Lazio were on song, Fiorentina and Torino had their runs ended while Napoli fumbled as the Serie A reached boiling point. No matter what time of the season, having an eleven point lead over your closest competition is as good as it gets. Juve are running away with the league and doing it in some fashion. Lazio annihilated Fiorentina 4-0 on Monday night. The win moves Lazio up to third, leapfrogging Napoli, while Fiorentina remain in fifth spot, four points adrift of a Champions League spot. They will take on AC Milan this weekend desperate for maximum points, but so too are their opponents.
Saturday 14 March
Palermo were held to a goalless draw at relegation-threatened Cesena on Sunday afternoon to extend their winless away run to eight games. They have not won on the road since November 2 and remain in eleventh place. It’s the league leaders up next. The Bianconeri looked set to be held to a draw in Turin but their French midfielder made the breakthrough with just eight minutes to go with a stunning half-volley. Paul Pogba lashed home a superb 82nd-minute goal as Juventus made an instant return to winning ways on home soil with a 1-0 victory over Sassuolo that sent the Serie A champions eleven points clear at the top of the table and moved them closer to their fourth successive Serie A title. The Serie A unbeaten home record remains for Juventus with 37 wins and four draws. The Bianconeri have put together eleven victories and six draws in their last seventeen Serie A games. Juventus haven’t won in their last three away games but that should change here.
Cagliari slumped to third consecutive loss last weekend as Sampdoria claimed a 2-0 victory over the relegation candidates. It was their fifth loss from their last six matches. Empoli held Genoa to a 1-1 draw on Sunday which extended their unbeaten run to six games. However, Cagliari will be desperate for maximum points against Empoli who they hammered 4-0 in the reverse tie. It should be a much different game this time around and a draw looks the best bet.
Sunday 15 March
Atalanta are just four points off the bottom three after playing out to a dour goalless draw at Parma last time out. Prior to that stalemate, Atalanta had lost their last four matches. It was a new start for Atalanta too after they sacked Stefano Colantuono on Wednesday, replacing him with Edoardo Reja. The former Lazio and Napoli coach was sent to the stands in the 63rd minute for dissent. Udinese hit back from an early deficit to beat Torino 3-2 on Sunday and clinch their first home victory since October 26. Both sides have defensive frailties, making Both Teams To Score at 9/10 well worth a punt.
Genoa settled for a 1-1 draw away to Empoli on Sunday, denting their hopes of qualifying for Europe. However, they have not lost in their last five games and will be looking to maintain that form here. Chievo come to town, fresh off another goalless draw at home against Roma. The Verona based club also managed a scoreless stalemate on their turf against AC Milan the weekend prior. Although they can be commended for their defensive bravery, their attacking side of the game has been slack. Genoa have won three of the last four meetings against them and are tipped to build on that.
Sassuolo will host troubled Parma after battling to a 1-0 defeat away to Juventus on Monday night. It was their fourth consecutive loss but after a decent defensive performance against the champions, Sassuolo look likely to return to winning ways. Debt-ridden Parma secured a point from a goalless draw with Atalanta on their overdue return to Serie A action. The Ducale club are facing bankruptcy and were unable to fulfil recent fixtures against Udinese and Genoa, meaning the first team had not kicked a ball since February 15. Not one of the most exciting fixtures this weekend, but a home victory is a bet worth taking.
Hellas Verona 33/10
Substitute Nico Lopez punished AC Milan for trying to sit on the slenderest of leads by forcing a 2-2 draw for Hellas Verona with the last kick of the game at the San Siro. Napoli were denied victory on Sunday evening that would have seen them close the gap to within two points of second-placed Roma as Inter Milan earned a well-deserved 2-2 draw. However, fourth-place Napoli have won the last five meetings against Verona, including a 6-2 thrashing in the reverse tie. The away win is tipped.
Inter Milan 7/20
Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi shrugged off unwanted laser pen attention to beat Napoli ‘keeper Mariano Andujar from the spot with a cheeky panenka to help secure a 2-2 draw for his club on Sunday. Inter showed great fight and determination against Napoli and will welcome nineteenth-placed Cesena this weekend. Cesena played out to a dour 0-0 draw at home against Palermo that does little to boost their survival hopes. They will have it tough against an in-form Inter Milan side who have won all five meetings against them. Back the home win.
Monday 16 March
AC Milan 3/1
AC Milan boss Filippo Inzaghi remains under pressure after Nico Lopez's 95th-minute equaliser gave Verona a 2-2 draw at the San Siro. The Rossoneri are struggling in mid-table, with just eight wins from 26 league games. Fiorentina are coming off a humiliating 4-0 defeat away to Lazio. Before that thrashing, Fiorentina beat Inter Milan 1-0 away in the league prior to edging Juventus 2-1 in the Coppa Italia semi-finals. So they have looked formidable in recent weeks. The reverse tie ended 1-1 and I foresee another draw but Both Teams To Score at 15/20 looks the safest bet.
Turin were disappointing with the manner in which they fell to a 3–2 away defeat to Udinese on Sunday. It was the first defeat inflicted on Torino’s fifteen-game run in all competitions, which Ventura felt his team threw away at the Stadio Friuli after taking the lead. Lazio moved up to third in Serie A on Monday night with an impressive 4-0 win over a Fiorentina side who trailed them by just a point going into the Stadio Olimpico clash. Miroslav Klose was on target twice for the Biancocelesti, who threw their hat into the ring for a place in the Champions League next season. Four wins from their last four games; Lazio look set to make it five.
An eighth draw in nine Serie A matches saw Roma lose further ground in the title race but the stalemate at Chievo will be remembered for the horrific leg break injury suffered by Federico Mattiello. The Giallorossi were unable to break the Flying Donkeys down at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi and therefore sit eleven points behind leaders Juventus. Samuel Eto'o opened his goalscoring account for Sampdoria in a 2-0 home victory over Cagliari that boosted the Ligurian club into a share of fifth-place. Sampdoria remain unbeaten at home and stay in contention for a Champions League spot. However, their away form has been inconsistent and Roma are tipped to capitalise on home advantage.