MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) tackles the packed Wednesday night Serie A card hoping for a nice slice of profit from the peninsula.
Frosinone v Bologna | Wednesday 17.30 | BT Sport Europe
It all felt a little harsh, sudden and wrong back in October but the proof has certainly been in the pudding. Having lost eight of their first 10 Serie A games of the season, Bologna sacked Delio Rossi, the man who brought the Rossoblu roaring back into the Italian top-flight.
The club brought in former national team legend and head coach Roberto Donadoni and his first initiative was to channel Al Pacino’s “Inches” speech from the movie Any Given Sunday; the one in which an American football coach tells his faltering team that they must be prepared to die, to “tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces”, to keep their season alive.
“The inches that we need are points in the standings,” said Donadoni. “We must fight for them with our teeth and our fingernails.”
Surely effort alone wouldn’t drag Bologna out of the mire? Especially so when viewing the comfort, professionalism and duty to which the Rossoblu have seemingly sailed back into life, as easy as a flick of a light switch.
With just six points from a possible 30 under Delio Rossi, Donadoni’s team had equalled that tally in his first two fixtures – a 3-0 rout of Atalanta was followed by a 2-0 win away to Verona. Not bad for a club whose only previous successes had arrived by one-goal margins over fellow newly-promoted sides Carpi and Frosinone.
The man who’d kept coaxing out gritty performances from a Parma side that hadn’t been paid in months last season has inspired and lead Bologna into the top-half of the Serie A table. The 23 points they’ve accrued in 12 rounds under his tutelage has only been bettered by the top-two- Juventus (36) and Napoli (29).
So I can’t resists supporting the Rossoblu on Wednesday night as they visit lowly Frosinone at the Stadio Matusa. The guests come into this fixture on the back of successive victories and have won five of their last six on the road, keeping clean sheets on four occasions.
In contrast, Frosinone are in a downward spiral, earning a mere two points from a possible 24 to plummet a full seven points from survival. The Canaries have scored a respectable nine goals across those eight encounters but have also shipped 24 in the same sample.
Coach Roberto Stellone had hoped to build on a goalless draw against Atalanta but the Canaries were promptly exposed once again in a 3-1 loss to Roma in the capital at the weekend.
Their decent early form on home soil has tired – they’ve W0-D1-L3 in their last four at the Matusa – and most alarmingly, they’ve leaked at least two goals in 11 of their previous 12 league games.
Marathon are offering 4/5 on Bologna in the Draw No Bet market this midweek, a price I’m all over like a bad rash.
Sampdoria v Torino | Wednesday 19.45
Things are looking grim for Sampdoria and especially highly-rated coach Vincenzo Montella. Surprisingly sacked by Fiorentina in the summer, Montella was brought in as the Blucerchiati’s firefighter following a less than impressive stint by Walter Zenga.
I, like many, expected progress, results and a swagger from Samp but their season has taken a real nosedive. Montella’s now lost seven of his 10 matches on the Blucerchiati bench, including each of their last four.
Star striker Eder was sold to Inter Milan before the transfer window closed and the gap between the Genoese club and 18th-placed Carpi has been reduced to just four points. The risk of relegation now looks very real indeed.
Club president Massimo Ferrero made wholesale changes in the last few days of January with numerous comings and goings in an attempt to refresh and inspire his troops. Andrea Ranocchia, Jacopo Sala and Fabio Quagliarella joined Samp with Vasco Regini and Ervin Zukanovic joining Eder on the departures list.
However, Ferrero’s biggest coup was managing to keep hold of coveted midfielder Roberto Soriano for the second straight transfer window in which he was expected to leave. He’s already reached a campaign-best of six goals and four assists this season and must now inspire his teammates in their battle against the drop.
Despite their wretched run, Sampdoria have been scoring goals. They’ve notched in their last nine outings and returning forward Luis Muriel proved his worth with a goal on Sunday as Eder’s replacement. If Antonio Cassano can also find a bit of consistency, there’s enough offensive power for Montella to resuscitate the Blucerchiati.
Wednesday’s visitors Torino haven’t won at the Marassi since 1993 (W0-D4-L5) and make the journey south with their own struggles in tow.
The Granata have failed to score in successive Serie A games for the first time since November 2014 and have recorded a solitary success in eight (W1-D3-L4).
But with Samp leaking at least twice in each of their last five fixtures and five of their 11 as hosts, I have to assume Torino will enhance their excellent goalscoring stats when playing away. Giampiero Ventura’s troops have notched in 21/29 (72%) of their road trips since the start of last season.
The hosts have only shutout one opponent (Palermo) since September when welcoming Serie A opposition and have delivered a healthy 8/11 (73%) Both Teams To Score winners during that same sample.
Head back to the beginning of 2014/15 and Sampdoria have been involved in 18/30 (60%) BTTS bets at the Marassi. Torino have followed suit in 18/29 (62%) of their away trips, making William Hill’s 10/11 on a repeat a big value wager to take.
Verona v Atalanta | Wednesday 19.45
Verona are already planning for life in Serie B next season. The rock-bottom club, without a win all season (W0-D11-L11), are 12 points off survival and let a number of players leave towards the end of the transfer window, including Emil Hallfredsson
The Veneti are only the third side to reach Matchday 22 without a win but have shown plenty of battling qualities despite their murky plight. Indeed, Hellas have upset the odds to pick up points in five of their last seven outings.
With talisman Luca Toni dogged by injuries this term, the Gialloblu have struggled in the final third – 11 of their 14 goals have arrived from set-piece situations and their tally of seven goals at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi is a league-low.
But as already suggested, Verona aren’t being swept aside with ease. Their last eight as hosts have all featured fewer than three goals, as have a huge 17/22 (77%) of all their Serie A matches. So with the league’s lowest away scorers arriving on Wednesday night, I’m not expecting a classic.
Atalanta have notched just six on their travels and make the trip north on the back of a seven-game winless streak (W0-D3-L4).
Head coach Edy Reja may opt to revert to his tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 formation here but he’ll need new signings Alessandro Diamanti and Marco Borriello to step up to the plate immediately following the departure of German Denis.
The Bergamo-based club have failed to net in six of their last eight away games with eight of their previous 11 at bottom-six sides producing no more than two goals. With Under 2.5 Goals proving a successful formula in 7/11 (64%) away days this season, opposing goals looks to be the best avenue here.
With the Unders prohibitively short in the betting, I’m going to take a chance on selecting ‘No’ in the Goal In Both Halves market at 17/20 from Betway.
Backing this wager has provided profit in 15/22 (68%) of Verona’s matches including eight of their 11 at the Bentegodi. And it’s proven similarly successful in 13/22 (59%) of Atalanta’s outings, including seven of their 11 on their travels. It’s value.
Frosinone v Bologna – Bologna draw no bet (4/5 Marathon)
Sampdoria v Torino – Both Teams To Score (10/11 William Hill)
Verona v Atalanta – Goal In Both Halves ‘No’ (17/20 Betway)
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