Serie A Predictions and Best Bets – February 19-22, 2021

| February 18, 2021 8:33 am PDT

It was a weekend of surprises in Italy, as Milan lost its place at the top of Serie A with a shock defeat to Spezia and Napoli overcame Juventus in the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Inter took full advantage of its city rival’s loss to climb to the summit with a comprehensive win over Lazio in the late game on Sunday. All that sets things up very nicely for the biggest Derby della Madonnina in recent memory this weekend.

There are nine other Serie A fixtures taking place over the four days, though – and I will be looking at all of them and coming up with the three best bets to consider for matchday 23 in the Italian top-flight.

Fiorentina and Spezia to Draw

Cesare Prandelli thought his Fiorentina side was unlucky to lose to Sampdoria last weekend, but he will know that the Viola cannot afford to drop too many more points in the remainder of the season. Fiorentina missed the injured Ribery and the suspended Amrabat and will hope that one of them might be available to play against a spirited Spezia on Friday.

The Serie A newcomers sensationally beat Milan on Saturday – and completely deserved the three points after dominating the game. It was another hugely impressive performance from such a young team, but being able to follow it up will be difficult. To be honest, another point to add to the tally would be warmly welcomed by manager Vincenzo Italiano.

Torino to Beat Cagliari

Cagliari’s woeful run of form continued against Atalanta last weekend, but the game wasn’t quite as expected. The visitors only scored the winner in the last minute – and the Rossoblu thought it had won a penalty in added on time, only for VAR to cruelly take it away. That’s how the luck goes at the foot of the table, though – and there could be more misfortune on Saturday.

There is doubt that Davide Nicola has made a difference at Torino since he took over in the middle of January. But there has not been a single win as yet – just four consecutive draws for the Granata. The goalless encounter with Genoa last weekend should be considered a good result considering – and Torino might well be going one better on Saturday with their first win in eight league games.

Genoa and Hellas Verona to Draw

The revival at Genoa slowed on Saturday but didn’t completely come to a halt, with a goalless draw with equally improving Torino. It was a sixth game unbeaten for a side that looked dead and buried before Christmas. The appointment of Davide Ballardini has made all the difference, and his tactics may well be enough to keep an always determined Hellas Verona side at bay.

Verona managed to win its first game in three last weekend but went a goal down very early on at home to Parma. A VAR penalty was the culprit, but the Gialloblu hit back just five minutes later thanks to a fortunate own goal. Parma looked deflated after that, and Ivan Juric’s side scored the winner with half an hour still to play. This should be a tougher game on Saturday, though.

Sassuolo to Beat Bologna

Domenico Berardi was back on the scoresheet for Sassuolo last weekend as the Neroverdi overcame a stubborn Crotone in Calabria. In wintry conditions, Sassuolo took the lead after just a quarter of an hour and was able to take control in the second half after being awarded a penalty just after the break. Manager Roberto De Zerbi will know that his team has to win games like this if it is to keep up with the race for Europe this season.

Bologna started off matchday 22 with a bang on Friday, with Nicola Sinsone scoring with the first chance of the game against Benevento. But, unfortunately for Sinisa Mihajlovic and his side, the spirit of the visitors – and the worsening snowy conditions – made it very difficult for Bologna to win back-to-back games for only the second time this season. Things will get no easier on Saturday.

Lazio to Beat Sampdoria

Lazio had the misfortune of coming up against Inter last Sunday, with Antonio Conte’s men knowing that a victory would see them overtake Milan at the top of the table. But that was the first defeat in seven Serie A games, coming after six straight victories, so Simone Inzaghi shouldn’t be too despondent. A return to winning ways this weekend should brighten his mood anyway.

Sampdoria will be no pushover, though. The Blucerchiati will be well aware that Lazio faces Bayern Munich in the Champions League on the Tuesday after this game and may well be able to take advantage if the home team’s minds are not solely on the game in hand. But I do feel as though the likes of Antonio Candreva and Fabio Quagliarella will have to be on top form for Samp to come away with anything.

Udinese to Beat Parma

Things are starting to look pretty desperate for Parma this season. Roberto D’Aversa has now only picked up one point out of a possible 18 since taking over at the beginning of January – and his team never really looked like getting anything from the game with Verona, even after scoring an early opener. Parma may not be bottom of Serie A, but it is the team that looks most in trouble.

Udinese had kept three consecutive clean sheets before its game against Roma in the Stadio Olimpico last weekend. But within 25 minutes, the Friulani had conceded two, and the game was virtually over. The final result was 3-0, but Luca Gotti should just try to put that game out of his players’ minds, as Udinese has improved recently and should be far too good for Parma.

Milan and Inter to Draw

The Derby della Madonnina is always a huge game in Italy, but Sunday’s fixture has even more riding on it than usual. With the Rossoneri losing to Spezia last weekend, Stefano Pioli’s side gave up its place at the top of the table and now knows that defeat to its bitter rivals would open up a four-point gap. Now is the time for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to concentrate on the bigger picture and try to forget about his personal feud with Romelu Lukaku.

Those two clashed in the Coppa Italia game between the two Milan clubs at the end of last month. But Lukaku would be more than happy with a repeat of the result – and the goal that he scored that day. He has been one of the main reasons why Inter has been able to keep up with Milan – and now overtake it at the top. A revitalized Christian Eriksen could also be important after looking good against Lazio at the weekend.

Atalanta and Napoli to Draw

The Milan derby is the main attraction, but there is another big game on Sunday, as Atalanta plays host to Napoli. The Bergamo side needed a last-minute goal to take all three points from its trip to Cagliari last weekend and will be mindful of its big Champions League game next week against Real Madrid. Gian Piero Gasperini will not allow for any lack of concentration – but this is going to be a tough game.

Gennaro Gattuso will love the fact that in the week that his position as head coach at Napoli looked to be at his weakest, he was able to oversee a win against Juventus and keep the Partenopei in the hunt for a Champions League spot. Napoli plays its European fixture this week but should be able to shrug off any fatigue to put on a good show against Atalanta on Sunday. A well-fought draw could be the outcome here.

Roma to Beat Benevento

Benevento fought back well from a goal against within 60 seconds of the game with Bologna last weekend but will need to be on top form to win even a point from this one at home to Roma. The draw with the Rossoblu kept La Streghe far enough away from the bottom three that manager Pippo Inzaghi should not have too much to worry about. But getting anything here would seem to be asking for too much.

Roma comfortably saw off an improving Udinese last weekend – and the 3-0 win kept the Giallorossi in third, behind the two Milan clubs. But it is a wonder that Roma can still be so far up the table considering its ongoing inability to beat any of the other sides in the top seven. That hasn’t stopped the capital city club so far – and won’t be a problem on Sunday – but it is a problem that will need to be resolved before the end of the season.

Juventus to Beat Crotone

It is a case of David and Goliath on the final game of matchday 23 on Monday, as Crotone looks to record a shock result of its own against Juventus in Turin. The reigning champions lost to Napoli last week – and could be 11 points adrift of Inter at the top by the time this game comes around. A defeat to Porto in the Champions League in the week was hardly ideal preparation, even if Juve is still the favorite to go through after scoring an away goal.

Crotone scored its first goal of the month against Sassuolo last weekend, but it still lost the game and remains bottom of Serie A. There are just five points separating the Calabrian club from safety. But with Torino improving – and another big points gap above the Granata – there is a huge mountain to climb for Crotone to survive this season. Another defeat at the hands of Juventus will not help the cause.

My Top Serie A Picks for February 19-22, 2021

Here are my top three selections for the weekend’s games on matchday 23.

  • Sassuolo to beat Bologna – 2.30
  • Milan and Inter to draw – 3.60
  • Atalanta and Napoli to draw – 3.80

I’m starting off with Sassuolo to beat Bologna at home in the late game on Saturday. Domenico Berardi is back to his goal-scoring best after injury and should be far too lively for a Bologna side that will do well to remain around the middle of the Serie A table this season.

My other picks concern the really big games in Italy this weekend. The Derby della Madonnina is the main show, and there is plenty at stake – aside from the ongoing personal battle between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku. Inter has been looking very good recently – and has the benefit of a restful week with no European soccer – but a tense draw might be the outcome at the San Siro.

I think Napoli might come away with a vital point from Bergamo. A victory for either side would do wonders for keeping up in the battle for a top-four finish. But just a point will have to do for both Gian Piero Gasperini and Gattuso Gennaro.

Dan Roberts
Dan Roberts

Dan Roberts is an experienced freelance writer specialising in sports and sports betting. He is particularly knowledgeable about world soccer, but also writes about football, basketball and cricket.

As a fan of Nottingham Forest, New York Knicks, Minnesota Vikings and New York Mets, Dan has not had much to celebrate recently.

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