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SBOTOP
02-Dec 2020 Wednesday 4:06 PM (245 days ago)               #1
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Serie A: Sassuolo Ready for Inter Test

Sassuolo vs Inter Milan

Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan take on high-flying Sassuolo at the Mapei Stadium on Saturday, and a win for the hosts would take them top of the Serie A table.

Roberto De Zerbi’s Neroverdi have stunned the football world with a brilliant start to the season which leaves them in second place, and with leaders Milan not playing until Sunday, they will reach the summit if they can overcome Conte’s Inter.

Here at SBOTOP, we expect this game to produce entertainment and goals.

And while I Nerazzurri are odds on to take all three points, that will require Sassuolo to lose their first match of the league season.

Talking Points

No Caputo, but Sassuolo still have goals in them

Roberto De Zerbi has guided his team up to second place in Serie A playing a brand of attacking football with quick passing movement and they are currently the joint top scorers in the league, alongside Inter with 20 goals.

Hellas Verona were the last team to try to cool down red-hot Sassuolo, but they succumbed 2-0.

While I Neroverdi have had a relatively kind fixture list so far, they have recently beaten Napoli, and so Inter will hold no fear for the hosts.

The hosts will be without top scorer Ciccio Caputo whose subtle movement and a sharp eye for goal have produced five goals this season.

At the age of 33, he scored on his debut for Italy last month, but he picked up a muscle strain while on international duty and is still on the treatment table.

De Zerbi is likely to select by Giacomo Raspadori to play alongside Domenico Berardi, who scored his fourth goal of the season in the victory over Verona.

Sassuolo have won plaudits for their passing style and with good cause as no team in the league has played as many passes this season.

One of their standout players has been 22-year-old Manuel Locatelli. The ex-Milan youth star is on the radar of a host of top European clubs — including Juventus, Barcelona, and Napoli — after playing an influential role in a team which attacks in numbers.

Conte searching for the right balance

While the mood is buoyant at Sassuolo, Inter Milan coach Conte has struggled to find the right balance in his team, which has won four of its first eight league games and laboured in the Champions League.

It doesn’t seem like there’s any way back for creative midfielder Christian Eriksen with the way things look at the San Siro, and Inter fans are wondering what has happened to the one who arrived with much fanfare a year ago.

In his time at Spurs, Eriksen created more chances and provided the most assists of any player in the Premier League.

But Conte prefers to use box-to-box players and a deep-lying midfielder, which is not a fit for Eriksen.

The Danish star has made some appearances playing in a pocket just behind the strikers but with limited success, and Conte is likely to stick with Radja Nainggolan, Arturo Vidal, and Nicola Barella in midfield, with Ivan Perisic supporting the strikers.

Romelu Lukaku has seven goals and is in third place in the race for the Capocannoniere, behind the two old stagers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo and he is sure to start.

Lautaro Martinez is being pushed for the second striker’s place by Alexis Sanchez, who has made three assists already this term.

Serie A: Romelu Lukaku is expected to be on top of his form against Sassuolo

Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring Inter Milan’s third goal against Torino

History

The underdogs have had the better of the head-to-head meetings in recent seasons.

Sassuolo have won seven of the 14 games to Inter’s five, and there have been two draws.

Last season’s Sassuolo vs Inter Milan results yielded 13 goals in the two games.

Inter won this corresponding fixture 4-3, and then the teams played out a 3-3 draw in June, with Lukaku and Beradi both on target as two of the six goalscorers.

Betting Tip

??
Sassuolo vs Inter Milan Double Chance Sassuolo or Draw @ 2.06
November 28, 22:00 (GMT+8)

The latest Sassuolo vs Inter Milan betting odds back an away win at odds of 1.67, with Sassuolo available at 4.16 and the draw is at 3.88.

But Inter have a huge Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday night while Sassuolo prepare, and that could help the hosts.

A 2-2 draw at odds of 12.52 is a long-shot alternative.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 02-Dec-2020 at 4:07 PM



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02-Dec 2020 Wednesday 4:13 PM (245 days ago)            #2
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Serie A: Sunday Night Features a Clash Between Southern Heavyweights

Napoli vs AS Roma

Serie A contenders Napoli and AS Roma will face off anew this upcoming Sunday night.

This clash between two southern heavyweights will be anything but usual, particularly for the hosts as they will try to draw inspiration after receiving the unfortunate Serie A 2020 news three days ago.

Napoli legend Diego Maradona died at the age of 60 due to a heart attack, which left the football fans all over the world in mourning.

But the show goes on here in the Italian top-flight as the hosts have a lot of catching up to do in order improve on their campaign.

The Partenopei are currently sixth in the standings with 14 points and their recent form has been shaky, while their opponents in AS Roma are at third with 17 points off the bounce.

The Giallorossi are riding high in confidence given their recent form and they will try to seize control by getting another victory.

Here at SBOTOP, let us examine both of these teams to see how they will fare.

Talking Points

Napoli are in mourning

Naples was rocked upon hearing the passing of Diego Maradona and the Partenopei are hopeful to give the fallen legend a fitting tribute.

Other than aiming to win matches, Napoli will soon rename their home stadium in honor of the Argentine, cementing his legacy in the club’s lore. 

Gennaro Gattuso’s men need to act fast in order to keep up in the intensifying title race.

After a hot start to the season, Napoli are currently six points adrift of the league leaders and they have lost two of their last three.

Those two defeats came against Sassuolo and AC Milan at home, which surely dampens their championship aspirations.

The consolation that they have is their recent win against Rijeka in the Europa League, but even the players admitted that it’s still hard to focus on football because of the devastating news.

Napoli will be missing a few players for this match. Centre-back Amir Rrahmani, full-back Elseid Hysaj, forward Victor Osimhen are all out due to COVID-19 and injuries, while midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko will serve his suspension.

Forwards Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, and Hirving Lozano would need to be on target, while defenders Kalidou Koulibaly, Kostas Manolas, and Piotr Zielinski will have their hands full. 

AS Roma stay strong despite injury woes

Unlike Napoli, AS Roma are firing on all cylinders as they have yet to be defeated for a considerable amount of time.

Paulo Fonseca’s side has been as prolific as they come given they’re currently the second-best attacking team with 19 goals.

Undefeated AS Roma are hopeful to trip Napoli’s chances for Serie A title bid

Henrikh Mkhitaryan celebrates scoring AS Roma’s first goal in Europa League match against CFR Cluj at Stadio Olimpico

Their strong attack is spearheaded by their creative playmaker in Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has six goals and five assists already.

He is being backstopped by Jordan Veretout, Pedro, and Edin Dzeko, who have combined for 12 goals and four assists.

However, their problem lies on the depth of their defence as it has been hit with injuries and COVID-19 lately.

Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibanez are still nursing their thigh injuries, while Chris Smalling remains out due to a knee injury he has suffered earlier this season.

Davide Santon, Federico Fazio, and Marash Kumbulla were all positive for COVID-19 and they remain doubtful ahead of this fixture.

History

Recent form and history favours the visitors in this upcoming tiff.

In their last 29 encounters together, AS Roma have won in 13 games, while Napoli won in 10 along with six draws.

These two sides last met in July where Napoli won with a 2-1 scoreline. 

Spanish winger Jose Callejon and skipper Lorenzo Insigne scored one each for the Partenopei, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the consolation goal for the Giallorossi.

Betting Tip

??
Napoli vs AS Roma 1X2 Draw @ 3.50
November 30, 3:45(GMT+8)

The latest Serie A 2020 odds point to a victory for the home side, although it is also likely that this match can go either way.

Napoli are pegged at 2.21 to win while AS Roma are placed at 3.05 in the 1X2 market. But given how these two match up on paper, I see this fixture finishing with a tight Draw @ 3.50.

Since the game is expected to be close, goals might be hard to come by. So going for Under 2.50 @ 1.77 or Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.08 are safe alternatives as well.

A win for Napoli would surely boost their morale. However, AS Roma wouldn’t provide much sympathy against their grieving opponents as they fight for the Scudetto too.

We can expect a solemn yet celebratory occasion this Sunday, but when the whistle sounds, fans will be treated with the best football action from these two entertaining sides. 

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 02-Dec-2020 at 4:13 PM



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02-Dec 2020 Wednesday 4:15 PM (245 days ago)            #3
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Serie A: Inter, Napoli Reassert Title Credentials

Inter Milan and Napoli had tough tests this weekend, and both sides passed with flying colours as they reasserted themselves as legitimate Serie A title contenders.

Inter smashed second-placed Sassuolo, while Napoli hammered Roma as they both kept pace with leaders AC Milan, who beat Fiorentina despite missing the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Meanwhile, Juventus dropped crucial points in Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence, and Atalanta also continued their recent dip in form.

SBOTOP is here to get you all caught up with all the key takeaways from this most recent round of Serie A matches.

Inter right back in the title race

Inter Milan suddenly find themselves back in second place in the table after a sensational 0-3 win away at high-flying Sassuolo.

Antonio Conte made the big decision to rest star striker Romelu Lukaku for this big match and it paid off as his replacement, Alexis Sanchez, scored after just four minutes to send Inter on their way.

It was a huge victory for the Nerazzurri, who had gone through a rough stretch of Serie A 2020 results which saw them win just once in five Serie A matches just a few weeks ago.

Conte should also be pleased by the fact that his side kept a clean sheet for just the second time in nine league matches.

Conte’s next task is to salvage their disastrous Champions League campaign. They are currently dead last in Group B and are on course to crash out of Europe.

But that could turn out to be a blessing in disguise as it could give Conte the chance to concentrate on the league moving forward.

Napoli get back on track

Napoli and AS Roma take time to remember the late Diego Maradona during ahead of their Serie A match

Napoli and AS Roma watching the legacy of the late Diego Maradona during their Serie A clash

Napoli’s early-season hype as potential title contenders lost a bit of steam after two disappointing defeats to Sassuolo and Milan.

But they reminded the rest of the league just how good they can be with their dominant 4-0 demolition of high-flying Roma.

Emotions were high for the Neapolitans, who were eager to put on a fine performance after the passing of their greatest ever player, Diego Maradona, and they delivered just that.

Captain Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens were both excellent up front, while their defence limited Roma’s dangerous attack to just a single shot on target.

Napoli now have a couple of relatively easy games against Crotone and Sampdoria coming up before their next big test against Inter in mid-December.

Milan don’t miss Zlatan in Fiorentina win

AC Milan moved five points clear at the top following a 2-0 win over Fiorentina. Franck Kessie starred in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic as he set up their first goal then scored the second from the penalty spot. Although, he could have made the win more comfortable had he converted another penalty.

It was certainly a promising performance from the leaders without their talisman, who is set to miss a couple more weeks due to a hamstring injury. Ante Rebic, who led the line in place of Zlatan, had a quiet match as he failed to get off a single shot. But Hakan Calhanoglu stepped up with five shots and came close to scoring himself when he hit the post.

Luckily for the Rossoneri, they have a couple of relatively easy games coming up against Sampdoria, Parma, and Genoa, as they await Zlatan’s return.

Juventus rest Ronaldo, drop points

Juventus missed their opportunity to close the gap on Milan as they could only draw 1-1 away to newly promoted Benevento.

Andrea Pirlo made the big decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo, and the move backfired as they couldn’t take care of business without the Portuguese superstar.

Paulo Dybala, who started in place of Ronaldo, led the way with six shots, but only one was on target. And to make matters worse, Alvaro Morata picked up a red card deep in stoppage time, which means he will miss Juve’s next few games.

Morata’s absence will put even more pressure on Ronaldo to deliver the goals as Juve continue to rely heavily on the 35-year-old to produce in front of goal.

Atalanta taking a significant step back

After back-to-back top-three finishes, this might be the season where Atalanta finally fall back down the Serie A pecking order.

Since winning their first three matches of the season, La Dea have won just one of their last five. They failed to build off their shock 2-0 win at Anfield against Liverpool as they lost 2-0 at home to Verona over the weekend. That was the second-straight Serie A match where they were held without a goal.

Of course, it’s still quite early in the season. Josip Ilicic is still playing himself into form after a long absence and could yet return to the high level he reached last year.

But with the likes of Sassuolo, Napoli, and Roma all taking steps forward this season, Atalanta’s Serie A 2020 odds to crack the top three for a third-straight year aren’t looking all that great.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 02-Dec-2020 at 4:16 PM



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08-Dec 2020 Tuesday 6:54 PM (239 days ago)            #4
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Serie A: Turin Derby Comes at a Good Time For Juventus

Juventus vs Torino

Could this finally be the year that someone wrestles the Serie A championship from the grip of the Old Lady? Let’s face it, we’ve asked that question for almost a decade now and the answer has always been no.

But I Bianconeri has made a stuttering start to the 2020/21 Serie A campaign, and they sit six points behind leaders Milan.

Having said that, Juventus are making a slow and steady climb up the league table now in fourth, while Torino are currently stranded in the bottom three.

There is plenty of distance left to travel in this season’s campaign and Marco Giampaola’s team should climb away from trouble.

But the Turin Derby has never been kind to Il Toro. And in the big match of the weekend here at SBOTOPwe’re predicting the Old Lady to win the bragging rights again.

The latest Serie A 2020 betting odds pitch I Bianconeri as low as 1.39 to take all three points and anything less would heap more pressure on the Juve boss.

Talking Points

Time for the Old Lady to rediscover her ruthless streak

Head coach Pirlo was criticised for his tactics and over-tinkering with his formation in the early games of this season, and a six-point gap to the top is bigger than he would have hoped for.

But Juve are one of only two teams alongside Milan, who are yet to be beaten in Serie A this term. It’s the five draws from nine games which have hampered I Bianconeri’s progress.

Last week’s 1-1 draw with Benevento was another subpar performance and it showed just how Juve can struggle when their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t in the lineup. But he’s recovered from COVID-19 and will be fit to play in the Turin Derby.

Ronaldo has eight goals in the league so far and he was on target on Wednesday night as Juventus beat Dynamo Kiev 3-0 in the Champions League.

The Old Lady is already through to the knockout stage along with Barcelona, who topped Group G with five wins from five.

And there was more encouragement for Juve fans in the performance of Federico Chiesa who scored a fine goal against Kiev, and he could be ready to support Ronaldo up front alongside Alvaro Morata.

As well as Benevento, Juve have already dropped points to Crotone and Verona and that gives Torino a glimmer of hope.

Torino desperate to get out of the drop zone

Giampaola’s side have picked up five points from the last four games, and that has dragged them up to within two points of the safety line.

Although it is early in the season, no one wants to hang around in the bottom three for too long. However, with a striker of the quality of Andrea Belotti in their ranks, Il Toro should climb to mid-table safety before too long.

Belotti scored his seventh goal of the league season in a 2-2 draw with Sampdoria last weekend and he will be a threat on Saturday.

Can Andrea Belotti score a goal against local rivals Juventus in Serie A?

Andrea Belotti scored the opening goal in their match against Sampdoria

But he will be hoping and praying his defence can cope with Ronaldo and co. as Torino threw away a two-goal lead against Inter Milan recently when they had less than half an hour to hold out.

After Simone Zaza had given Il Toro a half-time lead, Cristian Ansaldi doubled their advantage with a 62nd minute penalty.

However, it all fell apart as Romelu Lukaku — who scored a brace — Lautaro Martinez, and Alexis Sanchez simply blew the Torino rearguard away.

Defensive midfielder Tomas Rincon is a key player. He is fast and physical which gives him the capability to break up play, but also has the engine to play box-to-box.

If he has a good game, then who knows?

History

The historical Serie A 2020 results won’t give the visitors much hope at all.

Juventus have won 24 of the 34 Turin derbies since 1993, losing just three and drawing seven.

I Bianconeri won the last meeting back in July and it was a multiple cause for celebration. Ronaldo scored a free-kick for Juve – his first at the 43rd time of asking which is quite absurd if you think about it.

He also became the first Juve player to score 25 Serie A goals since 1961, while legendary keeper Gianluigi Buffon made a record breaking 648th top-flight appearance.

The closer you look the worse it gets for Torino. Juve have not lost this fixture at home in 16 encounters and have only lost one of the last 28 home or away.

And here’s a statistic which will send a shiver down Il Toro’s fans’ spines. With six points from nine games, Torino have equalled their worst start since 2002 and they lost the 10

game that season to Juventus, 4-0!

Betting Tip

??
Juventus vs Torino Juventus First Half Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 1.88
December 6, 01:00 (GMT+8)

With Juve at 1.39 to win, the draw at 4.55 and Torino at 6.56, anything other than a home win will be a shock.

But I don’t think it’s coming. And with Ronaldo back in the team, I suspect the Old Lady could be out of sight by half-time.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 08-Dec-2020 at 6:55 PM



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08-Dec 2020 Tuesday 6:57 PM (239 days ago)            #5
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Serie A: Roma and Sassuolo are Hungry For Goals and Wins

AS Roma vs Sassuolo

Reeling from the losses that they endured last week, AS Roma and Sassuolo have plans to bounce back when they lock horns this weekend.

Sassuolo continue their surprising run here in the Serie A standings since they remain at the top three with 18 points and are level with the second-seeded Inter Milan.

On the other hand, AS Roma are at sixth place with 17 points, and they are level with fellow Scudetto contenders in Juventus and Napoli.

Despite missing key players over the last few weeks, it is remarkable to see them both still thriving in the upper echelon of the Italian top-flight.

This props up to be a fun fixture ahead as both of these teams are playing with high stakes. 

With a considerable deficit between them and league leaders AC Milan, a victory is much-needed for Roma and Sassuolo in order to close the gap.

At the same time, both of these teams have already provided us a good share of Serie A 2020 highlights, so SBOTOP fans can expect a cracker on Sunday.

Talking points

AS Roma now rely on their youth

With the Giallorossi being handicapped by COVID-19 and injuries, team manager Paulo Fonseca was left no choice but to dig deeper on his rotation.

In the past few games, AS Roma featured at least three players who are under 25 years old and the results have been mixed.

They were humiliated badly by Napoli in their last Serie A contest as they couldn’t stop anybody on the pitch, and at the same time they couldn’t find the back of the net.

Fonseca rested his veterans in their previous Europa League fixture against BSC Young Boys and it worked to perfection as they secured a 3-1 win to book the top spot of Group A.

Real Madrid loanee Borja Mayoral added on to his account while he was supported by Edin Dzeko and Riccardo Calafiori.

Riccardo Calafiori will prove his worth to manager Riccardo Calafiori in upcoming Serie encounter with Sassuolo

Riccardo Calafiori celebrates scoring AS Roma’s second goal in Europa League Group A match against Young Boys

This was a surreal moment particularly for Calafiori as he finally scored his first senior goal for the club after having suffered multiple ACL tears from 2018 to 2019.

His performance, along with Mayoral’s, should give Paulo Fonseca something to think about as they can mesh well with their veterans in Dzeko, Mkhitaryan, and Spinazzola.

Sassuolo miss Francesco Caputo badly

After going undefeated in their first eight games, Sassuolo cooled off for a bit when they were annihilated by Inter Milan in the last time out.

The Nerazzurri got big contributions from winger Alexis Sanchez and midfielder Roberto Gagliardini, while Sassuolo defender Vlad Chiriches recorded an own goal.

This was the second time that Francesco Caputo has been absent as the veteran striker is still recovering from a thigh injury.

Prior to his injury, Francesco Caputo has been leading the Neroverdi in scoring with five goals and two assists. So his threat at the attack will be sorely missed as he will sit out for at least a few more matches.

Second and third-leading scorers Domenico Berardi and Manuel Locatelli have combined for six goals and three assists, and they will do their best to try and compensate for their loss.

History

In their sample size of their last 14 matches, recent history is favouring the hosts to win this weekend.

AS Roma have won in eight games, while Sassuolo won only once along with five draws.

These two last met back in February where the Neroverdi blasted the Giallorossi, 4-2, when the latter was reduced to 10 men.

But months before that, AS Roma won over Sassuolo with an identical tally in the reverse fixture and that was Paulo Fonseca’s first managerial victory coaching AS Roma. 

Betting Tip

??
AS Roma vs Sassuolo AS Roma Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 1.72
December 6, 22:00(GMT+8)

For this upcoming fixture, the hosts are expected to win via a substantial margin.

The Serie A 2020 odds back AS Roma to win at 1.72, while their visitors in Sassuolo are priced at 4.10, and a draw is also at 4.10 in the 1×2 market.

As mentioned earlier, both of these clubs can definitely pour in the goals. So you may also fancy placing your bets on either Total Goal 2-3 @ 1.77 or Over 2.50 @ 2.19.

Despite their surprising start of the season, this feels like the time where the Neroverdi will eventually cool off.

Roberto De Zerbi’s men might prove me wrong. However, it is more likely for me to see the Giallorossi taking care of business successfully this Sunday night. 

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 08-Dec-2020 at 6:57 PM



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08-Dec 2020 Tuesday 7:00 PM (239 days ago)            #6
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Three Winners and Three Losers from Serie A

Winners

AC Milan

A trip to Sampdoria can often be a tricky test but this was even tougher than normal for the surprise leaders.

They kicked-off with a number of key players missing and after most of their rivals had won over the weekend.

Had Gianluigi Donnarumma not somehow punched an early Lorenzo Tonelli header over the bar, Sunday night may have been an even tougher test.

Instead, they showed real character to restore their five-point lead at the Serie A summit.

Once Franck Kessie had scored a penalty in first-half injury time, Milan had set their record streak of scoring in 30 consecutive Serie A matches.

A shot from substitute Samu Castillejo, with his first touch, proved to be the matchwinner.

Sampdoria

The result may not have gone the way the hosts hoped but the special edition shirt was a proud touch and a fitting way to mark 120 years since local club Andrea Doria was founded.

Sampdoria has only officially existed since August 1946 but its origins go way back. That’s because two different local clubs were merged together to create them, namely Andrea Doria and Sampierdarenese.

The Andrea Doria jersey is split into two halves, dark blue and white, with the cross representing the city of Genoa on the chest.

Andrea Pirlo

The champions are not playing well and there’s no doubt coach Pirlo’s celebration, sparked by Leonard Bonucci’s last-minute winner, was as much down to relief as it was derby joy.

Yet Juventus won the Derby della Mole again to climb briefly up to second in Serie A, a result which shows that, even when stuttering, can never be ruled out.

Serie A: 10-man Juventus beat Torino

Andrea Pirlo celebrates with Leonardo Bonucci after their 2-1 win against Torino

The ‘old lady’ of Turin is, of course, not the only club stuttering under a new coach.

For Torino, with Marco Giampaolo at the helm, has now scraped just six points from 10 rounds, its worst-ever start in the three points for a win era.

Torino has also won just one of its last 28 Serie A games against Juventus, 2-1 in April 2015, interrupting six draws and 21 defeats.

Losers

Christian Eriksen

It’s been a mystery for much of 2021 that a player who has proved to be one of the best midfielders in Europe for nearly a decade can be surplus to requirements at a club which has failed to win a trophy for nine years.

His signing in the January transfer window at the start of the year was seen as a real coup and a deal which could spur Inter onto greater things.

For whatever reason, manager Antonio Conte has not been able to fit the Danish maestro effectively into his plans – he made an injury-time substitute appearance in the weekend success against Bologna – and director Beppe Marotta has now confirmed he is likely to leave next month, even if the transfer fee is a bargain.

A loss for both player and club but, one suspects, particularly the club.

Atalanta

It is hardly fair to call Atalanta a loser for the club is anything but.

It’s less than 10 days since the team sealed a famous 2-0 win at Liverpool in the Champions League, just the latest milestone during a couple of terrific years where it has been a class act on and off the pitch under coach Gian Piero Gasperini.

The fact the weekend clash with Udinese was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch, however, may not help them in the long-term.

When referee Federico La Penna decided to postpone the match after three different pitch inspections – there were huge puddles all over the pitch of the Dacia Arena – Atalanta’s small squad was presented with a further headache it could do without in an already congested season.

Jacopo Segre

Jacopo Segre’s cameo appearance in the final minutes of Torino’s defeat would normally barely warrant a mention.

Yet it was the actions of the Torino youngster after the full-time whistle which drew attention.

Grabbing hold of the shirt of Juve’s Paulo Dybala shirt after the defeat in the Derby della Mole is not a crime.

Posing for a photo with it – even if he did not share it on social media himself – was insensitive for fans of his team, especially considering its position in the table and a late defeat against its arch-rivals.

“I made the mistake of taking a picture with the shirt of Dybala, a simple gift for an Argentine fan,” he wrote

A nice gesture, but the 23-year-old should have been more careful.

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22-Dec 2020 Tuesday 6:52 PM (225 days ago)            #7
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Serie A: Inter’s Island Trip Should Bring Three Points

Cagliari vs Inter Milan

Inter Milan head to Sardinia on Sunday in a quest to continue their challenge at the top of Serie A, and anything less than a victory over hosts Cagliari will be a big disappointment.

Antonio Conte’s Inter are currently in second place in the league, five points behind leaders AC Milan, and a point ahead of Juventus and Napoli. I Nerazzurri heads to Cagliari at a time when Eusebio Di Francesco’s team is depleted by injury and illness, so current form and resources play heavily in the visitors’ favour.

Talking Points

No European distraction for Inter

It may not seem like it at the moment, but Inter Milan’s failure to make it past the group stages of the Champions League could turn out to be an advantage back home. I Nerazzurri played out a 0-0 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night, and Real Madrid’s win over Borussia Monchengladbach meant that both Inter and the Ukranian side crashed out. Shakhtar has the consolation of a Europa League place while Inter has the advantage of a less congested fixture list.

It was a case of ‘what might have been’ for Conte’s men, particularly for striker Lautaro Martinez who hit the crossbar and missed a few chances, but now they can concentrate on the league, where they have been going along quite nicely with four wins and two draws from the last six games. A recent 3-0 win away to Sassuolo reasserted Inter’s title credentials, which are backed up by an impressive front line, with Romelu Lukaku, Ivan Perisic and Alexis Sanchez all in good form. Meanwhile, creative midfielder Christian Eriksen is still out in the cold. He made an injury time appearance as substitute in Inter’s victory over Bologna last week, and he appeared again with five minutes to play against Shakhtar; he looks to be on his way out of the club.

Can Romelu Lukaku score a goal against Cagliari in their upcoming Serie A clash?

Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring their first goal against Bologna

Unusually, the Serie A 2020 betting odds are no nearer to picking a Scudetto winner than they were at the beginning of the season, in fact they are probably further away! Four teams are in it, there’s a similar position in England’s Premier League, which is good news for SBOTOP fans. The four to go at in Italy are the two Milan clubs, Inter are outright favourites at odds of 3.03 while current leaders AC Milan are at 4.00. Juventus, after a stuttering start are at 3.25 with Napoli right in the hunt at 6.50.

Inter is the only team of the four without European interest.

Since defeat in the Milan derby, in mid-October, I Nerazzurri’s Serie A 2020 results have been steadily improving and I see no reason why that shouldn’t continue in Sardinia.

COVID hit Cagliari

Having finished the 2019/20 season comfortably in 14th place Cagliari made a solid good start to the new campaign, but without a win in three games the Sardinians could be on the slide. Head coach Di Francesco has a selection problem with his most experienced sidelined with COVID 19. Centre back Diego Godin tested positive on return from international duty with Uruguay and he has been absent over the past two weeks along with international colleague Nahitan Nandez.

Another three players have been struck by the disease, including star striker Giovanni Simeone who tested positive before Cagliari’s Coppa Italia match with Hellas Verona. Simeone has scored five league goals and is a big miss, and while I Rossoblu are depleted Di Francesco must hope he has no other casualties before the weekend, and that the form of Joao Pedro, who has six goals already this season, continues to give his side a fighting chance against the title chasers.

History

I Nerazzurri have dominated the past meetings between these two sides, winning 24 and drawing 15 of the 46 games played since 1993, while Cagliari have won just seven.

And recent form favours the visitors who have won five from six and the last three in succession, while Cagliari have been struggling for form and results over the past three games.

Betting Tip

??
Cagliari vs Inter Milan Inter Milan Asian Handicap -1.25 @ 1.79
December 13, 19:30 (GMT+8)

In most circumstances you would expect Inter Milan to be too strong for Cagliari, but this weekend the balance will be tipped even further towards the visitors. Cagliari are at odds of 6.95 to win with the draw at 4.94, while Inter are hotly fancied at odds of 1.35.

Shock results do happen, but two factors make me believe we won’t see one in Sardinia. Firstly Cagliari are without their defensive rock Godin, among other players, and then, Inter are out of Europe, they will be smarting and in a ruthless mood…and they have the players.

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22-Dec 2020 Tuesday 6:56 PM (225 days ago)            #8
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Serie A: Zlatan-Less Milan to Show Their Teeth Against Parma

AC Milan vs Parma

AC Milan plan to maintain their unbeaten streak here in Serie A as they host Parma in San Siro this Sunday night.

They remain on top of the Italian top-flight standings after 10 matches as team manager Stefano Pioli has established a winning mentality with his squad. 

As of the moment they have 26 points and are four points clear over second-seeded Sassuolo.

The Rossoneri are the obvious favourites in this match since their visitors in Parma are only placed 16th at the table. Fabio Liverani’s side have gathered 10 points and they will be more than happy if they get a positive result here.

Both of these sides have been playing well as of late. While AC Milan continue to be the winners in the league week in and week out, Parma’s recent Serie A 2020 results have been overlooked.

Since late November, the Ducali have yet to lose a game in all competitions so they will be coming in with some semblance of momentum.

Read on below as SBOTOP previews this weekend’s matchup. 

Talking points

AC Milan’s strength in numbers

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been the centerpiece for the Rossoneri’s revival this season, which leaves us to wonder on how will they fare without him.

The Sweden international was hit by COVID-19 earlier this season, and then he picked up a thigh bruise during their 3-1 win against Napoli last November.

But even without him, Stefano Pioli’s men continue to roll with positive results both in the Serie A and Europa League.

They have booked their ticket to the Final 16 by sitting on top of Group H — capped off with a tight win over Sparta Prague — and they remain unbeaten in this term.

Since the Napoli game, The Rossoneri won against Fiorentina and Sampdoria as Franck Kessie and Jens Petter Hauge were shouldering the load on offence.

Franck Kessie is to lead AC Mila toward another Serie A victory in match against Parma at San Siro

Franck Kessie scores AC Milan’s first goal against Sampdoria at Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris

These two men are needed to be at their sparkling best when they host Parma anew. They have already accounted for four goals each along with three total assists.

The good news for AC Milan is the upcoming return of Portuguese striker Rafael Leao and midfielder Ismael Bennacer. 

Leao sustained a thigh injury while on international duty last month, while Bennacer had concerns about his adductor early on.

Those returns along with the superb performances of Sandro Tonali, Hakan Calhanoglu, and Ante Rebic make the Rossoneri the overwhelming favourites for this fixture.

Parma eager to prove that they’re no pushovers

While Parma have shown improvements over the past few weeks, a lot of work needs to be done in order for them to move up to the table.

They are currently one of the worst scoring teams in Serie A with only 10 goals, while they have conceded 17 in return.

After being haunted by inconsistency in their first few matches, the Ducali are starting to turn things around as they are now undefeated in the last three games – both in Serie A and in the Cup.

Veteran forward Gervinho continues to show everyone that he’s still got it and he leads the team with four goals.

However, the other forwards at Parma have been largely missing in action when it comes to scoring goals.

Andreas Cornelius, Roberto Inglese, and Yann Karamoh have been goal-shy and they need to step up for the club now. 

History 

The Rossoneri have been excpetional against the Ducali in the 22 matches they’ve played since the turn of the century.

AC Milan have won 17 out of those 22 games, while Parma have won in only three occasions along with two draws.

Their previous matchup last July ended in a 3-1 victory for Stefano Pioli’s men as Franck Kessie had a field day, and he will be relied upon once more to produce this weekend. 

In the said game, AC Milan had a whopping total of 26 shots compared to Parma’s 12 – with seven of those on target. 

Even without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Parma’s defence will be in for a long night. 

Betting Tip

??
AC Milan vs Parma AC Milan Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 1.92
December 14, 3:45(GMT+8)

The Serie A 2020 odds dub AC Milan as the big favourites. And barring unforeseen circumstances, they should take care of business easily.

The Rossoneri are priced to win at 1.30, while Parma are behind at 8.25 and chances for a draw are at 5.60 in the 1×2 market.

With capable goalscorers particularly for AC Milan, going for Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.14 and Over 2.50 @ 1.97 are good bets too especially since Parma are expected to answer back with a goal of their own at some point.

Parma have the players who can pose trouble for AC Milan in this fixture, but the latter’s superior depth and overall quality should pull them through to their ninth victory of the 2020/21 season. 

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22-Dec 2020 Tuesday 6:58 PM (225 days ago)            #9
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Serie A: Showdown for Second Spot at San Siro

Inter Milan vs Napoli

Second place in the Serie A table will be on the line as Inter Milan and Napoli collide at the San Siro for a huge midweek clash. Inter are currently in control of second spot, but Napoli are just a single point behind.

Both clubs will head into the match in fine form and will be eager to pick up all three points to keep pace with leaders AC Milan.

But the Serie A 2020 betting odds for this top-of-the-table matchup figure to be so tight, with the two teams looking so evenly matched at the moment.

Talking Points

Inter in sizzling Serie A form

Inter Milan bounced back from their shock Champions League exit by coming from behind to beat Cagliari 1-3 this weekend. Inter scored three goals in the last 23 minutes from Nicolo Barella, Danilo D’Ambrosio, and Romelu Lukaku to seal their fourth straight win in Serie A.

Inter’s Serie A 2020 results since suffering their lone loss of the season against rivals AC Milan in the derby have been quite impressive. They are now seven matches unbeaten, with five wins and two draws.

Inter have been scoring goals for fun this season. They are the league’s leading scorers with 29 goals and have scored three or more goals in each of their last four games.

Lukaku has once again been leading the charge for the Nerazzurri. The big Belgian has already scored nine goals — third in the league behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Antonio Conte has a relatively complete squad to choose from at the moment, with no significant injury concerns to speak of.

First-choice wing-backs Achraf Hakimi and Ashley Young only came on as substitutes against Cagliari, but both are expected to return to the first XI in the big match against Napoli. Meanwhile, Lautaro Martinez and Roberto Gagliardini are also likely to come in and replace Alexis Sanchez and Christian Eriksen, who both started on the weekend.

Lautaro has once again gone on a prolonged scoring drought; he hasn’t gotten a goal in his last six appearances. But he will like his chances of scoring against Napoli, against whom he’s scored three goals in four career meetings.

Romelu Lukaku is looking to score another goal in Serie A

Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku during a Serie A match against Cagliari

Napoli need big win in big game

Napoli are in the midst of their longest winning run of the Serie A season as they picked up their third straight win against Sampdoria. They went behind early, but second-half goals from substitutes Hirving Lozano and Andrea Petagna completely changed the game for Gennaro Gattuso’s side.

Napoli possess some impressive depth in the attacking positions this season, which is why they are the second-leading attack behind Inter with 26 goals. Lozano, in particular, is enjoying a breakout season in Naples, with six goals and two assists in 10 appearances.

Napoli were once again without record signing Victor Osimhen as the striker continues to recover from a shoulder injury. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to return in time for this crucial match against Inter.

If Osimhen does miss out once again, Gattuso is likely to start with Mertens as the main striker with Lorenzo Insigne, Lozano, and either Matteo Politano or Piotr Zielinski in support.

Gattuso has generally preferred to play with a 4-2-3-1 formation this season. But after back-to-back losses in big games against Sassuolo and Milan, he decided to go back to his trusted 4-3-3 against Roma, and they ran out 4-0 winners.

It won’t be too surprising if Gattuso does decide to go with a 4-3-3 to prevent getting overrun in midfield against Inter’s 3-5-2.

Aside from their losses against Sassuolo and Milan, Gattuso has generally gotten his defence on point this season. Napoli have conceded just 11 goals, three of which came when they lost 3-0 to Juventus by default.

History

Things have been quite competitive between Napoli and Inter over the past few years. Over their last 26 league meetings, Napoli hold the slight 10-9 edge in terms of wins, while there have been seven draws.

Although, Inter have had the upper hand recently in the league. Napoli have won just one of their last six meetings, while Inter have won three. Inter did the double over Napoli last season, with Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez both scoring two goals against them.

However, Napoli did beat Inter over two legs in their Coppa Italia semi-final tie and went on to win the competition.

Betting Tip

??

Inter Milan vs Napoli 1X2 Draw @ 3.35
December 16, 03:45 (GMT+8)

SBOTOP odds have Inter as slight 2.14 favourites at home, Napoli are priced at 3.30 to pick up a crucial away win, while a draw is at 3.35.

It’s hard to pick a winner between these two clubs given how good both clubs have looked at the moment. And clearly, neither will want to suffer a defeat and lose valuable ground in the title race.

With all those factors in mind, I foresee quite a competitive matchup between these two title contenders that ultimately ends in a hard-fought draw.

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22-Dec 2020 Tuesday 7:02 PM (225 days ago)            #10
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Serie A: Insigne Off as Inter Win Ugly

Inter Milan 1-0 Napoli

Inter Milan held on to second place in Serie A tonight after beating Napoli, thanks to a second half penalty converted by Romelu Lukaku.

Just a single point separated these two giants of the Italian game and now having fallen four behind, Napoli can feel a little hard done to after dominating for long periods and losing their captain Lorenzo Insigne to a red card.

However, their three match winning run is over while Inter keep up the heat on leaders AC Milan.

According to the latest Serie A 2020 betting odds, both these teams are in with a decent shout of winning the Scudetto as part of a foursome of title contenders, along with AC Milan and reigning champions Juventus.

And while it hasn’t taken either out of the equation, this was a big win for Inter.

Highlights of the game 

Hirving Lozano scored at the weekend to drag Napoli back into their game against Sampdoria as the Azzurri went on to record a third successive league victory, and he was the first to show tonight with a shot which flashed past the right post.

But Napoli suffered a blow early on when Dries Mertens was injured and he had to be replaced by Andrea Petagna.

Injured Dries Mertens was replaced by Andrea Petagna during their recent Serie A match

Injured Napoli forward Dries Mertens receives medical attention during a match against Inter Milan

Inter’s Lautaro Martinez had a good opportunity when Nicola Barella found him in space in the centre of the penalty area but his shot narrowly missed.

Then Petagna quickly got into the action having a close range shot blocked and then teeing up a chance for Piotr Zielinski which the Pole hammered just past the left post.

As the game swung from end to end, Lozano got on the end of a long ball from David Ospina but the Inter defence stood firm to block his shot.

Homegrown Napoli hero Lorenzo Insigne has had a tattoo of Diego Maradona on his leg following the passing of the Argentine legend. And the Azzurri skipper must have hoped for some of the Diego magic when he let fly from distance, but he was off target.

In a frantic end to the first half, Inter’s Roberto Gagliardini met a Barella cross and headed towards the top left corner and Ospina tipped over.

Then after more good work from Petagna, Zielinski had a shot blocked and Insigne too was denied by the solid Inter back line.

Insigne began the second half as he’d ended the first, taking a pass from Mario Rui and taking aim from distance but this time his shot flew high and wide.

He then took a pass from Zielinski and forced a save from Samir Handanovic, but it suddenly all went wrong for the Napoli captain and his team.

In three disastrous minutes, Ospina pulled down Matteo Darmian in the penalty area to earn a yellow card and give away a penalty.

Insigne’s protests were too much for the referee and he brandished a red card to send the captain off. And finally, Romelu Lukaku slammed the penalty home to give Inter a lead against the run of play.

The hosts found it easier to play the game out against 10 men while Napoli were left to rue what might have been as Giovani di Lorenzo brought one more save out of Handanovic with few minutes remaining.

Napoli’s last chance came when Petana agonizingly hit the post deep into injury time.

Key statistics

Inter’s trip to Sardinia to face Cagliari at the weekend ended in a 3-1 victory as I Nerazzurri roared back from a half-time deficit with three goals in the last 15 minutes.

They could easily have been behind in the first half tonight as Napoli dominated possession and had eight shots to two, but a combination of well-organised defence and Napoli’s wastefulness in front of goal kept the scores level as Inter had the only first half effort on target.

The pattern continued as Napoli continued to dominate and they ended up with 18 shots to five, and three to two on target. However, it didn’t turn into points.

What’s next?

Next up, Inter are at home to Spezia on Sunday and then they have a tough game away to Hellas Verona, who beat Lazio in Rome for the first time in 36 years last weekend.

Napoli have an away game against Lazio at the weekend and then they host Torino on Wednesday 23rd December, hoping to give their fans an early Christmas present against a side struggling in the bottom three.

We’ll be across all the very latest Serie A 2020 news, highlights, and results in the run up to Christmas so keep it here at SBOTOP for all the best festive football!

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22-Dec 2020 Tuesday 7:04 PM (225 days ago)            #11
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Serie A: Milan’s Bid to Stay On Top

Sassuolo vs AC Milan

There could be a change at the summit of the Serie A this weekend, depending on the result at the Mapei Stadium where Sassuolo vs Milan is the match on offer.

Having led the table throughout the early stages of this campaign, two draws have reduced Milan’s lead at the top to a single point, with city rivals Inter breathing down their necks.

Juventus and Napoli are three and four points further back to make up the foursome of teams chasing the 2021 Scudetto.

So the top spot will either stay in Milan this weekend, or with I Rossoneri, or Antonio Conte’s Inter, who have a very winnable game at home to Spezia.

But just behind the big four, indeed level on points with Napoli, you’ll find Sassuolo.

This is a big test indeed for the current leaders. The Serie A 2020 betting odds back a Rossoneri win, but not by a street against a side which has plenty to offer in this huge game.

Talking Points

Rossoneri are missing Zlatan

Stefano Pioli has established a winning mentality in his team this year which is a remarkable transformation over the past 12 months.

A year ago, Milan were 14th in the table with 13 points and they are now top dogs with 28. Being one of only two unbeaten sides alongside Juventus, Pioli’s team is the second highest scoring group in the league with 27 goals from 12 games.

And the big change from last season? Well, it’s hard to look beyond the legendary Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has scored 10 goals already.

However, an injury to the big Swede sees him sidelined and that has coincided with Milan falling back into the leading pack.

Two consecutive draws against Genoa and Parma are underwhelming compared to previous victories over Inter Milan and Napoli, when Ibrahimovic was the match-winner.

Injured or otherwise, Zlatan is always going to feature in the Serie A 2020 news.

In this case, it will be about his absence which means that I Rossoneri is missing his goals and leadership up front.

But while there may be a loss of leadership in attack, Pioli has no such problem in defence where captain Alessio Romagnoli marshals the defence in front of Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Can Simon Kjaer help AC Milan to keep a clean sheet against Sassuolo?

AC Milan’s Simon Kjaer defending against Fiorentina’s Franck Ribbery

Danish centre-back Simon Kjaer can take some of the credit for Milan’s resurgence with a series of committed performances at the back, while wing-back Theo Hernandez is a sound defender with an attacking threat down the flanks.

Inter Milan’s Wednesday night victory over Napoli pulled I Nerazzurri up to within a point of AC Milan at the top of the table, and Pioli will be looking for a solid defensive display while Franck Kessie will try to take the attack to Sassuolo.

Sassuolo on the European trail

Head coach Roberto de Zerbi has guided Sassuolo to an impressive start to the 2020/21 campaign with just one defeat all season and they sit handily in fifth place.

I Neroverdi have two forwards with five goals each.

Striker Domenico Beradi is a real handful and has received international recognition, scoring in Italy’s recent 2-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina to fire the Azzurri into the final of the UEFA Nations League.

He also has three assists to add to his goals while alongside Berardi, veteran striker Francesco Caputo has bagged five goals in seven games.

These two will test Romagnoli’s leadership in the heart of Milan’s defence.

22-year-old midfield man Manuel Locatelli provides some real quality in the middle of the park and is one to watch for the future.

Overall, this is a team capable of sustaining a European challenge by improving on last term’s eighth place finish.

History

Milan have a good record against their upcoming opponents, winning nine of the 15 meetings since 2014, with Sassuolo winning four and there have been two draws.

I Rossoneri won this fixture 1-2 in July, as Caputo scored for the hosts only to see Ibrahimovic bag a brace.

Milan have been impressive on the road this season, winning five and drawing one of their six away games.

Betting Tip

??
Sassuolo vs AC Milan 1X2 Draw @ 3.65
December 20, 22:00 (GMT+8)

This is a tough game to call with the SBOTOP odds at 3.59 for a home win and Milan marginally odds on at 1.87 to win the game and keep hold of their top spot.

But it won’t be easy against a side with only one defeat all season, and I predict a tight encounter with chances at a premium.

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22-Dec 2020 Tuesday 7:06 PM (225 days ago)            #12
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Serie A: Atalanta and Roma Fight for Points and Position

Atalanta vs AS Roma

A big match awaits us this weekend as Atalanta host AS Roma this Sunday night.

These two Serie A heavyweights will look to gain more points in order to boost their respective campaigns, as the Scudetto race gets tighter each and every week.

I Giallorossi are currently at fourth with 24 points and are level with defending champions Juventus and a win here can push them into the top three.

Meanwhile, La Dea sit steady at the eighth spot with 18 points. They are level with ninth-seeded Lazio and they still have one more game in hand, which should put them in an advantageous situation if they win at home.

The betting odds see this as a tight affair between these two so we should be in for a belter this weekend.

Alongside Lazio vs. Napoli and Sassuolo vs AC Milan, this upcoming fixture will pose huge ramifications for this season’s championship.

Talking Points

Atalanta dealing with internal turmoil

Atalanta were on the wrong end of the Serie A 2020 news when team captain Papu Gomez expressed his desire to move to another club ahead of the January transfer window.

The veteran midfielder reportedly had a spat with gaffer Gian Piero Gasperini, and it appears that their working relationship has gone beyond repair.

Gomez has played an integral role to Atalanta’s rise in Europe over the last few seasons. Even when he was sought after in transfers by the other teams, the 32-year-old turned down lucrative offers to stay in Italy.

But because of this unfortunate development, La Dea have left him out in the rotation in their recent matches.

Atalanta were able to secure their spot in the Champions League Final 16 and they have yet to lose since late November.

They are fresh from a draw against Juventus last night as Remo Freuler scored the equaliser in the 57th minute.

Overall, Atalanta can still contend despite leaving Gomez out since they have a deep rotation on the attack.

Duvan Zapata, Luis Muriel. Robin Gosens, Hans Hateboer, and Martin de Roon are expected to be on their shooting boots every game to lead La Dea moving forward.

However, Papu Gomez’s leadership will be sorely missed by the squad and recent reports indicate that PSG are in talks with the midfielder.

AS Roma are not gun-shy at all

Paulo Fonseca’s men may be on to something as they’ve built significant momentum for this December.

I Giallorossi bounced back from their earlier loss against Napoli by tallying two wins and a draw over these last few weeks.

The draw against Sassuolo was a hard-fought one, although it was theirs to lose since they were reduced to 10 men when Pedro Rodriguez was sent off during the 40th minute.

Can Edin Dzeko score a goal against Atalanta in their upcoming Serie A clash?

AS Roma’s Edin Dzeko celebrates scoring their third goal against Young Boys in Europa League

As soon as they entered the easier part of their schedule, AS Roma gladly took care of business by demolishing their lower-tier counterparts.

They beat Bologna and Torino with an aggregate tally of 8-2, so their confidence is sky high heading into this contest.

History

Atalanta and AS Roma have faced off in 37 matches already.

AS Roma own the advantage in the overall head-to-heads with 18 victories, while Atalanta won in 11 times along with eight draws.

La Dea have had the better of I Giallorossi in recent occasions, winning three times along with two draws for the last three years.

One of those wins came from 10 months ago, where Atalanta eventually booked their Champions League berth with a 2-1 win as Mario Pasalic came off the bench and scored the winning goal.

AS Roma’s last win over Atalanta dates back to August 2017, when Aleksandar Kolarov punched in the marginal goal during the 31st minute.

Betting Tip 

??
Atalanta vs AS Roma Over 3.25 @ 2.03
December 21, 01:00 (GMT+8)

For this collision course on the weekend, the Serie A 2020 odds point to a highly-contested affair.

Atalanta are backed to win at home for 2.21, while AS Roma are not far off with a decent price at 3.00 and chances for a draw are at 3.50 in the 1×2 market.

But the real value for money will be in terms of the goal count for this game.

Seeing the depth and quality between these two sides, I am expecting for goals to come at a healthy rate.

While I Giallorossi have been pouring it on lately, expect La Dea to try and answer back with goals of their own as well.

Either way, this looks to be a fun matchup and SBOTOP will keep you up-to-date with the latest news here in Serie A.

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22-Dec 2020 Tuesday 7:08 PM (225 days ago)            #13
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Serie A: Lazio and Napoli In Need of a Bounce Back

Lazio vs Napoli

Lazio and Napoli have aims to gain more ground in the Serie A table as they will face off over at the Stadio Olimpico this Sunday night.

Both of these proud clubs are raring for a victory here since their recent Serie A 2020 results have been unsatisfactory by their standards, with Napoli fresh from a loss and Lazio coming off of a draw.

With the race to this year’s Scudetto getting tighter by the day, this upcoming match is expected to be played with high stakes.

Just like Lazio and Napoli, their fellow contenders in AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, AS Roma, and Sassuolo have their work cut out for them given their minimal points disparity.

Looking at where it stands now, Napoli are at the fifth spot with 23 points while Lazio are ninth with 18 points.

Gennaro Gattuso’s men will motivate his men to push for a top four spot while Lazio are keen on inching closer to the same destination after an underwhelming start.

Without further ado, we take a look on how these two teams will stack up for this weekend’s affair.

Talking Points

Lazio’s backline looks vulnerable

In order for the Biancocelesti to regain their title contending form, Simone Inzaghi would need to address their porous backline.

Lazio are currently one of the worse teams in giving up goals, with 20 already after 12 matchdays.

The absences of skipper Senad Lulic, Lucas Leiva, Mohamed Fares, and Francesco Acerbi have hurt their backline depth to a large degree, and Lazio have no choice but to dig deeper from their rotation.

The said quartet are considered lineup doubts ahead of Sunday, which means more burden for the trio of Luiz Felipe, Wesley Hoedt, and Stefan Radu.

Midfielders Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Gonzalo Escalante will be key pieces as well on defence since Inzaghi likes to employ a 3-5-2 formation.

At the front, Lazio should have no problems at all.

Ciro Immobile, the winner of the Golden Boot award last season, will spearhead the attack as usual. He leads them in goals scored with seven in 10 domestic games played – and four in their last five.

Creative forwards Joaquin Correa and Luis Alberto are both needed to be on target, considering they have only tallied four goals combined so far.

Napoli missing several pieces

Similar to Lazio, Napoli will also miss some key personnel.

Dries Mertens suffered an ankle injury and will not return until January, while Lorenzo Insigne will serve his one-game suspension since he was sent off in their ugly loss to Inter Milan.

Summer signing Victor Osimhen has travelled to Belgium to rehab his nagging shoulder injury, while Elseid Hysaj is not 100-per cent fit.

Napoli aim for the win against Lazio to push themselves into the top four in Serie A

Gennaro Gattuso giving commands from the touchline during their game against Inter Milan

But even without these players, Gennaro Gattuso should have enough tools to eke out a victory.

Andrea Petagna, Matteo Politano, Fabian Ruiz, and Hirving Lozano will play major roles this Sunday to lead the third-best attack in Serie A today.

The Partenopei have not lost two straight Serie A games in almost a year and they are hopeful to maintain such trend.

History

Lazio and Napoli have faced off 42 times since the turn of the century.

The Biancocelesti have the slight edge in the head-to-heads with 18 victories, whereas the Partenopei have won 14 times along with 10 draws.

These two sides last met in August where Napoli notched a 3-1 victory at home. Fabian Ruiz, Lorenzo Insigne, and Matteo Politano scored one each, while Ciro Immobile added one for Lazio in consolation.

That game witnessed history as Ciro Immobile equalled a Serie A record of reaching 36 goals in a single season.

They have split their two matches prior to August in a couple of low-scoring tiffs that ended up 1-0.

Betting Tip

??
Lazio vs Napoli 1X2 Draw @ 3.10
December 21, 03:45 (GMT+8)

Given how these two line up, this match can really go either way.

And the Serie A 2020 odds agree as Napoli are priced at 2.58, while Lazio are pegged at 2.75 in the 1×2 market. However, to be safe, my recommendation is for you to place your wagers at a draw at 3.15.

Goals can come at a healthy amount with capable attackers from both sides, so going for Over 2.50 @ 1.88 or Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.04 are plausible alternatives as well.

With Lazio and Napoli looking fatigued and missing key personnel, perhaps sharing the spoils won’t be too bad at all for these two sides.

Nonetheless, we expect this to be a fun and cagey affair. So continue to tune in here at SBOTOP as we have you covered with the latest in Serie A.

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22-Dec 2020 Tuesday 7:10 PM (225 days ago)            #14
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Serie A: Milan Clubs Maintain Top Spots

It’s shaping up to be a Merry Christmas indeed for AC Milan and Inter as the two Milan clubs have maintained the top two spots in the Serie A table with wins this weekend.

Milan finally avoided having to come from behind for a change as they took down Sassuolo, and Inter extended their impressive winning run to six matches in a row by beating newly promoted Spezia.

Meanwhile, Juventus and Atalanta also recorded impressive victories with notable attacking performances as they look to keep pace with the Milan sides.

Read on below as SBOTOP runs down all of the top takeaways from the most recent round of Serie A matches.

Milan’s record start earns big win

AC Milan have had to do things the hard way in recent games as they fell behind to both Parma and Genoa. To their credit, they came from behind both times, but they dropped four valuable points as they could only draw those matches.

The leaders finally learned their lesson in their match against Sassuolo, though. They took the lead through Rafael Leao, who scored the fastest goal in Serie A history after just six seconds. They then doubled their advantage within the first half-hour through Alex Saelemaekers en route to a 2-1 win.

Milan have shown over the last month that they are indeed capable of scoring goals without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is nearing his return. And if they can avoid getting into losing situations like in recent games, their Serie A 2020 odds of winning the title will be in good shape.

Hakimi holds the key for Inter

Achraf Hakimi scored on the 51st minute of Inter Milan's 2-1 win against Spezia in Serie A

Achraf Hakimi celebrates after opening the scoring of Inter Milan’s match vs Spezia

Inter Milan continued their impressive run of Serie A 2020 results as they picked up their sixth win on the bounce in the league with a 2-1 win over Spezia. Achraf Hakimi gave the Nerazzurri the lead and Romelu Lukaku added a second from the penalty spot.

Hakimi has shown that he is the type of wing-back who can thrive in Antonio Conte’s preferred 3-5-2 system. The 22-year-old has already got four goals and two assists in the league this season.

However, Hakimi has yet to fully cement himself as a regular starter for Inter as Conte remains unconvinced of his defensive abilities; he’s started just seven of their 13 league matches.

Hakimi’s talent is undeniable, though, and Conte will give him every opportunity to prove himself. If and when he does figure out that part of the game, Inter figure to be quite a force to be reckoned with in the title race.

Juventus finally show attacking potential

Juventus have been unconvincing for the most part in their first year under new manager Andrea Pirlo. But the Old Lady finally produced their biggest league win to date as they blew Parma away, 4-0.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored two more goals as his tally for the season reaches a league-leading 12, while Dejan Kulusevski and Alvaro Morata also got on the scoresheet.

Morata also set up the first two goals, giving him five assists on the season. The Spaniard is proving to be the perfect strike partner for Ronaldo as his link-up play has been impeccable.

The more chemistry Morata builds with the likes of Ronaldo, Kulusevski, Federico Chiesa, and others, the more potent Juve’s attack figures to be moving forward.

No Papu, no problem for Atalanta against Roma

There is a lot of drama around Atalanta at the moment, with captain Papu Gomez seemingly on his way out of the club after a bust-up with manager Gian Piero Gasperini.

After coming on as a substitute in their draw with Juventus in midweek, Papu was left out of the side completely for the team’s match against Roma this weekend.

But Atalanta fared just fine without their captain as they came back from an early deficit to win 4-1. The win sees Atalanta jump back up to seventh with a game in hand.

Colombian strikers Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel both got on the scoresheet. Meanwhile, Josip Ilicic had arguably his best game of the season as he set up two goals and scored the team’s fourth.

Papu has been a great servant to the club and will go down as one of its all-time great players. But Gasperini has proven time and again that he is the mastermind behind Atalanta’s ascent into one of Italy’s top teams. And even if Papu is no longer in the fold, Atalanta can still be a dangerous top-four contender this season.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 22-Dec-2020 at 7:11 PM



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22-Dec 2020 Tuesday 7:13 PM (225 days ago)            #15
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Serie A: Fiorentina Bid To Avoid Christmas Near The Drop Zone

Juventus vs Fiorentina

Juventus have been a little inconsistent of late – even Cristiano Ronaldo proved he was human by missing a penalty in last week’s draw with Atalanta.

On saying that, they always have a chance when they have the Portuguese genius in the team, as shown by another two-goal showing in the weekend romp at Parma and a recent comprehensive showing at Barcelona.

Fiorentina, meanwhile, would love to have such a household name in their ranks but have historically had to sell their best players, most recently Federico Chiesa to the Italian champions.

So as Serie A contests go, this should be a home banker.

Talking Points

Although Fiorentina have enjoyed memorable days mixing it with the top end of European football, those days are some way off right now as indicated by their position, just four points adrift of the drop zone.

Unrealistic expectations have been labelled as one factor behind their position with boss Cesare Prandelli attributing such to their current anxiety.

He saw ‘improvements’ in their weekend draw with Hellas Verona – their second consecutive 1-1 stalemate – but Juventus will be another level up.

Certainly, any repeat of the fourth place finish secured in 2015 seems a rebuild away.

They have scraped four draws in the last eight matches and while I don’t expect them to be drawn into a relegation fight, they certainly aren’t in a position to challenge for a European berth either.

On saying that, Fiorentina could start the new calendar year only a point clear of the bottom three if they lose to their rivals and Genoa pick up only a second Serie A win of the campaign the following night.

Prandelli, who returned to the Viola dugout last month November after succeeding Beppe Iachini, has yet to taste league success since returning.

There may not be fans in the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday night but the rivalry between these two is clear, not helped by key players leaving Florence for Turin over the years, most notably Roberto Baggio.

Juve attract followers from far and wide, but never from Florence, the Renaissance city loyal to its own side almost exclusively.

Indeed, in 1982, when Juve pipped them to the Scudetto, Fiorentina fans cursed Juventus, unable to hide their loathing of the despised Torinese side. “Meglio secondi che ladri,” they said, “better to be second than to be thieves,” convinced that the chance of only their third league title had been stolen.

The pathway has remained with Fiorentina unable to hold on to some of their stars such as Chiesa – the crown jewel in the Viola setup now wanting to test himself at the highest level as the Bianconeri chase honours both domestically and on the continent.

With Juan Cuadrado flourishing on the right-flank, Chiesa is battling it out with Dejan Kulusevski and Alex Sandro for a spot on the left-wing, but his stunner against Atalanta – his first league goal for the club – last week should be enough to earn a starting jersey.

For the hosts, Paulo Dybala, Arthur and Merih Demiral were injured at the weekend and all are expected to miss this one too, as is the suspended Alvaro Morata, although Giorgio Chiellini could return.

Serie A: Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a brace in Juventus 0-4 away victory against Parma

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Juventus teammates after scoring against Parma

Juventus, who have won the past nine titles and created numerous Serie A highlights along the way, are unbeaten after 13 league games under Andrea Pirlo, although virtually half of them have been draws.

With statistics like that and Fiorentina without a league win since October 25, how can you bet against them?

History

These two met for the very first time in the 1931/32 season. Since then, they have met numerous times with Juve tasting victory on 82 occasions, 56 draws and 34 Fiorentina wins.

Of their 172 clashes, all bar 10 have come in Serie A with the others in the Coppa Italia (six times) and the UEFA Cup/Europa League (four times).

Last season Juve won this fixture 3-0 with two penalties from Ronaldo and a Matthijs de Ligt goal.

The match in Florence finished goalless.

Fiorentina have not beaten Juventus in their past six meetings and last won in Turin in 2008 when Daniel Osvaldo netted a last minute winner for Viola and was promptly shown a second yellow card for his over-exuberant celebrations.

Betting Tip

??
Juventus vs Fiorentina Juventus Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 1.57
December 23, 3:45 (GMT+8)

Juventus are big favourites and given their recent record in this fixture it is hardly surprising.

You can back the ‘old lady’ of Turin 1X2 @ 1.50, whereas the visitors are out @ 6.40.

Similarly, Juventus are available to back Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 1.87 with Fiorentina +1.00 @ 2.06.

Over 2.75 goals @ 1.97 and Double Chance Fiorentina or Draw @ 2.48 are among the other options available with the SBOTOP Serie A betting odds.

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30-Dec 2020 Wednesday 8:51 PM (217 days ago)            #16
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Serie A: Lazio Look to Deny Milan Winter Championship

AC Milan vs Lazio

AC Milan are one match away from being crowned Serie A winter champions. Despite the absence of talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the past month, the Rossoneri have held their own and can enter the Christmas break ahead of fierce rivals Inter and Juventus.

The league leaders’ last test of 2020 will see them face off against Lazio, who are not having nearly as impressive a season as they had last season prior to the lockdown.

However, the Biancocelesti reminded everyone with their 2-0 win in their big midweek matchup against Napoli that they are still a dangerous team that can defy the Serie A 2020 betting odds at San Siro.

Talking Points

Milan dealing with several injuries

After back-to-back draws against Parma and Genoa, Milan finally got back to winning ways with an impressive 2-1 away win at Sassuolo.

Rafael Leao scored within just six seconds, setting a new record for the fastest goal in Serie A history. Alexis Saelemaekers then doubled Milan’s advantage inside half an hour.

Leao and Saelemaekers became the seventh and eighth different goalscorers for Milan over the last five games – that includes five goals from four defenders – as they have shown they are more than capable of creating goals even without Zlatan.

Full-back Theo Hernandez has been instrumental to Milan’s success this season as he’s been responsible for a number of their Serie A 2020 highlights. After scoring a brace in Milan’s dramatic comeback against Parma and setting up a goal against Sassuolo, Hernandez now has three goals and five assists in 16 appearances this season.

Stefano Pioli is expecting AC Milan to secure another win in Serie A as they clash against Lazio

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli during their match against Parma

Milan must continue to cope without Zlatan, though, as the ageless Swede suffered another injury setback which will likely keep him out until at least mid-January. And with Ante Rebic also dealing with a foot problem which saw him miss the Sassuolo match, Leao looks set to continue playing as Milan’s main striker against Lazio.

Manager Stefano Pioli is dealing with a bit of an injury crisis at the moment. Aside from Zlatan and Rebic, midfielder Ismael Bennacer and centre-back Simon Kjaer are also still out, and Sandro Tonali was subbed off with an injury.

Those absences could have a significant effect on a Milan side that has been surprisingly shaky at home this season. They have three wins and three draws in six matches at San Siro.

Captain Immobile in amazing form

After losing at home to Verona and drawing at Benevento, Lazio finally got back to winning ways by beating Napoli 2-0 at the Olimpico.

It was by far their biggest victory of what has been quite a disappointing season to date. That win sent them up to eighth in the table, tied on 21 points with Atalanta, who have a game in hand.

Once again, captain Ciro Immobile inspired Lazio to victory as he scored the opener after just nine minutes and set up Luis Alberto’s clinching second-half goal.

After a record-breaking season where he scored 39 goals in 2019-20, Immobile is having another terrific campaign for Lazio. He already has 13 goals and three assists in 15 appearances in all competitions and has scored in nine of his last 10 matches.

Immobile will once again be the main man for Lazio as he looks to score against a Milan defence which has not looked all that secure at home this season.

Immobile’s striker partner, Joaquin Correa, missed the Napoli match with a muscle injury and is questionable to play against Milan. His absence would be a big loss to Lazio, especially given his good record of scoring against Milan (3 goals in five matches).

If Correa does miss out, the central midfield duo of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto will need to support Immobile in attack.

History

Milan have had a significant edge over Lazio in terms of wins (12-5) in recent years. Although, there have also been 12 draws.

Last season saw the two split their two fixtures, with the away side winning on both occasions. Lazio won at San Siro 1-2 with Joaquin Correa scoring an 83rd-minute winner. Correa had also scored the winner at San Siro to win their Coppa Italia tie.

But Milan got their revenge as they hammered Lazio 3-0, with Hakan Calhanoglu, Zlatan, and Ante Rebic getting the goals.

Betting Tip

??
AC Milan vs Lazio 1X2 Draw @ 3.20
December 24, 3:45 (GMT+8)

The SBOTOP odds for this match are quite close. Milan are narrow 2.20 favourites over Lazio, who are priced at 3.25, and a draw is similarly priced at 3.25.

As good as Milan have been this season, there’s a decent case to made for Lazio coming away with a good result. Milan have not been entirely convincing at home and continue to deal with some significant injury concerns. Meanwhile, Lazio have an elite, in-form goalscorer who can cause their defence problems.

Taking all those factors into account, I won’t be surprised if Lazio are able to battle hard and grind out a stalemate at the San Siro.

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30-Dec 2020 Wednesday 8:53 PM (217 days ago)            #17
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Serie A: Three and Easy as La Viola Stun Juventus

Juventus 0-3 Fiorentina

Fiorentina pulled off the biggest shock of the Serie A league season tonight with a 3-0 victory over Scudetto holders Juventus. It’s a win which pulls La Viola away from the relegation zone, while the Old Lady remains seven points from the top.

Juve are in a four-way battle for the title, with the two Milan clubs and Napoli fighting it out. The Serie A 2020 betting odds here at SBOTOP have the Old Lady neck and neck with Inter at 2.75, with AC Milan at 5.00 and Napoli at 8.00. Their three rivals all play tomorrow.

Defeat rounded off a bad day for Juventus. Before this game, they were stripped of three points when Napoli won an appeal against the decision to award I Bianconeri a win when the Azzurri failed to play their Serie A match in October (due to COVID-19).

Highlights of the game

The referee gives Juan Cuadrado a red card after an awful challenge on Gaetano Catrovilli during a recent Serie A match

After reviewing the VAR monitor, Juan Cuadrado is shown a red card by the referee for an awful challenge on Gaetano Catrovilli

Fiorentina had a brilliant start, stunning Juve in the third minute when Franck Ribery played a clever ball to Dusan Vlahovic who outpaced Leonardo Bonucci before beating Wojciech with a beautiful finish.

Cristiano Ronaldo tried to get his side back into the game quickly and had two shots blocked as the visitors’ defence held firm.

But then, before 20 minutes was up, the Old Lady’s night took another turn for the worse when Juan Cuadrado put in a horrific tackle on Gaetano Catrovilli. It could have been a leg-breaker and the Colombian looked mightily relieved to see the referee brandish a yellow card.

But justice was done when VAR intervened and Cuadrado was sent off to end his 200th appearance for Juventus rather sooner than he’d hoped.

Head coach Andrea Pirlo reacted by bringing off Aaron Ramsay to make room for wing-back Danilo, and the hooked midfielder reacted angrily, kicking a water bottle on his return to a seat in the stands.

Juve forward Federico Chiesa began the season as a Fiorentina player before his deadline switch to I Bianconeri and, as tempers frayed, his old team-mate Cristiano Biraghi ploughed into him to earn a yellow card.

La Viola came very close to a second goal when Borja Valero whistled a shot wide of the left post and then, moments later Castrovilli had an effort brilliantly saved by Szczesny.

And before the half-time break, for good measure, Ribery went into the book for a nasty challenge on Chiesa as La Viola went in 1-0 up.

Ronaldo had the ball in the net on 57 minutes, with a brilliant diving header from a Danilo cross, but he was marginally offside.

And in another marginal call, when the Portuguese star went down under a challenge from Castrovilli, in the corner of the Viola penalty area, he had a good shout for a spot-kick but his appeals were waved away.

Then, as the hosts pressed for an equaliser, Chiesa unleashed a fierce shot but was denied by a fine stop from Bart Dragowski.

And then the drama which unfolded had to be seen to be believed. With 15 minutes left on the clock the Viola’s lead was doubled when Biraghi crossed and Alex Sandro diverted the ball into this own net to make it 2-0.

Two then became three when Biraghi earned his second assist, passing to Martin Caceres for the former Juve full back to calmly slot home.

Game over!

Key statistics

On a famous night, La Viola ended a winless run of five matches, and six away from home, and also won away to Juventus for the first time in seven attempts.

Vlahovic’s goal was his third in consecutive Serie A games; he’s the first player under the age of 22 to achieve that feat for Fiorentina since 2005, and he’s fast becoming a hot property, already on the radar of some of Europe’s top clubs. 

Cuadrado’s red card was Juventus’ fifth of the season, the joint highest in Europe’s top divisions.

What’s next?

Once this week’s fixtures are over the Italian league takes its mid season Christmas break. I Bianconeri returns on 3rd January with a home match against mid-table Udinese, who came into this round unbeaten in six and, with a home game against Benevento tomorrow, they’ll fancy going into the break with that run intact.

After a poor run of Serie A 2020 results, Cesare Prandelli returned to coach La Viola in November and this was his first victory. His side returns on the 3rd with a winnable home game against Bologna, and they really need to get something from that game before heading to Rome to take on Lazio three days later.

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30-Dec 2020 Wednesday 8:55 PM (217 days ago)            #18
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Serie A: Three and Easy as La Viola Stun Juventus

Juventus 0-3 Fiorentina

Fiorentina pulled off the biggest shock of the Serie A league season tonight with a 3-0 victory over Scudetto holders Juventus. It’s a win which pulls La Viola away from the relegation zone, while the Old Lady remains seven points from the top.

Juve are in a four-way battle for the title, with the two Milan clubs and Napoli fighting it out. The Serie A 2020 betting odds here at SBOTOP have the Old Lady neck and neck with Inter at 2.75, with AC Milan at 5.00 and Napoli at 8.00. Their three rivals all play tomorrow.

Defeat rounded off a bad day for Juventus. Before this game, they were stripped of three points when Napoli won an appeal against the decision to award I Bianconeri a win when the Azzurri failed to play their Serie A match in October (due to COVID-19).

Highlights of the game

The referee gives Juan Cuadrado a red card after an awful challenge on Gaetano Catrovilli during a recent Serie A match

After reviewing the VAR monitor, Juan Cuadrado is shown a red card by the referee for an awful challenge on Gaetano Catrovilli

Fiorentina had a brilliant start, stunning Juve in the third minute when Franck Ribery played a clever ball to Dusan Vlahovic who outpaced Leonardo Bonucci before beating Wojciech with a beautiful finish.

Cristiano Ronaldo tried to get his side back into the game quickly and had two shots blocked as the visitors’ defence held firm.

But then, before 20 minutes was up, the Old Lady’s night took another turn for the worse when Juan Cuadrado put in a horrific tackle on Gaetano Catrovilli. It could have been a leg-breaker and the Colombian looked mightily relieved to see the referee brandish a yellow card.

But justice was done when VAR intervened and Cuadrado was sent off to end his 200th appearance for Juventus rather sooner than he’d hoped.

Head coach Andrea Pirlo reacted by bringing off Aaron Ramsay to make room for wing-back Danilo, and the hooked midfielder reacted angrily, kicking a water bottle on his return to a seat in the stands.

Juve forward Federico Chiesa began the season as a Fiorentina player before his deadline switch to I Bianconeri and, as tempers frayed, his old team-mate Cristiano Biraghi ploughed into him to earn a yellow card.

La Viola came very close to a second goal when Borja Valero whistled a shot wide of the left post and then, moments later Castrovilli had an effort brilliantly saved by Szczesny.

And before the half-time break, for good measure, Ribery went into the book for a nasty challenge on Chiesa as La Viola went in 1-0 up.

Ronaldo had the ball in the net on 57 minutes, with a brilliant diving header from a Danilo cross, but he was marginally offside.

And in another marginal call, when the Portuguese star went down under a challenge from Castrovilli, in the corner of the Viola penalty area, he had a good shout for a spot-kick but his appeals were waved away.

Then, as the hosts pressed for an equaliser, Chiesa unleashed a fierce shot but was denied by a fine stop from Bart Dragowski.

And then the drama which unfolded had to be seen to be believed. With 15 minutes left on the clock the Viola’s lead was doubled when Biraghi crossed and Alex Sandro diverted the ball into this own net to make it 2-0.

Two then became three when Biraghi earned his second assist, passing to Martin Caceres for the former Juve full back to calmly slot home.

Game over!

Key statistics

On a famous night, La Viola ended a winless run of five matches, and six away from home, and also won away to Juventus for the first time in seven attempts.

Vlahovic’s goal was his third in consecutive Serie A games; he’s the first player under the age of 22 to achieve that feat for Fiorentina since 2005, and he’s fast becoming a hot property, already on the radar of some of Europe’s top clubs. 

Cuadrado’s red card was Juventus’ fifth of the season, the joint highest in Europe’s top divisions.

What’s next?

Once this week’s fixtures are over the Italian league takes its mid season Christmas break. I Bianconeri returns on 3rd January with a home match against mid-table Udinese, who came into this round unbeaten in six and, with a home game against Benevento tomorrow, they’ll fancy going into the break with that run intact.

After a poor run of Serie A 2020 results, Cesare Prandelli returned to coach La Viola in November and this was his first victory. His side returns on the 3rd with a winnable home game against Bologna, and they really need to get something from that game before heading to Rome to take on Lazio three days later.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 30-Dec-2020 at 8:56 PM



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30-Dec 2020 Wednesday 8:58 PM (217 days ago)            #19
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Serie A: Milan Seal Winter Title with Late Winner

AC Milan 3-2 Lazio

AC Milan are officially Serie A winter champions. The Rossoneri will head into the break on top of the Italian league as they edged out Lazio in a thrilling 3-2 affair at the San Siro.

Milan ran out to an early two-goal lead, but the Biancocelesti battled back to tie it up. However, a stoppage-time winner from Theo Hernandez saw Milan secure all three points.

That goal ensures that the red half of Milan will have a slightly merrier Christmas than the blue one as the Rossoneri maintain their narrow one-point lead over rivals Inter heading into next year.

Highlights of the game

Lazio failed to win against Serie A leaders AC Milan

Ciro Immobile celebrates scoring Lazio’s second goal in a match against AC Milan

Milan scored the fastest goal in Serie A history last time out against Sassuolo, and they once again got off to a quick start against Lazio.

Hakan Calhanoglu got the first sight of goal after just five minutes. He really should have done better, though, as his shot from the edge of the area flew just over the bar.

But the Turkish playmaker wouldn’t take long to redeem himself as his corner set up Ante Rebic for Milan’s opening goal on nine minutes. It was the Croatian forward’s first goal of the season after scoring 12 in 30 appearances on loan last year.

Rafael Leao, who scored that record goal last week, then forced Pepe Reina to a save just a couple of minutes later. Lazio came right back with Adam Marusic, who just missed the far corner of the goal with his left-footed strike.

Milan thought they’d missed a glorious opportunity to go two up on 15 minutes. Despite a one-on-one opportunity against Reina, Rebic opted to square the ball to Leao, which was cut off by Lazio’s defence. The ball broke back to Rebic, but his shot was again blocked.

However, VAR would award Milan a somewhat harsh penalty as the ball struck Lazio defender Patric’s arm as he was sliding to charge down Rebic’s shot.

With regular penalty taker Franck Kessie out, Calhanoglu stepped up and sent Reina the wrong way to put Milan two goals to the good.

VAR would strike again just before the half-hour mark and award another dubious penalty, but this time in Lazio’s favour as Pierre Kalulu was penalised for a soft foul on Joaquin Correa off a corner.

As expected, Ciro Immobile stepped up to take the penalty, but the Lazio captain surprisingly failed to convert as his shot was saved by Gigi Donnarumma. Unfortunately for the Milan keeper, Luis Alberto was quick to react and headed the ball into the net on the rebound.

Immobile would make up for his penalty miss, though, as he scored Lazio’s equaliser just before the hour mark. The Lazio skipper expertly took Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s lobbed ball first-time to slot the ball past the diving Donnarumma.

Lazio thought they’d done enough to salvage a point, especially after Rebic had a great chance saved by Reina then put another shot agonisingly wide in quick succession late in the match. But it was not to be for the visitors.

Again off a Calhanoglu corner, Theo Hernandez rose up to head home Milan’s winning goal two minutes into stoppage time, sealing their title of winter champions.

Key statistics

Theo Hernandez‘s outstanding season in Milan continues. The French full-back, who also scored in stoppage time to salvage a 2-2 draw with Parma earlier this month, has been creating Serie A 2020 highlights all season and now has 4 goals and 3 assists in 13 Serie A matches.

Hernandez and Calhanoglu were the chief creators of Milan’s 13 total shots against Lazio, four of which came from Rebic.

Immobile also had 4 shots as Lazio dominated 61 per cent of possession away from home. As SBOTOP had pointed out in the preview to this match, Lazio were a dangerous opponent for Milan. But poor defending from set-pieces ultimately did them in.

What’s next?

Winter champions Milan will have just over a week to rest up before they make an away trip to Benevento on Jan. 3. But just a few days later, they host champions Juventus for a titanic battle that could shift the Serie A 2020 odds for the title one way or the other.

As for Lazio, they will have the perfect opportunity to bounce back from this painful defeat when they return. They will have a relatively easy three-match run that will see them face struggling Genoa (18th), Fiorentina (14th), and Parma (16th) in quick succession. Although, Fiorentina are just coming off a shock 3-0 victory away to Juventus.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 30-Dec-2020 at 8:58 PM



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12-Jan 2021 Tuesday 3:26 PM (204 days ago)            #20
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Serie A: Fiorentina and Bologna Aim to Make Noise In 2021

Fiorentina vs Bologna

2020 has been underwhelming for Fiorentina and Bologna, and both of these Serie A clubs are eager to turn the calendar page with a sense of optimism.

So when these two teams meet at the Stadio Artemio Franchi this Sunday evening, football fans can expect fireworks and intensity from them to kick off 2021.

Normally known as two of the middling clubs in Italian top-flight, Fiorentina and Bologna aren’t far off from each other as far as the standings is concerned.

La Viola and I Rossoblu have only one point separating between them, with the latter holding the slim lead placing 13th while the former is placed 14th.

Both have ended 2020 on a decent note by going unbeaten in their last three matches, although Fiorentina hold the edge in recent form.

Cesare Prandelli’s side produced one of the shocking results of the 2020/21 term when they won against Juventus with a convincing 3-0 scoreline.

Meanwhile, Bologna did decent too when they held Atalanta to a 2-2 draw in the last time out.

So who will draw first blood in 2021? SBOTOP examines these two proud clubs with this match preview.

Talking Points

Can Fiorentina sustain their momentum?

The big question coming into the new year for La Viola is whether they can finally string together a great stretch of Serie A 2021 results.

This is because after mounting a surprising run late in the last term, Fiorentina have yet to build off of that so far with Cesare Prandelli returning at the coaching helm.

La Viola have only three wins, five draws, and six losses – which means that they’re not in the race for an Europa League berth while they are safe from the dreaded drop zone as well.

After a lacklustre first few months of the season, Fiorentina have slowly turned the corner with encouraging performances.

They drew level against Genoa, Verona, and a contender in Sassuolo. And then they capped off 2020 with a thumping win over Scudetto favourites Juventus.

Dusan Vlahovic set the tone early for La Viola by scoring within the first three minutes and the defending champions’ woes were compounded when they were reduced to 10 men.

Such performance has been rare and unexpected for Fiorentina and it remains to be seen on whether they can do it once more.

However, Bologna present a much-easier challenge compared to Juventus and I wouldn’t be surprised if they kicked off 2021 with a bang.

Bologna need to tighten up defencively

I Rossoblu’s defencive chops will be tested once more as they face a very confident Fiorentina squad.

To put into context, Bologna are currently the third-worst in Serie A in terms of goals conceded, as they have given up 27 already as of this writing.

After suffering beatdowns against Inter Milan and AS Roma, Bologna have picked it up by recording three straight draws against Spezia, Torino, and Atalanta.

Bologna are one point ahead of Fiorentina in the Serie A table

Bologna’s Emanuel Vignato celebrates scoring following the assist of Roberto Soriano

Although opponent scoring has gone down in those contests, Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men have yet to notch a clean sheet since November.

On the other hand, scoring won’t be an issue for them since they have capable goalscorers.

Roberto Soriano and Musa Barrow have formed a viable attacking partnership as they’ve recorded nine goals and six assists so far this term.

History

Fiorentina and Bologna have already locked horns in 30 matches.

La Viola hold the major edge in the overall head-to-heads with 13 wins, while I Rossoblu won only in four times along with 13 draws.

The last time that these two met was back in July where Fiorentina annilhilated Bologna with a 4-0 tally.

Federico Chiesa was simply unstoppable in that match as he scored a hat-trick. However, he won’t be around for Fiorentina since he is currently on loan playing for Juventus.

Prior to that fixture, Fiorentina and Bologna had three straight low-scoring draws.

Betting Tip

??
Fiorentina vs Bologna Fiorentina Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 1.87
January 3, 22:00 (GMT+8)

Since both of these teams look evenly matched on paper, the Serie A 2021 odds point to a close contest.

However, Fiorentina are given the slight advantage since they are priced at 2.16, while Bologna are placed at 3.15 and a draw is at 3.45 in the 1X2 market.

With these two clubs not really known for pouring in the goals, you may also fancy going for Under 2.50 @ 1.67 while Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.34 can be a possible outcome if they have their shooting boots on.

Overall, this looks to be a fun matchup especially since both of them are well-rested during the holiday break.

But I would have to give the edge to Fiorentina given their strong performance in the last time out, and I believe that they can use that momentum to get another win at home.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 12-Jan-2021 at 3:26 PM



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12-Jan 2021 Tuesday 3:33 PM (204 days ago)            #21
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Serie A: Inconsistent Lazio Need Victory over Viola

Lazio vs Fiorentina

Lazio’s shaky form in Serie A has still not gone away in 2021. The Biancocelesti started the new year with a disappointing 1-1 draw away to second-from-bottom Genoa as they continue to drop points against teams they should be beating.

Lazio will look to get all three points in their next assignment, where they host 13th-placed Fiorentina at the Stadio Olimpico.

However, that could be easier said than done as Fiorentina’s form has improved over their last few matches. And while the Serie A 2021 odds are stacked against them, the Viola could pose some problems to the home side.

Talking Points

Inconsistency continues to haunt Lazio

Lazio did not make a great start to 2021 as they could only draw 1-1 away to struggling Genoa. Ciro Immobile had put the Biancocelesti in front with a 15th-minute penalty, but Mattia Destro equalised just before the hour mark.

Lazio’s league form of late has been quite disappointing. They’ve won just two of their last seven matches, with two draws and three defeats. Two of those losses have come at home against Udinese and Verona.

Consistency has been a real struggle for Lazio this season. They can still raise their game against the big clubs: They drew against Inter and Lazio, beat Napoli and gave leaders Milan a good fight before losing 3-2. But for some reason, they cannot pick up all three points against teams they should be beating.

But at least Lazio can still count on star striker Ciro Immobile to keep scoring goals and making Serie A 2021 highlights in seemingly every game.

The club captain and reigning European Golden Boot winner has been on an incredible run, scoring in 13 of his last 14 appearances in all competitions, including for on the bounce in the league.

However, Lazio will need a complete team effort to improve their home form. They have won just two of their seven home games at the Olimpico, with two draws and three defeats.

Fiorentina finding their footing under Prandelli

Can Fiorentina dominate Lazio and further improve their Serie A ranking in their next match?

Fiorentina manager Cesare Prandelli celebrates after winning against Juventus in Serie A

Fiorentina are slowly but surely finding their feet once again. After a rocky start to his return to the Artemio Franchi, manager Cesare Prandelli has now led the Viola to a run of four matches unbeaten after picking up a goalless draw against Bologna.

They also picked up two very impressive results — a 1-1 draw at home against Sassuolo and a famous 3-0 thumping of Juventus in Turin — during that four-match span.

Despite that three-goal explosion against Juve, though, Fiorentina are still finding it tough to get goals. They have scored just six goals over their last 10 games, two of which have come on penalties.

Dusan Vlahovic scored both of those penalties as he put together an impressive run of scoring in three consecutive games, but that finally came to an end against Bologna.

Fortunately, Fiorentina are still defending quite well. They have conceded just one goal from open play over their last four matches.

That defence has not been nearly as impressive away from home, where they’ve given up 13 of their 21 goals overall. As a result, they have a poor away record, with just one win, two draws, and four defeats.

But Fiorentina have admittedly had quite a difficult away schedule thus far, as they’ve already faced both Milan teams, Juventus, Roma, and Atalanta.

History

Lazio have the 14-8 edge in wins over Fiorentina over their last 27 league meetings, with five draws. They’ve also won three of their four matches in the Coppa Italia.

However, this matchup has been rather one-sided over the last few years as Lazio are unbeaten in their last six meetings (4 wins, 2 draws).

Lazio did the double over Fiorentina last season with a pair of 2-1 wins. Ciro Immobile scored in both of those matches, including an 89th-minute winner in Florence.

Tempers have also been quite hot during this fixture. There have been a total of six red cards shown in the last five league meetings between these two clubs, with three sendings off apiece.

Betting Tip

??
Lazio vs Fiorentina 1X2 Lazio @ 1.78
January 6, 22:00 (GMT+8)

Despite their recent struggles, SBOTOP odds still fancy Lazio as massive 1.78 favourites to pick up the home win over Fiorentina, who are priced at 4.30. Meanwhile, a draw is 3.65.

After two games without a win, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if inconsistent Lazio produce a much better performance at home.

And with Immobile in fine form, they are clearly the more likely team to score than Fiorentina, who continue to find goals hard to come by. With that in mind, look for Lazio to pick up a much-needed win at home.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 12-Jan-2021 at 3:33 PM



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12-Jan 2021 Tuesday 3:36 PM (204 days ago)            #22
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Serie A: Milan And Juve’s Power Struggle Starts Here

AC Milan vs Juventus

2021 in Serie A kicks off with an almighty bang on Wednesday when league leaders Milan entertain champions Juventus.

This is a big match with potentially season defining consequences as I Rossoneri starts the game top of the league table and ten points ahead of Juventus, though the Old Lady has a game in hand.

The first round of Serie A 2021 results reverberated around Italy as all the big guns made a statement, Inter, Alalanta and Napoli winning 6-2, 5-1 and 4-1 respectively, while Milan and Juve also got off to victorious starts.

Talking Points

Milan’s selection worries

Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan are the only team in Europe’s big four leagues to remain unbeaten in the league. A late winner in a five goal thriller against Lazio kept I Rossoneri on top of the table at the turn of the year, and they followed that up with a 2-0 victory over Benevento on Sunday, Franck Kessie scoring an early penalty to send them on their way.

But Pioli will be without some key players for this big clash, notably top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has been struggling with a calf injury. Belgian winger Alexis Saelmakers is also doubtful, and new signing Sandro Tonali will sit the game out having picked up a straight red card for a knee-high assault on Benevento’s Artur Ionita; though centre back Simon Kjaer, who has been impressive this season, is back in contention.

If Ibrahimovic fails to make the cut, young striker Rafael Leao is likely to continue up front, with supply coming from Ante Rebic and Hakan Calhanoglu who has already contributed six assists this season.

Juve quickly in the groove

I Bianconeri is aiming for a tenth successive title and they have a big gap to close, but they kicked off the New Year with a highly impressive 4-1 victory over Udinese, inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo who scored a brace, while Federico Chiesa and Paulo Dybala were also on target.

Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the leading top scorer in Serie A with 14 goals scored

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Juventus’ first goal against Lazio

Ronaldo leads the race for the Capocannoniere with 14 goals, and his form is crucial if the Old Lady is to mount a sustained challenge to the two Milan clubs.

The Serie A 2021 betting odds currently have Antonio Conte’s Inter favourites to lift the Scudetto, with AC Milan slightly behind and Juventus out at around 5.00, and Napoli still well in the hunt.

You’d think head coach Andrea Pirlo would be under pressure, particularly after Juventus were dealt a double blow as 2020 came to a close. First they went down to a shock 0-3 defeat at home to Fiorentina as Alex Sandro scored an own goal; and then they received the news that the suspended match between Juve and Napoli will be replayed rather than being counted as a walkover, so I Bianconeri lost three points. Had those two events gone in Juve’s direction they would come into this game just four points of the pace.

But they’ll back themselves to close the gap as Pirlo has a full squad to select from for this vital clash. Juan Cuadrado completed his suspension against Udinese while centre-back Merih Demiral is the last player to leave the treatment room having recovered from a muscle strain, and he could feature.

Juventus were highly successful in their Champions League group campaign, winning five matches to lead Group G ahead of Barcelona and that has given Pirlo some credit in his bank.

History

Juventus have had the better of the head to head meetings between these two giants of the Italian game, winning 35 of the 71 clashes, since 1993, with Milan winning 20 and there have been 16 draws.

I Rossoneri have not lost at home to Juve since 2018, fighting back to win the last meeting at the San Siro, 4-2.

But the Old Lady has a winning streak of three games on the road and the New Year may well have refocused Pirlo’s troops after a disappointing end to 2020.

Betting Tip

??
AC Milan vs Juventus Juventus Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.05
January 7, 3:45 (GMT+8)

Here at SBOTOP we have Juventus as favourites to win this game and end Milan’s unbeaten run, at odds of 2.29, while Milan are at 3.10 and the draw is 3.25.

With the hosts desperate to maintain their unbeaten record it promises to be a hard fought game and 2-3 goals at 1.96 could be a good alternative bet, while the most likely score-line is 1-1 at odds of 6.00.

But Milan has selection problems, and with a full squad to pick from I think I Bianconeri has a slight edge, and Pirlo knows a victory will blow the title race wide open.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 12-Jan-2021 at 3:37 PM



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12-Jan 2021 Tuesday 3:39 PM (204 days ago)            #23
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Serie A: Champs Have Too Much Know-how For Challengers at San Siro

AC Milan 1-3 Juventus

Before this Serie A clash, news came that Inter Milan’s title challenge had suffered a setback with a surprise defeat at Sampdoria.

If ever these two teams needed a pre-match boost, this was it. The question now was, could either take advantage?

Leaders Milan had grown in confidence since coach Stefano Pioli was appointed in October. The only team in Europe’s big four leagues to remain unbeaten in the league, a late winner in a five-goal thriller against Lazio had kept them on top of the table at the turn of the year, and they followed that up with a 2-0 victory over Benevento on Sunday.

On the downside, they were missing a number of injured players and the suspended Sandro Tonali but, most importantly of all, the inspirational Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Since returning, the 39-year-old Swede has played 30 times and scored 22 goals, while providing a further seven assists to significantly contribute towards Milan’s Serie A-best 79 points in the calendar year.

For Juventus, teammates Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro had tested positive for Coid-19 and, as a result, the squad have decided to remain in their ‘bubble’ at the team hotel.

While top scorer Alvaro Morata (muscle injury) remained out, they had been lifted by the return from suspension of Adrien Rabiot.

Highlights of the game

Billed by my colleague as a power struggle, no doubt some of it goes back to the long history between the two clubs, Serie A highlights were anticipated and they arrived from virtually the first whistle.

But would this be the night the current dominant force in Italian football flexed their muscles, or is there really a new player in town?

It took 18 minutes for Juventus to answer that as Federico Chiesa opened the scoring with a lovely goal.

Moments earlier, the summer signing from Fiorentina had rattled the post with a fierce drive and then made no mistake as he started and finished a sublime one-two with Paulo Dybala before drilling home a flick from the Argentine into the bottom corner.

Despite the absence of their talisman, much of Milan’s acclaim has come for the real team effort with unsung heroes and that was evident in their equaliser four minutes before the break – even if it should not have been allowed to stand.

Rabiot appeared to be charged off the ball by Hakan Calhanoglu near the halfway line but play continued and the exciting Rafael Leao burst down the left before picking out Davide Calabria whose sidefooted effort was perfectly placed to leave Wojciech Szczęsny a mere admirer.

Leao twice went close as Milan threatened to upset the SBOTOP Serie A betting odds but, after on-loan defender Diogo Dalot tested Szczesny early in the second half, Juventus took control.

Just after the hour, Chiesa collected possession on the edge of the box, cut inside and expertly curled home his and Juve’s second with his left foot.

Then, after Gianluigi Donnarumma superbly tipped away a low shot from substitute Weston McKennie, he combined with another sub, Dejan Kulusevski, whose fine work allowed the young American to fire in from close range.

Game over.

Juventus had ended Milan’s unbeaten run and showed yet again who rule the roost in Italian football.

Juventus grab the win over Serie A leaders AC Milan at their home pitch

Cristiano Ronaldo in action against the AC Milan defence

Key statistics

Chiesa has been involved in six goals against Milan in Serie A (three goals, three assists), his most prolific run against any opponent.

Until tonight, Milan had scored at least two goals in their last 17 Serie A games. In the history of Europe’s top five leagues, only three clubs have achieved a longer streak. They were Barcelona (18 in 2006 & 2013, and 19 in 1948), Bayern Munich (20 in 2014) and Manchester United (22 in 1959).

The last time Milan won successive home matches against Juventus was 30 years ago – back-to-back wins in 1989 and 1990 when Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit were in their pomp. A certain scorer in the 1990 meeting, incidentally, was now Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti.

There were 11 different starters in the line-ups compared to the last Milan-Juventus game in July.

What’s next?

This was the first of three home matches for the Rossoneri in less than a week.

Torino await on Saturday night (January 9) before an Italian Cup tie at home to the same opponents next Tuesday (January 12).

Juventus also have two home matches with Sassuolo next up in the league and Genoa the visitors in the Coppa Italia.

Those games are just the tasters for a manic week after that as Juve face Inter Milan in the league and Napoli and the Supercoppa Final.

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12-Jan 2021 Tuesday 3:42 PM (204 days ago)            #24
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Serie A: The Old Lady is Stirring

Juventus vs Sassuolo

By the time Juventus host Sassuolo in Serie A on Sunday afternoon, the reigning champions could be 10 points from the summit.

But with two games in hand and 23 to play, there is a very long way to go. And having suffered a poor run at the end of last year, Juve head coach Andrea Pirlo will be feeling a little more comfortable.

I Bianconeri drifted away from the top of the table at the end of 2020. But so far, the Old Lady’s Serie A 2021 results have been back to normal.

Two impressive wins have the Turin fans dreaming again, and a win over Sassuolo at the weekend will send shivers down the spines of their rivals.

The visitors aren’t showing up just to make up the numbers though, and far from it.

Having finished eighth in the 2019/20 season, Roberto De Zerbi has guided I Neroverdi to fifth place and they have a European spot in their sights.

Talking Points

Chiesa coming good for Juve

I Bianconeri had a huge game in midweek — away to leaders Milan — and a 3-1 victory saw the Serie A 2021 betting odds on Juventus winning the Scudetto for a record 10th successive time slashed to around 3.00 and they have been installed as second-favourites behind Inter.

The form of Federico Chiesa is beginning to excite Juventus fans after his switch from Fiorentina started with a series of modest performances.

But the Italy winger is really starting to thrive in the black and white of Juve and put in a man-of-the-match effort to beat I Rossoneri.

He scored a superb double, with the second goal off of a great run and brilliant finish to make it 2-1 before American midfielder Weston McKennie climbed off the bench to make the points safe.

Juventus’ defeat at home to Fiorentina in the last game of 2020 was a real body blow to the Old Lady but she has responded with a convincing 4-1 victory over Udinese and the big win against Milan.

Chiesa was on target against Udinese too, while Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace to take his Juventus tally to 87.

Sassuolo Italian to the core

The visitors come into the game on the back of a 2-1 victory over Genoa, a match they dominated with 64-per cent possession and 17 shots to seven.

With Napoli losing at home to Spezia, the three points took Sassuolo up to fourth place only to be overtaken by Juventus after the champions beat the league leaders.

Manuel Locatelli set up Jeremie Boga for the opener and then the Ivory Coast midfielder turned provider to cross for Giacomo Raspadori to head home the winner.

De Zerbi has built a team with an Italian core running through it, winning plaudits from football fans throughout the country.

He is getting the best from 26-year-old striker Domenico Berardi, who has scored seven goals this season and is vying for an Azzurri place along with the likes of Chiesa.

Serie A: Can Sassuolo win against Juventus at Allianz Stadium?

Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi celebrates with Marlon Santos after scoring their first goal against AC Milan

Meanwhile, his strike partner Francesco Caputo could also be in contention for an international call up as he’s added six goals.

22-year-old Locatelli is developing into an excellent midfielder and has been on the Old Lady’s radar. But valued at 40-M Euros, he’s likely to stay at Sassuolo during the January window.

De Zerbi has been handed a selection dilemma by attacking midfielder Hamed Traore who put in an eye-catching performance in a recent 3-2 victory over Sampdoria.

But in their last game on the road, I Neroverdi took a 5-1 thumping at the hands of free-scoring Atalanta and the boss will be equally focussed on his backline led by Gian Marco Ferrari and protected by skipper Francesco Magnanelli, who sits just in front of the back four.

History

The head-to-head meetings are heavily in favour of the hosts. I Bianconeri have won 10 of the 14 games in all competitions since 2013, with Sassuolo winning just once and sharing the points on three occasions.

Both games last season were drawn.

An all-action clash ended 3-3 in July when Sassuolo were at home, as Berardi and Caputo were both on target to put the hosts in charge until Alex Sandro equalised for the Old Lady. Then the corresponding fixture at the Allianz Arena ended 2-2.

Juve are unbeaten at home against Sassuolo in seven meetings.

Betting Tip

??
Juventus vs Sassuolo Juventus Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.16
January 11, 03:45 (GMT+8)

We’re backing Juventus to win this game with odds of 1.40 at SBOTOP. But if you fancy a surprise result, then Sassuolo is at 7.34 and the draw at 4.26.

I Neroverdi have plenty to offer but the Old Lady can’t afford many slip-ups between now and May and she has a steely determination, not to mention a team running into form.

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12-Jan 2021 Tuesday 3:45 PM (204 days ago)            #25
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Serie A: Torino Plan a Fruitful Visit In San Siro

AC Milan vs Torino

AC Milan’s undefeated Serie A streak is now over and they’ll have little time to recoup as they host Torino for a Saturday night showdown.

The Rossoneri were humbled by defending Scudetto champions Juventus last Wednesday night, and perhaps that should give them enough motivation for this upcoming contest.

Nevertheless, Stefano Pioli’s side still lead the pack with 37 points and a loss by Inter Milan against Sampdoria gave the Rossoneri some breathing room since their city rivals remain at second with 36 points.

Meanwhile, their visitors in Torino have their work cut for them. Il Toro remain as one of the league’s cellar dwellers, placing 17th with only 12 points.

Marco Giampaolo’s group are on an undefeated run in their last four games. They have won only once in that span, so surely they’re eyeing an upset in order to keep their top-flight status alive.

Torino have proven that they can keep up against the best teams in Serie A on a good day. But can they get a favourable result when they pay a visit to San Siro?

Read on below as SBOTOP previews this fun matchup.

Talking Points

AC Milan’s margin for error has gotten smaller

A slim one-point lead is what’s left for the Rossoneri. And with their rivals climbing up the standings, AC Milan need to strap up their boots and get to work.

They have a favourable schedule in the next few matchdays and they should have no problem whatsoever in gathering crucial points.

AC Milan will be looking to return to winning ways in their upcoming Serie A clash against Torino

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli giving instructions from the touchline during their match against Juventus

Five of their next six matches are against lower-tier teams including this one, but complacency has no place for this resurgent squad.

However, AC Milan’s injury list has been worrisome over these past few days. As shown in their defeat to Juventus, it is clear that they will have their hands full.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexis Saelemaekers, Sandro Tonali, Ante Rebic, Ismael Bennacer, Matteo Gabbia, and Rade Krunic are all in the infirmary and Stefano Pioli is hopeful that they will heal up sooner than later.

Furthermore, this presents a unique opportunity for their younger players to step up and create Serie A 2021 highlights.

Franck Kessie, Hakan Calhanoglu, Rafael Leao, and Jens Petter Hauge have the necessary tools to spearhead AC Milan’s charge in trying to gather more wins in the next few weeks.

Torino are showing signs of improvement

Staying away from the relegation zone will be Torino’s main objective as they try to turn around their floundering season.

Il Toro are trending in the right direction lately as they have yet to be defeated in their last four matches.

Andrea Belotti obviously is the main protagonist for Torino’s attack. But over these past few weeks, we have seen his other teammates step up big time.

Armando Izzo has opened his tally with two goals in their last two fixtures, while Simone Verdi also had one goal and two assists in that span.

Marco Giampaolo’s side has looked much better compared to earlier this season and it looks like they could finally hit the ground running.

History

AC Milan and Torino have locked horns in 32 occasions since the turn of the century.

As expected, the hosts hold the major advantage in the overall head-to-heads with 16 wins, while the visitors only have four wins along with 12 draws.

AC Milan have already won two straight over Torino this past year. However, Torino owned the Rossoneri in the 2019 calendar year.

Prior to 2019, they have shared four straight draws.

Betting Tip

??
AC Milan vs Torino AC Milan Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 2.08
January 10, 03:45 (GMT+8)

The Serie A 2021 odds back AC Milan as the favourites to win in this contest.

The Rossoneri are placed at 1.47, while Il Toro are priced at 6.40 and chances for a draw are low at 4.20, as per the 1×2 market.

Goal count for this match can go either way, but I am leaning towards a healthy scoring affair with at least two goals being put in by both teams. So you may fancy placing your wager in Total Goals 2-3 @ 1.89 or even Under 2.50 @ 2.24 as well.

While injuries are a bane for AC Milan, they still have enough depth and quality to pull away with a victory.

Torino can give the league leaders a run for their money. And if they can somehow share the spoils, that should be considered as a good result already.

After this Serie A tiff, AC Milan and Torino will go at it again in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 on Wednesday at the same venue.

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12-Jan 2021 Tuesday 3:51 PM (204 days ago)            #26
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Serie A: Sunday Best In the Capital

AS Roma vs Inter Milan

A Sunday lunchtime clash in Serie A is not something I am used to but this one really does have the potential for Serie A 2021 highlights.

It’s third versus second, and while I do not consider Roma genuine challengers, they remain just four points off the summit and have been known to lift their game for the big occasion.

As for Inter Milan, they have been able to win ugly at times this season, which is always the sign of a championship-winning team. But Antonio Conte failed again in the Champions League despite being one of the biggest-spending clubs in Europe.

That means there is even more pressure on him now to deliver the club’s first Scudetto in more than a decade.

Talking Points

Of course, all clubs are aiming to end the Old Lady of Juventus’ nine-year stranglehold on the title.

The home team go into this game just three points behind their visitors following Wednesday’s results, enabling the Giallorossi to draw level with Conte’s side should they taste victory at the Stadio Olimpico.

Roma kept the pressure on the frontrunners with a 3-1 win at basement side Crotone, who conceded six goals against Inter last weekend.

Borja Mayoral scored twice and former Manchester United man Henrikh Mkhitaryan grabbed the third from the penalty spot – a result which makes this even more of an enthralling contest.

The Armenian’s performances have drawn praise from all corners of the Peninsula with his expert orchestration of an attacking high-wire act considered to be the main attraction in this iteration of the Roman circus.

Meanwhile, Inter were left to rue missed opportunities in a midweek defeat to Sampdoria.

Antonio Candreva, on loan from Inter – incredible that he was allowed to play on loan against his parent club – and Keita Balde netted for Sampdoria.

Inter will be without young centre-back Andrea Pinamonti who is out with a muscle injury and midfielder Matias Vecino, who is missing with a knee injury. 

Tests have also reportedly revealed that defender Danilo D’Ambrosio has injured the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

He was forced to leave the pitch in the final minutes of the match against Sampdoria and the 32-year-old’s condition will be re-evaluated next week to assess the extent of the injury.

Apart from this, Conte will have a full squad of players to choose from.

Inter Milan are determined to claim top spot of the Serie A table

Alexis Sanchez reacts after Inter Milan’s defeat to Sampdoria at Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris

Prolific marksman Romelu Lukaku couldn’t stop his team from losing after coming on as a second-half substitute in midweek and the Belgian will almost certainly start this one.

For the hosts, manager Paulo Fonseca will have to deal with injuries to some regular players.

Midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo is out with a cruciate ligament injury, experienced winger Pedro misses out with a thigh injury, and full-back Leonardo Spinazzola is also on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Youngster Riccardo Calafiori and veteran Antonio Mirante are also on the sidelines.

Unlike Inter, Roma will struggle to overcome such absences or can they produce their Sunday best?

History

Since their very first meeting in the 1929/30 season, these teams have met in the Italian top-flight, the Coppa Italia, the former UEFA Cup and the Supercoppa.

Overall, Inter have triumphed 84 times, while there have been 56 Roma wins and 56 draws.

Only once since 2009 have Inter won in the Stadio Olimpico. That was in 2018 when goals from Mauro Icardi and Vecino overturned an Edin Dzeko opener to seal a 3-1 win.

Since then, all five meetings have ended all square, including both games last season.

A goalless draw at the San Siro last December was followed by a four-goal thriller in July when a late Lukaku penalty rescued a point for Inter in a 2-2 draw.

Betting Tip

??
AS Roma vs Inter Milan Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.07
January 10, 7:30(GMT+8)

After five successive draws, what’s the betting on yet another?

Well, in fact, you can get odds on a 1X2 draw @ 3.20.

The SBOTOP Serie A 2021 betting odds consider these sides fairly well matched, although Inter have the edge, as reflected by 1X2 @ 2.47 with the hosts @ 2.85.

Asian Handicap odds also edge towards Inter who can be backed -0.25 @ 2.16 and Roma +0.25 @ 1.79.

A repeat of the corresponding fixture last season – correct score 2-2 – is on offer @ 11.00 with over 3.00 goals @ 2.02.

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12-Jan 2021 Tuesday 3:56 PM (204 days ago)            #27
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Serie A: Roma Get Reward For Late Rally

AS Roma 2-2 Inter Milan

Sunday lunchtime in Serie A and a top of the table clash to boot – not a bad way to spend the time.

Serie A highlights were all but guaranteed, right?

And after each of the last five Serie A meetings between these sides had ended all square, surely a sixth successive draw wasn’t on the cards?

Highlights of the game

While Roma went into the clash in third place, all the pressure is on Inter Milan Antonio Conte to win Serie A following a year and a half of spending big with nothing to show for it, including two successive group stage exits in the Champions League.

He would also have been aware rivals and neighbours AC Milan had won last night to open up a four-point gap at the summit.

Inter nearly made the start they would have desired as Lautaro Martinez ran onto a long ball and held off Gianluca Mancini, managing to get a shot towards goal which Pau Lopez pushed away.

From the resultant corner, Romelu Lukaku’s header from close range was acrobatically tipped away by the Spanish goalkeeper.

It then took a fine block from Chris Smalling to stop another Lukaku shot – two former Manchester United team-mates having an enjoyable duel.

Then Roma struck.

Jordan Veretout robbed possession of Nicolo Barella to spark a counter and the ball was rolled across to Lorenzo Pellegrini by Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the edge of the area. There was still plenty to do but the 24-year-old midfielder rifled a fine finish, with the aid of a slight deflection which wrong-footed Samir Handanovic in the Inter goal, into the far bottom corner.

If Pellegrini’s commitment to club was in question – and it shouldn’t be – with 18 months remaining on his contract, this was the perfect riposte.

A powerful shot from Veretout had to be beaten away by Handanovic as Roma sensed a second.

The strength of the visitors’ squad was shown when Matteo Darmian was unable to continue 10 minutes before the break and was replaced by Ashley Young – another recruit from Manchester United.

Young made an instant impression and managed to cross only for the unmarked Martinez to mistime his header, while the same player had a goal ruled out for offside and Arturo Vidal fired wide from a promising position as Inter finished the half in the ascendancy.

Whereas Roma have spent a number of years selling their best players, Inter have spent the last two summers investing heavily so there was always a feeling Roma would be pegged back.

It proved that way as they netted twice in seven minutes to take the lead.

After Lopez superbly parried to keep out Martinez from close range, Milan Skriniar powered home an equaliser following a Marcelo Brozovic corner – the Slovakian’s second goal in four games.

If that goal was impressive, Inter’s second was even better as Martinez sent the ball down the right and Achraf Hakimi cut inside before unleashing a shot which bounced in off the underside of the bar.

Inter Milan remain in second place in the Italian Serie A

Inter Milan full-back Achraf Hakimi celebrates with his teammates after scoring Inter Milan’s second goal against AS Roma

It was no more than Inter deserved and, at that stage, they were back within a point of the top.

Roma, to their credit, refused to go quietly and Mkhitaryan fired high from close range before Edin Dzeko saw a shot smothered by Handanovic.

When the shot-stopper denied Gianluca Mancini, Roma may have thought their best chance had passed.

Alas, the same player was not to be stopped from the corner that followed as he looped a header into the bottom corner with four minutes left on the clock.

Two goals apiece, a point apiece and a deserved draw.

Questions about Inter and, in particular, Conte’s management remain but the real winners from this clash? – AC Milan and Juventus.

The SBOTOP Serie A betting odds on the 2020/21 title remain intriguingly poised.

Key statistics

Mkhitaryan has now scored at least eight goals and provided at least eight assists in a top-5 European League this season, along with Harry Kane of Spurs.

Before Hakimi, the last Inter defender to score six goals in a Serie A campaign was the Brazilian Maicon in 2009/10.

What’s next?

It’s the big one next for Roma – the Derby della Capitale, the Rome derby and a trip to city rivals Lazio (January 15).

That is followed by two meetings in five days with Spezia in both the Coppa Italia and the league.

Inter Milan have their cup tie next with a trip to Fiorentina on Wednesday afternoon (January 13) ahead of a home clash with league champions and the side considered their main title rivals, Juventus, next Sunday night (January 17).

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18-Jan 2021 Monday 7:41 PM (198 days ago)            #28
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Serie A: Inter and Juve In Derby D’Italia Shootout

Inter Milan vs Juventus

Second plays fourth in the Serie A clash of the weekend when Inter Milan host Juventus at the Sunday night (Italy time) fixture at the San Siro Stadium.

Known as the Derby D’Italia, this is one of the Serie A 2021 results fans from around the country look out for and this season it has even more meaning.

Both teams arrive on the back of Coppa Italia victories, but Juve have the better form in Serie A so far in 2021 and victory for I Bianconeri will lift them to within a point of Inter, and with a game in hand.

The latest Serie A 2021 betting odds still hold Antonio Conte’s Inter as favourites to win the title at around 2.00, with Juventus narrowing the gap at 3.00.

If the visitors can fashion a win on Sunday then those figures could well reverse. That’s how important this game is.

Talking Points

Inter’s lost momentum

Conte has spent big over the last 18 months and he’s under mounting pressure to win a trophy to show for it.

But a return of one point from the last two games has reduced Inter’s chances of winning a first Scudetto in 10 years.

Nonetheless, I Nerazzurri have the players to beat any team on their day.

Wide-man Achraf Hakimi has been in fine form, and he scored his sixth goal of the season with a screamer which bounced in off the underside of the bar as Inter played out a 2-2 draw with Roma.

But Gianluca Mancini’s late equaliser for Roma, on the back of Inter’s defeat against Sampdoria, has left Conte’s team three points off the pace.

Lautaro Martinez continues to impress alongside Romelu Lukaku up front and he has nine goals to his name, while all action midfielder Marcelo Brozovic has weighed in with six assists.

Off-field problems plague the club with out of favour Christian Eriksen seemingly on his way out while his representatives take action against Inter for £6-M they believe they are owed following his transfer in January 2020.

I Nerazzurri need to cut out the noise and make their point on the pitch.

Bad end to 2020 has sparked Juventus

After Andrea Pirlo’s side lost their final game of 2020 to Fiorentina, they were handed a three-point deduction when the league decided to replay their previously cancelled match against Napoli, though I Bianconeri were initially awarded a victory by forfeit.

But the Old Lady has begun the New Year with a steely determination, as four victories on the bounce and three in the league have sent shivers down the spines of fans of both Milan clubs.

Juventus recorded a 4-1 victory over Udinese followed by two 3-1’s, latterly against Sassuolo, but the big result was to inflict a first defeat of the 2020/21 campaign on pace setters AC Milan.

Now just seven points off the top and with a game in hand, the Old Lady is gathering momentum at the right time.

Can Juventus extend their winning streak as they take on Inter Milan this weekend in Serie A?

Juventus’ Federico Chiesa celebrates scoring their second goal against AC Milan

Federico Chiesa seems to be settling in nicely at last by contributing four goals and three assists so far, and he put in a man-of-the-match performance in the victory over Milan.

He could turn out to be the player for this big occasion.

Ronaldo vs Lukaku

Two former Manchester United strikers come head-to-head in this huge game. Indeed they are two of the most prolific goal scorers for club and country over the past few seasons.

In the race for the 2020/21 Capocannoniere, Cristiano Ronaldo with 15 goals and Romelu Lukaku with 12 are leading the race ahead of Lazio’s Ciro Immobile and Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

That’s some foursome.

History

The Old Lady has bossed the head-to-heads between these two sides since 1993 -winning 29 to Inter’s 13 while there have been 20 draws.

Juventus did the double last season, winning 2-0 in Turin and 1-2 in Milan.

At the San Siro Paulo Dybala opened the scoring before Martinez equalised and Gonzalo Higuain scored a dramatic late winner to end I Nerazzurri’s perfect start to the 2019/20 campaign.

In fact, the current champions have won five and drawn once of the last six meetings and are unbeaten in 11 away matches this term, so they will fancy their chances of extending that run.

Betting Tip

??
Inter Milan vs Juventus Juventus Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.11
January 18, 03:45 (GMT+8)

The SBOTOP statistics are in Juve’s favour but the odds slightly favour the hosts. Inter are at 2.38 with the draw at 3.16 and Juventus at 2.74.

With Roma away to Lazio and leaders Milan not facing Cagliari until Monday night, the winner of this clash could make serious progress in the race for the title.

Surely it’s going to be a tight affair, but I’m backing I Bianconeri to edge it. And for a long-shot bet, a repeat of last season’s 1-2 is at 9.40.

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18-Jan 2021 Monday 7:46 PM (198 days ago)            #29
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Serie A: Lazio Look to Derail Roma Title Hopes in Derby

Lazio vs AS Roma

Rome derbies are always massive affairs, but this first clash of the Serie A season between Roma and Lazio will be even more crucial because of the major ramifications to the title race.

While Lazio were contending for their first Scudetto in decades last season, this year it’s Roma’s turn to rise up and challenge at the top of the table. The Giallorossi are currently in third place, just behind the two Milan clubs, while Lazio have slipped down to eighth.

However, the Biancocelesti are coming off back-to-back wins and will be eager to put a huge dent in their city rivals’ title hopes by beating them in the derby.

Talking Points

Lazio starting the year strong

Lazio have had a fairly inconsistent league campaign thus far, but they have been looking better in recent weeks. They are unbeaten in their first three matches of 2021 and have won back-to-back games against Fiorentina and Parma.

Granted, all three of their opponents during this recent run are in the bottom half of the table, but it should still please manager Simone Inzaghi that his side is finally stringing together some consistent performances.

Inzaghi should also be pleased that Felipe Caicedo is back to creating Serie A 2021 highlights. The Ecuadorian striker has scored in back-to-back matches and attempted a whopping seven shots in their win over Parma.

Caicedo’s improved form has helped take the pressure off star striker Ciro Immobile. The Lazio captain failed to score against Parma, snapping his streak of five straight games with a goal. The reigning Capocannoniere is having another outstanding season with 11 goals in 15 league appearances.

Immobile has a stellar scoring record in Rome derbies, with 6 goals in 9 meetings against Roma in his career.

While Lazio have been inconsistent this season, they have still been able to raise their game against other top teams. They drew against both Inter and Juventus and beat Napoli quite convincingly at home, then gave Milan a good fight in a 3-2 defeat.

Roma remaining in the title race

Roma are not ready to exit the Serie A title race just yet. They remain within striking distance of the two Milan clubs after they held Inter to a 2-2 draw thanks to a late Gianluca Mancini equaliser. That result snapped Roma’s run of three games in a row.

Roma have had quite a solid record against the top title contenders this season. They’ve now drawn with both Milan clubs, as well as reigning champions Juventus.

The Giallorossi’s Serie A 2021 odds to win the league weren’t great to start, but they have had a lot of success this season, in large part due to the remarkable form of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The former Manchester United and Arsenal playmaker is having a career resurgence at age 31 as he leads the club with 8 goals and 8 assists.

Serie A: Can AS Roma keep on winning to keep their standings in the league table?

Edin Dzeko celebrates with his teammates after scoring AS Roma’s first goal against Sampdoria

Captain Edin Dzeko continues to contribute his share of goals at age 34 – he has 7 on the season – while midfielder Jordan Veretout (7 goals, 4 from the penalty spot) is also having a terrific campaign.

Veteran forward Pedro is still trying to make his way back from a muscle injury. But even if he doesn’t return in time for the derby, Lorenzo Pellegrini has proven to be a capable replacement.

Manager Paulo Fonseca is unlikely to make any further changes to a settled starting XI. First-choice keeper Antonio Mirante has been missing since Christmas due to injury, though, so Pau Lopez looks set to continue in goal.

History

Roma have had the upper hand over rivals Lazio in recent derbies. Roma have a 13-7 edge in terms of wins over their last 27 league meetings, while there have been 7 draws.

However, Lazio have made things much more competitive in recent years. They drew both derbies 1-1 last season, and on both occasions, Lazio came back to equalise after Roma went ahead.

In their previous five meetings, both sides each had two wins in the previous five meetings.

Betting Tip

??
Lazio vs AS Roma 1X2 Draw @ 3.35
January 16, 03:45 (GMT+8)

The SBOTOP odds for this Rome derby are understandably close. Roma are the slight favourites at 2.44 and Lazio aren’t far behind at 2.78. Meanwhile, a draw is 3.35.

Despite Roma being higher up in the table, these two clubs are quite evenly matched. Lazio have shown they can raise their game against the top competition, and Roma have done the same.

There really isn’t too much between the two sides, which is why I anticipate this Rome derby to be a hard-fought draw.

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18-Jan 2021 Monday 7:53 PM (198 days ago)            #30
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Serie A: Lazio Are Kings Of Rome!

Friday night handed a derby delight to Lazio when they swept Roma aside with a 3-0 victory, and Simone Inzaghi’s side is back among the leading pack.

After a stuttering start to the 2020/21 campaign, beset by COVID-19 problems and fixture pile-ups, Lazio climbed to within two points of fourth place in the Serie A league table and back in contention for, at least, a Champions League place.

Winner: Luis Alberto – Lazio

Lazio set about their city rivals with great intensity and Ciro Immobile put I Biancoceleste ahead with just 14 minutes on the clock. But it was a double from attacking midfielder Luis Alberto that settled this derby in an emphatic fashion. The Spain international made it two, midway through the first half, firing home impressively, and he put the game to bed with a clinical finish in the second half.

This was a great day for Alberto, who flopped during his time at Liverpool, but he won the Rome bragging rights for Lazio and that’s a huge deal for their passionate fans.

Losers: Roma

Lazio were contesting their first Scudetto in a decade last season and had their momentum cruelly halted by the pandemic. But on Friday they derailed Roma’s slim 2021 title aspirations with ease, as their opponents offered no fight.

Paulo Fonseca’s team put on a woeful performance in the Rome Derby, registering just a single shot on target. When Brazilian defender Roger Ibanez made a catastrophic error, Immobile pounced and that set the tone for the game, as Lazio stayed on the front foot and Roma let them. This was far from a performance you’d expect from a potential title contender, and to throw one in at a derby is unforgivable.

Serie A: Lorenzo Insigne manages to score a brace in Napoli's 6-0 win against Fiorentina

Lorenzo Insigne during Napoli’s match against Fiorentina


 

Winners: Napoli

According to the latest Serie A 2021 betting odds Napoli are fifth favourites to win the Scudetto, ahead of the two Rome clubs, and they put down a real marker on Sunday with a brutal obliteration of Fiorentina, beating La Viola 6-0. Skipper Lorenzo Insigne opened the scoring on five minutes and added a penalty for his brace, as well as an assist for Hirving Lozano. By the time Matteo Politano scored the sixth on 89 minutes, Fiorentina had matched Napoli’s shot count of ten, but crucially only had two on target, neither of which really troubled Napoli keeper David Ospina.

Loser: Cesare Prandelli – Fiorentina

The Viola head coach only returned to Fiorentina in November and his side stunned Juventus with a 3-0 win just before Christmas. But the honeymoon is over for the boss, with just one win in five, a narrow victory against struggling Cagliari; and this hammering will take some recovering from.

Fiorentina had a fair share of the possession but fell well short at either end of the pitch. Prandelli may not be so keen to look at this weekend’s Serie A 2021 highlights …but it’s his job!

Winners: Crotone

The basement club hauled themselves back into contention with a crucial and highly impressive 4-1 win over Benevento as Nigerian forward Simeon Nwankwo scored twice. The three points take Giovani Stroppa’s strugglers on to 12 points, one behind Torino and Parma and two behind Genoa and Cagliari.

But Benevento had much more possession at 60 per cent and won the shot count by 22 to nine, and five to three on target. But they let themselves down in the big moments, including an own goal to add to Crotone’s three.

Losers: Kamil Glik and Marco Sau – Benevento

Back in the top flight for a second stint, Benevento have been going along nicely and sit happily in mid table; they probably fancied this one. But Polish defender Kamil Glik put through his own net with just four minutes on the clock and that gave Crotone belief and their own rearguard defended like tigers.

By the time Benevento striker Marco Sau had been substituted on 65 minutes his side was 4-0 down but he still managed to get a red card from the bench for insulting the referee!

Iago Falque scored a late screamer which was little consolation to his team, in particular Glik and Sau.

So that’s all the action so far folks. Later on Sunday night Inter Milan and Juventus shoot out in a game which might determine who emerges as favourites for the Scudetto this season.

And then on Monday night current leaders AC Milan visit Cagliari in a game they need to win to maintain their challenge from the top, against a side which has lost its last five games.

Asian Handicap betting is the way to play that game and here at SBOTOP we are offering 1.63 on I Rossoneri to win, with the hosts at 5.00 and the draw 3.95.

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26-Jan 2021 Tuesday 2:32 PM (190 days ago)            #31
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Serie A: Atalanta Catching COVID-Hit Milan at Right Time

AC Milan vs Atalanta

AC Milan are still on top of Serie A, three points clear of rivals Inter. However, that could very well change this weekend as the leaders face a dangerous visitor in Atalanta.

After a rough start to the season, ‘The Goddess’ has returned to form in recent months as they’ve reeled off an impressive unbeaten run in the league.

Furthermore, Atalanta are catching Milan at the right time as the Rossoneri face a rash of COVID-related absences, which have significantly shifted the Serie A 2021 betting odds in Atalanta’s favour.

Talking Points

COVID-hit Milan significantly shorthanded

AC Milan returned to top spot in Serie A as they took care of struggling Cagliari, 2-0. Milan talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who finally returned from injury in their previous match against Torino, made quite an impact in his first start back as he bagged a brace.

The ageless Swede is now up to 12 goals on the season in just 8 league appearances and has scored in all 7 of his starts.

But amid the good news of Zlatan’s return, the bad news is that Milan have been hit with a number of COVID-19 positive tests, which includes Ante Rebic, Hakan Calhanoglu, and Theo Hernandez. Meanwhile, Rafael Leao served out a one-game suspension.

Leao is set to return against Atalanta, but Rebic, Hernandez and Calhanoglu will be big misses. Those three have been key players in Milan’s attack this season and have 6 goals and 12 assists between them.

With all their absentees in attack, Milan’s new signing, 34-year-old Mario Mandzukic, may be forced to play against Atalanta despite just arriving at the club a few days ago.

Meanwhile, Milan also have major issues in defence. Starting centre-back Simon Kjaer exited the Cagliari match early due to a lower back injury, while Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli picked up a fifth yellow card and will be suspended.

Young centre-back Matteo Gabbia has also tested positive for COVID, which means Milan will be short on defenders against one of the top attacking sides in the league.

Atalanta getting back to their best

After a rocky start to their campaign, Atalanta appear to have steadied the ship in Serie A. La Dea have gone nine games unbeaten in the league (5 wins, 4 draws) and are now back up to 5th in the table.

That run included some impressive Serie A 2021 results like their 5-1 demolition of Sassuolo and a 4-1 win at newly promoted Benevento.

However, they have since had back-to-back disappointing draws against Genoa and Udinese, who are both down near the relegation zone.

Gian Piero Gasperini made a number of changes in attack during their midweek matchup against Udinese. The likes of Duvan Zapata, Josip Ilicic, and Robin Gosens didn’t start, although they came in as substitutes. All three should return to the starting XI against Milan, though.

Josip Ilicic made his 100th Serie A appearance for Atalanta vs Udinese

Josip Ilicic in action during Atalanta BC’s Serie A match

Ilicic has been getting back to top form in recent weeks. The Slovenian has 2 goals and 5 assists over his last 7 league outings. His resurgence has helped make up for captain Papu Gomez’s departure from the side. Youngster Matteo Pessina has also played well as Atalanta’s new No. 10.

Atalanta have had some problems away from home of late. While they’ve lost just once in nine away games – a 4-1 hammering at Napoli – they have drawn four of their last five outside the Gewiss Stadium.

However, they should feel right at home at the San Siro as they played their Champions League home games in the stadium last season while the Gewiss was being renovated.

History

Atalanta have been quite competitive against AC Milan in their recent Serie A meetings. Milan have the slight 10-8 edge in wins, while there have been 7 draws.

Atalanta absolutely smashed Milan 5-0 at home last season. Josip Ilicic was brilliant in that match as he scored a brace and set up another goal.

Milan held Atalanta to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at the San Siro. The two sides have drawn 6 of their last 10 meetings, with Milan winning just once.

Betting Tip

??
AC Milan vs Atalanta AC Milan Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 1.85
January 24, 01:00 (GMT+8)

Because of Milan’s long list of major absentees, SBOTOP odds have Serie A leaders AC Milan as 2.74 underdogs at home against Atalanta, who are priced at 2.35 to pick up the away win. Meanwhile, a draw is at 3.60.

But while Milan will be significantly shorthanded, don’t completely rule them out for this match. For one, they still have Zlatan, who has scored in every Serie A match he’s started this season.

And as Atalanta have shown in their last two games, they still aren’t at their very best despite playing much better in recent months.

With Zlatan back, Milan still have a decent chance at picking up another at least a draw, and possibly even a win.

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26-Jan 2021 Tuesday 2:34 PM (190 days ago)            #32
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Serie A: Defence Meets Offence on Saturday Night

Hellas Verona vs Napoli

Two different styles of football are in for a collision course as Hellas Verona host Napoli this weekend.

The Gialloblu will aim to gain more points as they try to improve their position in the Italian top-flight standings, and it is also the same objective for Napoli as they continue to vie for this season’s Scudetto.

Hellas Verona are placed ninth with 27 points, while Napoli are six notches above them with 34 points. Both are fresh from losses in the last time out so they are keen for a bounce back performance.

The hosts, whose form have been inconsistent to start 2021, will have their work cut out for them as their visitors are in imperious form here in Serie A.

Napoli have won three of their last five league games while producing a lot of goals and topnotch Serie A 2021 highlights, so their resolute backline will be tested here.

This should be a fun matchup to forward to if you’re an avid football fan, so read on as SBOTOP has you covered with the latest match preview.

Talking Points

Hellas Verona might lose a key piece

The Gialloblu will have to deal with their concerns on and off the pitch prior to this weekend fixture.

On the pitch, their attacking prowess needs improving as they are currently the fourth-worst scoring team in Italian top-flight with 22 goals so far.

Hellas Verona have a couple of capable goalscorers that can bring problems to the opposing defence, but their production needs to increase in order to get more wins.

Mattia Zaccagni has been a force in the midfield and he is their main protagonist with four goals and six assists, while his midfield partner Antonin Barak is right behind him with three goals and one assist.

Full-back Federico Dimarco emerged as a budding star for head coach Ivan Juric by being their third leading scorer, and for sure he will garner some interest in the ongoing transfer window.

Speaking of gaining interest in the transfer market, Mattia Zaccagni has been the recipient of such over these past few weeks as AC Milan, AS Roma, Lazio, and Inter Milan are all keen on securing the 25-year-old’s services.

His agent Tullio Tinti believes that Zaccagni is due for a huge payday, so moving on to a bigger club makes sense for his client.

Either way, Zaccagni shouldn’t be distracted since he is still obliged to perform for Hellas Verona as playing well would boost his stock even further.

Napoli look to move up

Lorenzo Insigne is eager to snatch a Serie A win against Hellas Verona

Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne kicks the ball during warm up

Despite winning three of their last five matches, Gennaro Gattuso is not content with his side’s overall form.

That is because they are coming off of a stinging loss against Juventus in their Supercoppa Italiana Final rematch last Wednesday night.

After a long, grueling slugfest, I Bianconeri broke the deadlock in the 64th minute when the great Cristiano Ronaldo pounced from close range.

Napoli had a chance to draw level when Dries Mertens was fouled in the box, but Lorenzo Insigne botched his penalty attempt.

Juventus put the nail in the coffin during added time when they broke on the counter and Alvaro Morata doubled their lead.

Prior to Wednesday, I Partenopei were one of the biggest winners from last week as they handed Fiorentina a 6-0 beatdown.

Skipper Lorenzo Insigne spearheaded the charge with a brace while Hirving Lozano, Diego Demme, Matteo Politano, and Piotr Zielinski also found the back of the net.

Napoli are hopeful to regain such form ahead of this weekend showdown.

History

The Gialloblu are going to be in for a long night since the Partenopei have been historically dominant against them in recent years.

In their last 19 matches together, Napoli have won in 13 games while Hellas Verona have only won twice along with four draws.

Napoli have not conceded a single goal from Hellas Verona in their last three encounters, finishing with an aggregate tally of 6-0.

The Gialloblu’s last victory in this matchup dates back to March 2015 where they outclassed them 2-0 through Luca Toni’s brace.

Betting Tip

??
Hellas Verona vs Napoli Napoli Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 1.74
January 24, 22:00 (GMT+8)

The Serie A 2021 odds have the road side as the clear favourites to win in this upcoming fixture.

Napoli are priced at 1.74 to win, while Hellas Verona are pegged at 4.50 and chances for a draw are at 3.65 in the 1X2 market.

While Hellas Verona’s defensive chops are proven and tested so far this season, Napoli have the personnel to break them down eventually.

A win here would surely help Napoli’s cause and their title odds should increase even more after this contest.

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26-Jan 2021 Tuesday 2:40 PM (190 days ago)            #33
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Serie A Suddenly Getting Crowded at the Top

Things are getting much more interesting at the top as Serie A hits the halfway point of the season. The top two – Milan and Inter – have picked up disappointing results to start the year, which means Juventus are still right there in the hunt for another Scudetto.

Meanwhile, Atalanta and Lazio have both made their way back into the mix for the Champions League places as they’ve dramatically improved their form of late.

Get all caught up with what went down in the latest round of Serie A as SBOTOP shares its key takeaways from Matchday 19.

Milan clubs stumbling out of the gate in 2021

Atalanta's Josip Ilicic during the Serie A match with AC Milan

AC Milan’s Theo Hernandez in action against Atalanta’s Josip Ilicic during a recent clash at San Siro Stadium

Milan and Inter are still ahead of the pack by a comfortable distance – second-placed Inter are 4 points clear of third-placed Roma – and the Serie A 2021 betting odds still have them among the favourites for the title. But both sides dropped points once again this weekend as they’ve started 2021 in less than stellar form.

Milan’s heavy 3-0 loss at home to Atalanta was at least somewhat understandable given their COVID-related absences. But still, they were significantly outplayed by Atalanta, which should raise one or two concerns.

Meanwhile, a full-strength Inter side failed to capitalise as they were held to a goalless draw by struggling Udinese. The Nerazzurri’s Serie A 2021 results have been quite disappointing. They have now won just once in their last four games, and those dropped points could very well come back to bite them in the end.

While Milan have a relatively easy next couple of weeks as they face Bologna, and relegation strugglers Crotone and Spezia, Inter have tricky tests against midtable sides Benevento and Fiorentina.

Needless to say, Antonio Conte’s side must take care of business in order to maintain their title challenge.

Juventus remain in the title hunt

The Milan clubs’ recent wobbles have kept the door open for reigning champions Juventus, who remain within striking distance. The Bianconeri bounced back from their 2-0 defeat to Inter by beating Bologna 2-0 thanks to goals from Arthur and Weston McKennie.

Despite that convincing performance, though, there are still one or two question marks surrounding Juve. Andrea Pirlo continues to tinker with his team seemingly from game to game, and it’s fair to ask whether he even knows what his best XI is half-way through the season.

But even with these concerns, Juve could go up to third — two points back of Inter — if they win their game in hand. And with the undeniable talents of Cristiano Ronaldo leading the way, the Old Lady is almost sure to be right there with the two Milan clubs until the very end.

Battle for last Champions League spot becoming fierce

Barring some unforeseen event, it looks as if Milan, Inter, and Juventus will be the three teams battling it out for the title.

That leaves just one Champions League spot left for as many as four teams – Roma, Atalanta, Napoli and Lazio – to fight over.

Atalanta and Lazio have finally found their best form of late after rocky starts to the season. After back-to-back draws, Atalanta completely outplayed Milan at the San Siro. Josip Ilicic was absolutely brilliant as he’s gotten back to the world-class level he’d been playing in before last year’s lockdown.

Meanwhile, Lazio’s Ciro Immobile is simply incredible. The reigning Capocannoniere is now second in the scoring charts as he fired home his 13th goal of the season to lead Lazio to a 2-1 win over Sassuolo, which is their fourth victory in a row.

As it so happens, the two clubs will now meet twice in the space of a few days in the cup and in the league, which should be a terrific battle between two of the most in-form clubs at the moment.

As for Roma and Napoli, they have a few issues to deal with at the moment.

Roma have looked wobbly after back-to-back defeats to Lazio in the derby and Spezia in the cup. And they needed a last-minute winner to beat Spezia 4-3 in the league.

Paulo Fonseca has done a fine job to date, but he has some work to do if the Giallorossi are to remain in the hunt for a Champions League spot.

The same goes for Gennaro Gattuso at Napoli. After their 6-0 hammering of Fiorentina, Gli Azzurri suffered a 3-1 defeat away to Verona, which once again halted their positive momentum.

Napoli just haven’t been able to build much consistency in the league this season. But the talent and the players are clearly there, and it’ll be up to Gattuso to put those pieces together in the second half of the season.

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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 4:13 PM (182 days ago)            #34
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Serie A: Inter Seek Another Big Win Over New Boys Benevento

Inter Milan vs Benevento

Fresh off their big Coppa Italia derby win over Milan, Inter will now resume their quest to overtake their city rivals at the top of Serie A when they host newly-promoted Benevento.

Inter’s form to start the year has been quite patchy; they’ve won just two of their first five matches in 2021 and were held to a goalless draw at Udinese last time out.

But they have been quite reliable at the San Siro this season, and the Serie A 2021 betting odds have them as significant favourites to extend their home winning streak against Benevento, who they crushed in their first meeting this season.

Talking Points

Inter still need improvement

Inter Milan just about squeaked past rivals AC Milan 2-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia in midweek. However, it was still another unconvincing performance for Inter, who have not played particularly well to start 2021 (2 wins, 2 draws, and a loss in 5 games).

They were somewhat fortunate to have a man advantage for the last half-hour against Milan after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s silly sending off. And even then, they needed a dubious penalty and a late Christian Eriksen free kick at the death to get the win.

Despite his cup heroics, it remains to be seen whether Eriksen will get a chance to start against Benevento. The Danish midfielder has been largely out of favour at Inter this season and has made just one league start since November.

On the other hand, regular starters Ashley Young, Achraf Hakimi, and Lautaro Martinez – who came on as substitutes against Milan – are all likely to return to the first XI.

It has now been six games since Lautaro last scored in the league for Inter as he continues to be so inconsistent in front of goal. Although, he has a good record against Benevento, scoring 3 goals in 2 games against them.

Meanwhile, Inter have a terrific home record this season. They’ve won 7 of their 9 games at San Siro, including each of the last six. Their most recent win was a convincing 2-0 victory over Juventus in the Derby d’Italia.

Serie A Update: Inter have started the negotiations to extend Lautaro Martinez's contract

Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez during their game vs Udinese


 

Benevento falling back down to earth

Benevento have been by far the most successful of the three newly promoted Serie A sides this season. They are currently in 11th place, eight points clear of the relegation zone.

However, it has not been a Happy New Year for the new boys. Their Serie A 2021 results have dipped as they have lost three of their last five matches. While two of those defeats were against leaders Milan and much-improved Atalanta, they also suffered a humiliating 4-1 thrashing at the hands of fellow promoted club Crotone.

And last weekend, they surrendered a two-goal lead at home against relegation-threatened Torino, who equalised in the 93rd minute.

One bright side for Benevento was that veteran striker Gianluca Lapadula finally ended his extended scoring drought. After a strong start which saw him collect 3 goals and 2 assists in his first 6 games of the season, the 30-year-old failed to get on the scoresheet in his next 12 appearances.

However, Benevento still have some major concerns at the back. They have conceded the fourth-most goals this season (36) and haven’t been helped by the recent absences of defender Gaetano Letizia and defensive midfielder Pasquale Schiattarella due to injury.

Meanwhile, they will once again be without attacking midfielder Marco Sau, who will serve the second of his two-match suspension for his red card against Torino. Sau has been one of Benevento’s in-form players with 2 goals in his last 3 starts.

History

Inter and Benevento have a limited history, with just four meetings overall. Unsurprisingly, the Nerazzurri have won all four of those meetings.

Inter did the double over Benevento the last time they were in Serie A. And they ran out 5-2 winners in their first meeting this season.Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace for Inter in that match, as did Benevento’s Gianluca Caprari.

Inter also picked up a 6-2 win over Benevento in the Coppa Italia in 2019, with Lautaro scoring twice.

Betting Tip

??
Inter Milan vs Benevento Inter Milan Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 1.75
January 31, 03:45 (GMT+8)

Inter Milan are massive 1.25 favourites to extend their home winning streak to eight consecutive games, according to SBOTOP odds. Meanwhile, Benevento are huge long shots at 10.00 to stun the Nerazzurri at San Siro, and a draw is at 5.60.

But despite their recent hiccups, it’s hard to bet against Inter. They have been much better at home this season, and after their recent setbacks, they won’t want to make any mistakes again.

Meanwhile, Benevento have their own issues at the moment, and they’re unlikely to solve them against Inter. They gave the Nerazzurri a good fight in their first meeting at home but still lost 5-2, which shows the wide gap in quality between the two clubs.

Look for Inter to take care of business quite convincingly against Benevento and end up with a comfortable win of at least two clear goals.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 03-Feb-2021 at 4:13 PM



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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 4:15 PM (182 days ago)            #35
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Serie A: Familiarity Breeds Contempt Between Rivals

Atalanta vs Lazio

Atalanta will face off Lazio anew as the two lock horns for their next Serie A match this weekend.

Days after their intense Coppa Italia quarterfinals match, the venue stays the same as both teams turn their attention to the ongoing domestic league.

Needless to say that Atalanta and Lazio have a lot to fight for in this upcoming match.

They are two of the hottest teams in the league recently as both have been on a resurgence. And if they can both keep it up, that would surely complicate matters since it will be more crowded at the top.

While La Dea and I Biancocelesti are in fifth and seventh places respectively with 36 and 34 points, both have the capability to challenge the teams above them in Juventus, AS Roma, AC Milan, and Inter Milan.

However, something has to give between these two undefeated streaks, which makes this Sunday contest a mouthwatering matchup.

Atalanta got the better of Lazio in the reverse fixture and they are keen to repeat the same result. But can I Biancocelesti avenge their earlier loss?

Read on below as SBOTOP gives you the match preview of this high-profile clash.

Talking Points

Atalanta are coping well without their captain

Despite dealing with internal turmoil, that hasn’t affected La Dea’s form at all.

Atalanta have been undefeated in quite some time and they will look to extend their flawless run to 14 games.

Since the team left Papu Gomez out of the rotation – which many thought would leave a major void – recent statistics suggest that La Dea have established a stronger record without him on the pitch.

Gomez’s departure may have sparked something within the team as it forced their other rotation players to step up.

Martin de Roon, Remo Freuler, Hans Hateboer, and Robin Gosens filled in well at midfield for the void left by their former captain, while their strikers in Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata have been huge threats at goal.

Atalanta are currently at the fifth spot in the Serie A table, two points ahead of Lazio

Gian Piero Gasperini giving tactical instructions from the touchline during their match against AC Milan

In addition, Gian Piero Gasperini also has high-quality figures that can contribute off the bench.

Techinically-gifted forward and super sub Luis Muriel leads the team in scoring with 13 goals and two assists, while Ruslan Malinovskiy, Jose Luis Palomino, and Mattia Caldara have had their shining moments as well.

Their depth is the main reason why I believe that Atalanta are a dangerous dark horse here in Serie A.

And while the onus is on Gian Piero Gasperini to find the right combination every game, so far the seasoned tactician is passing the test with flying colors.

Lazio look unstoppable

Atalanta will have their hands full this Sunday as Lazio are in a midst of a superb run themselves.

Simone Inzaghi’s men are undefeated in their last five league games as they have rediscovered their offence that led to their top four finish last season.

Ciro Immobile continues to spread his wings for Lazio. With 18 goals and three assists under his belt, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 30-year-old forward wins another Capocannoniere citation this term.

However, for I Biancocelesti to win more games, they would have to find a way to cope with some of their key players sidelined.

Defenders Luis Felipe and Danilo Cataldi are excluded from this game’s lineup due to injuries, while influential playmaker Luis Alberto is still recovering from appendicitis.

History

I Biancocelesti have a good record over La Dea in the head-to-heads.

They have won 17 out of 37 games, while Atalanta managed to win 11 times along with nine draws.

Before their Coppa Italia quarterfinals game last Thursday night, Atalanta came away with a comprehensive 4-1 victory last September as Robin Gosens and Hans Hateboer scored one each while Papu Gomez tallied a brace.

Atalanta are winners of three straight while Lazio have yet to win in this matchup since May 2019.

Betting Tip

??
Atalanta vs Lazio Atalanta Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 1.75
January 31, 22:00 (GMT+8)

The Serie A 2021 odds point to a relatively close contest, but the edge will go for the home side.

Atalanta are priced to win at 1.75, while Lazio are pegged at 4.10, and a draw is at 3.95 in the 1×2 market.

Atalanta vs Lazio is sure to offer drama, goals, and Serie A 2021 highlights for the fans to enjoy.

While this game can go either way, Atalanta should have the edge since they have the superior record against the top clubs – including Lazio – and they’ve shown to everyone that they aren’t afraid of the big occasion.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 4:17 PM (182 days ago)            #36
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Serie A: Winners and Losers Round 20

Things are getting a little crowded at the top of Serie A, and the congestion shows no sign of letting up as the three leading teams all won. Milan, Inter and Juventus all picked up three points as the pace picks up in the title race.

Among the rest of the weekend’s Serie A 2021 results there was an eye-catching clash in Atalanta where Lazio grabbed a big win to continue their fine run of form, while bottom club Crotone suffered a heavy home defeat.

Winners: AC Milan

With 18 rounds to go Stefano Pioli’s Milan are still at the summit of the league, though the latest Serie A 2021 betting odds slightly favour Inter Milan and Juventus. But it’s a wide-open title race and we’ll be all over the action and news as the story unfolds here at SBOTOP.

A 2-1 victory over Bologna looked to be fairly routine after Ante Rebic and Franck Kessie had put the Rossoneri two goals to the good, and while Bologna skipper Andrea scored a late consolation to make it a nervy last ten minutes, Milan saw the game out. It was a deserved victory as the league leaders dominated possession and fired 10 shots on target to give Bologna keeper Lukasz Skorupski a busy afternoon.

Pioli has strengthened his squad this week with the signing of Chelsea’s young defender Fikayo Tomori.  The 23-year-old says he didn’t have to think twice after receiving a phone call from Rossoneri legend Paulo Maldini. The loan move may become permanent in the summer.

Winner: Romelu Lukaku – Inter Milan

I Nerrazzuri’s Belgian striker bagged two goals in Inter’s 4-0 win over Benevento, a resounding win which confirmed their status as favourites to win the title.

14 goals from 19 games put him right in the hunt for the Capocannoniere. He’s in second place and just one goal behind Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo who had a frustrating afternoon away to Sampdoria.

Can Inter Milan win the Serie A title this season?

Romelu Lukaku scored Inter Milan’s second goal against Benevento


 

Winner: Aaron Ramsay – Juventus

As Juventus kept up the pressure on the two Milan clubs there was a milestone for one of I Bianconeri’s stars as Aaron Ramsay scored on his 300th top-flight appearance. The former Arsenal midfielder has struggled with a muscle injury this season, so when he came on as a late substitute and rounded off a fast breakaway in injury time, it was a sweet moment for the Welshman.

While Capocannoniere pace setter Ronaldo couldn’t add to his tally, missing a host of first-half chances, Federico Chiesa continued his improvement, converting his sixth goal of the season to set the Old Lady on her way.

Losers: Atalanta

Gian Piero Gasperini cut a frustrated figure after his side let this opportunity pass.

Atalanta and Lazio both came into the game on a hot streak of form and each had a chance to close the gap on the leaders and stake a claim to a Champions League place. But it was visitors Lazio who took the initiative as Adam Marusic and Joaquin Correa gave them a two-goal lead. Mario Pasalic gave the hosts brief hope but a late strike by Vedat Muriqi sealed the win.

The normally reliable strikers Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel couldn’t swing the game Atalanta’s way as the hosts dominated possession but lost the shot count by eight to 14 and three to seven on target. It was a bad day at the office on a day when hopes were so high.

Lazio are up to fifth and just two points behind fourth-placed Juventus.

Loser: Riccardo Improta – Benevento

Newly promoted Benevento had already been on the end of one spanking at the hands of Inter, losing 5-2 in October, so doubtless head coach Filippo Inzaghi will have stressed the importance of keeping it tight at the back. Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen made a rare start for Inter and he had the Benevento defence in all kinds of problems, particularly the hapless Improta who slid the ball into his own net with just seven minutes on the clock.

Losers

A home game against Genoa gave bottom club Crotone a chance for three vital points, but in a frustrating performance, they were dead and buried five minutes into the second half when Genoa forwards Mattia Destro scored his second and the visitors third.

Crotone huffed and puffed, dominating possession and the shots on goal but they lacked a cutting edge, and they could pay for that unless they sharpen up.

All is not lost, they are just three points from safety but Giovanni Stroppa’s side needs to improve.

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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 4:19 PM (182 days ago)            #37
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Coppa Italia: Derby d’Italia Semis Showdown, Holders Face Tough Test

The Coppa Italia is set to serve up a couple of blockbuster semi-final matchups this year. First up, Inter Milan face rivals Juventus for another Derby d’Italia matchup as they meet in the first leg at San Siro.

Then, reigning Coppa Italia champions Napoli will continue the defence of their title as they host dangerous Atalanta at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Read on below as SBOTOP breaks down both of these mouth-watering first-leg matches in great detail.

Inter Milan vs Juventus

Inter and Juventus will meet once again at San Siro just weeks after their first league matchup. Inter easily won that match 2-0 thanks to goals from former Juve man Arturo Vidal and Nicolo Barella.

That was Inter’s first win over their bitter rivals since 2016. Juve had won five of their previous seven league encounters and have lost just twice in the last seven years.

Inter had to work harder to knock out city rivals AC Milan in the cup quarter-finals as they needed a late Christian Eriksen free kick deep into stoppage time.

Antonio Conte prepares as Inter Milan welcome Juventus at San Siro for a Coppa Italia semi-final

Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte gives instructions to his players during Serie A match against AS Roma

The Nerazzurri then thumped newly promoted Benevento 4-0 over the weekend. Antonio Conte fielded a significantly rotated side to rest some of his starters ahead of the semi-final, but he still needed to bring on his star strikers to finish the game off.

Lukaku came off the bench to bag a brace as he upped his tally in the league to 14 goals. Meanwhile, strike partner Lautaro Martinez scored his first goal in seven games, which should boost his confidence ahead of the semi-final.

As for Juventus, they took care of Sampdoria 2-0, which was their fourth straight win since losing to Inter. They’ve scored 10 goals in those four games while keeping four clean sheets.

Curiously, only one of the 10 goals they scored came from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has not been banging in the goals of late. The 35-year-old has only one goal in his last four matches, which is a slump by his incredibly high standards.

Luckily for the Old Lady, new signings Federico Chiesa, Alvaro Morata, Dejan Kulusevski and Weston McKennie have been stepping up to contribute goals.

With Ronaldo out, Morata, Kulusevski, and Chiesa all scored in Juve’s 4-0 smashing of SPAL in the quarter-finals. Kulusevski and Morata also scored in their 3-2 win over Genoa in the previous round.

Juventus and Inter last faced each other in the Coppa Italia in 2016, which was also in the semi-final round. Both sides won their home legs 3-0, which resulted in penalties. Juve won the shootout 5-3.

Betting Tip: 1X2 Draw @ 3.20

Napoli vs Atalanta

Napoli helped ease the pressure on under-fire coach Gennaro Gattuso with a 2-0 win over struggling Parma over the weekend.

Gattuso has been under increasing pressure following consecutive defeats to Juventus in the Super Cup and to Verona in the league. But he has since bounced back with back-to-back wins beginning with their 4-2 victory over Spezia in the quarter-finals.

With star midfielder Fabian Ruiz still sidelined due to Covid, Eljif Elmas started in both wins as Gattuso returned to a 4-3-3 formation to provide more stability in defence. And the 21-year-old midfielder has repaid the faith in him by scoring two goals.

Matteo Politano has also been in fine form as he found the net in both matches. However, Hirving Lozano looks like the favourite to keep his place on the right wing. The Mexican winger has scored 4 goals in his last 6 games. Lozano also starred in Napoli’s first meeting against Atalanta this season as he scored a brace in a 4-1 win.

As for Atalanta, they suffered their first defeat in any competition since November as they fell 3-1 to Lazio. Just a few days earlier, Atalanta came from behind to knock Lazio out of the Coppa Italia with a 3-2 win. And that was despite being down to 10 men for the last 26 minutes and Duvan Zapata missing a penalty.

Josip Ilicic, who was so impressive in their 3-0 demolition of Serie A leaders Milan, was off his game against Lazio, and so was Zapata.

Mario Pasalic, who scored against Lazio, and Luis Muriel will be candidates to enter the starting line-up against Napoli. Meanwhile, wing-back Robin Gosens is set to return after serving out a one-game suspension.

Napoli and Atalanta last met in the Coppa Italia in the quarter-final stage in 2018. Atalanta won 2-1 in Naples.

Betting Tip: 1X2 Napoli @ 2.32

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 4:21 PM (182 days ago)            #38
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Coppa Italia: Who Will Bring Home the Crown?

A fatal four-way is in order for this season’s Coppa Italia crown as Juventus, Inter Milan, Napoli, and Atalanta are the only teams left standing.

Defending Serie A champions Juventus have already kickstarted the semifinals festivities with a vital win in the first leg against bitter rivals Inter Milan, while the first leg between Napoli and Atalanta will happen tomorrow at the Stadio San Paolo.

A look at the latest Coppa Italia 2021 odds indicate that neither one of these teams are overly favoured to bring home the bacon, which means that the trophy remains up for grabs.

Can Napoli make it back-to-back this season? Will Juventus take what’s theirs since winning it the last time in 2018? Are Atalanta primed to take home their first Coppa Italia plum? Or will Inter Milan bounce back to grab their first since 2011?

These are the storylines to watch out for as the action continues to heat up. And as always, SBOTOP has you covered with the latest roundup of the Coppa Italia 2021 updates.

Juventus have one foot at the door

With five wins out of their last six matches, I Bianconeri have been firing on all cylinders.

Their only loss in January came against Inter Milan to where they were outscored 2-0, so last night’s Derby D’Italia win was a nice revenge for Andrea Pirlo’s side.

When the whistled sounded last night, Inter Milan had control and they were threatening to come away with the win.

Lautaro Martinez gives an early edge for Inter during their Coppa Italia semi-final first leg game against Juventus

Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez celebrates with Nicolo Barella after scoring an early goal in Coppa Italia semi-final against Juventus

Lautaro Martinez put his side on top with an excellent strike after a counterattack in nine minutes, and it looked like history was going to repeat itself for Juventus.

However, Juventus continued to push forward and their superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo came in to save the day.

Juventus had the chance to equalise on the 25th minute when Ashley Young pulled back Juan Cuadrado inside the box, and Cristiano Ronaldo smashed home the penalty kick after it was awarded to them by the referees.

Andrea Pirlo’s side would take the lead for good when Cristiano Ronaldo capitalised on the miscommunication between Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and centre-back Alessandro Bastoni to slide the ball into the net on the 35th minute.

The Nerazzurri had their share of chances in the second half but they couldn’t convert as Alexis Sanchez and quarterfinals hero Christian Eriksen fluffed their lines, while Matteo Darmian was denied by Gianluigi Buffon late.

With one foot at the door, Andrea Pirlo is inclined to give some of their bench players more playing time because of the tight schedule.

They will face AS Roma on Saturday night and the second leg of the Coppa Italia semis versus Inter Milan will occur four days later.

Wojciech Szczesny, Arthur Melo, Danilo, Alvaro Morata, and Federico Chiesa are all expected to feature heavily on Saturday.

Napoli and Atalanta lock horns for an explosive clash

Defending Coppa Italia champions Napoli will face a stern test when they host Atalanta tomorrow in their first leg.

Gennaro Gattuso has been on the hot seat for some reason in Naples, and this high-profile game somehow adds more pressure on his part.

After losses against Juventus in the Super Cup and Hellas Verona in Serie A, the Partenopei bounced back nicely with convincing victories over Spezia and Parma last week.

Hirving Lozano, Matteo Politano, and Eljif Elmas have all been in fine form lately and their goals will be needed if they are to move on in the finals.

The x-factor for Napoli will be Victor Osimhen as he only appeared 10 times so far this season.

Osimhen’s shining moments in Napoli are still lacking considering his big-money transfer last summer, and a strong performance in the Coppa Italia semis could go a long way in terms of endearing himself to the Napoli faithful.

Meanwhile for Atalanta, they are looking to bounce back after last week’s Serie A loss against Lazio.

Adam Marusic gave I Biancocelesti the lead for good with a quickfire goal during the third minute, and then goals from Joaquin Correa and Vedat Muriqi iced the game.

It was an uncharacteristic performance for Atalanta considering they’ve scored six goals in their last two fixtures prior.

Furthermore, there will be no shortage of entertainment in the attacking third for this particular contest, which means that the team that will make more defencive stops should come away with the victory.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:39 PM (176 days ago)            #39
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Serie A: Inter Milan are Hungry For the Top Spot

Fiorentina vs Inter Milan

Inter Milan have a golden opportunity at their hands when they fly over to Florence this Friday night.

Their next Serie A fixture will be against Fiorentina, and a victory there could very well put them on top for the next three days or more.

The sense of urgency is apparent for Antonio Conte’s side because it is indeed getting crowded at the top as far as the championship race is concerned.

AC Milan, who were the big winners in Week 20, remain on top with 46 points while Inter Milan are breathing down their necks with 44 points.

On the other hand, few notches below them are Fiorentina, who are sitting at the 11th spot with 22 points.

These two proud sides met last month in the Coppa Italia and it was a painful one to recall for the hosts.

Fiorentina will remember the bad memories as they were dumped out of the tournament, with no thanks to a late goal by then-substitute Romelu Lukaku during added time.

Like Inter Milan, Fiorentina also have an opportunity in this game, albeit for a very different reason.

La Viola can put a massive dent to the Nerazzurri’s championship hopes with a positive result, which will be the perfect revenge for their previous loss in the Coppa Italia.

Talking Points

Inter Milan are locked and loaded

With a complete roster at his disposal, there’s absolutely no reason for Inter Milan to lose this match on the weekend.

Achraf Hakimi is back to 100-per cent fitness while Romelu Lukaku is done serving his suspension after butting heads with Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia last week.

Meanwhile, Christian Eriksen is gaining his confidence back after a solid week for the Nerazzurri and he might be featured once again in this matchup replacing Marcelo Brozovic.

Conte may also opt to put in Roberto Gagliardini in the midfield to give Nicolo Barella rest, while Arturo Vidal will have an extended run since he is suspended for the second-leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals.

Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij, and Alessandro Bastoni will be Conte’s back three and Samir Handanovic is their main man behind the sticks.

Inter Milan have been dangerous on the road this term. They have only lost one game so far and that trend is expected to continue this Friday evening.

Franck Ribery celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during Fiorentina's Serie A clash vs Torino

Franck Ribery celebrates with his Fiorentina teammates after scoring a goal against Torino

Fiorentina defence will be in for a long night

For La Viola to have a chance in this game, their backline needs to hold up against a resolute Inter Milan attack.

Fiorentina shot themselves on the foot against Torino last week as Gaetano Catrovilli and Nikola Melinkovic were both sent off, and their absences will be felt since they’ll serve their suspension this Friday.

Lucas Martinez Quarta, Igor, and Luca Ranieri are expected to marshal the backline. However, their collective inexperience might cost them a goal or two.

But in terms of the attack, Fiorentina won’t have any problems in keeping up against their visitors.

Since the arrival of Cesar Prandelli in late autumn, Franck Ribery has formed a potent partnership with Dusan Vlahovic and that led to more Serie A 2021 highlights.

However, outscoring a team like Inter Milan is virtually impossible. So Prandelli has to implement a defencive approach for this upcoming contest.

History

Inter Milan are coming into this fixture as the heavy favourites given their head-to-head record against Fiorentina.

In their 43 matches together, the visitors have won in 25 games, whereas the hosts have only won 10 times along with eight draws.

The Nerazzurri have won three of their last five league matches against La Viola in a mix of high and low-scoring affairs.

In their reverse fixture last September, Fiorentina fell to a 4-3 defeat after squandering their early lead as Danilo D’Ambrosio shot the dagger to La Viola’s hearts via a late goal in the 89th minute.

Betting Tip

??
Fiorentina vs Inter Milan Inter Milan Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 1.77
February 06, 03:45 (GMT+8)

The Serie A 2021 odds here at SBOTOP point to a convincing win for the visitors.

Inter Milan are priced at 1.56, while Fiorentina are at 6.00 and chances for a draw are at 3.80 in the 1×2 market.

Given their superior quality and depth, the Nerazzurri should have no problems in earning a victory since they are too strong against an inconsistent Fiorentina squad.

Furthermore, this gives Antonio Conte an opportunity to tinker his rotation for a bit given that they will face Juventus once more in the crucial second leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals.

More than anything, this is a perfect warmup for Inter Milan as they prepare for next Wednesday.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:40 PM (176 days ago)            #40
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Serie A: Roma Strife as Champions Await

Juventus vs AS Roma

There is a reason Juventus have won nine Serie A titles in succession.

It’s not just their total dominance of the Scudetto over the past decade but their ability to win when it matters most.

That was evident again in midweek when they travelled to the San Siro to face their former manager and big-spending Inter Milan and won 2-1 in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final.

On paper, the side they were facing were better equipped to win the match but Juve showed many of their usual qualities and traits as they came from behind to secure victory and take an advantage into the second leg of the tie.

Games like that show why they are the best team in Italy and why they can’t be ruled out of this season’s title race, despite currently being seven points adrift of the summit (albeit with a game in hand).

Talking Points

This weekend they host the side which is one point and one place above them in the table.

As we await Serie A highlights, football fans envious of Juve’s success would tell you this is a battle for third spot. It isn’t.

That may be a fine achievement for the Roma class of 2021 but it is the very minimum Juventus would expect.

Especially when their attack is spearheaded by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo who, fresh from breaking one record in midweek, is now setting his sights on another.

You won’t be surprised to hear the matchwinner in midweek was none other than the Portuguese genius whose double (the 762nd and 763rd goals of his career) ensured he became the highest scorer in top-level footballing history.

That won’t stop him chasing records, of course, indeed he could still become the fastest player in the club’s illustrious history to reach 100 goals.

On saying that, he will need 13 in the next 11 games to break Omar Sivori’s record. Sivori, who spent eight years with Juventus between 1957 and 1965, needed 124 games to reach a century of goals.

According to reports, Ronaldo has scored 87 times in 112 Juventus games.

Will he able to get one of those this weekend?

Apart from the injured Franco Israel and Paulo Dybala. although the Argentine could make the bench as is reportedly back in training, the home side go into this clash at near full strength and on a mission to close the gap at the top.

AS Roma, meanwhile, travel with clear differences of opinion behind the scenes.

How else could you explain why the Giallorossi have relinquished the captaincy from Edin Dzeko?

AS Roma are currently at third on the Serie A table with 40 points

AS Roma coach Paulo Fonseca giving tactical instructions from the touchline during their match against Hellas Verona

The Bosnian reportedly had disagreements and trained separately from the rest of the group last week when he came close to joining Inter in a swap deal with Alexis Sanchez.

The episode has left both the striker and coach Paulo Fonseca’s Roma futures in doubt and that uncertainty is evident as they make the trip to Turin.

Furthermore, they will likely be without Chris Smalling (sidelined with a thigh strain), long-term absentee Nicolo Zanioli and Pedro Rodriguez this weekend.

The perfect time for Juventus to leapfrog their opponents then?

History

While Roma have three victories over Juventus in their last 10 meetings, their most recent two came at the end successive campaigns in which Juventus had already clinched the Scudetto.

Last season, with the title very much up for grabs, Juventus won 2-1 in the Stadio Olimpico courtesy of two goals inside the opening 10 minutes.

Roma won the return in August but by then the title celebrations were in full swing.

Earlier this season, Juventus twice fought back – despite being down to 10 men – as Ronaldo (who else) earned the champions a 2-2 draw.

Overall, Roma have won on 41 occasions in Serie A, there have been 51 draws and 83 Juve triumphs.

Betting Tip

??
Juventus vs AS Roma Juventus Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 2.38
February 7, 01:00 (GMT+8)

It’s Juventus all the way for me and the SBOTOP Serie A betting odds concur. The ‘old lady’ of Turin are available to tip 1X2 @ 1.77 and with Asian Handicap odds – 1.00 @ 2.38 – that is my prediction incidentally.

Elsewhere, Roma can be backed 1X2 @ 4.00 – not bad odds when you consider they recently held Inter Milan – or Asian Handicap +0.50 @ 2.19.

For goals, how about over 3.00 goals @ 2.00, total goals 2-3 @ 2.06 and 4-6 @ 2.75?

Of course, Italian football is known for its defensive style and total goal 0-1 will pay out @ 4.70.

A repeat of the 2-2 draw from earlier in the campaign is om offer @ 13.50 and the 1X2 draw @ 3.90.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:42 PM (176 days ago)            #41
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Serie A: Zlatan Milestone, Timeless Ronaldo and Belotti Class

It was quiet a weekend in Serie A: a stirring comeback; a wonderful piece of sportsmanship; a veteran haunting haunt his former employers; the birthday boy showing he has lost none of his impudence (or talent) and Lazio leapfrogging their city rivals Roma into the fourth and final Champions League spot.

And then there was the small matter of a true footballing legend notching his 500th (and 501st) club career goal.

The Serie A 2021 highlights began on Friday night as Inter Milan won in Florence to move to the top of the table, yet by the end their city neighbours had returned to the summit to continue their surprise title charge.

Bergamo bonanza and Belotti class

It was an extraordinary game in Bergamo which looked home and hosed as Atalanta opened up a 3-0 lead against Torino inside 21 minutes.

The contest should have been over at that point as Josip Ilicic – initially disallowed but given via VAR – Robin Gosens (officially credited as an own goal) and Luis Muriel got on the scoresheeet.

At that point, the SBOTOP Serie A 2021 betting odds – and any measured football fan – would have felt basement battlers Torino were doomed.

Andrea Belotti reduced the arrears with the rebound from a penalty before Gleison Bremer and substitute Federico Bonazzoli completed a stunning fightback to earn themselves a point.

Despite their dire situation at 3-0 down midway through the first half, special mention to Belotti who showed great sportsmanship by convincing the referee not to book an opponent – or even award a free kick on the edge of the box – as he stumbled.

Pandev at the double

When you’ve not scored twice in a Serie A game for more than seven years, there’s never a bad time so Goran Pandev would have truly enjoyed this moment.

His first league brace since 2013 just happened to be against his former club, Coppa Italia holders Napoli.

Classily, the 37-year-old refused to celebrate against his former club as he and goalkeeper Mattia Perin were the Genoa heroes.

Pandev pounced on an error playing out from the back for the first goal, then added a second from a team passing move.

Perin performed heroics in goal, with the woodwork rescuing him from Andrea Petagna’s header and a Lorenzo Insigne volley.

Matteo Politano drilled one in for Napoli but it was too little, too late.

Birthday boy Ronaldo is timeless

Cristiano Ronaldo is continuously proving he's one of the best footballers to ever graced Serie A

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo in action with AS Roma defender Rick Karsdorp at the Allianz Stadium

As if to prove the point, the genius that is CR7 again inspired his side to victory in the week he celebrated his 36th birthday.

The irony was not lost on me as this truly gifted footballer – who shows no signs of allowing old ‘father time’ to catch up on him – reached for the referee’s watch to check goal-line technology after hitting the crossbar against Roma.

The Portuguese genius had already netted the opener for the Old Lady and nearly doubled his tally as a strike took a big deflection to bounce off the underside of the bar and back out.

Ronaldo appealed to the assistant referee for a goal before consulting Daniele Orsato himself. He then checked the referee’s watch to make sure the ball hadn’t crossed the line, laughing with the match official.

The highest scorer in top level world football has now netted 88 times in 113 Juventus games. They are up into third and can’t be ruled out of the title equation.

The wonder that is Zlatan!

When my beloved Manchester United were reported to be interested in signing a then 34 year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer of 2016, I must confess I was somewhat underwhelmed.

Looking from afar here was a player who, while talented, was in my opinion grossly overrated and would have limited effectiveness as he approached the twilight of his career.

How wrong I was!

When he left the club 18 months later with three winners’ medals and many moments to cherish, I was only wishing we had signed him a decade earlier when he was 24 and could have spent the next 10 years becoming a bona fide club legend.

Now less than a year shy of his 40th birthday, the flamboyant Swede is still adding to his considerable showreel of spectacular and match-winning goals.

He was at it again at the San Siro on Sunday, notching his 500th goal at club level by expertly steering the ball into the far top to fire unfancied AC Milan corner with the inside of the boot!

He duly added another.

Since the start of 2020, only one player has scored more than five headers (6), right-footed (12) and left-footed goals (six) in Europe’s top five leagues.

Lazio have city bragging rights

Simone Inzaghi’s side would have already claimed that with some justification a month ago, especially after they swept Roma aside with a 3-0 victory in the Derby della Capitale.

They can now point to the league table as further proof as they are again more than matching their city rivals.

That’s after Cagliari were beaten on Sunday night.

Ciro Immobile scored the only goal and, while Lazio still trail Roma on goal difference, I do not expect it to stay that way for long.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:45 PM (176 days ago)            #42
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Coppa Italia: Juventus in Prime Position to Send Inter Packing

Juventus vs Inter Milan

Juventus are closing in on yet another Coppa Italia final berth. The Bianconeri will head into the second leg against Inter with a 2-1 lead thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-leg brace at the San Siro.

After a bit of a dry spell, Ronaldo is back to banging in the goals and will be keen to finish Inter off in Turin.

But the Coppa Italia 2021 odds will be tight in the second leg, especially since the Nerazzurri will now have star man Romelu Lukaku back after he served out a suspension in the first leg.

Talking Points

Ronaldo back to his best

It has been quite a strong start to 2021 for Juventus thus far. The Old Lady has begun the new year on an amazing run of 10 wins in 11 matches in all competitions. And since losing to Inter in the first Derby d’Italia back in mid-January, Juventus have been even better.

The defence, in particular, has been playing like the Juve teams of old. They have conceded just one goal in their last six matches, which was Lautaro Martinez’s early strike in the first leg against Inter.

Pirlo’s decision to start three central midfielders — with American Weston McKennie out wide — has helped solidify Juve’s defence over the last few weeks.

And to make things even better for the Bianconeri, Cristiano Ronaldo is now back among the goals. The 36-year-old was in a bit of a dry spell (by his standards) to start the year as he went on a stretch of just two goals in seven games.

But the Portuguese superstar has now netted three goals in his last two games: two in the first leg against Inter and one this weekend against Roma. It’s the first time he’s scored in back-to-back matches since mid-December.

Dejan Kulusevski got the start alongside Ronaldo in the first leg, but Alvaro Morata could get the nod this time around. The Spaniard has been so effective linking up play and has delivered whenever he’s gotten the start. He has three goals and four assists in his seven starts.

Lukaku back to lead the Inter attack

Romelu Lukaku will be eager to overturn the Coppa Italia aggregate against Juventus

Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku reacts during the Coppa Italia match with Juventus

Inter Milan bounced back from their first-leg defeat to Juventus by beating Fiorentina 2-0 away from home. Nicolo Barella and Ivan Perisic got the goals for Inter, who kept pace with AC Milan at the top of Serie A.

Inter coach Antonio Conte did not make too many changes to his first-choice side despite the Juve match in midweek and a fully healthy squad to choose from. Although, he will need to shake things up with the Chilean duo of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal both suspended for the second leg.

Luckily for Inter, Romelu Lukaku will be returning after his first-leg suspension and will partner Lautaro Martinez up front.

Lukaku is having another terrific season for Inter with 14 goals in 20 Serie A appearances and two goals in two appearances in the cup.

Meanwhile, Christian Eriksen could also be in contention to start in midfield with Vidal suspended. After seemingly on the way out of Inter this winter, Eriksen has returned to the fold after producing one of the top Coppa Italia 2021 highlights: his dramatic free-kick winner against AC Milan in the quarter-finals.

History

Juventus and Inter have already faced each other twice this season, both at the San Siro. Inter won the first meeting in the league quite convincingly, with Arturo Vidal and Barella scoring the goals in a 2-0 win. But Ronaldo turned around an early deficit to give Juve the 2-1 victory in the first leg.

To move on to their first Coppa Italia final since 2011, Inter will now have to do something they haven’t done since 2012, which is to beat Juventus in Turin.

Betting Tip

??
Juventus vs Inter Milan 1X2 Draw @ 3.20
February 10, 03:45 (GMT+8)

SBOTOP odds have Juventus installed as narrow 2.40 favourites to win the second leg at home, with Inter priced at 2.87 to pull off the victory away from home. A draw is 3.20.

Juventus are clearly in much better form heading into this match. Their defence has been so impressive of late, and the fact that they only need a draw means they can set up to try and frustrate Inter even more. And if they go behind just like in the first leg, Ronaldo is capable of getting them a goal of two.

I don’t see Juve winning again the second leg, but they should have more than enough to secure the draw they need to move on to the final.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:47 PM (176 days ago)            #43
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Coppa Italia: Showpiece Showdown at Stake in Bergamo

Atalanta vs Napoli

It’s all to play for in the Gewiss Stadium this week and a place in the final of the 2021 Coppa Italia is at stake.

Holders Napoli, who clinched their first major trophy in six seasons by beating Juventus 4-2 on penalties in last season’s final, up against the surprise package of Italian football, Atalanta, runners-up themselves in the competition a year earlier.

After last week’s goalless first-leg draw in Naples, a match of few opportunities, the majority of which fell to the visitors, this tie is delicately poised.

And with the winners set to face either Juventus or Inter Milan in a potentially mouth-watering showpiece, this has all the ingredients for some Coppa Italia 2021 highlights.

Talking Points

Both sides, level pegging in Serie A on 37 points (although Napoli have played a game fewer), come into this on the back of disappointing weekend results.

Atalanta were cruising at home to lowly Torino on Saturday as they opened up a 3-0 lead, only to inexplicably allow their opponents to roar back and claim a point.

It was a result which manager Gian Piero Gasperini attributed to fatigue. The only addition to his squad for this tie should be the return of Joakim Maehle as La Dea continue an unforgiving schedule of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League, where they face Real Madrid later this month.

Napoli and Atalanta have failed to score a goal in their Coppa Italia semi-final first leg clash

Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne controls the ball during their Coppa Italia semi-final first leg against Atalanta

Dutch full-back Hans Hateboer is also out.

Napoli, meanwhile, went down to a 2-1 defeat at Genoa in which Goran Pandev scored his first league brace since 2013 to consign his former club to defeat.

In a further blow, Kostas Manolas suffered bruising to his right ankle in that match and must be rated doubtful for midweek, while the Partenopei are already without Kalidou Koulibaly and Faouzi Ghoulam, who have tested positive for Covid, although Fabian Ruiz is due to return from the virus.

It means there will be plenty of pressure on Gennaro Gattuso who has faced constant speculation about his future in recent weeks and now faces an important seven days with reigning champions Juventus due in town next weekend.

The former Milan boss has complained of “being slaughtered” by the media and would love to be able to guide his side to back-to-back finals to silence some of the doubters.

On saying that, will there be a bigger incentive for Atalanta than trying to win the tournament for the first time in their near 60-year history.

It’s certainly all to play for.

History

This will be the third meeting between the clubs this season.

As well as last week’s goalless draw, Napoli stunned Atalanta in Serie A in mid-October with a four goal first half salvo – a result which ended Atalanta’s unbeaten start to the season after they had become the first side in Europe’s top five leagues since Real Madrid (1987) to score at least four goals in each of their opening three games of the campaign.

That was Napoli’s only victory against Atalanta in their past five encounters.

Last season, Atalanta won their home league meeting 2-0, courtesy of early second half goals from Mario Pasalic and Robin Gosens.

They also drew 2-2 in Naples when Josip Ilicic scored a late equaliser and won 2-1 at Napoli in the previous campaign when Duvan Zapata and Pasalic were the marksmen.

Atalanta also won at Napoli in the 2018 Coppa Italia quarter-finals when Timothy Castagne and Papu Gomez (who has recently moved to Sevilla in Spain) were on target.

While those results show how much Atalanta have improved in recent seasons, you won’t be surprised to know that, historically, Napoli have the edge.

They have tasted victory on 48 occasions, compared to Atalanta’s 29 successes and 33 draws.

Betting Tip 

??
Atalanta vs Napoli Napoli Asian Handicap +0.50 @ 1.98
February 11, 03:45 (GMT+8)

Look at the SBOTOP Coppa Italia 2021 betting odds and Atalanta are clear favourites – something which surprises me.

The hosts are available to back 1X2 @ 1.93 and Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 2.21, whereas Napoli are further out with odds of 1X2 @ 3.40 and Asian Handicap +0.50 @ 1.98.

If there is to be a repeat of last season’s league meeting here – correct score 2-0 – then the payout is @ 10.00.

I can’t see another goalless draw and neither can most people when you assess odds of over 3.00 goals @ 2.13, total goal 2-3 @ 1.96 and 4-6 @ 2.76.

While I may normally edge towards Atalanta, I can see Gattuso being so determined to get to another final that it rubs off on his Napoli players.

That is why I am plumping for Napoli +0.50 on the Asian Handicap at 1.98.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:20 PM (162 days ago)            #44
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Serie A: Juventus’ Title Push Heads to Naples

Napoli vs Juventus

Juventus visit Naples on Saturday afternoon for Round 22 of Serie A as the big top-flight fixtures keep on coming thick and fast.

The Stadio Diego Armando Maradona has witnessed many great battles between these two giants of the Italian game, and there’s plenty at stake this time as I Bianconeri chase down a 10th successive Scudetto.

Andrea Pirlo’s side is in third place and are seven points off the top. And with a game in hand they’ll be gathering some serious momentum.

Napoli is in sixth place and are five points behind the Old Lady, and they have a top four place clearly in view.

Head coach Gennaro Gattuso had many battles with I Bianconeri as a player for AC Milan and he’ll relish a chance to put a dent in their title hopes.

Talking Points

Inconsistency costs Napoli

Gli Azzurri have an array of talented players and they can beat anyone on their day, but inconsistency has all but ruled them out of the title race because they have a habit of dropping unexpected points.

Last week, Napoli conceded two early goals against a lower-tier club in Genoa and never really recovered, although winger Matteo Politano scored a late consolation.

Gattuso’s team has plenty of firepower. Captain Lorenzo Insigne is reliable as ever with nine league goals to his name, while Mexican striker Hirving Lozano has matched that in an impressive first half of the campaign.

Napoli are hoping to claim a top-four spot when they welcome Juventus for their upcoming Serie A clash

Napoli’s Hirving Lozano celebrates scoring their first goal against Hellas Verona

With Belgian forward Dries Mertens out injured, there is a lot riding on these two up front.

Meanwhile in midfield, Polish star Piotr Zielinski continues to improve and has contributed four goals and three assists.

Are Juventus peaking at the right time?

They certainly know how to win a Scudetto in Turin and a recent upturn in results for Pirlo’s men will have sent shivers down the spine of the two Milan clubs.

The latest Serie A 2021 betting odds are becoming tighter by the day, with Inter as marginal favourites and Juventus ahead of current leaders AC Milan.

Andrea Pirlo is doing a good job as head coach and he probably has more time on his side as a playing legend with the Bianconeri, but it is a results business and the board will expect trophies.

It’s going well for Pirlo on three fronts. A goalless draw with Inter Milan was enough to take Juventus through to the Coppa Italia final while they also topped their Champions League group, edging out Barcelona in the head-to-head.

And of course the Old Lady has star quality. Cristiano Ronaldo leads the race for the Capocannoniere with 16 goals, and here at SBOTOP, we reckon he could be the top dog at Euro 2020 at the ripe old age of 36.

He bagged the opener in Juve’s 2-0 victory over Roma last week and his obsession with fitness gives him the agility of a man half his age.

Ronaldo has good support from Alvaro Morata, who has made seven assists in the league. In addition, Juan Cuadrado poses a creative threat with five assists under his belt.

At the back, the return of Giorgio Chiellini from injury alongside Leonardo Bonucci adds granite to the Juve defence.

History

The Old Lady have held the dominant hand in this fixture, winning 26 of the past 50 meetings, with Napoli winning 14 and drawing 10.

There have been some great battles in recent times. Last June, Napoli beat I Bianconeri 4-2 on penalties to win the Coppa Italia and Juventus exacted some revenge in January with a 2-0 Super Cup victory in Bergamo.

On the other hand, Napoli won this fixture last season by a 2-1 scoreline.

Recent form favours I Bianconeri as they are unbeaten in seven and have won five from the last six games. They have an away league record of five wins, four draws, and a solitary defeat.

Gli Azzurri are unbeaten in five games at home. But they have only won twice in the last six games in all competitions, losing three and drawing one.

Betting Tip

??
Napoli vs Juventus 1X2 Juventus @ 2.12
February 14, 01:00 (GMT+8)

Napoli need an improvement in form to win this one, and they are at 3.30 to pull it off with the draw at 3.20.

There’s a steely look about the champions as they pursue yet another title as they have won six of the last seven games by at least a two-goal margin and they arrive in Naples on the back of three 2-0 wins on the bounce.

The Serie A 2021 results elsewhere need to go with I Bianconeri. But if they carry on their current form, it won’t be long before their destiny is in their own hands.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:25 PM (162 days ago)            #45
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Serie A: Lazio to Side-Step a Valentine’s Day Massacre in Milan

Inter Milan vs Lazio

All eyes will be on Serie A this Sunday as the Italian match of the weekend kicks off at the San Siro.

There were explosives the last time these two teams met and both are desperate for three points to keep their title and top four ambitions on track.

Antonio Conte’s Inter are chasing down AC Milan at the top of the league, while the visitors won’t have ruled themselves out just yet having embarked on a six-match winning run.

With Inter and Lazio both in fine form, we can expect quality at the San Siro and some more fireworks!

Talking Points

Conte must keep his nerve

I Nerazzurri are just two points behind their city rivals at the top of Serie A, but it isn’t a two-horse race.

Juventus seem to have recovered from a blip and are hungry to win a record 10th successive Scudetto. The Old Lady sits in third place with a game in hand, which is five points behind Inter.

A defeat to Lazio would deal a massive blow to Inter since it would open the door to the reigning champions as well as keeping I Biancoceleste in the hunt.

Inter are out of the Coppa Italia, exiting to Juventus in a 2-1 aggregate defeat after playing out a goalless draw in the second leg in Turin.

Conte reacted angrily by showing his middle finger to Juve chairman Andrea Agnelli and the former Chelsea boss looks to be tightly wounded at the moment.

That could be a good thing of course, but Conte must retain his cool if he is to guide his team to a Scudetto.

Wide man Achraf Hakimi is a key player, contributing six goals and four assists so far. And if the match turns into a battle, Conte will hope his midfield enforcer Arturo Vidal has recovered from a knee injury.

Lazio’s league ambitions

With five wins from the last six in all competitions and six on the bounce in Serie A, I Biancoceleste will be fired up for this game.

Their one recent defeat was a Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Atalanta, and they responded by beating Gian Piero Gasperini’s team in Serie A four days later.

Simone Inzaghi’s team went on a phenomenal run in the 2019/20 season but were cruelly halted by the pandemic, and they look in that kind of form again.

One to watch is midfield powerhouse Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Meanwhile, defender Adam Marusic is also having a fine season at the back while contributing in offence with four assists.

The race for the Capocannoniere

Inter Milan vs Lazio brings together two of the hottest striking properties in world football.

Romelu Lukaku is Inter’s top scorer with 14 goals and that tally is matched by Ciro Immobile after he bagged his 14th for Lazio in a 1-0 win over Cagliari last week.

Both are in with a good chance of winning Italy’s Golden Boot as well as being two to watch at Euro 2020.

But while Immobile is clearly the main man in Lazio, Lukaku has a good partner in Lautaro Martinez, who has weighed in with 10 goals for Inter.

Serie A: Can Ciro Immobile help Lazio to beat Inter Milan at home?

Ciro Immobile celebrates after scoring Lazio’s first goal against AS Roma

History

The head-to-head Serie A results could hardly be closer as Lazio hold a wafer-thin advantage. Of the 62 games played since 1993, I Biancoceleste has won 21 to Inter’s 20 and there have been 21 draws.

The last time the two teams met it was a bad-tempered affair, so we shouldn’t expect much love in this fixture.

Lazio and Inter played out a 1-1 draw in Rome in October where Milinkovic-Savic cancelled out Martinez’ opener, but both teams ended up with 10 men as Ciro Immobile and Stefano Sensi saw red when tempers flared out of control.

Last season, this corresponding fixture ended in a 1-0 victory for Inter Milan and they continue to be impressive at the San Siro despite the absence of fans.

With a home record this season of 8-1-1, they have won 12 of their last 17 home games, losing just the one.

But with their six-match winning streak, Lazio will head north without fear.

It’s going to be a hard-fought battle so let’s take a look at the Serie A betting odds and make a call.

Betting Tip

??
Inter Milan vs Lazio Lazio Asian Handicap +0.75 @ 1.95
February 15. 03:45 (GMT+8)

Here at SBOTOP, I Nerazzurri are odds on favourites to win this crucial match at 1.77, with Lazio at
4.40 and the draw at 3.60.

Conte has strength in depth in his squad. But with two extra days to prepare, I think Lazio will fancy this game.

1-1 is the most likely score-line at 6.56 and that would be good news for both AC Milan and Juventus.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:27 PM (162 days ago)            #46
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Serie A: Insigne Puts a Dent in the Old Lady’s Scudetto Hopes

Napoli 1-0 Juventus

A first half penalty brilliantly converted by Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli a narrow win over Juve at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Saturday night.

The win moves Gli Azzurri up to fourth in the Serie A table while seriously damaging Juve’s hopes of winning a tenth successive Scudetto. The latest Serie A 2021 betting odds still have Inter Milan as favourites to win the title and their fans will have been delighted by this result, while Juve head coach Andrea Pirlo has work to do to ensure his team stays in the race.

Highlights of the game

The visitors came out of the blocks quickly and won an early corner which Federico Bernardeschi sent over for Adrien Rabiot to meet, but his header flew over the bar.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s scoring achievements, at Juventus, and beyond, are legendary in the game and he was the first to test the Napoli keeper Alex Meret when he took a pass from Alvaro Morata and let fly from just outside the penalty area. Morata had a shot blocked; but then Napoli came out fighting. Lorenzo Insigne found space on the left side of the box but fired just over and then Matteo Politano had a shot charged down.

Gli Azzurri made the breakthrough when Giorgio Chiellini was late on Amir Rrahmani and VAR adjudged the foul to be inside the penalty area. The Juve skipper earned a yellow card for that infringement and his opposite number Insigne was cool as you like to fire the spot-kick into the top right corner for his tenth goal of the season.

Napoli beat Juventus in two consecutive Serie A games for the first time since 2011

Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne scores their first goal from the penalty spot

Inisgne had a taste for goal, and when Piotr Zielinski teed him up he blasted a shot high and wide and then he had an effort blocked as the hosts finished the half strongly. And just before the break Insigne fired one towards the top left corner which Wojciech Szczesny saved brilliantly.

The visitors came out firing again and Morata met a cross from Federico Chiesa but his header flew wide. Then Ronaldo came very close when he met a corner inside the six yard box but Meret was brave to make the block, and Chiesa forced another save from the Napoli stopper.

Midway through the second half Alex Sandro was very close with a shot from the left side of the penalty area but it whistled just past the far post. Napoli have plenty of firepower and there was always a threat of a second goal as the Old Lady was forced to chase the game, and Mexican striker Hirving Lozano found space in the penalty area to get his shot away but the Juve defence scrambled the ball clear.

Ronaldo had another shot saved after good work from Morata and, with the minutes ticking away, Chiesa was inches away with a drive from just outside the penalty area. Then Chiesa crossed for Morata but Meret saved again and, with two minutes left on the clock Adrien Rabiot headed wide from a Chiesa corner.

Sandro crossed and Ronaldo headed straight at Meret as I Bianconeri threw everything at their hosts, then the stopper was there again to save from substitute Weston McKennie. Chiesa had the last effort, on 95 minutes, but he missed and Juve left Naples empty handed.

Key statistics

Juventus dominated possession with over 60 per cent of the ball and won the shot count by 17 to eight, but Napoli keeper Meret was outstanding to keep a clean sheet.

It was a first defeat for I Bianconeri in eight games, while Gli Azzurri are now unbeaten in five games at home.

What’s next?

Tomorrow’s Serie A 2021 updates will be dominated by news from Milan, where Antonio Conte’s Inter host in-form Lazio in a game they need to win to keep the pressure up at the summit.

Back with Juve; having topped their Champions League group, I Bianconeri have a Round of 16 tie away to FC Porto, and you’ll get the best coverage of Europe’s premier competition right here at SBOTOP.Then Juventus return home to host rock bottom Crotone in the league.

Meanwhile Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli have a Europa League game away to La Liga side Granada who are currently just outside the top seven in the Spanish league and will be stiff competition; and then Gli Azzurri have a huge game back in Serie A on Sunday 21st when they visit Gian Piero Gasperini’s free-scoring Atalanta.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:33 PM (162 days ago)            #47
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Serie A: Lukaku Overpowers Lazio to Send Inter Top

Inter Milan 3-1 Lazio

Inter Milan are the new leaders of Serie A. The Nerazzurri defeated a red-hot Lazio side 3-1 at the San Siro to leapfrog their city rivals AC Milan for top spot.

Romelu Lukaku led the way by scoring a first-half brace, then set up strike partner Lautaro Martinez for the clinching third goal after Lazio pulled one back.

Lazio had come into the match on a remarkable run of Serie A 2021 results with six straight wins in the league, but Inter’s prolific strike partnership proved too much for the Biancocelesti.

The win now sees the Nerazzurri in pole position ahead of next week’s much-anticipated derby rematch with AC Milan, who suffered a shock defeat to Spezia over the weekend.

Highlights of the game

Serie A: Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi aiming to bounce back after losing to Inter Milan

Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi wearing a mask ahead of the Serie A match between Inter Milan and Lazio

Fresh off their disappointing Coppa Italia exit at the hands of fierce rivals Juventus, Inter had the first real chance of the match on 12 minutes. Lautaro Martinez launched a powerful right-footed strike from the edge of the box, which whistled just wide of the goal.

Lautaro would then play a major part in Inter taking the lead as he won a penalty on 20 minutes. After a great pass from Lukaku, Lautaro got in behind the Lazio defence and was brought down by Wesley Hoedt, who was also shown a yellow card.

Lukaku stepped up to the spot and stroked the ball confidently into the corner to give the home side the early lead.

Lazio’s best chance to equalise in the first half inevitably fell to captain Ciro Immobile, whose shot from the edge of the box forced Samir Handanovic to a fine save. Luis Alberto also had a long-range strike which Handanovic handled easily.

On the other end, Lukaku had a good chance to double Inter’s advantage a couple of minutes before half-time, but his shot was well-saved by Pepe Reina.

However, the Belgian would get another chance just a few minutes later, and he smashed it in the back of the net.

The goal had initially been waived off for offside, but after a lengthy check by VAR, it was finally confirmed that the ball came off a Lazio player, which meant Lukaku’s goal counted.

Despite that devastating setback so close to the break, Simone Inzaghi’s side came out strong in the second half. A great chance fell to Francesco Acerbi, who was unmarked in the penalty area, but the centre-back got his shot all wrong.

Lazio’s pressure would eventually pay off, though, as they pulled a goal back on the hour mark. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s free-kick took a big deflection off substitute Gonzalo Escalante, which took the ball beyond Handanovic.

However, Lazio’s joy would be short-lived as Inter all but sealed the win just a few minutes later. Lukaku led a lightning-quick counterattack as he made a powerful run from inside his own half into the penalty area. He then unselfishly squared the ball to Lautaro, who had the simple task of tapping the ball into the open goal.

It was a fitting way to cap off a fantastic performance from both strikers, who had disappointed in their Coppa Italia exit to Juventus.

Key statistics

Lazio had to play from behind for most of the match, which was a big reason why they dominated possession, 65-35. They also had the slight edge in shots, 14-12, but Inter made the most of their chances. Lukaku and Martinez both finished with four shots apiece.

Lukaku reached a career milestone as he scored his 300th club goal. And his brace now takes him to 16 league goals, which ties him with Cristiano Ronaldo for the league lead.

Meanwhile, Ciro Immobile remains stuck at 14 goals. The Lazio skipper had an unusually quiet game. He finished with just one shot and was subbed off 20 minutes from time.

What’s next?

Inter could not have asked for a better result ahead of their massive clash against AC Milan next week. Expect the Serie A 2021 betting odds for that derby to be quite close.

After being knocked out of Europe, Inter will have the benefit of having a full week off while Milan will be busy playing a Europa League tie against Crvena Zvezda in midweek. SBOTOP will surely have more analysis of this potential title decider out later in the week.

As for Lazio, they will host Sampdoria this weekend ahead of their big Champions League round of 16 first leg against Bayern Munich the following week.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:41 PM (162 days ago)            #48
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Serie A: Scudetto Beckons for Milan Derby Winners

AC Milan vs Inter Milan

Before I go any further; I’m not suggesting Juventus’ hopes of making it a record tenth successive Scudetto are gone, but that whoever wins the big match of the weekend, Serie A: Milan vs Inter, has their destiny in their own hands.

Napoli beat Juventus last week to put a dent in the Old Lady’s title hopes, not a terminal one but serious enough to leave the reigning champions eight points off Inter Milan at the top, albeit with a game in hand. Bianconeri fans will be hoping for a draw at the San Siro to allow their team to claw a couple back, and the Milan vs Inter betting odds of 3.45, here at SBOTOP, suggest that is a genuine possibility.

But both AC and Inter Milan want to steal a march on their rivals while the fans, absent from the ground, long for the bragging rights as passionately as they always did.

Talking Points

Milan aim to make a quick recovery

2-0 defeat at the hands of new boys Spezia last week was a disastrous result for I Rossoneri. Head coach Stefano Pioli could hardly believe his eyes as the minnows dominated his all stars from start to finish, having 17 shots to 7 and four to none on target. To fail to register a single effort on target against a side delighted to rise to 14th in the table is not a statistic Pioli will like, particularly as the result meant his side had to give up the top spot they have held for so long to their city rivals.

Veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been one of the main reasons for Milan’s success this campaign. He has 14 goals so far and is sure to be in the Milan vs Inter news during the Sunday clash as he attempts to chase down Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Inter’s Romelu Lukaku in the race for the Capocannoniere.

24 year old attacking midfielder Franck Kessie is having another good season, scoring seven goals so far, while Turkish international Hakan Calhanoglu has been a dangerous supplier of ammunition. He climbed off the bench in Milan’s recent 4-0 victory over Crotone to make two assists, both for Croatian winger Ante Rebic, while Ibrahimovic also bagged a brace.

France wing back Theo Hernandez also made an assist in that game and he is proving to be another key man in his second season with I Rossoneri.

Pioli has the players to hurt Inter, but have they lost momentum at the crucial time?

Inter’s big chance

Head coach Antonio Conte knows this is Inter Milan’s best chance in years to win the Scudetto and having just taken top spot he will be desperate to hang on to it and retain a healthy advantage over Juventus. Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku was in brilliant form to overpower Lazio last week, scoring a first half brace and setting up his strike partner Lautaro Martinez for the third in a 3-1 victory.

That took Lukaku to 16 goals, alongside Ronaldo as the Serie A top scorer, while Martinez has made a big contribution with 11 goals. And Milan will be looking out for the pace of right wing back Achraf Hakimi, whose willingness to get forward and support his strikers is a real threat.

Can Christian Eriksen score another goal against AC Milan in Serie A?

Christian Eriksen celebrates after scoring the winning goal against AC Milan in Coppa Italia quarter-final

Conte has been willing to use his squad and has given plenty of game time to Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez, who has made five assists, and he has even welcomed creative midfielder Christian Eriksen in from the cold when it seemed likely the former Spurs man was on his way during the January transfer window.

History

The head to head competition between the two Milan giants has been nicely in the balance, Inter winning 26 to Milan’s 22, in all meetings since 1993, while there have been 17 draws.

Inter won the recent Coppa Italia clash 2-1 thanks to goals from Lukaku and Eriksen, who scored an injury time winner after Ibrahimovic had given I Rossoneri a first half lead.

But Milan were triumphant by the same score line in the Serie A derby earlier in the season.

Recent form favours I Nerazzurri who have won four of their last six games, drawing and losing one, and are unbeaten in five games away while Milan have won three and lost three of the last six.

Betting Tip

??
AC Milan vs Inter Milan Inter Milan Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 1.80
February 21, 22:00 (GMT+8)

This is a really tough call to make with Inter the slight favourites at odds of 2.07 while Milan are at 3.40. Both sides have in-form match winners and, as a side issue, there is a rivalry for the Capocannoniere in this clash.

I think it’s going to be tight; but after Milan faltered last week I’m giving Inter a slight edge.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:43 PM (162 days ago)            #49
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Serie A: Inter Win Milan Derby To Go Four Clear

AC Milan 0-3 Inter Milan

The 2020/21 Scudetto is Inter’s to lose now, after Antonio Conte’s team put on a ruthless performance to see off AC Milan at the San Siro.

The winners of this game had the top of Serie A in sight and Lautaro Martinez headed Inter ahead in an explosive start to the match, before making it a double early in the second half to take the game away from AC Milan.

Romelu Lukaku added a third as Inter ran out comfortable winners at SBOTOP odds of 2.07. Having been knocked out of the Champions League and Coppa Italia earlier in the month Conte’s players had more time to prepare than their opponents, and it showed as I Rossoneri came up short at both ends of the pitch.

The Serie A 2021 betting odds back a Nerazzurri title, with Juventus now the biggest threat.

Highlights of the game

Two of Europe’s hottest strikers have been firing the Milan clubs to the top of the table. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku started the game with 14 and 16 goals, and it was Inter’s Belgian hit man who made an immediate impact. But it was as a provider rather than scorer when he broke through the Rossoneri defence on five minutes. Lukaku sped past Theo Hernandez and, after Alessio Romagnoli cut out his intended pass to Martinez, he steadied himself with the ball back at his feet and sent in an inch-perfect cross for the unmarked Argentine to head home his 12th league goal of the season.

Inter continued to boss the game in the early stages, though Ibrahimovic tried an audacious back-heel after the Nerazzurri defence failed to deal with a Hernandez cross, but keeper Samir Handanovic collected comfortably. As the first half evolved Milan had a period of possession while Inter were happy to play on the break, and the visitors threatened again when Marcelo Brozovic fed Lukaku, but this time the Belgian fired wide. And then when Ivan Perisic got to the bi-line and squared Lukaku completely missed his shot with the goal gaping.

As Inter continued to threaten Lukaku forced a good save from Gianluigi Donnarumma at his near post and Martinez couldn’t convert the loose ball. At the other end Ibrahimovic latched on to a headed pass from Ante Rebic and hit a volley but it was too close to Handanovic.

Milan cane out for the second half all guns blazing and the Inter keeper made a brilliant double save to deny Ibrahimovic. First the big Swede glanced a header which Handanovic palmed away, and when the return cross came in Ibra rose to power a header towards goal but the Inter keeper saved again. Handanovic was at it again, on 49 minutes, to get a hand to an effort from Sandro Tonali when his effort was destined for the roof of the net.

Serie A: Zlatan Ibrahimovic tried for a goal but is saved by Samir Handanovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic during AC Milan’s clash against Inter Milan

And the Inter keeper’s efforts were rewarded when his team doubled their lead with a brilliant flowing move. Christian Eriksen switched the ball to Perisic who crossed for Martinez to poke home his second.

Then, midway through the second half Lukaku finally got his goal. Donnarumma had denied him again moments earlier but, as Milan poured players forward, the Belgian hit them on the break, collecting the ball in the centre circle and powering forward before driving an unstoppable shot past Donnarumma.

Game over.

Key statistics

Inter were totally dominant in their victory over Lazio last week but this was a hard-fought match, as every Milan derby is. Once Martinez doubled the lead, just before the hour, I Nerazzurri became more comfortable and Lukaku’s goal took him to the top of the race for the Capocannoniere, with 17, one ahead of Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Belgian striker has forged a lethal partnership with Martinez and they have now combined for six goals in Serie A, more than any other duo.

Conte’s team are on a hot streak of form, unbeaten in six.

What’s next?

The Serie A 2021 updates will be coming from Turin tomorrow where Juventus host Crotone; and then European football is back in midweek when I Rossoneri host Red Star Belgrade in their Round of 32 Europa League tie. Stefano Piolo’s side have the advantage with a 2-2 first-leg draw in the bag and the away goals could be crucial. It could have been even better when Hernandez gave Milan a 2-1 lead but Red Star scored a last gasp equaliser to leave the tie in the balance.

Next Sunday Milan are back in Serie A action when they head to the capital to take on Roma; and that will be a tough examination against Paulo Fonseca’s team which has climbed into Champions League contention and will go into a Monday night fixture against Benevento in third place.

Meanwhile, Inter have a week off before they return to action at home to Genoa, and that won’t be a pushover as their opponents have climbed away from the relegation zone thanks to a run of three wins and three draws from the last six.

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09-Mar 2021 Tuesday 7:43 PM (148 days ago)            #50
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Serie A: It is Make or Break for AC Milan

AS Roma vs AC Milan

AC Milan’s championship aspirations will be put on the line once again as they pay a visit to AS Roma this upcoming Sunday.

The former Serie A leaders want a quick recovery as they were overtaken by Inter Milan in recent weeks. And a victory against a strong club will not only give them the much-needed points, but also a major confidence boost as well.

The Stefano Pioli-coached would surely need that as they were beaten badly by their rivals last week, and now they are on a midst of a two-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, AS Roma believe that they can improve their form despite doing decent lately.

They have moved up to the fourth spot after going undefeated in four of their last five. But with the fifth-seeded Atalanta favoured to win over Sampdoria, AS Roma are in danger to lose their hold on the final Champions League spot.

The SBOTOP betting odds slightly favour the home side given their home record against their visitors in recent years.

But can they extend their dominant run at home over the Rossoneri? Or will the visitors re-assert their title credentials with a crucial win on this one?

Talking Points

AS Roma have to win by committee

Luck is not on the side for Paulo Fonseca’s group as they were bitten badly by the injury bug.

According to Sky Italia’s latest report, AS Roma will potentially miss up to four of their key players in this mouthwatering affair.

One of them will be Edin Dzeko, who has been an influential part of their attack. The Bosnian international suffered an adductor strain during their Europa League tiff against Braga. And given his advancing age, he is expected to be out for at least two weeks.

Fonseca will likely to feature Borja Mayoral as their main striker, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Stephan El Shaarawy are nearby to give attacking support in the starting XI.

Borja Mayoral is averaging a G/A every 75 minutes in Serie A and Europa League this season

AS Roma’s Borja Mayoral shoots at goal vs Benevento

Mayoral will definitely play a big role for AS Roma this Sunday. The Real Madrid loanee earned his minutes after being an understudy behind Edin Dzeko, and he has already punched in 11 goals and three assists this term.

Furthermore, defenders will be at a premium for AS Roma as Chris Smalling, Roger Ibanez, and Marash Kumbulla have yet to claim a clean bill of health.

With all of them out, Bryan Cristante, Federico Fazio, and Gianluca Mancini are all tasked to marshal their backline out of necessity.

AC Milan’s tough juggling act

Besides their faltering hopes in Serie A, AC Milan would also have to worry about their ongoing Europa League campaign.

The Rossoneri are slated to clash with Manchester United next in what should be a spicy affair since Zlatan Ibrahimovic is all too familiar with the Red Devils.

But that fixture will happen in 13 days from now, so the focus should be here first on domestic matters.

AC Milan have lost back-to-back games against Inter Milan and Spezia, with the latter being the more surprising one.

Perhaps fatigue is getting into Stefano Pioli’s men, but so are the other contenders here in Serie A.

Pioli made six changes to his lineup in their previous match against Red Star and he is likely to revert back to his derby lineup since most of them were rested.

The onus is on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s broad shoulders to deliver the goals and Serie A 2021 highlights, but he will need great performances from Rafael Leao, Hakan Calhanoglu, and Franck Kessie in order to bust out of their slump.

History

The Giallorossi have had the better of the Rossoneri in their last 10 encounters together.

In the said span, AS Roma have won in five, while AC Milan won three along with two draws.

One of the two draws came in the reverse fixture earlier this season, as the two fought in a six-goal thriller over at the San Siro Stadium.

Betting Tip

??
AS Roma vs AC Milan AC Milan Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.21
March 1, 03:45 (GMT+8)

For this contest, the Serie A 2021 odds slightly back the hosts to come away with a victory.

AS Roma are pegged to win at 2.38, whereas AC Milan are close at 2.94 and a draw is at 3.25 based on the 1×2 market readings.

Form favours the Giallorossi which is why they are backed to win, although via a small margin. And they will give the Rossoneri all they can handle for this weekend’s match.

However, it would be hard to count out Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co. given on what they’ve achieved so far this season.

Add that along with AS Roma’s frailties at the back, I have no doubt that AC Milan will get back on their feet sooner or later.

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09-Mar 2021 Tuesday 7:46 PM (148 days ago)            #51
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Serie A: Juventus’ Decima Dream in Serious Danger

Juventus have absolutely dominated Serie A for the last decade, but their bid to win ‘La Decima’ — an unprecedented 10th straight Scudetto — is suddenly looking unlikely after another disappointing result.

The reigning champions are now 10 points behind leaders Inter, who keep racking up the wins at the moment.

Meanwhile, AC Milan kept pace with their city rivals by beating Roma, which allowed Atalanta to reclaim the fourth and final Champions League place.

Read on below as SBOTOP lists down the three biggest takeaways from the latest round of Serie A matches.

Juventus’ title hopes fading fast

Juventus’ Serie A 2021 odds of winning the title took another major blow after they were held to a 1-1 draw away to Verona. Cristiano Ronaldo had given the visitors the lead, but Antonin Barak equalised for the hosts.

That result now leaves Juve 10 points adrift of leaders Inter, although they can trim that to seven points if they win their game in hand.

It was yet another disappointing result for the Old Lady, who have had a few of those over the last couple of weeks. They also lost 1-0 away to Napoli and were stunned 2-1 by Porto in their Champions League round-of-16 first leg.

The defensive solidity which saw them go on a run of seven consecutive wins with just one goal conceded back in January has seemingly vanished, and it remains to be seen whether first-year manager Andrea Pirlo has the ability to turn things around.

Pirlo has turned to Dejan Kulusevski over Alvaro Morata as Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike partner in the starting line-up over the last few weeks, but the 20-year-old Swede has created few Serie A 2021 highlights to justify the change.

Even if Pirlo does get Juve back on track, it will take something special for them to claw their way back from such a large deficit, especially with Inter in such fine form at the moment.

Milan catching Inter will be tough

After back-to-back defeats to Spezia and Inter, AC Milan finally got back to winning ways in Serie A as they edged out Roma 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico. Ante Rebic scored the winning goal after Jordan Veretout cancelled out Frank Kessie’s first-half penalty.

It was a much-needed win for Milan, who are still four points back of leaders Inter. After their big derby win over Milan last week, the Nerazzurri picked up another comfortable 3-0 victory against Genoa.

Romelu Lukaku spearheads Inter Milan in dominating Genoa, 3-1, in recent Serie A match

Inter Milan star Romelu Lukaku in action during their recent Serie A match against Genoa

Romelu Lukaku scored after just one minute and is in absolutely sparkling form. The Belgian has four goals and three assists in his last three games, giving him 18 goals and six assists on the season.

That win was Inter’s fifth in a row as they continue to march on without the added distraction of European football.

As for Milan, they still have their Europa League obligations after just squeezing past Red Star Belgrade on away goals. And their upcoming round-of-16 tie against Manchester United could further complicate their chances of catching up to their city rivals.

Atalanta looking good for last Champions League place

Atalanta are suddenly looking like front-runners for the fourth and final Champions League spot. La Dea picked up their third win in a row after beating Sampdoria 2-0 away from home. That’s despite missing top striker Duvan Zapata due to injury.

Atalanta have overtaken Roma, who fell to Milan, and Napoli, who have been too inconsistent of late. Lazio had the chance to draw level with Juventus and Atalanta on 46 points, but they lost away to Bologna.

After a rocky start to the season, Atalanta have gotten their act together. They have lost just once in the league since December, showing the most consistency out of all the contenders for that final top-four spot.

Amid the challenges of playing Champions League football in a tight schedule with a limited and ageing squad, as well as the loss of club captain Papu Gomez, Gian Piero Gasperini just continues to get results

In terms of Europe, Roma are still in the Europa League round of 16, while Napoli were knocked out. And in the Champions League, Atalanta have to overcome a 1-0 deficit to Real Madrid, and Lazio are all but out after a 4-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the first leg.

A lot can still happen in the last 14 games of the season, but right now, Atalanta appear to have the best chance out of those four to claim that coveted Champions League place.

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10-Mar 2021 Wednesday 3:33 PM (147 days ago)            #52
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Serie A: It’s Now or Never For Juventus

Juventus vs Lazio

Juventus’ Serie A title defence is in serious danger and now is the time for them to show up if they’re going to achieve their La Decima dream.

I Bianconeri will try to extend their unbeaten league streak to four matches, and a win here is very much preferred when they host Lazio on Saturday night.

After back-to-back losses against Napoli and Porto last February, Andrea Pirlo’s men have the top berth within reach since they are only trailing by seven points to Inter Milan. Juventus are sitting at the third spot at the table with 49 points.

Lazio, on the other hand, are at seventh with 43 points and they are aiming for a Champions League spot. However, they will face some serious competition with Atalanta, AS Roma, and Napoli as their major roadblocks.

They may have been dogged by inconsistency as of late, but Cristiano Ronaldo and co. are well aware of how dangerous the Biancocelesti can be on any given day.

This match is shaping up to be one of the most crucial games of the 2020/21 season. And here at SBOTOP, we will review the latest tidbits between these two clubs.

Talking Points

Do Juventus still have gas left in the tank?

With games coming in left and right for Juventus, it is clear that Andrea Pirlo is going to need more warm bodies as they try to make a run for another Scudetto.

Juventus are coming off of a convincing 3-0 win over Spezia as Alvaro Morata, Federico Chiesa, and Cristiano Ronaldo all broke loose late after enduring a slow first half.

In the said game, Pirlo also got strong performances from the likes of Merih Demiral, Federico Bernardeschi, and Weston McKennie – who recently completed his transfer to the Old Lady.

I Bianconeri are going to be severely undermanned since six of their key players are expected to be sidelined for this fixture.

Their backline depth will be tested once more as Matthijs de Ligt, Leonardo Bonucci, Juan Cuadrado, and Giorgio Chiellini are all nursing knocks, while midfielder Arthur and forward Paulo Dybala will miss time as well.

With all them out, Pirlo will need big performances from their younger players along with Cristiano Ronaldo in order to pull out their second consecutive win.

Lazio catch a lucky break

Ciro Immobile needs to add to his tally if he plans on winning the Serie A match between Juventus and Lazio

Lazio’s Ciro Immobile in action during a Serie A match against Inter Milan

Unlike Juventus, Lazio are coming into this contest well-rested because of what happened last Tuesday.

Simone Inzaghi’s men were slated to host Torino few days ago, but the game was abandoned since the visitors didn’t show up at the venue at all.

Similar to what happened between Napoli and Juventus few months ago, Torino were not allowed to travel to Stadio Olimpico due to a COVID-19 outbreak within their squad.

And because Serie A didn’t postpone the match, Lazio were given the easiest three points that they’ll probably have all season.

Either way, the Biancocelesti are coming in here as the underdogs because their recent outings don’t offer much positives.

Lazio are winless in three out of their last four in all competitions, and their latest defeat to Bologna was one of their more embarrassing losses this term.

In the said stretch, scoring has been a problem for Lazio as they couldn’t get Ciro Immobile going.

Immobile has 14 league goals as of this writing and he needs to add to his tally if he plans on winning this game and his second straight Capocannoniere.

History

Lazio have a lot of catching up to do to somehow balance the scales in terms of their overall head-to-heads against Juventus.

In the 54 games they locked horns prior to this contest, Juventus have won 28 times, whereas Lazio won in 13 along with 13 draws.

Both sides figured in a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture last November as Juventus saw their lead vanish when Felipe Caicedo cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal during added time.

Betting Tip 

??
Juventus vs Lazio Juventus Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 1.84
March 07, 03:45 (GMT+8)

The Serie A 2021 odds point to Juventus gathering the much-needed three points in this contest.

Andrea Pirlo’s side is priced to win at 1.82, while Lazio are pegged lower at 4.20 and chances for a draw are at 3.55 in the 1X2 market.

Despite having a depleted lineup due to injuries, I am expecting for the defending Serie A champions to win in this game but they will fight tooth and nail to earn it.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be the main star in this fixture given his share of Serie A 2021 highlights, and their solid form at home should reign supreme over an inconsistent Lazio side.

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10-Mar 2021 Wednesday 3:35 PM (147 days ago)            #53
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Serie A: Atalanta to Test Inter’s Title Credentials

Inter Milan vs Atalanta

Serie A league leaders Inter Milan are back in action, at the end of this weekend, when in form Atalanta are the visitors to the San Siro.

It will be a huge test of the hosts’ chances of wrestling the Scudetto away from Turin where Juventus have hoarded it for the last nine seasons. The Serie A 2021 betting odds are backing Antiono Conte to be the first manager to bring the league title to Milan since Jose Mourinho’s time as head coach. Challengers Juventus have a ‘now’ or ‘never’ fixture at home to Lazio this weekend and if they slip up, and I Nerazzurri can see off Atalanta, then Conte could become the hero of the blue and black half of Milan.

But it won’t be easy. Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta have recovered brilliantly from a sluggish start to the 2020/21 campaign and their swashbuckling style has fired them into the top four places, while they are still in with a chance of progressing in this season’s Champions League.

One thing’s for sure. With some of Serie A’s sharpest shooters on show at the San Siro, we expect to see goals.

Talking Points

Title is Inter’s to lose

No football fan wants to hear it, but if Inter carry on their current level of performances then surely the Scudetto will be theirs. It may be tempting fate to say it, but Conte’s side don’t look like blowing a six point lead. They have been formidable in attack and defence and if their rearguard has a rare off day then they have strikers who can score more than the team concedes.

Inter Milan are currently six points clear at the top of the Serie A table

Inter Milan’s Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring their first goal against Parma

A hard fought 2-1 win at Parma on Thursday night gave Conte’s side some breathing space at the top of the table, and with 13 games to play that’s a handy margin. It was a special night for Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez who scored both Inter goals but he is by no means the main man in the Nerazzurri’s attack.

Romelu Lukaku with 18 goals and Lautaro Martinez with 13 have formed a potent strike partnership and they will seriously test the Atalanta defence. Martinez was brilliant as Inter won the recent Milan derby 3-0, scoring a double and running the Rossoneri defence ragged.

Wing back Achraf Hakimi is a dangerous customer on the flank and he should make a starting place, while midfield general Marcelo Brozovic will aim to break up Atalanta’s attacks while supporting his own front men.

Goal Happy Atalanta back on song 

Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta have become renowned for their attacking prowess and they have been in superb form in recent weeks, scoring 11 goals in three consecutive victories, including a 5-1 hammering of Crotone last week when five different players were on the score-sheet

Colombian duo Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata, with 15 and nine goals, are a real handful.

Muriel has joined the race for the Capocannoniere, five goals behind Juventus’ superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and three behind Lukaku, while midfield man Robin Goosens has also weighed in with nine strikes.

Midfielder Josip Ilicic has made seven assists this season and adds a touch of real quality to Atalanta’s talented squad. They can trouble any team on their day, but they will have to be at their best to break down the tightest defence in the division.

History

Inter have won just over half of the last 45 meetings between these two clubs, claiming 23 victories, since 1994, to Atalanta’s nine and there have been 13 draws.

The return fixture ended in a 1-1 draw in an entertaining game as both team created a hatful of chances. Matrinez put Inter Milan ahead before Aleksei Mirnachuk equalised for La Dea.

Both teams have turned in impressive Serie A 2021 results in recent weeks, and each has won five from the last six in all competitions, though Inter’s other result was a Coppa draw, with Juventus, while Atalanta lost their Champions League Round of 16 first leg match against Real Madrid.

Gasperini’s side will travel with real confidence though as they have won the last four away games on the trot.

Betting Tip

??
Inter Milan vs Atalanta 1X2 Draw @ 3.40
March 9, 03:45 (GMT+8)

Inter are at 1.99 to win this fascinating clash, here at SBOTOPand Atalanta are at 3.40

to derail I Nerazzurri’s title charge.

But I think the visitors have enough to earn another point, and can see a scoring draw, which wouldn’t be a disaster for either team.

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17-Mar 2021 Wednesday 7:42 PM (140 days ago)            #54
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Serie A: Is Gattuso About To Derail Milan’s Title Challenge?

AC Milan vs Napoli

Gennaro Gattuso returns to the San Siro Stadium for a Sunday night date with his old friends from Milan, but he wants to leave with a win as his Napoli side continues its chase for Champions League football.

Serie A: AC Milan vs Napoli is the Italian match of the weekend. The hosts are still hoping for Scudetto glory but it’s going to be tough for Milan to catch Inter, six points behind I Nerazzurri after leading the table for so long. Anything other than a victory could spell disaster for Stefano Pioli’s team, particularly if Inter continue their seven match winning run in the league, as expected, when they meet struggling Torino earlier on Sunday.

After a sluggish start to the 2020/21 campaign, Napoli have been on a decent run which has lifted them up to sixth place and just three points behind fourth placed Roma, with a game in hand and a superior goal difference.

Talking Points

Milan must fight on without Zlatan

Pioli knows full well that his side is not the same without the 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and his top scorer is set to sit this one out, he’s still recovering from an injury sustained in the Rossoneri’s victory over Roma.

The legendary Swede has scored 14 goals already and he might even be favourite for the Golden Boot had he not missed so many games this season. Alongside him, 24-year-old Ivory Coast star Franck Kessie is having a good campaign and he carries the biggest goal threat in Zlatan’s absence. Playing in an advanced midfield role Kessie has contributed nine goals and, at 24 years of age, he has plenty of time to keep improving.

Meanwhile, on the wing, Ante Rebic always provides a threat, equally comfortable with both feet, with a sharp turn of pace and an eye for the killer ball or a goal.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to miss AC Milan's clash against Napoli in Serie A

Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing for AC Milan during their match against AS Roma

Milan have struggled at home recently, drawing with Udinese and Red Star Belgrade after taking a 3-0 thumping in the Milan derby, and it’s going to be tough against a team well drilled by their former hero.

Napoli’s midfield menace

Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso is a Milan legend, playing 468 games for the Rossoneri as one of the most feared midfield players in world football. His pugnacious and combative style, combined with brilliant vision and a superb array of passing struck fear into the hearts of opponents, while as a manager he is happy for his team to play with a combination of steel and style.

Matteo Politano and Piotr Zielinski have forged a top class partnership in the middle of the park. They are on the same wavelength and each can control the pace of the game while supporting their attackers. Politano has scored seven goals this season, while the excellent Zielinski has contributed six goals and five assists.

Meanwhile Lorenzo Insigne is back to his best, scoring 13 goals, which makes the Napoli skipper the joint sixth top scorer in the race for the Capocannoniere. And strike partner Hirving Lozano might be set for a return, having been sidelined for six games with a hamstring injury. The Mexican has been a key player in Napoli’s revival, scoring nine goals in the league.

History

The head to head AC Milan vs Napoli results couldn’t be closer, at 12 wins each from the 40 games played since 1993.

I Rossoneri won the return match in Naples 3-1 as Ibrahimovic scored a brace to hand Milan a first win in Naples in ten years.

Both teams are unbeaten in four matches, in all competitions, and have taken seven points from their last three games; but Napoli haven’t won in six attempts on the road.

Betting Tip

??
AC Milan vs Napoli Over 2.50 @ 1.92
March 15, 03:45 (GMT+8)

Well folks, the AC Milan vs Napoli betting odds here at SBOTOP make the Rossoneri marginal favourites at odds of 2.42 with Napoli at 2.72 and the draw at 3.16.

Over the last six fixtures for each side, there have been two goals (or more) in every game; four of Napoli’s games have seen over 2.50 goals while Milan have had three over and three under.

So I’d say a minimum of two goals is a very good bet and the likelihood is we’ll see more, as both teams will be going for a victory. Napoli have been more free scoring in recent weeks but a point is no use at all for the Rossoneri.

It’s a close run thing with Under 2.50 goals available at odds of 1.96, but I’m backing an entertaining and high tempo match with plenty of goalmouth action.

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17-Mar 2021 Wednesday 7:44 PM (140 days ago)            #55
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Serie A: Inter Milan to Continue Their Rampage Against Torino

Torino vs Inter Milan

Inter Milan head to Turin this Sunday as they try to break away from the pack here in Serie A.

The league leaders are on a rampant run given that they are yet to be defeated since early January, and now they are six points clear over the rest of the playing field.

Antonio Conte’s men are licking their chops since they are entering the lighter part of their schedule. And first up will be against Torino, who are languishing right now in the dreaded drop zone.

It is safe to say that I Granata’s campaign this term has not been going to plan. Their early season struggles have put them to where they are right now, and time is not on their side as they try to claw their way out of their predicament.

Their recent Serie A 2021 results have been underwhelming to say the least, and now they look to find some home comfort to try and douse water to Inter’s fiery form.

The SBOTOP betting odds obviously see that as an unlikely possibility and it might be just a matter of time to where we’ll see a new champion being crowned.

Talking Points

Inter Milan control their destiny

Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte is delighted with his side Serie A victory

Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte celebrates after the match

With 12 matchdays left, Antonio Conte’s men can almost taste it which is why they cannot afford to take their eyes off the prize even for just a second. One can argue that the Scudetto is theirs to lose since they remain head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.

Inter are being spearheaded by the lethal front trio of Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, and Alexis Sanchez as they now boast the best attack in the competition with 63 goals scored.

Romelu Lukaku in particular has been the head of the snake with 22 goals and eight assists and he is one of the favourites to win this year’s Capocannoniere and even for the Euro 2020 Golden Boot.

Not only they are unforgiving at the attack, but they are also relentless at the back since they’ve only conceded 25 goals.

Serie A’s best defense is being marshalled by the towering center-back duo of Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij, while Alessandro Bastoni is doing well as an understudy.

The best thing about their run is that they remained healthy compared to the other teams. That certainly gives them the advantage as they are inching closer to the finish line.

Inter Milan need to maintain their hot form to finally seal the deal. And with other teams scrambling as of the moment, I don’t see any team stopping them anytime soon.

Torino hopeful for a turnaround

Torino look to add more points in their campaign by trying to secure a decent result against the league leaders.

I Granata saw their unbeaten run end when they were defeated by Crotone last week in what was a high-scoring affair.

The biggest reason for their loss was because they were playing without Andrea Belotti, who is their main attacking protagonist.

Belotti was held back due to health and safety protocols, and fortunately he has been cleared to play after returning negative COVID-19 tests.

Torino will be looking to turn around their campaign and they are hopeful that Davide Nicola would steer them back to safety.

Davide Nicola was hired as team manager to replace Marco Giampaolo last January, and so far the club looks more organised under his tutelage.

History

Torino and Inter Milan go way back in the Italian top-flight. All in all, I Granata and the Nerazzurri have met in 153 times prior to Sunday.

Inter Milan hold the major advantage in the head-to-heads with 68 wins, while Torino only won 36 times along with 49 draws.

In the reverse fixture last November, Antonio Conte’s men simply outclassed Torino at home with a 4-2 victory.

Inter’s front three of Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, and Lautaro Martinez let out a late flurry after the 60th-minute mark to nullify Simone Zaza and Cristian Ansaldi’s goals.

Betting Tip

??
Torino vs Inter Milan Inter Milan Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 1.68
March 14, 22:00 (GMT+8)

The latest Serie A 2021 odds are quite lopsided in favour of the visitors this weekend.

Inter Milan are heavily backed to win at 1.41, while Torino are priced low at 7.40 and chances for a draw are at 4.40 in the 1X2 market.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, this looks to be an easy victory for the visitors. Torino may score a goal or two, but it won’t be enough against an Inter Milan loaded with lots of firepower.

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17-Mar 2021 Wednesday 7:47 PM (140 days ago)            #56
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Serie A: Records, Runs and Remarkable Ronaldo!

It was another action-packed weekend in Serie A, which continues to produce drama, despite an absence of passionate Italian fans.

Among the Serie A 2021 highlights this weekend was a first club hat-trick for more than half a century, the end of a 17-match run without victory and a perfect hat-trick in just 22 minutes.

I’m going to begin with a question to which I think I know the answer!

Has there ever been a better footballer than Cristiano Ronaldo?

Whatever your views on this, no-one can argue that his place in the pantheon of greats is long since assured.

In the build-up to this must-win game at Cagliari, there had been much speculation about the future of the 36-year-old.

Juventus had been left reeling in midweek with yet another last-16 exit in the Champions League, despite creating enough opportunities to beat Porto hands down, and that had prompted reports Ronaldo was heading back to Real Madrid where he won four Champions League titles in five years.

Whether the Portuguese genius stays in Turin for another year is unknown but if the club does fail to retain the Serie A title, he is one player who will be free of blame.

For here he was again, starting in the only current Serie A stadium he has never scored in, and putting that record right – just as he has numerous others almost at will.

Under new manager Leonardo Semplici, Cagliari had picked up seven points from three games.

In this one, they were blown away as CR7 vented his Champions League frustrations on the home side with a header, a right-footed penalty and a left-foot blast.

It was ruthless, it was remarkable, it was Ronaldo.

Milan are not in title equation

Unlikely title challengers Milan were still on the heels of their city rivals Inter before this weekend and had returned from their Europa League assignment in Manchester on Thursday night with an away goals advantage.

Standing in their way were Coppa Italia holders Napoli and a former favourite in Gennaro Gattuso.

Milan will always be his first love, of that there is no doubt, but there must have been an element of personal satisfaction as he beat the club who dispensed with his services nearly two years ago to effectively to end a title bid they never had the strength to sustain.

The fact is that Gattuso is a young manager who gains in experience with every passing year – his time in charge at the San Siro just came too early for him and when the club was not in a good place.

Vlahovic delights Viola and Fantasy Football Fans!

Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic nets a first half hat-trick against Benevento in Serie A

Dusan Vlahovic celebrates after scoring against Benevento at the Ciro Vigorito stadium

With both Benevento and Fiorentina hovering just above the drop zone and sliding back downwards after poor runs of form, any moments of inspiration were to be grabbed with both hands.

Step forward Dusan Vlahovic who netted a first-half hat-trick to give Fiorentina a 3-0 lead and all but the seal the points.

His treble revived the Viola, setting records in the process as he became the first player in 56 years to score a first-half hat-trick for the club.

What’s more, he admitted afterwards he was extra pleased as his contribution earned him extra ‘fantasy’ football points!

Both sides should avoid being drawn into a relegation battle, especially the Florence club which has some wriggle room as it approaches midtable with 11 league games remaining.

Parma are alive and kicking

As someone who grew up admiring the Parma side of the 1990s which comprised the likes of Lilian Thuram, Gianluigi Buffon, Juan Sebastian Veron, Gianfranco Zola, Tino Asprilla and Enrico Chiesa – and there were more – it has been surprising and somewhat sad to see the club struggle in more recent times.

Going into this contest with fifth-placed AS Roma, they were six points from safety and had only beaten the club from the Italian capital once in their past 11 meetings.

Then two Romanians combined, Dennis Man running onto a long ball and putting it across for the unmarked Valentin Mihaila to fire the hosts ahead.

Into the second half and when Graziano Pelle, making his first start for the club, went down in the box, Hernani sent Pau Lopez the wrong way from the spot.

What a way to end a 17-match winless run.

Parma remain 19th in the table but their survival chances have received a much-needed boost.

Inter show title credentials

The Serie A 2021 betting odds still make Inter Milan clear favourites to win their first Scudetto in 11 years.

Certainly, this SBOTOP observer can see that, after 18 months of massive spending, the depth of the squad at Antonio Conte’s disposal is paying dividends.

That was evident at struggling Torino who, after they equalised a penalty from £75 million striker Romelu Lukaku, were able to bring Alexis Sanchez off the bench and the Chilean showed his quality to set up a winning header for Lautaro Martinez.

The Scudetto is in Inter’s hands if they can continue this impressive run of form. They certainly seem united, determined and they have the quality and depth to claim the top prize.

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23-Mar 2021 Tuesday 2:01 PM (134 days ago)            #57
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Serie A: Roma and Napoli in Battle for Fourth

AS Roma vs Napoli

All roads lead to Rome on Sunday night where a huge clash is on the agenda when Serie A: Roma vs Napoli kicks off at 8-45 local time.

Atalanta currently holds the coveted fourth place but in fifth and sixth, and locked on 50 points, either Roma or Napoli could move into fourth should they win this mammoth clash and Gian Piero Gasperini’s side falters away to ninth placed Hellas Verona.

Napoli will arrive at the Stadio Olimpico full of confidence and with more preparation time than their hosts who have been struggling with injuries and have a Europa League commitment in the Ukraine on Thursday night.

Talking Points

Roma squad is still stretched

Paulo Fonseca’s Roma are working hard to keep pace with the top four having picked up two wins and two losses over the past four league games. A shock 2-0 defeat to Parma last weekend saw I Giallorossi drop to sixth place as Napoli exchanged places with them with a win.

Roma have been dogged by injury problems recently, missing four key players in their loss to Milan three weeks ago, including defender Chris Smalling and striker Edin Dzeko, and they will be without some important figures when they face Napoli. Top scorer Jordan Veretout, who has ten goals and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will both be absent. The former Manchester United ace has had a superb season, weighing in with nine goals and eight assists and he’ll be a big miss.

The forwards will rely on wing back Leonardo Spinazzola for crosses. He has contributed five assists, and the returned Dzeko, in particular, will need a good supply of ammunition.

But to add to Fonseca’s woes full back Bruno Peres will sit this one out with a ban.

Serie A Update: AS Roma's Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be out for 3-4 weeks

AS Roma’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan with teammates during their Europa League match vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Napoli’s run coming with perfect timing

Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli have embarked on a good run of form at a perfect time in the season. They started sluggishly but have gathered momentum during the campaign and ten points from the last four games have lifted Gli Azzurri to the brink of the Champions League qualifying places.

A 1-0 victory over AC Milan last week, thanks to a goal from Matteo Politano, derailed the Rossoneri’s title hopes.  It was Politano’s eighth league goal of the league season and, alongside the ever reliable Dries Mertens, he’s given valuable support to top scorer Lorenzo Insigne.

The Napoli skipper has scored 13 goals, the seventh highest tally in the league and he’s been in imperious form. Strike partner Hirving Lozano remains injured but Napoli’s squad is in significantly better shape than their opponents.

But, just as Roma are missing their right back for disciplinary reasons, Gattuso is without Giovanni Di Lorenzo in the same circumstances.

History

The head to head Roma vs Napoli results give Fonseca’s side the edge with 20 victories to Napoli’s 13, in all the games played since 1993, though Napoli fans have the happiest recent memory.

Shortly after the death of Azzurri legend Diego Maradona Napoli won 4-0 when the two sides met in Naples back in November. The hosts dominated on an emotional night as Insigne opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick. Fabian Ruiz and Mertens added two more before Politano finished the Romans off with a goal worthy of Maradona as he dribbled past three defenders and the goalkeeper.

England fans will remember how the great man did that to their team when Argentina beat the Three Lions at the 1986 World Cup!

Recent form is fairly comparable with both sides winning four from the last six, though two of Roma’s wins have come in the Europa League against sides they would expect to beat.

But Fonseca’s team has been superb at home in the league, winning ten, drawing three and losing just once, while Napoli will arrive in Rome unbeaten in five.

Betting Tip

??

AS Roma vs Napoli Napoli Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 1.99
March 22, 03:45 (GMT+8)

This match is incredibly hard to call and here at SBOTOP we can hardly split the two teams, with our latest Roma vs Napoli betting odds at 2.51 for a home win and 2.63 for an away win with the draw at odds of 3.11.

While Napoli exited the Europa League at the Round of 32 stage, Roma were in action on Thursday night with a trip away to Shakhtar Donetsk. Though they have a comfortable three goal advantage Roma could do without a trip to Ukraine and that could work in Napoli’s favour.

Fonseca’s squad will be stretched and tired and while 1-1 is the most likely score-line, if it goes one way or the other I suspect it will be towards Naples.

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23-Mar 2021 Tuesday 2:05 PM (134 days ago)            #58
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Serie A: Juventus’ Top-4 Status Suddenly Looking Unsafe

With leaders Inter Milan not in action this weekend due to their COVID outbreak, the spotlight shined on the rest of the big Serie A clubs, most notably defending champions Juventus.

The Old Lady’s dreams of winning a 10th straight Scudetto look well and truly over after a shock defeat at home to Benevento.

But more worryingly for the Bianconeri, they are suddenly in some danger of missing out on Champions League qualification for next season as Atalanta and Napoli keep winning, which is another sign that drastic changes must be made.

Meanwhile, the two Rome clubs are getting ready to fight it out for that final spot in the Europa League and Milan just about kept their title hopes alive.

Here are SBOTOP’s four main takeaways from the latest round of Serie A fixtures.

Big changes needed at faltering Juventus

Juventus’ season is going from bad to worse. After getting knocked out in the Champions League round of 16 by Porto, they are suddenly in danger of qualifying for next year’s competition after Benevento defied the Serie A 2021 betting odds by beating the defending champions 1-0 at the Allianz Stadium.

That loss sees Juve drop down to fourth place, although they still have a game in hand over Atalanta in third and are two points clear of Napoli in fifth.

In case it was not clear enough before, though, this latest loss just underscores the need for a major overhaul at Juventus. They have been in a downward trajectory both domestically and in Europe since moving on from Massimiliano Allegri two seasons ago, and it has gotten worse this season.

Their decision to bring in a completely untested new manager in Andrea Pirlo has proven to be a poor one, and their squad has also fallen behind in terms of quality.

Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli is busy trying to make big changes to the Champions League format, but he would be wise to make similarly significant moves to improve his club, which continues to trend in the wrong direction.

Whether it’s moving on from Pirlo or the ‘GOAT’ Cristiano Ronaldo (or perhaps both), big changes need to come at Juventus and soon.

Gasperini, Gattuso doing great job to stay in top-4 race

Napoli secure a 2-0 away win over top-four rivals AS Roma in the recent Serie A clash

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso celebrates after a Serie A win

Juve’s place in next year’s Champions League is looking in serious doubt because Atalanta and Napoli just keep winning games. Both sides picked up big 2-0 away wins over the weekend — Atalanta at Verona and Napoli at Roma — to keep their top-four hopes alive.

Atalanta and Napoli have had an impressive run of Serie A 2021 results over the last few weeks. Atalanta have won six of their last seven games — with their only loss coming against leaders Inter — and Napoli have won three in a row.

Despite their disappointing Champions League exit to Real Madrid, Gian Piero Gasperini has once again done a wonderful job at Atalanta. La Dea continue to punch above their weight even with their financial limitations and an ageing squad, which is a testament to Gasperini’s managerial skills.

Similarly, Gattuso has been brilliant at Napoli amid the speculation about his future. He might still be let go even if he does lead Napoli back to the Champions League; the rift with owner Aurelio de Laurentiis might be beyond repair. But he is showing in Naples that he is quite a capable manager and likely won’t be out of a job for too long.

Rome clubs set to battle for last Europa League spot 

The battle for the Champions League spots is not the only exciting race in Italy. The chase for the last Europa League place is also looking quite interesting with fierce rivals Roma and Lazio set to fight it out.

After a shock defeat to relegation strugglers Parma, Roma lost their second game in a row as they went down 2-0 at home to Napoli. And they also have their Europa League quarter-final with Ajax, which will be an added distraction in the next few weeks.

Roma’s recent stumbles have allowed Lazio to catch up thanks to their back-to-back wins. Unlike the Giallorossi, the Biancocelesti are out of Europe and can now focus completely on Serie A from here on out.

The two sides will still meet for the second Rome derby on the penultimate round of the season. If the Europa League race goes right down to the wire, that match could very well decide which Rome club captures that final European spot.

Zlatan returns to keep Milan’s faint title hopes alive

With Inter not in action this weekend, second-placed AC Milan had the chance to cut the Nerazzurri’s lead. The Rossoneri very nearly squandered that chance, but they eventually came from behind to beat Fiorentina, 3-2.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic starred as he made his first start in almost a month. He scored Milan’s opening goal and also hit the woodwork twice. The 39-year-old has now scored 15 goals in 15 league appearances this season, which is an incredible strike rate.

Milan still have six points to gain on rivals Inter, who have won eight in a row and still have a game in hand. But if Zlatan can remain healthy for the last 10 games of the season, there’s still a chance Milan can make the title chase a bit more interesting.

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05-Apr 2021 Monday 2:03 PM (121 days ago)            #59
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Serie A: AC Milan Seeking a Win Over Sampdoria to Keep Title Hopes Alive

AC Milan vs Sampdoria

AC Milan will press forward for their Serie A title challenge when they host Sampdoria at San Siro this weekend.

The Rossoneri are aiming to close the gap between them and bitter rivals Inter Milan, which makes this match a must-win for them.

It’s now or never for Stefano Pioli’s side since they’ve fallen behind at second place after a torrid start to their campaign.

As of this writing, AC Milan are six points adrift with 59 points, while the likes of defending champions Juventus and Atalanta are hot on their heels with 55 points apiece.

On the other hand, Claudio Ranieri’s side are placed 10th with 35 points and they will look to move up into the Italian top-flight standings.

Here at SBOTOP, we take a look on how these teams stack up on this Saturday night encounter.

Talking Points

Time is running out for AC Milan

AC Milan will almost have to pull off a miracle if they have plans to steal the Scudetto away from Inter Milan.

The Rossoneri haven’t been at their best and it doesn’t help that their roster is incomplete due to injuries and suspensions.

Ante Rebic was on the wrong end of the Serie A 2021 news when he was slapped a ban after insulting a referee during their defeat against Napoli.

The star forward disagreed with referee Fabrizio Pasqua on several occasions and it got to a point where Rebic hit Pasqua below the belt, calling her mother a prostitute in Naples.

With Rebic out of the equation, AC Milan were left without one more capable attacker alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hakan Calhanoglu, and Alexis Saelemaekers.

In the previous game, AC Milan fought tooth and nail against Fiorentina in what should’ve been an easy win.

The Rossoneri saw their lead evaporate when Franck Ribery equalised during the 51st minute, but it’s a good thing that Zlatan Ibrahimovic was there to bail them out.

Overall, it was a bad game by their standards and they are eager to bounce back this weekend.

Stefano Pioli is hopeful that Rafael Leao and Mario Mandzukic are going to be 100-per cent fit for this game, while Ante Rebic should return in the starting lineup.

Meanwhile, Alessio Romagnoli and Davide Calabria are not expected to play since they’re still nursing their injuries.

Sampdoria keen to build winning run

Claudio Ranieri was relieved when his boys broke out of their slump. They were able to beat Torino 1-0 after going five straight fixtures without a win.

I Blucerchiati endured a rough night offencively as neither side had trouble finding the back of the net.

Antonio Candreva scored the only goal against Torino during their Serie A match

Antonio Candreva celebrates with Tommaso Augello and Fabio Quagliarella after scoring a goal against Torino

Antonio Candreva scored the marginal goal during the 25th minute and it was enough to pull Sampdoria into the upper half of the table.

Other than Candreva, AC Milan would have to worry about Sampdoria’s other attackers.

Team captain Fabio Quagliarella is still a threat on goal despite being 38 years old, while Keita Balde and Albin Ekdal add guile and pace to their attack.

Unfortunately for Sampdoria, defence isn’t their strongest suit. But if they can replicate last week’s performance, they might catch the Rossoneri off-guard.

History

AC Milan and Sampdoria go a long way in Italian football. Prior to Saturday, these two proud clubs have faced off 38 times.

The Rossoneri have the significant edge in the overall head-to-heads with 23 wins, while I Blucerchiati have only won eight times along with seven draws.

Stefano Pioli’s side are unbeaten in three straight against Sampdoria. Claudio Ranieri’s men haven’t won in San Siro since the 2016/17 season.

In the reverse fixture earlier this term, AC Milan came away with a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Sampdoria.

Albin Ekdal provided a scare for AC Milan with his goal during the 82nd minute, but Franck Kessie and Samuel Castillejo’s goals were enough to pull out the win.

Betting Tip

??
AC Milan vs Sampdoria AC Milan Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 1.73
April 03, 18:30 (GMT+8)

The Serie A 2021 odds are favouring the Rossoneri to win via a considerable margin.

AC Milan are priced at 1.56 to win, whereas Sampdoria are pegged lower at 5.80 and a draw is at 3.85 in the 1X2 market readings.

Sampdoria have the tools to make life hard for AC Milan, but ultimately I see the hosts coming away with the three vital points.

AC Milan simply have more firepower compared to their visitors. And on this weekend, I am expecting Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co. to unload on I Blucerchiati.

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06-Apr 2021 Tuesday 2:36 PM (120 days ago)            #60
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Serie A: Free-scoring Sassuolo Spells Danger for Roma

Sassuolo vs AS Roma

With another international weekend behind us we’re back to domestic matters and the pressure is beginning to rise as we approach the business end of the season.

Serie A: Sassuolo vs Roma at the Mapei Stadium on Sunday is a case in point. The hosts can feel reasonably relaxed, sitting in eighth place on 39 points and 17 clear of the drop zone. And they are 11 points behind sixth placed Roma so the chances of reaching a European place are very slim.

But for the visitors this match comes at a pivotal point in their season and they are under immense pressure to win. Three defeats in five have left Roma’s top four hopes hanging by a thread and they currently sit in sixth place in the Serie A league table, five points behind Atalanta who occupy fourth and also three behind Napoli who are on a charge in fifth.

Paulo Fonseca’s side will hope the international break has done them good and they can return to winning ways when they arrive in Reggio nell’Emilia. The Sassuolo vs Roma betting odds pitch Roma as favourites but it won’t be easy.

Talking Points

Berardi can hurt an off colour Roma

Roberto de Zerbi has led Sassuolo to a very comfortable position in a competitive Serie A and his team has become renowned for its free scoring attack. Strike duo Francesco Caputo and Domenico Berardi have 11 goals each from 22 games and four assists each, and Berardi was in brilliant form in Italy’s World Cup qualifying win over Northern Ireland.


Both were on target from the penalty spot in a recent 3-3 draw with Napoli, Caputo’s 95th minute spot-kick grabbing a share of the spoils at the end of an action packed clash. With very little to play for over the remaining ten games of the season Sassuolo can play with freedom and adventure, which makes them a dangerous customer for any opponent.

That’s why I’m leaning towards the hosts with my SBOTOP tip today.

23 year old midfielder Manuel Locatelli has had an impressive season, and he too was on duty with the Azzurri last week. A deep lying midfield player who can dictate the pace of play, Locatelli will be on the lookout for his strikers who come against a Roma defence which has conceded twice in each of its last two away games.

Giallorossi needs to turn a corner

Roma faces a tricky task on Sunday and there will be more pressure on their shoulders than on those of their hosts. Roma’s recent meeting with Napoli which ended in a 2-0 home defeat followed on from a 2-0 loss to Parma, punctuated only by a Europa League success against Shakhtar Donetsk. Another setback on Sunday and Paulo Fonseca’s side might as well say goodbye to their top four aspirations.

Paulo Fonseca's Roma find themselves in an emergency situation in defence ahead of their Serie A match against Sassuolo

AS Roma coach Paulo Fonseca reacts during their Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg match vs Shakhtar Donetsk

The visitors look like being without the sidelined midfield duo of Jordan Veretout and

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who are top scoring with ten goals and nine goals respectively.

Fonseca will look to his senior striker Edin Dzeko to add to his seven goals, while former Chelsea winger Pedro will take up the creative responsibilities in the absence of Mkhitaryan.

Meanwhile at the back, Brazilian defender Da Silva, on loan from Atalanta, will have his work cut out if Berardi is in the mood.

History

The visitors can take comfort from their head to head record against I Neroverdio. Sassuolo have won just one of the last 15 games against Roma, losing eight and drawing six.

During the last seven meetings with Sassuolo playing at home, Roma have won five, drawn one and lost one. But the hosts have lost just three of 13 home games this season and are unbeaten in the last three.

The return fixture, back in December, ended in a goalless draw, leaving the Giallorossi aggrieved when Pedro was sent off and Mkhitaryan had a goal chalked off by VAR after the video technology picked up a foul in the run up to the goal. If we get some more Sassuolo vs Roma highlights like that, with some goals, we’ll be happy. 

Betting Tip

??
Sassuolo vs AS Roma Sassuolo Asian Handicap +0.50 @ 1.86
April 03, 21:00 (GMT+8)

This will be a fascinating clash to watch with all three results well in play. Sassuolo are at 3.01 to win with the draw at 3.73 and Roma at 2.08.

Fonseca’s Roma have all to play for while Sassuolo could be heading for the beach quite soon, but the visitors have some key players injured and have been on a tricky run, while the relaxed hosts have some of their own players bang in form.

I can see another disappointment on the way for the Romans.

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06-Apr 2021 Tuesday 2:38 PM (120 days ago)            #61
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Serie A: Juventus Optimistic For an Eventful Easter Sunday In Turin

Torino vs Juventus

As they continue to try and defend their Serie A title, Juventus return to Turin to square off against local rivals Torino just in time for Easter Sunday.

These past few weeks haven’t been kind for Andrea Pirlo’s side and they will be hoping that their traditional derby-day dominance can help them collect three valuable points.

The pressure is mounting for I Bianconeri as they are only placed third in the Italian top-flight standings with 55 points – which is at least four points adrift compared to their Milan rivals.

Torino, on the other hand, see this as a big game for them too given their main objective this term. Il Toro are hopeful for a turnaround as they are in a precarious position at the table.

Davide Nicola’s men are at the 17th spot with 23 points and they are only one point clear out of the relegation zone.

Beating Juventus at home is quite a daunting challenge for Torino, but are they up for the challenge?

Talking points

Juventus are not spared by injuries and COVID-19 

Facing a spate of injuries and COVID-19 concerns, Andrea Pirlo’s side has no choice but to carry on in these upcoming games. Juventus had a miserable month of March and they are keen to turn things around in April.

They were eliminated in the Champions League by Porto after a disastrous showing while they lost 1-0 to Benevento in their last Serie A game.

Those performances are unacceptable by their standards and that creates an uneasy environment in the dressing room.

Unfortunately for the defending champions, there’s more bad Serie A 2021 news as they’ll be incomplete in Turin. Weston McKennie, Merih Demiral, and Leonardo Bonucci are out since they’re COVID-19 positive while Arthur and Giorgio Chiellini’s fitness levels are in doubt.

On the flipside, Paulo Dybala seems ready to go after an injury-plagued campaign and he’ll add another attacking threat alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Federico Chiesa, and Alvaro Morata. 

For the meantime, Matthijs de Ligt will marshal the backline alongside Danilo and Juan Cuadrado, while Rodrigo Bentancur, Adrien Rabiot, and Aaron Ramsey fill the spots in the middle.

Juventus will be go against Torino in Serie A without Weston McKennie after testing positive for COVID-19

Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Weston McKennie celebrate 1-3 victory over Cagliari at Sardegna Arena

Andrea Belotti has been missing for Torino 

Similar to Juventus, Torino weren’t also spared by injuries and COVID-19. However, they also must fight on in order to escape relegation. 

Torino confirmed that wing-back Wilfried Singo is out due to a thigh injury that he picked up during practice, while the defencive trio of Nicolas Nkoulou, Lyanco, and Gleison Bremer are all questionable for this game.

In their recent loss against Sampdoria, Davide Nicola criticised the team’s lack of killer instinct since they couldn’t match their opponents’ firepower.

Perhaps he might be referring to Andrea Belotti as he hasn’t played up to par for Il Toro given that his last club goal dates back to early February. 

Moreover, Nicola is optimistic that Belotti would regain his form especially after scoring for Italy in their win over Bulgaria few days ago.

History

Juventus are heading into this game brimming in confidence especially if you’ll look at their head-to-head record against their Turin neighbours.

Torino have only won one of their last 29 league fixtures against Juventus. I Bianconeri have won 22 times and drawn six times.

Il Toro have conceded goals in each of their last 19 meetings. The last time that they shut out Juventus was back in February 2008.

In the reverse fixture last December, Juventus came away with a 2-1 win in dramatic fashion.

Torino were on their way to score an upset as they held a one-goal lead for much of the contest after a ninth-minute goal from Nicolas Nkoulou.

However, Weston McKennie and Leonardo Bonucci scored one goal each late in the second half to complete the comeback.

Betting Tip 

??
Torino vs Juventus Juventus Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 1.91
April 4, 00:00(GMT+8)

The Serie A 2021 odds here at SBOTOP are backing Juventus to cruise and get the three points.

I Bianconeri are priced at 1.53 to win, while Il Toro are placed low at 5.80 and chances for a draw are at 4.10 in the 1×2 market.

With both sides in danger of missing out on their objectives this term, the stakes are quite high for this edition of the Turin Derby.

Despite the mounting pressure and their inconsistent form lately, Juventus should come away with a victory simply because they have the stronger roster on paper.

However, this win won’t be a walk in the park for Andrea Pirlo’s side as Torino can certainly give the visitors a run for their money.

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06-Apr 2021 Tuesday 2:40 PM (120 days ago)            #62
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Serie A: Inter Take Huge Step Toward Title as Milan, Juve Held

Inter Milan are now just 10 games away from claiming their first Serie A championship in 11 years. The Nerazzurri won their seventh consecutive match to extend their lead to eight points after both AC Milan and Juventus were held to draws.

Juve’s draw has now put their Champions League place in grave danger; Atalanta have overtaken them for third while Napoli have pulled level on points after a string of victories. Meanwhile, Lazio have taken the lead over fierce rivals Roma in the race for the last Europa League spot.

Read on below for SBOTOP’s three main takeaways from the latest round of Serie A fixtures.

Inter close to sewing up the Scudetto

Inter almost have the Scudetto all sewn up. The Nerazzurri scored their seventh successive victory after edging out Bologna 1-0. Romelu Lukaku got the all-important goal, the Belgian’s 20th of the league campaign.

Inter are now eight points clear of second-placed AC Milan, who needed a late equaliser to draw with 10-man Sampdoria at home. They could extend that lead to 11 points if they win their game in hand.

At this point, Antonio Conte’s side would have to completely collapse over the last 10 games for Milan to catch up.

But even then, Milan have been in such patchy form — just three wins in their last eight league matches — that they are unlikely to make up such a big deficit.

Inter’s exit in Europe has done wonders to their league form, and they will fancy their chances to extend their win streak further with back-to-back home matches against struggling Sassuolo and relegation-threatened Cagliari coming up next.

With Lukaku still in sensational form — he has eight goals and five assists in his last nine games for club and country – the Scudetto is well and truly Inter’s to lose.

Juventus in major trouble after derby draw

After losing to Benevento just before the break, Juventus’ disastrous season got even worse as they were held to a 2-2 draw by city rivals Torino in the Turin derby. The Old Lady needed a late equaliser from Cristiano Ronaldo to salvage a point against their relegation-threatened rivals.

Cristiano Ronaldo feels disappointed following their 2-2 draw with Torino in recent Serie A battle

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo looks dejected after their 2-2 draw with Torino in a recent Serie A match

Juve were significantly shorthanded following the Serie A 2021 news that they had suspended the trio of Paulo Dybala, Weston McKennie, and Arthur for attending a party amid Covid restrictions. Andrea Pirlo curiously started defender Danilo in midfield despite having both Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot on the bench.

Pirlo continues to push the wrong buttons, which is unsurprising given this is his debut campaign as a top-flight boss. While Juve have publicly backed the Pirlo project, they will have no choice but to pull the plug if he can’t secure a top-four place.

Atalanta have already leapfrogged Juventus after a 3-2 win over Udinese, although Juve have a game in hand. But Napoli are also hot on Juve’s heels and have pulled level on 56 points following a 4-3 victory against Crotone.

And as fate would have it, Juventus and Napoli are set to go head-to-head in midweek with that coveted Champions League place very much on the line.

The Serie A 2021 betting odds will likely still favour Juve to get the result at home, but with the Old Lady in awful form and Napoli winning five of their last six in the league, it will be anyone’s game.

Lazio have upper hand over Roma in Europa League race

Just below Juventus and Napoli, the race for the final Europa League qualifying spot between Lazio and Roma has shifted to the former’s favour.

Lazio picked up a 2-1 win over Spezia to leapfrog Roma, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Sassuolo. The Giallorossi have now gone winless in their last three matches.

That disastrous run of results opened the door for Lazio, who are now a point ahead with a game in hand after winning three in a row. Their recent success is even more impressive considering captain Ciro Immobile has not scored in his last seven league appearances, his longest drought of the season.

Felipe Caicedo has stepped up with two goals in two games, while other players have been chipping in with goals.

As for Roma, they are set for a busy next few weeks as they take on Ajax in the Europa League quarter-finals this week. Meanwhile, they still have the likes of Atalanta, Inter, and Lazio still to come in the league.

Roma have a couple of winnable games against Bologna and Torino coming up, but with Lazio in fine form, the Giallorossi will need to win both matches to have any chance of securing sixth place.

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06-Apr 2021 Tuesday 2:42 PM (120 days ago)            #63
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Serie A: Can Napoli Boot Juventus Out of the Top Four?

Juventus vs Napoli

Turin is the place to be on Wednesday evening for one of the biggest games of the season when Napoli visit Juventus, hoping to leapfrog their hosts into the Champions League places.

Sitting in fourth and fifth in the Serie A table, Juventus and Napoli are currently tied on 56 points and are separated by just one goal. Napoli have clawed four points back from the Old Lady over the past two games and an away win would cast serious doubt on Juventus’ top-four aspirations.

The two bosses, Juventus’ Andrea Pirlo and Napoli’s Gennaro Gattuso are legends of the Italian game and they will expect their teams to fight, just as they did during their own illustrious careers where they spent their best years together at Milan.

There will be no love lost in the dugouts at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday though!

Talking Points

The Old Lady stumbles

We aren’t used to this. Over the past decade when April comes so does the Bianconeri’s march towards the Scudetto. But this year is different, and not just in the way that Stadiums have been eerily silent with fans absent.

Has that affected Juventus? Maybe so, but the chances of them winning the title this season have all but disappeared. In fact, the reigning champions are in serious danger of missing out on the Champions League places.

Cristiano Ronaldo gears up ahead of Juventus upcoming intense battle against Napoli in Serie A

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo walks off the pitch dejected during their Serie A clash against Torino

A late Cristiano Ronaldo goal gave I Bianconeri a point in the Turin derby at the weekend. It was a game they expected to win against a Torino side in danger of relegation, sitting just a single point above the drop zone.

That was Ronaldo’s 24th goal of the league season but it was no cause for celebration after Torino’s Antonio Sanabria had scored twice to cancel out Federico Chiesa’s opener, his ninth goal of the campaign.

The derby disappointment followed on from a shock 1-0 home defeat to Benevento, and the two results combined have left Juventus 12 points behind leaders Inter with just 10 games remaining.

So, while Inter Milan move closer to sewing up the Scudetto, week by week, and the latest Serie A 2021 betting odds are down to around 1.05 on Antonio Conte’s men, I Bianconeri are fighting hard to stay at Europe’s top table.

Juventus are out of the 2021 Champions League having been dumped out of the competition by rank outsiders Porto. Here at SBOTOP we’ll be covering all the action from Europe’s premier competition this week but Bianconeri fans will be looking elsewhere. These are unprecedented times in Turin; the Old Lady is standing in the background picking up what she can.

And a top-four place in Serie A is the minimum she expects.

They have the players, of course they do. Alongside Ronaldo, Chiesa and Alvaro Morata, who has made nine assists and scored seven goals this season, are a formidable front three. With the quality of Rodrigo Bentancur in the midfield and the warhorse Giorgio Chiellini at the back this is a team you’d expect to beat most opponents.

And re-enforcements are on the way, as Weston McKennie, Paulo Dybala and Arthur have been recalled after they were left out of the Torino game having attended an illegal gathering at McKennie’s home.

Napoli’s run comes at the perfect time

While Juventus have struggled in recent weeks, Napoli’s Serie A 2021 results have been improving dramatically as the season has progressed. Gli Azzurri held off a battling fightback from Crotone to run out 4-3 winners over the bottom club at the weekend.

Top scorer Lorenzo Insigne scored his 14th goal of the season while Dries Mertens, who has come to life in recent weeks, has contributed eight goals and six assists.

This result was a big win which lifted Gattuso’s team right into the top-four mix, and Napoli’s two preceding games produced highly impressive victories over Roma and Milan.

The Azzurri attacks with freedom and, alongside Insigne and Mertens, the likes of Hirving Lozano, Matteo Politano and Piotr Zielinski are all potential match-winners.

History

Juventus have had the better of the head to heads, winning just over half of the 51 games played against Napoli since 1993, 26 to the Azzurri’s 15 while there have been 10 draws.

Over the past year Napoli have had joy in this fixture, beating Juventus to win the 2020 Coppa Italia, and the most recent clash ended in a 1-0 win for Gattuso’s men in Naples in February. Insigne converted a penalty to ease the pressure on his boss and since that game the Azzurri has gone on to pick up 16 points from seven games, winning the last four on the bounce.

Betting Tip 

??
Juventus vs Napoli Total Goals 2-3 @ 1.97
April 8, 12:45 (GMT+8)

The hosts are at 1.97 to win this game with the draw at 3.16 and Napoli at 3.69. There will be plenty of nerves in Turin as the hosts try to cling on to their top-four place and the visitors will be desperate to maintain their momentum.

It’s going to be a fascinating night and, I suspect, a nail-biter with either side winning by the odd goal.

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08-Apr 2021 Thursday 3:06 PM (118 days ago)            #64
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Serie A: Juventus Beat Napoli to Move into Third

Juventus 2-1 Napoli

A goal in each half scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala earned Juventus a priceless victory tonight at the Allianz Arena over the in-form Napoli.

Serie A Juventus vs Napoli was a battle for the fourth Champions League place in the league table as the two teams started the game tied on 56 points, and it was the Old Lady who took advantage, moving into third place ahead of Atalanta.

There is room for both Juve and Napoli in the top four places if the Azzurri recover quickly and pick up their form again. While Inter Milan are far and away in front in their quest for the Scudetto, AC Milan, on 60 points, are still in the mix, so there is plenty to play for with nine games remaining.

The pre-match Juventus vs Napoli betting odds backed a Bianconeri win at odds of 1.97 here at SBOTOPand from the time Ronaldo gave them an early lead the visitors were always playing catch up. They stayed in the game until Dybala struck late on, though Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli brief hope with a last-minute penalty.

Highlights of the game

Lorenzo Insigne's late penalty wasn't enough to give Napoli a win in their recent Serie A match

Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne scores a last-gasp penalty against Juventus

The Old Lady looked very sprightly in the opening exchanges, with Ronaldo heading an inviting cross from Danilo just wide. Federico Chiesa had a shot charged down and Adrien Rabiot met a corner from Juan Cuadrado but planted his header just wide.

But the early pressure paid off and Juve were ahead on 13 minutes when Ronaldo found space in the middle of the penalty area and fired a sweet right-foot shot home.

Piotr Zielinski fired one over for Napoli and Fabian Ruiz had a shot blocked. But Kalidou Koulibaly’s frustration got the better of him when he was booked for a crude foul on Rodrigo Bentancur.

The Azzurri continued to probe and Hirving Lozano teed up Zielinski but the Juve defence held firm to block.

After Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne had fired a long-range effort inches high, the Bianconeri finished the half the stronger with Cuadrado and Chiesa both coming close to doubling Juve’s lead.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo had Napoli’s best effort of the game so far, minutes into the second half, when he collected a pass from Insigne and fired low towards the bottom corner, but Juve’s legendary keeper Gigi Buffon got down well to save.

And at the other end, Chiesa came close again with a header from a Cuadrado cross, but Napoli continued their efforts to try to get back in the game. Insigne came close with an effort from just inside the penalty area saved in the bottom corner and then Fabian Ruiz fired one in from distance which Buffon saved well.

But the goal didn’t come and, as Napoli committed more men forward, Juventus struck a devastating blow when Paulo Dybala picked his spot and slammed home the second.

There was a brief moment of hope for Napoli when Giorgio Chiellini fouled Victor Osimhen in the area and Insigne fired home his 15th goal of the season from the penalty spot, but that was on 90 minutes and Juve held firm in the five minutes of injury time.

Key statistics

Napoli came into the game on a great run of form, earning 16 points from the previous seven matches but Juventus bossed the first half with 54 per cent possession and eight shots to four, two to zero on target.

The Azzurri gave it a real go in the second half, eventually winning the shot count by 14 to 12 with four to three on target but they couldn’t get past Buffon until Insigne’s last gasp penalty.

What’s next?

As the Old Lady has already exited the 2021 Champions League she can concentrate entirely on domestic matters and the Juventus vs Napoli updates will have been anxiously followed by fans of Milan and Atalanta with the two Rome clubs, currently in sixth and seventh, surely taking an interest too.

On Sunday, I Bianconeri entertain mid-table Genoa who are well off the pace for a European punt and 10 points clear of the drop, but they will be keen to confirm their place in next season’s Serie A, so they aren’t yet packing for the summer holidays.

The following Saturday presents an entirely different proposition when Juventus has an away clash with Gian Piero Gasperini’s free-scoring Atalanta.

Napoli too are without European distractions, as one of the favourites to lift the Europa League the Azzurri stumbled in the Round of 32, going out to an aggregate 3-2 defeat against La Liga’s Granada.

Gennaro Gattuso’s team also have a couple of big games ahead as they attempt to keep their top-four push on track. This weekend they are away to 10th-placed Sampdoria before preparing for the visit of champions-elect Inter Milan the following Sunday.

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22-Apr 2021 Thursday 2:09 PM (104 days ago)            #65
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Serie A: Zlatan is Still a Box-Office Draw!

They may well fall short of winning the Scudetto this year, but one thing’s for certain, AC Milan have one of Serie A’s superstars, and one of the biggest pulls in the game.

At the grand old age of 39, Swedish sensation Zlatan Ibrahimovic can still dominate the headlines, as he did for the right and wrong reasons in the Rossoneri’s 3-1 win over Parma on Saturday. He ran the hosts’ defence ragged in the first half, setting up two goals, but then he took an early bath, copping a straight red card for something he said to the referee!

Meanwhile, their city rivals Inter Milan took another big step towards winning the Serie A title with a win over Genoa, Juventus swept past Genoa and there were victories for Napoli and Lazio.

Ibrahimovic writes the Serie A 2021 news

You just can’t keep the legendary Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet, though maybe his head coach Stefano Pioli wishes he could! Zlatan was involved in both of Milan’s first-half goals as they raced into a two-goal lead by half time in Parma. He brilliantly teed up Ante Rebic in the eighth minute and he played a big part in the move that was rounded off by Franck Kessie a minute before half time.

But Milan’s comfortable afternoon was disturbed on the hour when the referee brandished a red card in the direction of Ibrahimovic and the bemused Swede trudged off. It’s still unclear exactly what he said to the ref to earn his eighth dismissal in Europe’s top five leagues, his boss Pioli said: “Zlatan told me that he argued with the referee and it lasted some time. He assured me that he did not disrespect him and above all he did not offend.”

Presumably, the sensitive official saw it otherwise and, in any case, the incident allowed Parma back into the game as Riccardo Gaglio pulled a goal back. But Rafael Leao restored Milan’s two-goal lead as the Rossoneri stayed in second place and reduce the gap to leaders Inter to eight points, while Parma stay in serious trouble in 19th place and in danger of being cut adrift.

11 is heaven for Antonio Conte

But then Inter Milan wasted no time in extending their lead to 11 points with a hard-earned win over relegation-threatened Cagliari. Defender Matteo Darmian scored the only goal in the game to hand Inter an 11th successive victory.

While their rivals have stumbled in recent weeks, Inter have been closing in on the Scudetto and the Serie A 2021 betting odds have Milan and Juventus battling it out for the second place. So you can excuse head coach Antonio Conte for running on the pitch to celebrate with his players when Darmian converted a cross from Achraf Hakimi. Cagliari threw everything at their hosts in an attempt to salvage something but to no avail and they remain seven points from safety.

The Nerazzurri’s first Scudetto since 2010 and their 19th in history is within touching distance.

Serie A: Inter Milan have defeated Cagliari 1-0 at San Siro

Antonio Conte celebrates with Romelu Lukaku after Matteo Darmian scored their opening goal against Cagliari

Too little too late for Juventus

Juventus’ midweek victory over Napoli lifted the Old Lady up to third in the table and they followed that up with a comfortable 3-1 home win against Genoa, but this upturn in form has come far too late for the reigning champions to have a realistic hope of making it ten consecutive Scudettos.

The Old Lady raced into a two-goal lead when Dejan Kulusevski scored on four minutes and Alvaro Morata doubled the advantage midway through the first half. Gianluca Scammaca halved the deficit when he met a Nicolo Rovella corner with a thumping header, but Weston McKennie restored Juve’s two-goal lead with a cool finish.

Napoli’s Top Four charge is back on track

Here at SBOTOP,the Serie A fans among us have been impressed by Napoli’s fightback in the second half of the season, and a 2-0 victory over Sampdoria lifted them up to fourth in the table a position which seemed unlikely at the turn of the year. Fabian Ruiz scored a first-half beauty when he took a pass from Piotr Zielinski outside the penalty area and fired his shot low into the bottom right corner, and Victor Osimhen made it two when he finished off a rapid break late in the second half.

Elsewhere a 92nd-minute header from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic gave Lazio a 1-0 victory over Hellas Verona, and that keeps the Romans in the top four race, and Atalanta could nudge Napoli out if they can win away to Fiorentina in the Sunday night match.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 22-Apr-2021 at 2:10 PM



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22-Apr 2021 Thursday 2:12 PM (104 days ago)            #66
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Serie A: Atalanta Gunning for the Old Lady

Atalanta vs Juventus

Third plays fourth this weekend when Juventus travel to Bergamo to take on fast shooters Atalanta in a game both teams need to win to cement a top-four place.

Only a single point separates the two clubs and that gives La Dea an added incentive against the reigning Scudetto holders, who they could leapfrog with a victory. With the 2021 Serie A title slipping from the Old Lady’s grasp she is now looking over her shoulder where Napoli is lurking in fifth place and just three points further back.

Atalanta and Juventus will meet in the Coppa Italia final in May, but for now there is serious league business to take care of.

Talking Points

Atalanta shooting for the Champions League

Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta are homing in on a Champions League 2021/22 spot, with three wins on the bounce they sit in fourth place and are the league’s top scorers with 71 goals. While there is little breathing space La Dea has some real momentum, losing just three of the last 14 games, two against Real Madrid in the Champions League and the other against Serie A champions-elect Inter Milan.

Duvan Zapata was on target twice in Atalanta’s victory over Fiorentina last week, taking his season tally to 13 while the classy Josip Ilicic converted a penalty to win a five-goal thriller. Zapata’s strike partner Luis Muriel has already equalled his 2019/20 tally with 18 goals and he’s attracted the attention of Inter boss Antonio Conte.

Wing back Robin Gosens is another sought after player. He has great positional sense in defence and he carries a real threat going forward, weighing in with nine goals and five assists, and he’s being monitored by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. That his players are so widely admired is testimony to Gasperini’s coaching and managerial skills and, while may lose one or two in the summer, he can count on their high quality output until then.

Ilicic could play a key role; the Slovenian forward has made eight assists this campaign and he could be the man to unlock the Bianconeri defence.

Juventus in unchartered territory

The very latest Serie A 2021 betting odds have the Old Lady out in the cold at SBOTOP

odds of 29.00 to overhaul Inter’s lead. It looks like they’ve left it too late despite a 3-1 win over Genoa last week making it back to back wins.

Andrea Pirlo’s side is a massive 12 points adrift of the top spot and are closer to seventh-placed Roma who are eight points behind. Cristiano Ronaldo has 25 goals and is in the hunt for the Capocannoniere but this could be his last season in Turin, and he might fancy a move back to La Liga.

Juventus are on the brink of losing the Serie A title this season

Cristiano Ronaldo in action during Juventus’ 3-1 win against Genoa

It’s difficult to put a finger on where Juventus have gone wrong, they have quality running through the team but have stalled at some of the big moments and are maybe a little light upfront. Federico Chiesa is showing some good signs with seven goals and seven assists, while former Atalanta youth player Dejan Kulusevski has been pushing for a start and Paulo Dybala was on target in Juve’s 2-1 win over Napoli. But none of those three are as prolific as La Dea’s front two.

Rodrigo Bentancur remains a class act in midfield but the defence will miss Leonardo Bonucci, out injured, and without a clean sheet in seven games that is a concern.

History

Atalanta have had very little joy in their meetings with Juventus. Over the past 47 games, spanning 28 seasons, they have won only three times, drawing 12 and losing 32. The last two meetings, however, both finished in a draw and both in Turin, 2-2 at the end of the 2019/20 season and 1-1 in this campaign, in December, as Remo Freuler equalised Chiesa’s strike.

Betting Tip

??
Atalanta vs Juventus Atalanta Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 1.86
April 18, 21:00 (GMT+8)

At odds of 2.43 Atalanta are the marginal favourites to win this clash, while I Bianconeri is at 2.70 and the draw is a decent shout at odds of 3.45.

Juve’s Serie A 2021 results simply haven’t been good enough to sustain a challenge for a record tenth consecutive Scudetto and that will hurt Bianconeri fans. What’s more they are in serious danger of missing out on a Champions League place. Defeat in Bergamo could leave them in fifth and with time running out that is a precarious position to be in.

When these two teams meet in the Coppa Italia final it will be a great day for both sets of fans, but this match is arguably just as important.

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22-Apr 2021 Thursday 2:14 PM (104 days ago)            #67
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Serie A: Naples Will Witness a Battle of Two Giants

Napoli vs Inter Milan

Two of the biggest Italian top-flight teams go head-to-head as Napoli host Inter Milan at the Diego Maradona Stadium on Sunday.

With at least eight more games to go, the sense of urgency is there for each and every team here in Serie A as they try to achieve their respective objectives.

For the hosts, a Champions League berth is in their sights and they are within striking distance. Napoli are placed fifth with 59 points, which is only two points adrift to fourth-seeded Atalanta.

Meanwhile, Inter Milan look to clinch the Scudetto before the other teams catch up.They have at least an 11-point lead over the rest of the competition, and grabbing three more points can help them move closer to the promise land. 

Whenever these two square off, SBOTOP football fans can always expect a testy encounter and this one won’t be any different.

Talking Points

Napoli fight to get into the top four

Coming off of a seventh-placed finish last term, Napoli are going to be satisfied if they’ll secure a Champions League spot by season’s end. 

The Partenopei are neck-and-neck with fellow contenders AC Milan, Juventus, and Atalanta. And since they aren’t far off from each other in points, these next few matchdays leave an opening for them to take advantage.

Other than facing Inter Milan, Gennaro Gattuso will be watching closely the game between Juventus and Atalanta.

Napoli are superb over these last few weeks as prior to their defeat to Juventus recently, they were on a seven-game unbeaten run.

Since that loss to the defending champions, Napoli bounced back to grab their 19th win of the season versus Sampdoria as Victor Osimhen and Fabian Ruiz scored in either half.

After securing a clean sheet last week, the young Alex Meret will start again in goal for the Partenopei given that David Ospina is recuperating from a minor knock.

Fellow injury concern Piotr Zielinski recently trained with the team after a muscular issue, and he will replace the injured Hirving Lozano out front alongside Victor Osimhen and skipper Lorenzo Insigne.

But Napoli’s chances of winning hinges on their performance at the defencive end as Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Kostas Manolas will have their hands full in trying to slow down Inter’s frightening attack.

Can Inter Milan secure their Serie A title claim or will Napoli trip their chances?

Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli are to welcome Antonio Conte’s unstoppable Inter Milan for their much-awaited Serie A showdown

Inter Milan are inching closer to the summit

Inter Milan have put together an 11-game winning streak since January and they’re unstoppable right now.

Antonio Conte’s men are fresh from a 1-0 over Cagliari last week as Matteo Darmian scored off of a wonderful cross from fellow wing-back Achraf Hakimi late in the second half.

With a huge table lead, Inter Milan now require a maximum of 16 points from their eight remaining matches to secure their first Scudetto since the 2009/10 season.

Luck is on the side of the Nerazzurri since they haven’t been hit much by the injury bug all season.

Only Aleksandar Kolarov is confirmed out due to a minor muscular issue, while Arturo Vidal looks much better after undergoing meniscus surgery.

As always, Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, and Alexis Sanchez spearhead their attack, which has generated 69 goals and numerous Serie A 2021 highlights.

History

Napoli and Inter Milan have been pretty even in their last 35 meetings.

The hosts have the slight upper hand with 14 wins, while the visitors have won 12 matches along with nine draws.

Both of these teams squared off last December where Inter Milan eked out a 1-0 victory as Romelu Lukaku scored the game-winning penalty during the 73rd minute after a costly red card for Lorenzo Insigne.

The Nerazzurri have been the better team as they’ve won three of their last five against the Partenopei. Napoli’s last victory in this matchup dates back to February 2020. 

Betting Tip 

??
Napoli vs Inter Milan Inter Milan Asian Handicap -0.00 @ 1.71
April 19, 2:45(GMT+8)

The Serie A 2021 odds are expecting the visitors to come away with yet another win.

Inter Milan are priced at 2.26, while Napoli are at 3.05 and chances for a draw are at 3.35 in the 1×2 market.

With both sides in high-flying form and boasting some of the best players in the league, we wouldn’t be surprised if this clash can go either way.

But all season long, Inter Milan have been the best team in Serie A and they will show just that in their upcoming visit at Naples.

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22-Apr 2021 Thursday 2:16 PM (104 days ago)            #68
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Serie A: Juventus Big Losers After Late Loss at Atalanta

Juventus’ top-four status in Serie A continues to look far from secure after their late 1-0 defeat to Atalanta, who have now overtaken the Old Lady for third place in the table.

Juve are now just two points ahead of fifth-placed Napoli, who finally halted Inter’s 11-match winning run in the league with a 1-1 draw.

Elsewhere, Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio emerged victorious over older brother Filippo in a very exciting Inzaghi derby while the relegation battle took another unexpected turn.

Here is SBOTOP’s list of winner and losers from the latest round of Serie A fixtures.

Winner: Atalanta

Atalanta are now in the driver’s seat for third place after a 1-0 victory over Juventus at the Gewiss Stadium thanks to Ruslan Malinovskiy’s late goal three minutes from time.

La Dea’s recent Serie A 2021 results have been outstanding; they have won five games in a row and eight of their last nine in the league to lift themselves up to third, two points clear of Juventus.

Gian Piero Gasperini has done another incredible job managing a team with such limited resources and is on course to lead them to the Champions League once again.

And Gasperini can also deliver the club’s first major trophy in nearly 60 years if he can once again beat Juventus in the Coppa Italia final next month.

Loser: Juventus

As for Juventus, they were without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo in that big match against Atalanta, and it showed. Ronaldo’s absence was keenly felt as the Bianconeri managed a mere one shot on target. Paulo Dybala, who started in Ronaldo’s place, did not have a single shot before being substituted.

Granted, Ronaldo’s loss would be a huge blow for most teams and Atalanta are quite a good team. But a team of Juve’s stature should still be expected to produce a better performance despite missing their star man.

There is still time for Andrea Pirlo’s side to claw their way back to third, especially with a couple of winnable games against Parma and Fiorentina coming up. However, it remains to be seen whether a third-place finish will be enough to save Pirlo’s job.

Winner: Simone Inzaghi

Can Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi guide his squad to more Serie A victories?

Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi pictured prior to a Serie A match against Benevento at Stadio Olimpico

After the first Inzaghi derby of the season ended in a goalless stalemate, the second one went to younger brother Simone as his Lazio side won a 5-3 thriller against Filippo’s Benevento.

Ciro Immobile bagged a brace as he finally ended his extended goal drought in Serie A. The Lazio captain had last scored in the league in early February.

Lazio have now won five games in a row and are still in with a shout of crashing into the Champions League places. They are currently in sixth, four points back of Juve in fourth, but they still have a game in hand.

Although, the Biancocelesti still have some tough games left on their schedule. They have back-to-back games against Napoli and AC Milan coming up, and the Serie A 2021 betting odds are unlikely to favour them to win either of those games.

Loser: Filippo Inzaghi

On the other side, not only did Filippo lose to his younger brother, but he also saw his Benevento side get sucked back into the relegation scrap.

The newly promoted club is one of three teams tied at 30 points, but they are in 17th due to an inferior goal difference.

After a bright start to the season, Benevento have won just twice this year, one of which was their famous 1-0 victory at Juventus last month. Inzaghi will still have some work to do in the last few weeks of the season to prevent Benevento from going back down to Serie B.

Winner: Torino

Torino are one of those teams tied with Benevento at 30 points after they picked up a huge 3-1 win over seventh-placed Roma.

Roma, who fielded a significantly rotated squad after their Europa League quarter-final exploits in midweek, took the lead after just three minutes. But Torino stormed back to secure a crucial win that sends them five points clear of the relegation zone with one game still in hand.

Manager Davide Nicola has done a brilliant job since taking over from Marco Giampaolo in January. They have won four of his 12 games in charge, three of which have come in the last five games.

Loser: Parma

There was even more drama down in the relegation zone as Parma lost a thrilling relegation six-pointer against Cagliari 4-3.

Parma were 3-1 up on the hour mark and 3-2 up after 90 minutes, but they conspired to concede two Cagliari goals in stoppage time to cough up the points.

The win sees Cagliari move to within five points of Fiorentina, Torino, and Benevento, who are all on 30 points with just seven games to go.

As for Parma, they are a further five points back of Cagliari and look dead and buried at this point.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 22-Apr-2021 at 2:17 PM



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