EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) heads to Serie A on Sunday for his latest best bet on the continent.
Genoa v Atalanta | Sunday 15th September 2019, 11:30 | Premier Sports
Serie A has long since rid lazy clichés of Catenaccio-style football, batting back stereotypical assumptions of a boring, low-scoring league. Italy’s top-flight has largely been a thrilling division to follow over the past few seasons and 2019/20 is already shaping up to be a very watchable affair after just two rounds of action.
We’ve already had two 4-3s, two 3-2s and a 3-3 with matches averaging a hefty 3.25 goals per-game. I’m expecting that figure to gradually return to some sort of semblance below three in the coming weeks, but it’s proof (if any more was required) that action on the peninsula can be entertaining, attacking and anything but dour and dull.
Two teams (and coaches) that will continue to bust those misguided myths this season will be Genoa and Fiorentina, led by veteran head coaches Aurelio Andreazzoli and Gian Piero Gasperini. The two masterminds are well into their 60s but continue to show a remarkable level of adaptability, and most importantly, a preference for forward-thinking football.
So Sunday's early showdown between the pair at the Marassi should not be missed. The pair have a penchant for high-quality, offensively-minded football and the outcome of their encounter can surely mean only one thing, goals (and plenty of them).
Genoa enjoying Andreazzoli’s makeover
Despite his evergreen age, 65-year-old Andreazzoli is renowned for his modern day ideals. During Empoli’s battling relegation from Serie A last season, the respected head coach earned rave reviews for his team’s style, swagger and approach. The Tuscan native was credited for the rapid improvements of his squad on an individual level and was in-demand.
Genoa swooped to secure Andreazzoli’s signature and supporters have been impressed by the club’s early efforts. A fascinating point was picked up in Roma (3-3) before Il Grifone made the most of poor Fiorentina defending (and the woodwork) to table a 2-1 triumph before the international break. In both fixtures, Genoa showcased their offensive values.
From a directionless rabble looking over their shoulders that went through three head coaches last season, there’s now a reason to be excited about the Rossoblu’s future. Sure, nobody is anticipating a major assault on the European positions, but fans will be thrilled by the way in which Genoa look to manipulate the ball and entertainment should be in rife supply.
Gasperini taking Atalanta into the unknown
Atalanta supremo Gasperini deserves immense respect for his role of guiding La Dea from mid-table obscurity into the Champions League, doing so on a budget, with one of Serie A’s most enjoyable styles of play. The Bergamo boys are in continental action in midweek and may opt to make a couple of changes here, but the system and style is locked-in.
The Nerazzurri set-up with a unique 3-4-1-2 formation with full-backs pushing high and Papu Gomez and Josip Ilicic providing the ammunition for either Duvan Zapata or new recruit Luis Muriel in attack. The Colombian forwards have been away in Miami this week so may share the workload for Atalanta as they start to juggle Champions League duties with Serie A.
Nevertheless, La Dea are mightily tough operators and are well-capable of causing Genoa countless concerns on Sunday. But the Bergamo outfit are far from flawless – as seen from their 3-2 come-from-behind success at Spal on the opening weekend, and then their surprise 3-2 defeat at home to Torino last time out where they struggled to defend set-pieces.
Goals on the agenda
Sunday’s early fixture should follow the early season themes with Andreazzoli and Gasperini renowned for favouring forward-thinking football. Already the pair have produced profitable Over 2.5 Goals returns in all four of their combined fixtures, with three such games going Over 4.5 Goals, and Both Teams To Score banking in all four.
Since the start of last season and on the road, Atalanta have delivered 14/20 (70%) successful Over 2.5 Goals shouts, 14/20 (70%) profitable BTTS bets with 11 (55%) matches also breaking the Over 3.5 Goals barrier. The guests have silenced just three opponents in that sample, whilst scoring themselves in all bar four of the fixtures.
A quick peek at Empoli’s efforts last term under Andreazzoli shows the lowly side were similarly lucrative for goals-based backers. And when the two coaches clashed in Tuscany last November, the match ended in a thrilling 3-2 shoot-out, suggesting something similar wouldn’t be out of the question here, particularly with the last seven meetings between the clubs surpassing the Over 2.5 Goals line.
All the evidence points towards another high-scoring match-up and I’m happy to take the 5/6 (SkyBet) on Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score.
Genoa v Atalanta – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (5/6 SkyBet)