Serie A Predictions and Best Bets – February 26-28, 2021

| February 25, 2021 9:37 am PDT

All eyes were on the San Siro last weekend as Milan and Inter contested the Derby della Madonnina. The personal battle between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku only promised to make the occasion even more memorable. And memorable it turned out to be.

Inter now leads the way in Serie A by four points and also wins the all-important head-to-head between the two Milan clubs too. Juventus remains back in third and ready to take advantage if either of the top two slips up – but it does look as though we may well have a new scudetto winner this season after nine years of Juve dominance.

Elsewhere there is an exciting race for the remaining European places, and the battle to avoid relegation looks to carry on apace too. Matchday 24 kicks off on Friday with Torino at home to Sassuolo – and there are nine other fixtures taking place over the weekend. I’ll be taking a look at all ten, as usual, and picking out three of the best bets to consider in Serie A.

Torino and Sassuolo to Draw

Davide Nicola celebrated his first victory as Torino boss last weekend as his side overcame a stubborn but technically lacking Cagliari. He is actually unbeaten as head coach after drawing his first five games and will feel that there is a different atmosphere at the club now. There is still a lot to do to avoid relegation, but there is more belief at Torino than at some of its rivals.

Sassuolo will be concentrating on qualifying for Europe rather than anxiously worrying about the drop. But if Roberto De Zerbi’s side cannot work out how to get past stubborn opponents, it will not be leaving Italy next season. The Neroverdi played against ten men for the majority of the game against Bologna last weekend but could not get through more than the one time that earned the draw. There could be further frustration on Friday.

Spezia to Beat Parma

After surprisingly beating both Sassuolo and Milan in the weeks previous, it was almost unexpected for Spezia to lose against Fiorentina last weekend. After a goalless first half, the Viola perked up in the second period and ended with a comprehensive 3-0 victory. Spezia remains without a number of its more important players, but it should have more luck against a hapless Parma on Saturday.

The good news for Parma last Sunday was that it managed to score a goal at home for the first time in nine league games. That avoided another unwanted record for the club, but the lack of confidence was evident as Parma allowed Udinese back into the game near the end and ended up picking up just one point. There are injuries and absences due to disciplinary reasons, but something has to change at Parma – or it will be going down this season.

Lazio to Beat Bologna

Bologna is ten points clear of the bottom three, so the draw against Sassuolo last weekend can be regarded as a good result away from home. What was more impressive was the fact that the Rossoblu was able to achieve such a result after playing for an hour with only ten men after Aaron Hickey was sent off in the first half. Mid-table comfort will probably be the end game for Bologna – even though it might not be quite as successful this weekend.

That’s because Lazio knows that it will need to concentrate on the league after losing 4-1 at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in the week. The Aquile currently sits in one of the Europa League spots in Serie A but will feel as though there is a good chance to making it into the top four if it can pull together a run of results. That could start with a win at Bologna this weekend.

Juventus to Beat Hellas Verona

This season is starting to become something of a struggle for Hellas Verona, who conceded a stoppage-time equalizer last weekend to take only a point from its game with Genoa. Kevin Lasagna could be blamed for missing two very good chances that could have sealed the win, but Verona had to make do with just the one point and remains off the pace just outside the European spots.

Verona is unlikely to improve its standing this Sunday as it welcomes Juventus to the Benetegodi. The Old Lady cruised to victory over Crotone last weekend, thanks to two first-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and a third from Weston McKennie with about half an hour to play. It was a very comfortable day for Juve after the disappointment of losing to Napoli the week before. This should end in a win for the champions – but their crown is beginning to slip.

Atalanta to Beat Sampdoria

Sampdoria traded blows with Lazio last Saturday but ultimately fell to a solitary goal to remain in tenth and seemingly unable to string together more than two good results in a row this season. It is already looking like the campaign is beginning to slow down for the Blucerchiati – and although Claudio Ranieri would rather his side was challenging for a European place, he will probably be quite happy with the way things have gone.

Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini was less than happy with the refereeing in his side’s Champions League game against Real Madrid in the week. Remo Freuler received a controversial red card just a quarter of an hour into the game that Atalanta ended up losing 1-0. There was a better showing in Serie A last weekend, though. A crazy second half saw six goals traded between the Bergamo club and Napoli, with Atalanta winning 4-2. A repeat performance – without the anxiety – could be on the cards here.

Crotone and Cagliari to Draw

Crotone was never in the game against Juventus last weekend – but that was to be expected, really. The Calabrian club remains bottom of Serie A, eight points from safety, and looking like it will make a swift return to the second tier. But this weekend’s game looks more winnable. There have been some surprisingly big wins for Crotone this season, and manager Giovanni Stroppa will be hoping that Cagliari will be added to that list.

The Sardinian side will be playing for a new manager, though, after the owners’ patience with Eusebio De Francesco finally ran out after the defeat to fellow strugglers Torino. Leonardo Semplici is the new man in charge, and he will need to figure out how to get this team winning again. Scoring goals would be a start, though – the Rossoblu has managed just one in the last seven games.

Inter to Beat Genoa

The entire Inter team was overjoyed at the end of the Milan derby last weekend. A comprehensive 3-0 victory over its city rival gave the Nerazzurri a four-point lead at the top of the table. Romelu Lukaku easily won the big battle of the strikers, but it was the contribution of others such as Lautauro Martinez and Christian Eriksen that helped give Inter a famous victory over its bitter rival. Without any other distractions, it now looks like Inter’s scudetto to lose.

Although I don’t think Genoa will get anything from the trip to Milan this Sunday, the turnaround in form since Davide Ballardini took over just before Christmas has been incredible. The Grifone has not lost a single game in the league since the managerial change – and it kept that record going last week with a stoppage-time equalizer to snatch a point from its meeting with Hellas Verona. It didn’t look very likely only a couple of months ago, but Genoa will probably finish comfortably in mid-table.

Udinese and Fiorentina to Draw

This fixture looks like a battle between two clubs that are unlikely to be relegated this season but might be dragged into an unwanted scrap at the bottom if they are not too careful. Udinese gave Parma a two-goal head start last weekend, so should be grateful for the point it eventually won. But manager Luca Gotti will not want to drop more points to the teams below it in the table.

Fiorentina just about fit into that category but was able to celebrate a rare victory last week when it burst into life in the second half of its game with Spezia. The Viola has Gaetano Castravilli to thank for that, as it was his contribution after coming on as a second-half sub that won the game. He scored one and played a part in the other two in the 3-0 win. More of that kind of energy is needed if Fiorentina is to climb the table – but a draw might be the most it can hope for here.

Napoli to Beat Benevento

Although it won’t be considered a big game for Napoli, this weekend is the club’s regional derby against Benevento – and a great chance to pick up some more points in its quest for Champions League soccer next season. Gennaro Gattuso had to deal with a whole host of injuries last week for the game against Atalanta, as well as Lorenzo Insigne pulling out of the starting eleven in the warm-up. He did come on for the second half of the 4-2 defeat but will be greatly missed if he is forced out of any further games.

Even a second-string Napoli should still be able to see off the challenge of Benevento, though. La Streghe has performed valiantly once again in the Italian top flight this season but will be hoping that the likes of Cagliari do not experience a new manager bounce in the final months of the campaign. There have been three successive draws now – with a stalemate against Roma last weekend – but no wins since the beginning of January. That might not change this Sunday.

Roma and Milan to Draw

Roma will get another chance to finally beat one of the other teams at the top of Serie A this weekend as it faces Milan in the late game on Sunday. The Giallorossi’s head-to-head record against all the clubs around it is woeful – and that could be a problem come the end of the season. The draw with Benevento last week was a disappointment, and now the capital city club could drop out of the top four for the first time since before Christmas with a poor result here.

Stefano Pioli will know that his Milan side cannot afford any more mishaps or mistakes now after losing the Derby della Madonnina last weekend. Any psychological effect of that defeat will be evident in the weeks ahead, but Milan now has to beat clubs like Roma if it is to keep up with Inter at the top. With Juve also breathing down its neck, the next few weeks will be crucial.

My Top Serie A Picks for February 26-28, 2021

Here are my top three selections for the weekend’s games on matchday 24.

  • Crotone and Cagliari to draw – 3.75
  • Udinese and Fiorentina to draw – 3.20
  • Roma and Milan to draw – 3.50

I’ve gone for three draws this week as my betting picks to look out for. You can sometimes find the best value in the draw bet, as it is one that a lot of people forget about. Crotone and Cagliari seems like a game that could easily end up all square. The bottom-placed club is desperate for any points, while Cagliari has looked very poor recently.

My next pick is for Udinese and Fiorentina to share the spoils on Sunday. Both clubs have struggled for consistency this season and could do with a few victories to pull away from the battle at the bottom of the league. A win for either would probably end any real relegation fears, but a draw will extend the worry for another week at least.

My last pick this week is for the final – and probably biggest – game on matchday 24. Milan won’t be happy at the prospect of taking only a point here, but Roma really needs to pick up the pace if it is to consolidate a Champions League spot. The Rossoneri will concede further ground at the top, but a draw seems like the most likely outcome here.

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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