SERIE A returns from its winter break on Tuesday night with a Genoese derby. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the betting.
Genoa v Sampdoria | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Europe
If you’ve not watched a minute of Serie A this season, I’d urge you to give it a go on Tuesday night when Genoa face-off against bitter city rivals Sampdoria in the Derby della Lanterna – literally meaning, ‘the Derby of the Lighthouse’.
The stereotypical view still held by many on British shores is that the Italian top-flight is still a haven for defensive football and goalless draws. In fact, Serie A has enjoyed the fewest share of 0-0s across Europe’s major leagues and peninsula is also throwing up the most thrilling title race on the continent.
Inter, Napoli, Fiorentina, Juventus and Roma are separated by just four points as we enter Matchday 18 and the St Nicholas Day(s) round of fixtures.
Neither Genoa nor Sampdoria are close to contention for the European positions and have fallen flat after impressive 2014/15 campaigns; the hosts concluded the campaign in sixth whilst Samp finished just a place behind them. This time around the duo are nervously looking over their shoulders.
Genoa have slid to 17th following a run of four defeats on the spin, the most recent three without even scoring. Grifone head coach Gian Piero Gasperini is under fierce pressure to rekindle the Rossoblu’s form and a poor result here could well be curtains for the 57-year-old.
Gasperini will be delighted to welcome top scorer Leonardo Pavoletti back after a three-match suspension. Since arriving at the club, Pavoletti’s 11-games have seen Genoa score an average of 2.00 goals-per-game but the 24 fixtures he’s missed have seen that figure drop dramatically to just 1.12 goals-per-game. Their loss-rate has also taken a big dip from 2/11 (18%) with him to 12/24 (50%) without.
However, winger and star man Diego Perotti is still suspended and Giovanni Marchese and Tino Costa are absent with injuries. Genoa’s toils can be put down to a collection of key players leaving last summer but even so, their inconsistency and poor performance levels have left many doubting their ability to survive.
As for Samp, it’s also been a season of struggle and disappointment. The euphoria of club president Massimo Ferrero’s arrival in 2014 has long dissipated and his decision to replace Milan bound Sinisa Mihajlovic with Walter Zenga in the summer put the Blucerchiati on the back foot.
Three wins from their first five disguised the side’s flaws and eventually he was dismissed following a 2-0 loss to Fiorentina. The former Italian goalkeeper hadn’t coached in Serie A since 2009 and it showed.
Highly-rated Vincenzo Montella – who enjoyed two spells at Il Doria as a player – was appointed but only managed to grab his first victory in the match before the Christmas break (W1-D1-L3).
Samp’s main issues has been their inability to get results on the road – they’ve taken just 15% of their 20 points away (W0-D3-L5), firing blanks in three and failing to record a clean sheet away from the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. However, home and away records should go out the window on Tuesday night with both Genoese clubs sharing the Marassi.
The Blucerchiati are at full strength this midweek and have been handed a big boost following the return to full fitness of Eder. The Brazilian-born hitman has notched 10 goals in 15 games this term – that’s 42% of Samp’s goals – and his influence will be vital for Montella’s men.
Games between these bitter rivals tend to be low scoring – just five of the 14 this century have featured more than two goals with the same lowly (36%) figure proven successful for Both Teams To Score backers. Collectively, the duo have delivered 22/34 (65%) of Under 2.5 Goals games this term and the 13/17 (888 Sport) quotes reflect that.
Genoa haven’t won a ‘home’ derby since 2011 and have beaten their foes just once in six (W1-D2-L3) and I just don’t think they’re good enough to pocket the points without Perotti.
Although Samp’s performance data ranks the Blucerchiati as a bottom-three club, I’m convinced Montella can turn the ship around. He’ll have enjoyed having the winter period to work with the players and I want them onside.
BetVictor have chalked the ‘away’ side up at 7/10 with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start – we’ll get paid out should Sampdoria avoid defeat – and that looks generous.
Genoa v Sampdoria – Sampdoria +0.50 Asian Handicap (7/10 BetVictor)
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