Serie A Predictions and Best Bets – December 19-20, 2020
The penultimate round of fixtures in Serie A is upon us, and the race for the title is really heating up as we approach 2021. Just five points separate the top six, meaning that any of Milan, Inter, Juventus, Roma, Napoli, or Sassuolo could see in the new year at the top of the league.
This weekend we have a full set of games over two days, and I will be taking a look at all of them, as well as picking three of the best bets for matchday 13 in Serie A.
Fiorentina and Hellas Verona to Draw
It has been a horrible year for Fiorentina – and the start of the 20/21 season has been largely forgettable so far. But the draw with Sassuolo in the week suggests that Cesare Prandelli might finally be having an effect on the Viola. It fully deserved a draw against one of the better-looking teams in Serie A and will now want to see out the year with two more positive results.
While Fiorentina was surprisingly drawing with Sassuolo, Verona was also upsetting the odds by losing at home to Sampdoria. Antonio Candreva wasn’t even playing for the Blucerchiati, but Hellas went two goals down just after the half time interval and never looked like getting back on level terms. There was a second-half penalty scored by Mattia Zaccagni, but the stoppage-time red card shown to Antonin Barak means that the Czech midfielder will miss this game now.
Sampdoria to Beat Crotone
Antonio Candreva has been one of the few positives at Sampdoria this season, so it was a surprise that Claudio Ranieri left the playmaker out of his selection for the midweek game in Verona. But he was not needed as Samp recorded a shock 2-1 victory – the first time the club had won a game since the end of October. It remains to be seen if Candreva’s attitude in training has improved since Wednesday – but he should not be needed for his team to beat Crotone anyway.
The Calabrian side has actually improved slightly in the last few games and picked up another good point in a goalless draw at Udinese in the week. That followed the 4-1 thrashing of Spezia last weekend and gives hope to the promoted club ahead of the new year. It is still going to be very tough for Crotone to remain in the top flight, but at least it is now in touching distance of the clubs above.
Juventus to Beat Parma
Parma is fast becoming the draw specialists in Serie A, having picked up a point in six of its last eight games. Both Milan and Inter have failed to beat Fabio Liverani’s side this season, and Cagliari was just the latest to make do with a point on Wednesday. Parma should have actually beaten the Rossoblu and wasted a number of chances. It is unlikely that Juve will afford Parma so many – so they will need to be taken at the weekend.
But even if Parma does manage to find the net, it is unlikely that it will be celebrating a victory at the end of 90 minutes. That’s because Juventus is one of just two clubs still boasting an unbeaten record. But the draw with Atalanta on Wednesday really should have been another win for the Old Lady, and it was uncharacteristically Cristiano Ronaldo’s fault. He missed a second-half penalty that would have won the game and will, no doubt, be looking to make things right against Parma on Saturday.
Torino and Bologna to Draw
Torino boss Marco Giampaolo attempted to shake things up in midweek as he brought in a lot of new players into the starting eleven for the trip to the Stadio Olimpico to take on Roma. But all his efforts were dashed after just 14 minutes when Wilfried Singo was sent off. Roma eased into a 2-0 lead and added another in the second half. Andrea Belotti’s goal 15 minutes from time did give Torino a burst of energy, but there is little going right for the Granata at the moment.
Bologna is not really doing much better but does have the players to take at least a point from this meeting on Saturday. It has been three games without a win for the Rossoblu now, but it could have been much worse against Spezia on Wednesday, as the Serie A new boys raced to a 2-0 lead and were only pegged back by Musa Barrow in the 90th minute for the draw. The Gambia international then missed a penalty even deeper into stoppage time – and that really sums up Bologna’s season at the moment.
Udinese to Beat Cagliari
Cagliari really should have lost its midweek game with Parma after allowing the home side far too many chances throughout. But a point away from home has to be considered a good result, considering Eusebio Di Francesco’s team has not won a league game since the first week of November. Its position in the table has stayed largely the same thanks to a number of draws – but there needs to be a little more urgency in the new year.
Udinese extended its impressive recent unbeaten run to five games on Tuesday but will be disappointed that it was unable to overcome bottom of the table Crotone at home. More worrying will be the knee injury suffered by Rodrigo De Paul. He saw out the entire game but was clearly feeling some pain. He will be missed if it is to keep him out of the team in the next few weeks. But Udinese was the only team trying to win that game – and I think it will be more successful on Sunday.
Benevento to Beat Genoa
Pippo Inzaghi was able to come away with the battle against his brother’s side with a well-fought point in the week as Benevento managed to hold Lazio to a draw in the Stadio Ciro Vigorito. Ciro Immobile had scored for the capital city club, but a Pasquale Schiattarella volley just before half time leveled the game. Le Streghe came out re-energized in the second half but had to settle for the point. But it was another good result for Benevento – and Genoa on Sunday will be far easier.
That’s because Rolando Maran’s side is struggling once again this season, with the draw with league leaders Milan on Wednesday being the 11th game without a win. That point should be considered as a very good result, of course, seeing that Milan has not lost a single game this season and was still 2-1 down with seven minutes to play. But that is how Genoa’s season is going. It was drawing with Juventus the other week before Ronaldo scored two penalties. Genoa needs some luck – but I’m not sure it will get any this weekend.
Milan to Beat Sassuolo
It is another stern test for Milan’s scudetto credentials on Sunday, as it travels to the Mapei Stadium to take on the Neroverdi. Stefano Pioli’s side will need to get over its recent taste for draws if it is to stay top of the league going into the new year – but I think the Rossoneri is more than up to the task. The games with Parma and Genoa will act as a warning to the Milan players that it will need to fight for its first Serie A title in ten years.
It should be remembered that as well as Sassuolo is playing, it is still overachieving to be so high up in the league. Recent results have been more expected, but the draw with Fiorentina in the week will have been a disappointment for head coach Roberto De Zerbi and his players. After just failing to hit the summit a month ago, Sassuolo has fallen down to sixth now. It is still in touch with the teams above but needs to go on a good run of games if it is to push for Europe this season.
Inter to Beat Spezia
Spezia is showing a lot of teams that it is no fluke that it is competing in the Italian top flight for the first time this season. It really should have won its game with Bologna in the week (even though it had to survive a last-minute penalty scare) and allowed Crotone to dictate the play in the defeat last weekend. But Vincenzo Italiano’s side is playing some very nice soccer. It’s just that Inter looks just about unstoppable at the moment and should win a hard-fought game on Sunday in the San Siro.
If Inter does win this one, it will be a sixth consecutive victory – and that will really keep up the pressure on its city rivals as the end of the year draws ever closer. But Antonio Conte’s side had a fortunate penalty decision to thanks for the three points against Napoli in the week. Romelu Lukaku scored to win the game, but Inter was still largely second best even after Lorenzo Insigne was sent off for protesting against the award of the spot-kick. If Inter is winning when playing poorly, that has to be a bad sign for the rest of the league.
Atalanta and Roma to Draw
For Atalanta, a lot will depend on how Gian Piero Gasperini’s relationship with club captain Papu Gomez is going. The head coach has fallen out with his most important of players, and it is beginning to have an effect on how Atalanta is playing. He was left out of the starting line-up for the game with Juve in midweek but immediately had an impact when he came on as a sub, providing the pass for the equalizer. He may or may not start on Sunday, but Roma will be a tough opponent either way.
Paulo Fonseca’s side easily beat Torini in the week, scoring another three goals to add to the five it put past a hapless Bologna last weekend. That victory lifted the Giallorossi back into the Champions League places and showed that it should be included in the conversation about where the scudetto will end up this season. This fixture looks like being a real test for the players – and I feel that it will come out the other side with at least a point.
Lazio to Beat Napoli
Lazio has not been as impressive this season – and dropped more points in the week when it could only come away from Benevento with a draw from the battle of the Inzaghi brothers. But Ciro Immobile is still scoring lots of goals, and the Aquile playmakers are ably backing up the Italy international each week. There is a lot of competition in the top half of the table at the moment – and we may not have a clearer picture at the top until well into 2021. But Lazio could well be around the top four or five in the next few months.
Napoli holds the better league position at the current time but will be severely depleted for this game in the Stadio Olimpico. Lorenzo Insigne was sent off against Inter in the week and is now suspended – and Dries Mertens must be doubtful after spraining an ankle in the same game. The Partenopei still dominated that game but was unable to overcome Inter’s numerical advantage. The absence of star players will have a bigger impact on Sunday.
My Top Serie A Picks for December 19-20, 2020
There are a number of teams at the top of the table that will be hoping for maximum points in the two games remaining before 2021 to give them the best possible chance of breaking away in the early weeks of the new year. There are some interesting games this weekend – and here are three bets that stand out for me.
- Torino and Bologna to draw – 3.50
- Milan to beat Sassuolo – 1.90
- Atalanta and Roma to draw – 3.75
Torino has not looked very good at all this season but meets an equally beleaguered Bologna this weekend – that looks like ending up a draw to me. Milan has looked far better than those two clubs but travels to take on Sassuolo on Sunday. It’s a stern test for Stefano Pioli’s side, but his players are beginning to grind results out now.
My final pick for the weekend is the draw between Atalanta and Roma. This should be a good game, but I think that the ongoing Papu Gomez saga is going to have a real effect at the club – and that could allow Roma to come away from Bergamo with a valuable point.