ban halved, and that should be more than enough firepower to see off Samp.
Sampdoria broke a five-game winless streak just before the international break with a solid, if unspectacular, 1-0 win over Torino. Andrea Candreva scored the only goal of the game, and it is he who the Blucerchiati has looked to on more than one occasion this season. Claudio Ranieri has also done well to keep Samp comfortably in mid-table and defeat this weekend will do nothing to spoil that.
Atalanta to Beat Udinese
Atalanta’s defeat at the hands of Inter a few weeks ago ended any remote chance of claiming the scudetto this season. However, Champions League qualification is very much still in play for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side. It recorded a very good win away at Verona just before the break and now faces another tough task at home to Udinese. But the amount of talent in the Atalanta squad should be able to keep the three points in Bergamo on Saturday.
But Udinese will fancy its chances. Luca Gotti’s side has been one of the most impressive since the start of the year and suffered its first defeat in six games when it fell to Lazio. Rodrigo De Paul will be the main threat as ever, but the Friulani can always rely on keeper Juan Masso at the other end as well. This could be a very tight game – but Atalanta should just about shade it.
Benevento to Beat Parma
Benevento may just have secured another season of top-flight soccer – and what a way to do it! Beating Juventus was easily the performance of the season from Pippo Inzaghi’s side, and the plain fact is that Le Streghe completely deserved the points. Benevento now enjoys a seven-point gap between it and the bottom three – and beating a team in the drop zone on Saturday would be a huge move in staying in Serie A.
Parma has actually vastly improved in the last month or two. Beating Roma was the obvious highlight but draws against Spezia, Udinese, and Fiorentina also gave Roberto D’Aversa’s side some much-needed confidence.
That happened against Genoa last time out as well, but Parma ended up losing. Time is running out now.
Cagliari and Hellas Verona to Draw
Leonardo Semplici’s magic has seemed to wear off after some very good results following his appointment at the end of February. Defeats at the hands of Juventus and Spezia saw the Rossoblu fall back down into the bottom three with Torino just above with a game in hand. But if Semplici has used the international break wisely, his side might be able to come back again on Saturday and give Hellas Verona a good game.
Verona, for its part, has looked like one of the more solid and dependable sides in Serie A this season. But there has been a downturn in results recently that has all but ended Gialloblu’s hopes of qualifying for Europe. There have been some tough fixtures to give Ivan Juric’s side some credit, but it might take a while for Hellas Verona to get back into the swing of things.
Genoa to Beat Fiorentina
Davide Ballardini’s work has already been done after taking over as head coach just before Christmas. Deep in trouble at the bottom of the league, Genoa has been transformed by Ballardini and now sits very comfortably in mid-table. The Grifone came from behind to beat Parma last time out and win its first game in seven, but even most of those ended in draws. The confidence alone should be able to beat Fiorentina on Saturday.
But, results on the pitch have been the last thing on most people’s minds connected with Fiorentina in the last week or so after Cesare Prandelli stepped down as head coach for personal reasons. He left a very emotional goodbye message, and now Beppe Iachini will need to raise the players to see out the season and avoid any outside chance of relegation. There may be further disappointment this weekend, though.
Lazio to Beat Spezia
Ciro Immobile continued his very good season by scoring twice for Italy in three successful World Cup qualifiers last week and will be the main threat for Lazio on Saturday. It looks to ruin Roma’s chances of European qualification. The Aquile is just one point behind the Giallorossi and has a game in hand as well. Three points this weekend will keep the pressure on.
Spezia survived a late scare in its last game against Cagliari to pick up the first win in six games and alleviate some relegation worries.
I’m not sure Vincenzo Italiano’s side will get anything from this game, though.
Napoli to Beat Crotone
Dries Mertens has endured a frustrating season at Napoli due to injuries and personal form. But he scored his 99th and 100th goals for the club – only the fifth player ever to reach that milestone – in the win away at Roma just before the break. That was a hugely important victory that has given the Partenopei a chance of finishing in the top four this season. A lot needs to happen before that becomes a reality, but the race is definitely on now.
Crotone scored two goals for the third game in a row in its clash with Bologna last time out but once again failed to come away with any points. Serse Cosmi’s side even led 2-0 at halftime. Still, it was overrun in the second period to keep it firmly rooted to the bottom of Serie A. Relegation is all but assured now, but the final months of the season might be a little more enjoyable if Crotone can continue to find the net regularly.
Sassuolo and Roma to Draw
The international break has not been kind to Sassuolo as the Neroverdi will have to make do without Domenico Berardi and Francesco Caputo after picking up injuries while turning out for their country. That could make all the difference on Saturday as Sassuolo will definitely notice their absence. A draw against one of the top sides in Serie A might seem like a good result considering.
One of the main reasons I have not backed Roma to win this one is that Paulo Fonseca’s side still hasn’t beat any of the top eight in Serie A this season. Although those results could be regarded as coincidental, they suggest that Roma is not worthy of a Champions League place. If they have any more upsets, the capital city club might miss out on European qualification completely. A draw at the weekend will not be welcomed, but it probably should be.
Juventus to Beat Torino
Torino fell to two late goals in the Derby della Mole earlier in the season and finds itself in a very similar position as the second installment comes around this weekend. The Granata’s deluge of draws on either side of Christmas had looked to give the old club a chance of escaping relegation this season, but results have not gone their way recently. There has been just one win in the last four games, and there seems little hope of getting anything against its bitter rival this weekend.
All is not well at Juventus either, though.
Defeat to Benevento just before the break has all but ended any title hopes, and now the Old Lady faces a tough task to even finish in the top four. Victory in the Derby della Mole is an absolute must.
Inter to Beat Bologna
The final game of matchday 29 gives Bologna the chance to become many fans’ second favorite club when it faces Inter on Saturday. The Rossoblu has won two in a row but is forced to put out a depleted side this weekend due to some COVID-related absences, including keeper Lukasz Skorupski. Sinisa Mihajlovic has done an excellent job to ensure that Bologna inhabits the middle of the league table, but I can’t see him celebrating after this one.
Inter’s players have enjoyed an even longer break than most (apart from those busy on international duty) thanks to its game against Sassuolo. The game was postponed due to an outbreak of coronavirus at the club. There was some criticism of that decision, but the Nerazzurri now have a game in hand to go along with a six-point lead at the top of the table. After seeing how all of its rivals get on this weekend, there should be another three points added to the tally on Saturday.
My Top Serie A Picks for April 3, 2021
Here are my top three selections for the weekend’s games on matchday 29.
Hellas Verona has been one of my go-to clubs this season, but the Gialloblu have fallen away recently, and a lack of goals might be a problem in the remainder of the season. Cagliari has looked better since Leonardo Semplici took over, and a draw could well be the result on Saturday.
Fiorentina’s players will probably still be in a strange mood after the shock departure of Cesare Prandelli as head coach. With top-flight safety just about assured, the Viola might see its season fizzle out now. Genoa has looked more determined than most since the turn of the year and could pick up another three points here.
The laws of probability suggest that Roma should beat one of the top eight before the end of the season, but the longer the campaign goes on, the less likely that seems. Sassuolo will be missing some very important players at the weekend but could snatch a point at the Mapei Stadium.