Serie A Tips | Mark O’Haire’s Views | 29th February 2016 | BT Sport Europe


THERE’S a double dose of Serie A action on BT Sport this Monday night. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the odds.

Lazio v Sassuolo | Monday 18.00 | BT Sport Europe

Should Lazio be trading at 8/11 (William Hill) best price here? I don’t think so.

The odds suggest the Romans have a 58% chance of winning on Monday evening and whilst they’ve W7-D3-L0 when welcoming sides below them in the Serie A standings, Stefano Pioli’s hosts have been beaten all three clubs currently above them in the table (Juventus, Napoli and Milan).

Now, not for a minute am I suggesting Sassuolo are on the same level as the aforementioned trio but Neroverdi are a stubborn side that’s well capable of frustrating their more illustrious opponents. Eusebio Di Francesco’s men have lost just 6/26 (23%) of their league fixtures and are worth trusting to avoid defeat again.

The unheralded visitors are 16/13 (BetVictor) with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start meaning we’ll be paid out should Sassuolo take at least a point at the Stadio Olimpico, a feat they’ve already achieved at Roma and Inter on the road this term. Milan only managed a 2-1 success over Sass at San Siro.

Di Francesco’s side have been an inconsistent revelation and continue to confound pre-season expectations with a mix of attacking verve and defensive solidity. And the away side will be at full-strength with the exception of suspended central midfielder Missiroli.

Only twice this term have the Neroverdi failed to find the back of the net on their travels with just blanks to their name across all 26-league games. And the guests arrive in good spirits having ended a seven-match winless streak with a come-from-behind success against Empoli (W1-D4-L3).

Only five sides are facing fewer shots-on-target on average than Sassuolo when playing away whilst Lazio’s shot data at the Olimpico leaves the Biancocelesti languishing in mid-table despite eight of their 13 home outings coming against bottom-half dwellers.

The Romans haven’t gotten close to the race for Champions League qualification after a poor campaign that’s been blighted by injuries. Pioli’s squad did progress in the Europa League with a convincing 3-1 win over bang out-of-form Galatasaray on Thursday but may still be feeling the fatigue effects on that triumph here.

The Biancocelesti have failed to score in four of their past five – netting five against rock-bottom Verona in their other fixture – and although they’ve suffered just one loss in 11 domestic dates, Lazio bagged just four wins during that spell (W4-D6-L1).

There’s talk the capital club may rest and rotate their weary squad here with Antonio Candreva possibly leading the offensive line and Felipe Anderson sitting out. Either way, I reckon the home side look a little overrated and so I’m happy to take up a position opposing Lazio.

Fiorentina v Napoli | Monday 20.00 | BT Sport Europe

The Premier League breathed a huge sigh of relief on Thursday night as both Fiorentina and Napoli were dumped out of the Europa League. With Juventus’ Champions League hopes looking slim against Bayern Munich, Serie A’s coefficient took a battering.

Anyhow, La Viola and the Partenopei turn their attention back to domestic matters when they come face-to-face at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Monday night with Scudetto hopes and Champions League qualification now the sole focus of their season.

It’s been a while since Fiorentina were uttered as potential champions but should Paolo Sousa’s side recover from their 3-0 loss to Spurs on Thursday by beating Napoli, the Florence club would move to within two points of their second-placed opponents.

La Viola have delivered wins in 13 of their past 16 at the Stadio Artemio Franchi – 10/13 victories by at least a two-goal margin – but haven’t beaten their Naples visitors since 2009 on home soil (W0-D2-L4). Nevertheless, Sousa’s men are as strong as any in Serie A when hosting league action, recording a fearsome 76.77% shots-on-target ratio figure.

The Portuguese boss may also look to switch formation and approach here. There’s a suggestion Fiorentina may opt for a back-four – a system that’s proved problematic for Napoli in recent matches, – whilst, Mauro Zarate’s absence is covered by the good form of Federico Bernardeschi and Cristian Tello up front.

There’s been a fair bit of doom and gloom around the visitors in recent weeks, as they’ve slumped to a four-match winless run for the first time this season. But Napoli played well enough to draw with Juventus, only to be caught out by a late Simone Zaza sucker-punch, then dominated Villarreal over two legs only to be undone by a mishit cross.

Maurizio Sarri’s men will feel they’re due a break as they bid for their first Scudetto since 1990. And having W24-D5-L2 from their past 31 outings, it’s hard to believe they can just fall apart.

An attack that had been ripping teams to shreds has looked a little off-colour and dysfunctional during their low recent run but the Serie A top scorers were coming up against a Villarreal team that has conceded fewer goals than anyone but Atletico Madrid in La Liga, while they drew a blank against a watertight Juventus. We can forgive them, right?

The Partenopei managed just five shots-on-target in their last two league games; well down on their league-high average of 5.61 per-game. Sarri’s side are firing in comfortably more shots-on-target on their travels than any other in the division and Fiorentina’s offensively-minded approach could/should play into their clinical counter-attacking mind-set.

I’m willing to count on this clash being reasonably open and goal-friendly. Fiorentina are sharp-shooters at the Franchi – they’ve not failed to net in any of their last 13 Serie A fixtures as hosts, notching at least twice in seven of their most recent eight – and Napoli still average over 2.00 goals-per-game.

So I’ll take the 13/10 from William Hill for Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score. This specific selection has been a winner in 6/13 (46%) Fiorentina home matches with Napoli following suit on the road with 6/13 (46%) proving profitable. A 46% chance implies betting odds of just under 6/5.

Taking purely successful Over 2.5 Goals bets, 8/13 (62%) of La Viola’s games in Florence have featured at least three goals, including eight of their past 10, with four of Napoli’s previous six and 7/13 (54%) as guests also breaking the two-goal line. Having a pro-goals bet is certainly the value option here.

Best Bets

Lazio v Sassuolo – Sassuolo +0.50 Asian Handicap (16/13 BetVictor)

Fiorentina v Napoli – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (13/10 William Hill)

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About Author

Profile photo of Mark O'Haire

After starting his career in newspaper journalism, Mark soon found his way into the online betting world, forging a career in content, social media and marketing production. With a huge passion for stats, the Football League and European football, Mark’s other interests include playing rugby, following his beloved QPR and travel.


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