THE European season continues its relentless quest for conclusion on Tuesday and Jack Wright (@bet_shop_boys ) is on-hand to preview his favourite fancies.
Sassuolo vs Milan | Tuesday 21st July 2020, 20:45 | Premier Sports
Here we go again, as I lead you excitedly off to Serie A as two of the most in-form teams in Italy collide with the battle to clinch a spot in next season’s Europa League coming to the boil.
Just two points separate fifth-placed Roma, Napoli just behind and Milan in seventh with a home win here for Sassuolo keeping the Neroverdi in the hunt and meaning the gap on Monday night’s opponents would be closed to five points with three games to play.
This could be more akin to a basketball match than football as these sides have scored a combined 29 goals in their last five games, with the Rossoneri in white-hot form since the restart, winning six and drawing two in an unbeaten eight-game run. The hosts aren’t far behind, recovering from a 4-1 defeat to Atalanta in their first reappearance but now eight unbeaten themselves (W4-D4-L0).
As with most Serie A games, certainly post lockdown, goals should be on the menu– 15 of the Neroverdi’s last 16 home league games have seen Over 2.5 Goals, with all of the visitors’ past six also crossing that line.
Confidence is high in both camps and the need to win is at the forefront of their minds so Both Teams To Score in a game providing Over 2.5 Goals looks very likely and this is supported by the fact Roberto De Zerbi’s hosts have failed to score only once at home but with only two clean sheets to their name, contributing to a total average of 4.25 goals per-game. However, the price is a little short for me to put forward at 8/13 with Paddy Power.
The Mapei Stadium outfit have had three post-lockdown home fixtures each producing six goals – a 4-2 victory over Lecce being sandwiched by a pair of 3-3 draws, the latter of which in an incredible game against league leaders Juventus who took a 2-0 lead with just 12 minutes on the clock, only to need an Alex Sandro effort to rescue a point.
That should be enough of a warning to keep Zlatan Ibrahimović and his teammates honest if they wish to take a positive result back to Milan. It’s a widely available 11/2 for that run of Over 5.5 Goals to extend to a fourth home game and to back an Overs bet at odds-against you would only have to stretch to +3.5 goals which is an 11/10 shot.
However, two other stat-based outcomes have caught my eye. In a game where we are expecting plenty of goals, I had a look at who may be likely to score them – and I was surprised to find an odds-against opportunity for a player in extremely consistent attacking form.
Although Franck Kessié is a defensive midfielder, he has four league goals to his name this term but has really come to the fore since the restart of action. Not one of the eight Serie A games has passed without the Ivory Coast international having at least one attempt at goal and also with remarkable accuracy.
Solitary strikes against Roma, Lazio, Juventus and Napoli all forced the keeper into action – two efforts against Lecce, Spal and Parma all had one on-target, whilst last time out against Bologna saw three shots of which two were accurate.
A run of eight games with at least one shot on target is something most strikers would be proud of and I believe would result in the Ivorian being priced up at odds-on – so to find Betfair offering 6/4 for a shot on-target here, against a Sassuolo side who faced 21 shots against them in the aforementioned Juventus game, is for me, a great price.
The 23-year-old has scored three in his last four games and is fond of a strike from distance – in the run of games mentioned above Milan’s number 79 has had seven attempts from outside the area with four of those on target, scoring with one of them.
So, for those of you looking for a more ambitious line of attack, Kessié is 16/1 to score from outside the area with SkyBet. His goal against Napoli was a penalty, which neatly brings me on to my next selection.
Penalty to be awarded
Stefano Pioli’s visitors have had eight penalties awarded to them this season with Kessié one of four players who have helped maintain a 100% conversion rate, scoring two, with Ibrahimović (2), Hakan Calhanoglu and the now departed Krzystof Piatek (3) completing the list, while they have conceded seven themselves.
Sassuolo matches have seen a total of 14 spot kicks this season with five in their favour but having given nine away, meaning between the two clubs there have been a total of 29 penalties from their combined 68 games – 0.43 per-game. With an implied probability of 13/10, I checked the odds for a penalty to be awarded – a seemingly skinny 6/4 (William Hill) – only a slight variance in our favour.
So I waited impatiently for the match officials to be announced and it’s to be Luca Pairetto, so now I’m happy! The 36-year-old has been in charge of 14 Serie A games this season and given eight spot kicks – 0.57 per-game which is up on his lifetime average of 0.44, having awarded 29 in just 66 games.
This will be Signor Pairetto’s fifth game in charge of Sassuolo, in his previous four he has pointed to the spot three times (one for, two against) – it is 6/4 with William Hill he does so again and with it being statistically more likely to be in favour of the away side, you can get 4/1 with Bet 365 on Milan successfully converting their ninth penalty in the league.
Sassuolo v Milan – Franck Kessie 1+ Shot On Target (6/4 Betfair)
Sassuolo v Milan – A penalty to be awarded (6/4 William Hill)