Serie A Predictions and Best Bets – January 29-31, 2021
Although much of the attention on Italian soccer this week has revolved around the clash between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku in the Coppa Italia, there were also some very interesting results in Serie A last weekend.
Milan lost at home to Atalanta but stayed top of the table thanks to Inter’s inability to beat Udinese. The two Milan clubs look most likely to battle for the scudetto this season, but Juventus and Roma were both able to keep up the pressure with wins of their own.
This weekend offers up another ten games in Italy’s top flight, with the matchday 20 action kicking off on Friday with Torino taking on Fiorentina. I’ll be looking at all the games over the three days, as well as offering three bets to consider.
Torino to Beat Fiorentina
There might have only been one win since the beginning of November for Torino, but there has been a noticeable improvement in the last month or so. The draw away at Benevento last weekend was thanks to a stoppage-time goal from Simone Zaza – and that fighting spirit is what will be needed as new manager Davide Nicola attempts to take the club away from the bottom of the table.
Fiorentina has also flirted with the drop zone this season but has climbed up the table a little in January thanks to narrow victories over some of the other struggling teams. The 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Napoli two weeks ago suggests that there is still some work to be done, however. The Viola will be at full strength again on Friday but might find Torino tough to break down.
Milan to Beat Bologna
Both managers will be facing their former clubs in the early Saturday game in Bologna. But it will be Sinisa Mihajlovic that will be battling against the formbook, as the Rossoblu has not managed to overcome Milan in the last 22 Serie A meetings. Riccardo Orsolini will be the main hope for the home side, but a home win seems unlikely.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be available for this game, even after being red-carded in the cup game against Inter in the week – and he may well be needed by Stefano Pioli, as there is an ever-growing injury list at the San Siro. But Fiyako Tomori could get his first start since the loan move from Chelsea. He will help keep things tight at the back while his new teammates work on bringing in three more points.
Juventus to Beat Sampdoria
Sampdoria is looking far more stable this season and is seemingly enjoying its mid-table position at the moment. The Blucerchiati won again last weekend against Parma and will feel more confident than usual of being able to give Juventus a good game. Fabio Quagliarella might be particularly looking forward to this one after the speculation of a possible move for him to Turin in the January transfer window.
Whether that move will actually materialize is a matter of debate – and it doesn’t seem too clear if Andrea Pirlo actually needs the veteran striker for his squad. Juve has already won the Supercoppa Italiana and made it through to the semifinals of the Coppa Italia this month, even if a league defeat to Inter derailed its scudetto ambitions. A well-rested Bianconeri should be able to come away from Genoa with another win here.
Inter to Beat Benevento
Inter missed the chance to be at the top of Serie A at the halfway point and consider itself winter champions, but there is still a lot of hope in the blue and black half of Milan ahead of the rest of the season. The confidence boost of beating its city rivals in the Coppa Italia should be built upon, and a home win in the league over Benevento would be a good start.
Benevento should have midfielder Pasquale Schiatterella back for this one – and he will be a huge plus for his team after missing the last few because of injury. La Streghe has only picked up one point in the last three Serie A games and could do with another good run of results to ensure that its mid-table position is consolidated. I’m not sure that will happen this weekend, though.
Spezia and Udinese to Draw
Spezia played out two dramatic games with Roma last week, winning in the Coppa Italia before losing a seven-goal thriller in the league on Saturday. Spezia boss Vincenzo Italiano would probably have preferred those results being the other way around, but his side has done well in Serie A recently. Another win on Sunday would be warmly welcomed.
Luca Gotti is hoping that experience tells with the signing of Fernando Llorente from Napoli. With Kevin Lasagna leaving on loan for Verona, it is clear that Udinese expects the veteran Spanish striker to score the goals that catapult the club up the table. The Friulani hasn’t won since before Christmas, and the bottom half of the table is getting a little congested now. A draw on Sunday here will probably not suit either side.
Atalanta to Beat Lazio
Atalanta gets a second chance to beat Lazio in just four days after overcoming the Aquile in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday. But Gian Piero Gasperini will be hoping that his side is able to do that without having to come from behind – and not lose a man to a red card and miss a penalty. The cup game certainly had a lot of drama, and the Bergamo club will fancy its chances again.
Lazio may have lost that game but is currently on an impressive five-game unbeaten streak in the league, with the last four all finishing in wins for the Rome club. Simone Inzaghi’s side did well to come back from an early goal against Sassuolo last weekend to win all three points and can view the cup defeat as one less distraction as it attempts to push for a top-four finish. Atalanta will be confident here, though.
Sassuolo to Beat Cagliari
Things are not looking good in Sardinia. Cagliari has now lost every one of its last six Serie A games and has not celebrated a victory since the first week of November. The addition of Radja Naninggolan has not had the effect that manager Eusebio Di Francesco would have wanted, even if recent results have not stopped him from extending his contract with the club. Whether he will see out that new contract is another question entirely, of course.
Sassuolo has also faltered in the last few weeks but is still handily placed in the league after the very impressive start to the season it enjoyed last year. The defeat to Lazio was a disappointment after Francesco Caputo gave the Neroverdi such a good start – and that made it three games without a win now for Roberto De Zerbi’s side. So this trip to take on a struggling Cagliari has come at just the right time for Sassuolo.
Genoa to Beat Crotone
Crotone is likely to be busy in the last few days of January in a bid to strengthen the squad in an attempt to climb off of the bottom of the table – a position it has found itself in for the majority of the season. Just three wins all season have put the club in danger, though, and rare glimpses of positivity are not enough to save the club’s top-flight status.
Genoa spent much of last season flirting with relegation itself – and it looked as though it might be a repeat performance this year before the recent upturn and the arrival of Davide Ballardini just before Christmas. There was another win last week against a woeful Cagliari – and even losing on-loan striker Gianluca Scamacca might not be such a hammer blow if Mbaye Niang returns to the club to take his place. Whoever plays on Sunday should be able to get past Crotone, though.
Napoli to Beat Parma
Aurelio De Laurentiis has publically backed Gennaro Gattuso after looking like he may be getting ready to sack his manager earlier in the week, but that threat is never too far away in Naples, and the Partenopei will need a good win against Parma at the weekend after losing to Hellas Verona last time out. Even the third-fastest goal in Serie A history couldn’t help Napoli then – but Parma should be much easier to beat.
Parma manager Roberto D’Aversa will be happy with the amount of transfer activity that seems to be going on at the club this week, but he desperately needs it to translate to performances on the pitch if he is to save the club’s top-flight status this year. He is yet to win a game since taking over at the start of January, and his team could even drop to the basement on Sunday. An away trip to Naples is not really what he wants at the moment.
Roma and Hellas Verona to Draw
Roma might have avenged the Coppa Italia defeat at the hands of Spezia last weekend, but it may have only delayed the sacking of manager Paulo Fonseca. Edin Dzeko is one player that would definitely be glad of his departure, and it is some of the off-field problems that look to be having an effect on the pitch for the Giallorossi. Some new players in the January transfer window would probably help improve the mood.
That uncertainty at the Stadio Olimpico is something that Hellas Verona manager Ivan Juric will be counting on as he takes the club with the best defensive record in Serie A to Rome on Sunday. He has also been able to add Kevin Lasagna to his squad in the hope that the on-loan striker can score some goals to help the one element of Verona’s season that has been lacking so far. A close game to round off the Serie A matchday 20 fixtures could be in store.
My Top Serie A Picks for January 29-31, 2021
Here are my top three selections for the weekend’s games on matchday 20.
- Spezia and Udinese to draw – 3.00
- Genoa to beat Crotone – 2.50
- Roma and Hellas Verona to draw – 3.80
Udinese may not be winning a lot of games this season, but it doesn’t actually lose too many either, and it might be able to come away from the trip to Cesena with a point. Spezia has been impressive this season while playing much wealthier clubs, so a draw will probably be a fair result.
Crotone looks like it will drop straight back down to Serie B for next season – even if it does pull out a big win every few months or so. That shouldn’t happen this weekend as it takes on a revitalized Genoa that could pull further away from the bottom three with another victory.
My final pick is for Verona to earn a point in Rome. The home side looks very disjointed at the moment – even if it is still managing to pick up some points – and the team spirit and organization of Ivan Juric’s team might well come through for the draw on Sunday.