MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) European NAP heads to Serie A for his latest best bet from the continent.
Lazio v Udinese | Sunday 5th November 2017, 14:00
Lazio secured their place in the Europa League knockout stages with two games to spare on Thursday night having overcome Nice 1-0 in Rome despite resting the majority of their first-choice stars. It was the Biancocelesti’s ninth successive victory in all competitions ahead of Sunday’s date with Udinese.
Simone Inzaghi’s side have flourished in Serie A, collecting a club record high points (28), league victories (9), goals (31) and goal difference (+19) after 11 rounds of action with only Napoli and Juventus notching more often in domestic action.
Lazio have already won against Juventus, not once but twice; the first securing the Super Cup in the campaign’s curtain-raiser and the second making them the first side in over two years to beat the Old Lady in Turin and we must start taking the capital club very seriously.
Inzaghi earning plenty of praise
Inzaghi has proven to be an excellent tactician, able to motivate his players while also finding different ways to deploy them at important moments, and it is no surprise that some of the peninsula’s top sides have been looking closely at his work.
No player in Europe’s top five leagues can match Ciro Immobile’s tally of 14 goals, while his six assists are the most in Serie A this term. Dutch international Stefan De Vrij anchors a much-improved defence and the star duo are supported by an unheralded or unwanted bunch of players such as Nani, Jordan Lukaku and former Liverpool flop Luis Alberto.
Midfield monster Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is now being courted by a collection of Europe’s top clubs with the Serbian – nicknamed “Sergeant” – blossoming into a wonderful prospect, capable of a whole host of duties. There are clear echoes of Paul Pogba in his play and it’ll be a surprise if he’s still here in 12 months.
Lazio can continue hot streak
This weekend Lazio are looking to make it a perfect 10 triumphs and a seventh victory on the spin in Serie A. In each of their last six wins, the hosts have scored at least twice and we should expect the Romans to continue their hot streak here.
However, the Biancocelesti’s backline still can’t be trusted to silence opposition attacks. The home side have kept only three clean sheets in league duty this term and just six in 24 Serie A duels at the Stadio Olimpico since the start of last season.
In 10 of Lazio’s previous 13 wins here they’ve conceded a goal and considering Udinese haven’t yet fired a blank this season, supporting a home success alongside Both Teams To Score could be a favoured angle of attack.
Udinese can play their part
However, I’m going to play it a little safer and back Lazio to win and Over 2.5 Goals at 3/4 (Ladbrokes). Only the bottom-two teams have shipped more goals than Udinese and the Zebrette have conceded at least twice in seven of their four games as guests in 2017/18.
The visitors do have Bram Nuytinck and Samir available again, but they will be without Valon Behrami and Emil Hallfredsson. Luigi Delneri is a little short in midfield and like Lazio, Udinese have been regular winners in the Over 2.5 Goals column this season.
Collectively the pair have seen Over 2.5 Goals pay-out in 19/22 Serie A matches with an average of 3.78 goals per-game. Such overwhelming statistics make the 3/4 available generous enough to get involved with on Sunday.
Lazio v Udinese – Lazio to win and Over 2.5 Goals (3/4 Ladbrokes)