MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) European NAP heads to Serie A for the first time this season, on Sunday.
Benevento v Inter Milan | Sunday 1st October 2017, 14:00 | BT Sport
Benevento were second in Serie B after 26 games last season but seven defeats in 12 saw the side from Campania’s promotion prospects hit the buffers.
Fortunately, three wins from their final four matches secured a play-off place and the Wizards managed to navigate the end-of-season knockout phase to secure a historic first promotion to Serie A in the club’s 88-year history.
A strong W13-D6-L2 record at their Stadio Ciro Vigorito base was the foundation to their campaign with 12 clean sheets kept in front of their home supporters. Marco Baroni’s men were organised and resolute at the back with Fabio Ceravolo charged with grabbing the goals going forward.
Benevento out of their depth
However, the standard of clubs coming up from the second-tier has been poor in recent years. Only 10 of 33 teams since 2006/07 have gone straight back down but two of last season’s three newcomers went relegated at the first attempt and Crotone only survived after a miraculous escape.
Early signs suggest Benevento were worthy odds-on favourites to drop straight back down the second-tier as Sunday’s hosts have failed to score in five of their six opening encounters, all of which have ended in defeat.
Last weekend’s galling 2-0 defeat at Crotone featured a missed Nicolas Viola penalty but the Stregoni were already two goals behind and following a chastening 4-0 thumping by Roma and 6-0 derby loss to Napoli, it’s hard to find the faith in the home side.
To make matters worse, captain and defensive lynchpin Fabio Lucioni is facing a four-year ban after failing a drug test this month and on Thursday, Benevento’s problems worsened as they lost 3-1 to amateur side Fregene in a friendly match.
Inter to ease to victory
Their task doesn’t get any easier this weekend as Inter Milan arrive at the Stadio Ciro Vigorito as skinny 3/10 favourites. But we can bolster the odds to 5/6 by backing the illustrious visitors to overcome a -1.5 Asian Handicap hurdle at 188BET.
The Nerazzurri have managed W5-D1-L0 in their first six matches under Luciano Spalletti. Despite dropping their first points of the season in their most recent away trip to Bologna, Inter were back on song when beating Genoa at the San Siro last time out.
Nerazzurri making their mark Sure, Spaletti’s side weren’t at their fluid best but they still managed to secure the points relatively comfortably and have now silenced four of their six opponents already this campaign.
Without the distraction of European commitment, Inter have enjoyed a clear week to prepare for Sunday’s showdown. The guests collected eight victories on their travels last term and following another strong transfer window, should prove too strong here.
Four of Inter’s six wins have arrived by at least a two-goal margin whilst Benevento are being humbled across all the major performance data metrics. This could get ugly.
Benevento v Inter Milan – Inter Milan –1.5 Asian Handicap (5/6 188BET)