THE European season continues its relentless quest for conclusion on Thursday and Jack Wright (@bet_shop_boys ) is on-hand to preview his favourite fancies.
Spal vs Udinese | Thursday 9th July 2020, 18:30
My focus this Thursday switches to the foot of Serie A, with rock-bottom Spal going in search of three vital survival points as they host fellow strugglers Udinese.
The home side slid ever closer to the relegation trapdoor with a sorry 3-0 defeat to Sampdoria at the weekend, a loss made even more painful after Lecce’s shock 2-1 victory over second-placed Lazio on Tuesday, which sees Luigi Di Biagio’s side now a distant nine points from safety.
With just one win and four points from the last 30 available, time is running out for Spal to pull off the great escape – and if they are to survive, they will surely need to pick up all three points here.
A true sign of a team at the foot of the table is finding a way to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory, as was the case after the Biancazzurri took a 2-0 first half lead over an in-form Milan side in their previous home game. A 43rd minute red card for Marco D’Alessandro, the manager getting sent off for two yellows and finally gifting a 93rd minute equaliser via an own goal – two precious points were gone.
Any chance of survival is likely to rest on getting Andrea Petagna firing for the remainder of the season. One goal since the restart, in the 3-1 defeat at Napoli, made it 12 for the season and places the Italian 13th in the Serie A top scorers list. That’s some achievement for a striker who has contributed more than half (52%) of his side’s total of 23 goals, albeit five coming from the spot.
Petagna was on the bench in the return fixture back in October (coming off it to miss a match winning 98th minute spot kick) and also in the aforementioned Sampdoria game, I can’t see him not starting here, it would be a massive risk leaving your top scorer on the bench for two relegation battles in succession.
The 25-year-old has scored all his goals in singles from 29 matches, scoring a goal every 205 minutes and either side of lockdown has netted in eight of 14 games. I like the look of the 6/4 on offer with Bet 365, coupled with the fact they give you the choice to void the bet if your player doesn’t start or, alternatively, let it ride. I will leave that decision up to you!
Udinese sit five points above the final relegation place but should be coming into this game on the back of successive victories and with an eight-point buffer.
Following an unexpected 2-0 win in Roma’s Stadio Olimpico, the Bianconeri had another three points in sight as Kevin Lasagna gave them a 73rd minute 2-0 lead over fellow strugglers Genoa only to concede a hotly disputed VAR awarded penalty deep into injury time. Despite Juan Musso making the save, penalty taker Andrea Pinamonti was first to the rebound and rifled home to deny Le Zebrette just their second win in 11 league games.
With successive games against top-six trio Lazio (2nd), Napoli (6th) and Juventus (1st) on the horizon, this is a game Luca Gotti will definitely have marked down for a win and therefore in the same way as outlined above I think will lead to an aggressive attack on victory. The side from Udine should smell blood here having scored two goals in each of their last three games and visiting a side who have kept just one clean sheet at their Paolo Mazza home.
With five goals, assists and yellow cards to his name in addition to a red this season, a player who I always keep an eye out for is Rodrigo de Paul. The playmaker loves to pull the strings and although not always the most accurate, is equally fond of a strike from distance – he may have ample opportunity here in northern Italy.
The hosts offer up the fourth most shots per-game in Serie A at an average of 17.2 strikes on their goal which only drops to 17 in home games and is the third highest behind Lecce, who have conceded a league high 71 goals and Brescia. Those numbers could be music to the ears of the visitor’s number 10 who in the reverse fixture sent two efforts wide from outside the box and had a strike from 18 yards blocked.
Let’s take a look at de Paul’s numbers from games against the aforementioned clubs conceding similar shots per-game as Spal. Two shots versus Lecce was his lowest numerical return, although he scored the winner in a 1-0 victory that day, a goalscoring visit to Brescia saw two shots inside and two outside the box with Parma being the only team in our shortlist has faced twice so far.
Three long range efforts resulted from his visit to the Ennio Tardini Stadium, but a huge eight shots left the 26-year-old’s boot in a 3-1 home defeat, three from beyond the 18-yard line and a total of four on target. The Argentinian was suspended for the 3-2 reverse to Atalanta but has featured and completed a full 90 minutes in the three games he was available for since the restart, having nine attempts across those games.
Ideally, I wanted to play shots outside the box but found a best price of 6/10 for two and 17/10 for three attempts so the 10/11 (Betfair) which is available for three attempts from anywhere is far more appealing to me, should be well within range, and gets my vote.