THERE’S a double-header of Serie A action to enjoy on Saturday night. So who better to ask for a betting view than Rome resident Marco Di Cosmo (@Scioltz).
Palermo v Juventus | Saturday 17.00
On Monday night, Paul Pogba more-or-less sealed the Scudetto for Juventus. His beautiful effort from outside the box against Sassuolo was enough to secure three more points for the Old Lady, putting the table-toppers 11 points clear of Roma with just 12 games to play.
On Saturday, the Bianconeri travel to La Favorita, where Palermo have the fourth best record in Serie A (only one point behind Roma and Lazio) with just one loss this season. I’ve previously praised the quality of Palermo’s attacking duo of Franco Vazquez and Paulo Dybala (with Premier League targets scouting both future stars) and so this won’t be an easy task for the league leaders.
Juventus have a vital Champions League fixture on Tuesday, travelling to Dortmund for the second leg of their Round of 16 clash and I expect the Serie A champions to struggle. Their lack of pace and individual defensive skills just aren’t as good as the stats suggest.
I think boss Max Allegri will be concerned and is sure to shift more focus onto that midweek tie than this Serie A game. That should see the Old Lady rotate and that could prove costly (as proven in a recent Coppa Italia match at home to Fiorentina). But even if they don’t tinker too much with the squad, their minds will be on Dortmund.
Juve are certainly stoppable when playing away. Despite only losing once on their travels, they have been held in five of their 13 outings. For this reason, I’m keen to back Palermo just to score. They’ve done so in 11 of their 13 games in Sicily while Juventus have failed to shut out their opponents in half of their away matches.
Palermo are one of the most dangerous attacking sides in Serie A, and with Juventus focused on European action, I am happy to back the hosts to score Over 0.5 Goals at 8/13 with Sportingbet.
But I’ll also be brave and take the hosts to avoid defeat in the Double Chance for the same reasons above. The 21/20 from Bet365 are really tempting and I’m confident Palermo can deliver.
Cagliari v Empoli | Saturday 19.45 | BT Sport 1
The maestro Zdenek Zeman returns to Cagliari after being sacked a couple of months ago, with Gianfranco Zola clearly struggling to get the results the Sardinians needed to avoid a serious relegation scrap.
When Zeman returns, he obviously brings goals, and I want to be ready to back them on Saturday night. The bookies tend to react a little slow with Zeman, often starting with inflated odds before soon lowering their prices after the Bohemian’s performances.
I have to be fair though and say Zeman’s teams are not as offensive as they used to be some years ago. Their games do not finish always with Over 2.5 Goals, but still the numbers remain encouraging. Cagliari have the worst defensive record in Serie A with 49 goals against but can call upon a decent array of talent in attacking areas.
Empoli are my favourite team in Serie A this season. They have probably the weakest squad but the quality of their football is tactically fantastic. They rarely concede gallons of goals and are lethal on the break despite their lack of standout offensive stars.
The last meeting between the two sides finished with a stunning 4-0 win for Cagliari where Zeman gave an incredible tactical lesson to Empoli boss Maurizio Sarri. But I expect the Azzuri boss to bite back and prove why he’s being talked about as one of the best Italian coaches in the game.
With Cagliari back under Zeman’s charge and an Empoli side who’ll enjoy playing on the counter, I wouldn’t want to touch the Match Odds market. Instead, I’ll take Over 2.5 Goals at 19/20 with Betfair.
Palermo v Juventus – Palermo to score Over 0.5 Goals (8/13 Sportingbet)
Palermo v Juventus – Palermo double chance (21/20 Bet365)
Cagliari v Empoli – Over 2.5 Goals (19/20 Betfair)
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