Serie A Predictions and Best Bets – March 2-4, 2021
There is a full round of midweek fixtures in Italy to enjoy, as the race for the scudetto continues. Inter is still in pole position after a convincing win at the weekend, but Milan kept up the pressure on the Nerazzurri with a good win of its own in Rome.
There were some other more surprising results as Juventus’ poor away form continued and Lazio lost in Bologna.
With the races at the top and bottom of the table really heating up now, the games on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday could have a big effect on the eventual outcome. I’m going to be looking at all ten scheduled Serie A games and pick out three of the best bets to consider on match day 25.
Lazio to Beat Torino
This game may well not go ahead, as Torino is keen for the league to postpone due to the recent COVID outbreak at the club. The Granata didn’t play against Sassuolo last Friday and although there have been no new cases at the club, the feeling is that the players will not be ready to fulfill the fixture. Davide Nicloa’s side has lost only once in the last 11 games but sits just above the relegation zone due to the number of draws.
Lazio would probably be more up for playing the game on Tuesday as it looks to come back from the thrashing it received from Bayern Munich in the Champions League and the surprise defeat to Bologna at the weekend. Bologna scored just seconds after Ciro Immobile had a penalty saved in the first half and, although Lazio poured forward after, the home side saw out a 2-0 win. A better performance from Lazio will surely be the result if this game is played.
Juventus to Beat Spezia
Juventus’ poor form away from home continued on Saturday, as it could only draw with Hellas Verona in the Bentegodi. That’s just four points from the last four games away from the Allianz Stadium for the Old Lady now. There is some pressure on Andrea Pirlo to get more out of his star-studded team and a home game against a spirited, but limited, Spezia should be the perfect opportunity to pick up three more points.
Spezia was able to welcome back M’Bala Nzola after a long lay off for its relegation battle with Parma on Saturday. Although the star striker was unable to add to his goal tally, he was involved in the second for Emanuel Gyasi, who scored both in the 2-2 draw with Parma. It was a relatively good result after going two down in the first half, but Juventus away is going to be tough for the Serie A minnow.
Napoli to Beat Sassuolo
Sassuolo’s players have enjoyed an extended rest after their game against Torino last Friday was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak at the Turin club. That means that Roberto De Zerbi has had some more time to work on his tactics and attempt to instil the kind of confidence that was serving the Neroverdi so well earlier in the season. Sassuolo has only won one of its last seven Serie A games now and needs to pick up some points soon if it is to break back into the European spots.
But Napoli’s extensive injury list is shortening finally – and Dries Mertens celebrated his first start in over two months with a goal against Benevento on Sunday. It was one-way traffic throughout the game as Benevento decided that restricting the home side was the only way it was going to survive. Napoli had attack after attack but could only end up with two fairly comical goals. An avoidable red card for Kalidou Koulibaly near the end means that he will miss this one, but Napoli should be strong enough to still win.
Milan to Beat Udinese
Milan got back to winning ways at the weekend as it managed to overcome Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. The 2-1 victory keeps the pressure on Inter at the top, but Stefano Pioli may be without some of his most important players for this midweek fixture. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is definitely out after being forced off in the second half. Ante Rebic also limped off, but not before scoring an excellent goal to take all three points. Milan benefitted from some strange refereeing decisions in Rome and will want the game against Udinese on Wednesday to be a little more straightforward.
The Friulani battled its way to victory at the weekend – but needed an 86th minute goal from Ilija Nestorovski to beat Fiorentina at home. It was a very even game, and one that Udinese boss Luca Gotti will be very pleased with considering he was missing so many of his first-choice starting eleven through injury. A comfortable mid table finish is just about within reach now, even if Wednesday’s game may end up in defeat.
Atalanta to Beat Crotone
Duvan Zapata was missing for Atalanta’s game against Sampdoria at the weekend but his teammates managed to overcome the Genoa side, even if the performance was not as convincing as games earlier this season. Gian Piero Gasperini will be hoping that his favored Colombian striker will be back for this one – or possibly the second leg against Real Madrid – but he was also missing for the Samp game, as he was serving a touchline ban. He may even rest players here though, as Crotone should be very beatable.
The Calabrian club remains rooted to the bottom of Serie A after losing its sixth successive game at the weekend. A previously woeful Cagliari benefitted from playing the worst performing team in the Italian top flight at the weekend – and the result leaves Crotone eight points from safety. It also spelled the end for Giovanni Stroppa and Serse Cosmi will be in the dugout for this one. Whether he can inspire anything but another defeat remains to be seen.
Hellas Verona to Beat Benevento
Benevento was no match for its regional neighbor last weekend as it vainly tried to stop Napoli scoring and break on the counter when possible. La Streghe found that defending was the main objective – and restricting Gennaro Gattuso’s side to just two goals should probably be seen as a positive. But the defeat made it eight games without a win now – and if Cagliari or Parma can start to pick up some decent results of their own, Benevento could be in trouble.
Verona, on the other hand, held the champions to a 1-1 draw last weekend and should feel the more aggrieved side at just picking up a solitary point. The strong work ethic that head coach Ivan Juric has been instilling in his players came through once again – and if Hellas Verona had a decent striker it would have probably gone on to win the game. Kevin Lasagna has only scored two goals in six months, so a win was always going to be a long shot. Benevento isn’t Juventus though, so three points might be easier to come by on Wednesday.
Cagliari and Bologna to Draw
After 16 Serie A games without a win, all it took was a change of manager for Cagliari to earn three points at the weekend. To be fair to Eusebio Di Francesco, who lost his job after the home defeat to Torino last week, it was also fortuitous for new boss Leonardo Semplici that his first game was against bottom of the league Crotone. But now there has been an injection of some much-needed confidence, the likes of loan signings Daniele Rugani and Radja Nainggolan might be able to help win some more points.
Bologna might prove a tough opponent though. With a head coach like Sinisa Mihajlovic, this is a team that will always put the effort in. But results have not been as forthcoming this season. The surprise win against Lazio at the weekend makes it four game unbeaten now though – and helped the Rossoblu climb into the relative safety of mid table. It is a shame for Bologna that it is meeting Cagliari with a new manager, but a draw should be possible.
Roma to Beat Fiorentina
Fiorentina traded blows with Udinese on Sunday, with no real sign of a goal until the home side nicked one right at the end to break Viola hearts. That result leaves Fiorentina still seven points above the relegation places. But with Torino – and now Cagliari – experiencing a bump thanks to new head coaches, Cesare Prandelli might find that his own job is not as safe as it should be. He would not be the first manager to be sacked after replacing a previous incumbent earlier in a season.
Paulo Fonseca is also constantly looking over his shoulder as head coach of Roma. It might seem unlikely that he would be shown the door, considering how high up the Giallorossi are in the Serie A table. But Roma’s strange inability to beat any of the big teams continued with a home defeat to Milan on Sunday – and it dropped out of the top four for the first time since December as a result. The weaker sides can usually be beaten – but that won’t be enough for a Champions League spot, or to keep Fonseca at the Stadio Olimpico.
Genoa to Beat Sampdoria
Genoa has not won a ‘home’ Derby della Lanterna since 2011, but with Davide Ballardini continuing to get the very best out of his players since taking over in December, he could be the manager to change that trend. Both Genoa and Sampdoria play in the Marassi, of course, so there have been some victories in the last ten years. But, before the predictable loss to Inter last weekend, Genoa had gone unbeaten for seven Serie A games and would seem to hold the upper hand over Samp.
A defeat to a team as good as Atalanta might not seem like a cause for alarm. But Sampdoria head coach Claudio Ranieri was very obviously not happy with his players after the game on Sunday – and has already hinted that there could be a number of changes for what he considers to be the biggest game of the season. The Blucerchiati actually looked the better side against Atalanta in the first half last week, but couldn’t make its possession pay. Expect to see some early chances for both sides this Wednesday.
Inter to Beat Parma
The midweek fixtures in Italy don’t finish until Thursday, when Parma takes on league leaders Inter at Il Tardini. Parma is currently 39 points behind Antonio Conte’s side and is looking like the main candidates for relegation. There have been two draws in the last two weeks, but it has been three whole months since Parma has won a game. Roberto D’Aversa will be pleased that his side has scored goals recently, but not so much with the two-goal leads that have been blown against Udinese and Spezia. It is unlikely that Parma will get anywhere near two goals ahead against Inter.
For one, it will need to work out how to stop the goal scoring juggernaut that is Romelu Lukaku. He scored in just 38 seconds against Genoa on Sunday and inspired yet another win for the Nerazzurri. Inter has now won five in a row and continue to score a lot of goals in the process. But only Juventus has conceded fewer this season, so that shows that every element of the Inter team is working at the moment. With players like Christian Eriksen looking rejuvenated as well, Inter looks unstoppable.
My Top Serie A Picks for March 2-4, 2021
Here are my top three selections for the weekend’s games on match day 25.
- Hellas Verona to beat Benevento – 2.30
- Cagliari and Bologna to draw – 3.20
- Genoa to beat Sampdoria – 3.00
Verona may not score enough goals for Ivan Juric’s liking, but he must be pleased with the spirit and determination that his players have shown this season. For a club with a much smaller budget than the majority at the top of the league, the Gialloblu has a good chance of qualifying for Europe this season – three points from Benevento will help towards that.
Serie A has been a place for new head coaches to make an impression this season. There is always some turnover in Italy and it was not a surprise that Cagliari followed the trend of clubs like Torino and Genoa by bringing in a new man. Like those two, Cagliari also immediately started winning with Leonardo Semplici in charge. Bologna will be tough to beat on Wednesday, but I think the unbeaten run will stretch to two.
My final pick for this midweek match day is for Genoa to take the local bragging rights in the Derby della Lanterna. Sampdoria has long been the major player in the city, but it is the Grifone – thanks in part to a new manager – that has looked the more impressive in the last few months. A win on Wednesday would see Genoa go just one point behind Samp – something that would have seemed inconceivable earlier in the season.