Serie A Predictions and Best Bets – February 12-15, 2021
It was a good week for the top three in Serie A, as the race for the scudetto and the Champions League places really starts to heat up. Milan, Juve, and Inter all won – with Lazio announcing itself as a possible contender too in the last few weeks.
Gennaro Gattuso was less happy, though. He saw his Napoli team lose to a resurgent Genoa, and there are rumors that he may well lose his job after the Coppa Italia exit in the week. Could the Partenopei lose touch with the top – and could Roma go the same way after failing to beat a top club yet again last weekend?
This weekend sees another full set of fixtures on matchday 22, stretching from Friday to Monday – and I will be taking a look at all of them. I’ll also be picking out three of the best bets to consider in Serie A this week.
Bologna to Beat Benevento
There was a much-needed win for Bologna last week, as Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side overcame a poor Parma in the Emilia-Romagna derby. The Rossoblu had only won once in the previous eleven Serie A games, so the three points were very warmly welcomed and could put Bologna in the mood for more this weekend.
Benevento finds itself in a similar position in the league to its host on Friday and can point to last weekend’s positive result against Sampdoria as a sign that there is enough in the squad to keep the club in the top flight for another season. La Streghe is never going to challenge in the top half of Serie A, but there are enough other sides without the fight of the Calabrians to ensure that it should stay up. A defeat here will keep the anxiety high, though.
Torino and Genoa to Draw
There are two great escapes being planned in Serie A at the moment – and the two clubs involved meet on Saturday as Torino host Genoa. The Granata pulled off a thrilling comeback last week, managing to end up with a point from its game against Atalanta after being 3-0 down after just 21 minutes. Much of the praise has been directed at Davide Nicola, who took over as manager in January. But he is yet to celebrate a win – and a draw might be the best he can hope for here.
That’s because Davide Ballardini is doing an even better job at Genoa. Since taking over from Rolando Maran just before Christmas, the Grifone has won five out of eight Serie A games and the 2-1 victory over Napoli last weekend made it three in a row. Veteran striker Goran Pandev scored both goals in that game and will be hoping that he gets another chance against Torino.
Juventus to Beat Napoli
If media reports are to be believed, this could be Gennaro Gattuso’s last game in charge at Napoli. After the loss to Genoa last weekend – and the cup exit at the hands of Atalanta in the week – there are rumors that Rafa Benitez is being lined up for a return. Whether he comes in as manager or sporting director is another question entirely, but Napoli’s recent form does not strengthen Gattuso’s case.
Juventus is probably the last side he wants to face on Saturday, and even if he survives, another game against Atalanta in the league next week could herald his downfall.
While Napoli falters, Andrea Pirlo is beginning to enjoy himself at Juve. The Old Lady made it through to the final of the Coppa Italia on Tuesday with a goalless draw against Inter confirming the aggregate victory. Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the 2-0 win against a limp Roma last weekend in the league and looks as deadly as ever. With new arrivals such as Weston McKennie also contributing, Juventus is doing its very best to be included in the scudetto race this year.
Milan to Beat Spezia
Spezia was hit hard by injuries and suspensions last weekend but still managed to come away from the Mapei Stadium with a win over Sassuolo. The Neroverdi even took the lead and was able to bring on Domenico Berardi – but Spezia fought back to win its first game in four and stay out of the bottom three. But Vincenzo Italiano’s side may not be as fortunate on Saturday.
That’s because it is facing a Milan side that has remained at the top of Serie A since the middle of October, only dropping temporarily when it has played later on a matchday than its rivals. The Rossoneri also possesses a Zlatan Ibrahimovic who seems to get even better with age. He scored the 500th and 501st goals of his career in the 4-0 thrashing of Crotone last weekend, and there has to be a good chance that he will find the net once again on matchday 22.
Roma to Beat Udinese
Paulo Fonseca is another Serie A head coach whose future employment looks a little uncertain, even though the Giallorossi remain in the to four. Relations with the club’s top striker have soured to the point that Edin Dzeko started the game against Juventus on the bench last week. A thoroughly toothless performance from Roma ended in a 2-0 defeat, and it would seem as though Dzeko might even keep Fonseca in a job a little longer if he inspires a win here on Sunday.
Udinese will be no pushover, though. The Friulani beat a good Hellas Verona side last week with two late goals that were fully deserved after the way Luca Gotti’s side had played. Udinese should have probably put the game to bed in the first half but left it until the last ten minutes to earn the three points. It looks like being a fairly nondescript mid-table season for Udinese now. But that will be taken after the way the club began the campaign.
Atalanta to Beat Cagliari
Daniele Rugani was just the latest throw of the dice for Cagliari head coach Eusebio Di Francesco last week, but he could not keep out a Lazio side that is now threatening to challenge for a top-four spot. The Sardinians, on the other hand, have not won a league game since the first week of October, and there has to be a question over how EDF has remained in his position. The Rossoblu is in the bottom three and doesn’t seem to know how to climb out.
Atalanta should continue that misery on Sunday, as it looks to make its own assault on the European places in Serie A. The 3-3 draw with Torino might have knocked the confidence of other teams – after leading by three goals in the first half – but a comprehensive display in the Coppa Italia against Napoli in the week shows that there is a real determination in the squad. It already has a cup final to look forward to now and will want to do just as well in the league.
Sampdoria to Beat Fiorentina
Sampdoria could only manage a draw against Benevento last weekend, and head coach Claudio Ranieri would probably have been disappointed with that outcome after some good performances from the Blucerchiati. It took a late Keita Balde goal to earn that point, and it was noticeable that Antonio Candreva was not as influential as usual. Fabio Quagliarella made more of an impact when he came on for the last quarter of an hour – and it is those two that look indispensable to Samp this season.
If they both play against Fiorentina on Sunday, the Viola might have some trouble getting into this game – even after the tight defensive display against Inter last weekend. Cesare Prandelli’s side did not offer too much in the way of going forward but kept out the Nerazzurri for half an hour and finished with a fairly respectable 2-0 defeat. Not many would have predicted any better, but Fiorentina does need to pick up points soon.
Sassuolo to Beat Crotone
Every now and again, Crotone pulls out a big win from nowhere to keep in touch with the rest of the clubs at the bottom of the table. But I don’t think it will be this week, after the big defeat at the hands of Ibrahimovic and Milan last Sunday. It did take half an hour for Milan to score, though, so there might be some hope for Giovanni Stroppa’s side, which is only four points from safety.
Sassuolo boss Roberto De Zerbi would be very annoyed if his team dropped points in Calabria, though. He hasn’t celebrated a win in five games now – and has dropped points to Parma, Cagliari, and Spezia in that time. The good news is that Domenico Berardi came off the bench to take part in the defeat last week – and he should be able to provide some much-needed firepower against Crotone.
Inter and Lazio to Draw
This is probably the game of the weekend in Italy, as Inter continues its attempt to keep up with its city rivals at the top of Serie A. There was little need for too much exertion in the win over Fiorentina last weekend, and Antonio Conte will be hoping that his attacking players can do their job well at the San Siro in the late game this Sunday. Milan comes up next for the Nerazzurri, so three points here could well be crucial.
But Inter is meeting Lazio at the wrong time if it is in search of an easy game. The Aquile’s victory over a poor Cagliari last weekend was the sixth Serie A win in a row, and Simone Inzaghi will be confident that his players can carry on that impressive streak in Milan. There was just the one goal – from Ciro Immobile – in the win against the Sardinian club, and Lazio fans would be more than happy for the same result on Sunday. They might have to make do with a point, though.
Hellas Verona to Beat Parma
Kevin Lasagna ended up playing his former club in his first game for Hellas Verona last weekend but was unable to inspire a victory over Udinese in a game that kept his new team in ninth. Verona has now only won one of its last three Serie A games and could do with a straightforward victory to keep up with the teams battling it out for the European qualification places. Luckily an out-of-form Parma is up next at the Bentegodi on Monday.
Parma has only picked up one point in its last nine games and has dropped into the bottom three with no real sign of being able to climb out again. Even Crotone win the odd game, but Roberto D’Aversa doesn’t look like having any idea of how to turn things around at a club that has not won a game since the end of November. Parma could even fall to the foot of the table if Crotone snatches a point at home to Sassuolo.
My Top Serie A Picks for February 12-15, 2021
Here are my top three selections for the weekend’s games on matchday 22.
- Torino and Genoa to draw – 3.20
- Sampdoria to beat Fiorentina – 2.80
- Inter and Lazio to draw – 4.00
Torino and Genoa have shown some real determination and spirit in the last few weeks, and the new head coaches at both clubs look to have their teams on the right track. This could actually end up being a very good game of soccer, but I do think the confidence of both sides will cancel each other out.
If Fabio Quagliarella and Antonio Candreva are both fit to start the game against Fiorentina, then I think a valuable three points could be coming the way of Sampdoria. Fiorentina has looked far too inconsistent and limited under Cesare Prandelli, and home advantage could tell here.
My final pick in Serie A is for Inter and Lazio to share the spoils in the game of the weekend. Inter will be fancied by many as it has the likes of Romelu Lukaku to score the goals, as well as the talent of Achraf Hakimi and others. But Lazio can sometimes be at its most dangerous against the top teams, and a draw might be the outcome that might not really suit either club.