MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) talks us through Thursday night’s best betting angles for the Serie A contest between Lazio and Verona.
Lazio v Verona | Thursday 19.45 | BT Sport Europe
Lazio's European qualification hopes are looking remote after a three-game winless sequence left the Biancocelesti 11 points adrift of city rivals Roma in fifth-place.
Stefano Pioli's side failed to even score in those three fixtures – 0-0-v Genoa, 0-2 v Napoli and 0-0 v Udinese – with poor finishing the common and constant theme for the Eagles in 2015/16.
In seven Serie A outings this calendar year, Lazio have landed just 19 shots-on-target but 13 of those came in games against Fiorentina (six) and Chievo (seven). That means, across five fixtures, Thursday’s hosts have managed a paltry six on-target efforts despite firing in 60 shots.
Felipe Anderson’s failed to hit the same heights of 2014/15 with Antonio Candreva topping the scoring charts with just six goals. Forwards Balde Keita, Alessandro Matri, Fillip Djordjevic and Ricardo Kishna have netted just 10 goals between them.
Matri returns from a two-game ban here but Kishna remains sidelined along with the suspended Marco Parolo and injury absences of Stefan de Vrij, Stefan Radu and midfielder marshall Lucas Biglia. Not ideal as Lazio look to improve a Stadio Olimpico record that reads W1-D3-L3 across their previous seven league matches.
What’s more, the Curva Nord – home to the Biancocelesti’s ultras – will be closed for one of two games after racist chanting was heard in the stands against Napoli last week. So although Pioli’s side’s have only suffered one defeat in 2016, taking skinny odds on the hosts makes little appeal.
Basement boys Verona make the journey south on the back of a five-match unbeaten streak (W1-D4-L0) – their best run of results this term – and although they let a 3-1 lead slip at Inter on Sunday (drawing 3-3), have shown signs of life.
Head coach Luigi Delneri’s protestations against his Mastini side’s futility are carrying more weight and it’s worth noting, the visitors have suffered just two defeats in nine now (W1-D6-L2), shipping fewer than two goals in eight of their previous 10.
Indeed, the Gialloblu may be winless on the road (W0-D6-L5) and without a triumph at Lazio since their title-winning year of 1985 but they’re proving a tough nut to crack having avoided defeat in Milan, Roma and Torino since December.
The guests do have a number of injury concerns, mind. Samuel Souprayen, Ante Rebic, Luca Siligardi and Federico Viviani are out with Luca Marrone banned but Luca Toni started alongside Giampaolo Pazzini on Sunday and Delneri may opt to partner the duo together again here.
Nevertheless, I reckon we could be in for an attritional battle, at least in the first 45 minutes. Lazio have netted 22 of their 29 goals after the interval, firing first-half blanks in nine of their 12 Olimpico outings. Incredibly, Hellas have failed to strike before the half-time oranges on their travels, with seven of their 11 away matches going into the break 0-0. The goalless first-half is 9/4 (William Hill).
The trends are also suggesting a low-scoring encounter – between the two teams’ respective home and away games, Under 2.5 Goals has been a winner on 16/23 (70%) occasions this season – that percentage mark would equate to a 4/9 shot in betting odds. So the 21/20 chalked up by Matchbook on Under 2.5 Goals looks like great value.
And it’s also worth noting the duos respective records when taking on bottom/top half teams since the start of last season. Why? Well, Lazio have returned mighty impressive W13-D4-L1 results when welcoming bottom-half sides to the Olimpico under Pioli. They’ve also dispatched 14 of the last 16 visitors from the bottom-six.
In contrast, Verona have managed just W2-D6-L7 when travelling to the top-10 in the same timeframe. So following the theme of a drab first-half, I’m happy enough having a small dabble on Draw-Lazio in the Half-Time/Full-Time market with BetVictor for a bit of interest.
Lazio v Verona – 0-0 half-time correct score (9/4 William Hill)
Lazio v Verona – Under 2.5 Goals (21/20 Matchbook)
Lazio v Verona – Draw-Lazio (7/2 BetVictor)
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