EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) is heading to Italy for his next best bet from the continent.
Lazio v Atalanta | Sunday 5th May 2019, 14:00 | Premier Sports
The battle for a top four finish in Serie A is really hotting up and two of the six sides chasing Champions League football next season lock horns in Rome on Sunday afternoon. Four points separate the two sides, who are also scheduled to meet in the Coppa Italia final later this month and I expect the visitors to pick up a positive result in this titanic tussle.
Atalanta are Italy’s great entertainers. But Gian Piero Gasperini’s group have substance to add to their scintillating style, and there’s a fair argument to be had that La Dea have been Serie A’s best performer since October’s international break.
A slow start to the season was expected from the Bergamo boys. Being a smaller fish in a big pond, Atalanta often see their leading lights pinched and last summer was no different. However, Gasperini’s found a formula to improve and enhance this likeable club once more and La Dea have gone from strength-to-strength.
Indeed, Atalanta have returned W16-D5-L5 since October’s international break – a 2.04 points per-game average – a quite staggering effort for such a modest club. The away side has struck at least twice in 17 of those 26 fixtures and notched three goals or more on 10 occasions. And those goals figures are backed up by the underlying numbers.
No Serie A side fires in more shots from inside the penalty area, generates a larger Expected Goals (xG) figure or produces a better xG from open play return. In fact, Atalanta are averaging 1.56 shots in the box MORE per-game than anyone else in Italy’s top-flight, as well as enjoying 0.24 xG MORE than their nearest rivals per-game – two significant differences.
Last weekend the visitors beat Udinese 2-0 with room to spare having rested Josip Ilicic. He’ll be back to join Papu Gomez in the hole behind Duvan Zapata in Gasperini’s thrilling 3-4-2-1 system that works so well for this side. There are no major injuries or suspensions and they arrive in the capital having W6-D3-L0 in their last nine outings.
What’s more, La Dea have bagged six triumphs from eight on their travels since late December, lost just once in seven on the road at the top-half and their most recent two encounters in games as guests ended with victory at Napoli and a well-earned draw at Inter. In fact, only the top two have collected more points on the road than Atalanta.
Lazio have pocketed a sole success in eight when welcoming top-half teams this term to the Stadio Olimpico. That victory came in the derby and happened to be Eusebio Di Francesco’s final stand in Serie A as Roma boss; it was supposed to spark the Biancocelesti’s campaign but they’ve continued to be a model of inconsistency in the league.
Simone Inzaghi’s constant tinkering with formation and personnel hasn’t helped and Le Aquile followed their famous derby win with just W4-D2-L3. That includes a woeful home reverse to rock-bottom Chievo, a concerning outcome considering Lazio have secured eight of their nine home successes this season against bottom-half teams.
Lazio’s inferiority complex against the Italy’s elite is nothing new under Simeone. The Biancocelesti have managed only seven victories in 26 here against the top-half under his watch – a 27% win rate – recording only three clean sheets. With skipper Senad Lulic banned, plus Sergei Milinkovic-Savic amongst a plethora of injuries, it’s easy to oppose the hosts.
The betting angle
Le Aquile are a good team, a very capable team on their day, but it’s hard to get on board with the Match Odds that imply the Romans are as good as Atalanta and rated equally if the game was played at a neutral venue. I fully expect the exciting visitors to get on the scoresheet and they’ll definitely fancy their chances of pocketing maximum points.
Unfortunately the market has moved a little too quickly to support the +0.50 Asian Handicap on Atalanta but instead we can head to Bet365’s Bet Builder function where 10/11 is available on Atalanta to score Over 0 Goals and Atalanta Double Chance – we’re effectively backing the guests to score and not lose in the capital at almost evens. Nice.
Lazio v Atalanta – Atalanta to score Over 0 Goals and Atalanta double chance (10/11 Bet365)