MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) highlights the value from Monday evening’s double-header from Italy.
Napoli v Sassuolo | Monday 18.00 | ESPN
Napoli produced a rotten performance in Palermo last weekend, going down 3-1 in Sicily. It provoked an angry response from the Neapolitan media but Rafa Benitez’s men responded in style with a thumping 4-0 victory away to Trabzonspor in the Europa League on Thursday night.
The emphatic win means the Partenopei can now focus all their energies on securing three points from the visit of Sassuolo, knowing Thursday’s second leg against the Turks should be relatively stress-free. But Benitez must do without star strike Gonzalo Higuain on Monday evening with the Argentine hit-man suspended.
It’s the first time Napoli are without Higuain this season but looking back to the 2013/14 campaign, we can see the hosts managed a very respectable W4-D2-L0 in the six fixtures he missed. Duvan Zapata should slot in as a like-for-like replacement and with new signing Manolo Gabbiadini already settling straight in to his position on the right of attack, the Partenopei will remain a menace going forward.
Plucky Sassuolo have been one of my favourite sides in Italy over the past 18 months. The tiny top tier club have been outstandingly managed by Eusebio Di Francesco and it must be mentioned that in eight trips to top-half clubs this season, the Neroverdi have only lost twice.
The visitors will head south and most likely continue in their 4-3-3 formation with Simone Zaza, Domenico Berardi and Sergio Floccari filling the attacking trident. However, Di Francesco will need to shuffle his defensive pack with Sime Vrsaljko and Federico Peluso on the sidelines.
I’m going to take two bets in this match. Firstly, I’ll back Over 2.75 Goals on the Asian Goals line with BetVictor at 11/12. Backing this selection means we’ll make money should at least three goals be netted at the San Paolo; winning a full payout should four or more goals be plundered with a half win if exactly three are scored.
Napoli have seen eight of their last 10 Serie A matches feature three goals or more with six breaking the Over 3.5 Goals barrier too. And at the San Paolo they’ve struck at least twice in 9/10 recently and only failed to score in three of 30 home games since Benitez arrived.
As for Sassuolo, eight of their last 11 matches have featured Over 2.5 Goals with the Neroverdi seeing four or more goals in half of their last 12 trips to top-half teams. The visitors will look to play on the counter and should be able to pinch a goal against a ragged Napoli defence.
With that in mind, it also opens up the possibility of backing a Napoli win and Both Teams To Score at 23/10 with Ladbrokes. The hosts have won five of their last seven in Naples but have managed just two clean sheets in 11 on home turf. Sassuolo have seen Both Teams To Score bank in their last 11 outings and have scored in 9/10 on the road, leaking in 11/14 themselves.
Cagliari v Inter Milan | Monday 20.00
Last week I retweeted a stat from Opta that showed Serie A was producing more goal-laden games than La Liga and the Premier League, dispelling the myth that Italian football is boring and low-scoring. I’ve been defending the league for a few years now and although it’s a far cry from the superstar filled Serie A we all enjoyed in the 90’s, it’s still offering it’s fair share of action and drama.
As well as in Naples, I’m expecting goals in Cagliari on Monday night too. Inter, under Roberto Mancini’s watch again, have started to find their feet and go in search of a third successive league win for the first time since 2012.
The Neroazzurri’s new-look attack seems to be clicking. With Xherdan Shaqiri pulling the strings behind a two-man forward-line of Mauro Icardi plus either of Lukas Podoski or Rodrigo Palacio, Inter have scored 10 goals in their last three games.
However, the defence remains a bit of a rabble, as all who saw Celtic’s Europa League clash with the fallen giants on Thursday night will testify. The visitors could be without four potential starting defenders for the trip to Sardinia and Inter have endured plenty of problems when facing Cagliari in recent seasons.
Earlier this campaign, a Zdenek Zeman led Cagliari dismantled Inter 4-1 in Milan back in September meaning the Rossoblu are unbeaten since 2011 (W2-D4-L0) against the Nerazzurri. However, after a series of good results, Gianfranco Zola’s hosts have picked up just one point from nine and lost seven of their last 12 games at Stadio Sant'Elia.
So I’m gunning for goals again. The Both Teams To Score bet has proven a winner in Cagliari’s last seven matches; they’re without a clean sheet in nine and have leaked in each of their last 12 on the island. But on the flip side, the Rossoblu have not been held without a goal since Zola’s first game as boss, making the 4/5 (Ladbrokes) look a straightforward choice.
Napoli v Sassuolo – Over 2.75 Goals on the Asian Goals line (11/12 BetVictor)
Napoli v Sassuolo – Napoli to win and Both Teams To Score (23/10 Ladbrokes)
Cagliari v Inter Milan – Both Teams To Score (4/5 Ladbrokes)
*Remember, you can earn a bonus of up to 100% on your returns if you place accumulators on the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga or Bundesliga with Bet365. Place a pre-match accumulator of 3 or more selections combining teams in any of those competitions, and if successful Bet365 will add the a bonus to your returns.*
Have you got a bet you’d like to share from Monday night’s Serie A offering? Is Mark right to be expecting goals in both games?
We’d love to hear what you’re backing so let us know in the comments box below!