MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) has analysed Serie A’s midweek action and brings us his best bets.
Inter Milan v Torino | Wednesday 19:45
Reports in Milan suggest Frank de Boer could be sacked as Inter boss before the weekend and a rotten result against Torino at San Siro on Wednesday night could be the final nail in the Dutchman’s coffin.
Inter have lost four of their last six games across all competitions, and their sole success in that stretch – against Southampton in the Europa League – was scarcely deserved. Still, I’m not sure the Nerazzurri have been as bad as some pundits are keen to stress.
Sure, Inter are as low as 14th in Serie A having W3-D2-L4, including three successive defeats – all of which ended 2-1 – but only Napoli and Juventus have been dominating the shot counts as much as de Boer’s troops.
Sunday’s reverse at Atalanta was ugly but before that date the Nerazzurri had been averaging well over 11 attempts per-game from inside the penalty box and creating just under two big chances per-game. Strong stats.
Slow starts have given Inter more headaches than most – the average time of their first goal arrives after the 54th minute – and in seven of their nine league encounters the hosts have conceded first.
De Boer is known to be frustrated by Inter’s amateur defending at times but his side are unlikely to be given an easy ride by Torino this midweek, especially with Gary Medel serving the first of a three-match ban and Felipe Melo already sidelined through injury.
With two of the Nerazzurri’s most effective midfield filters absent, it’s hard not to fancy goals here. The hosts have yet to keep a clean sheet at San Siro this season with both sides scoring in each of their four home Serie A contests.
Five of Inter’s nine league fixtures have broken the Over 2.5 Goals barrier with seven games also banking in the Both Teams To Score market. Combine the two goals-based angles and we can support Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score at an attractive 11/10 (William Hill).
Torino are flying high in fifth (W4-D3-L2) thanks to a W3-D3-L0 run of results since early September. The Granata have often been accused of inconsistency but Sinisa Mihajlovic seems to have brought a serenity to the club as well as confidence to attack all and every opponent.
The Bulls have seen their nine outings average 3.33 goals-per-game – the third highest in Serie A – with seven of their matches producing Over 2.5 Goals winners. The past four alone have featured a whopping 16 goals.
Crucially, Mihajlovic has a fully fit squad to select from including their marvellous front three of Andrea Belotti, Iago Falque and Adem Ljajic.
With Torino notching at least twice in each of their last four and 12 of their past 14 league outings seeing at least three goals, I’m more than happy to follow the trends.
Fiorentina v Crotone | Wednesday 19:45
Last Thursday I penned a Europa League piece that suggested Fiorentina head coach Paolo Sousa was beginning to feel the heat from La Viola supporters following a drab opening stanza to 2016/17.
Sousa’s side answered their critics with a cushy 3-1 victory away to Slovan Liberec before a thoroughly enjoyable and deserved 5-3 triumph at Cagliari on Sunday. Two games, two wins and eight goals scored suggests the Florence-based club are back on track.
Before their triumph in Cagliari, Fiorentina had scored just six Serie A goals in seven outings but Nikola Kalinic finally found his shooting boots – grabbing a hat-trick – and Federico Bernardeschi flourished having been deployed further forward. Here’s hoping La Viola’s newfound approach is sustained here.
Fiorentina have a fantastic chance to extend that winning streak with rock-bottom Crotone arriving in Tuscany.
The visitors are already five points adrift and fans called for the sacking of manager Davide Nicola during their defeat to Napoli on Sunday. The Sharks have W0-D1-L8 since promotion and already leaked 20 goals – four more than any other divisional rival.
Nicola has moved from a back three to a 4-3-3, with Aleksandar Tonev and Raffaele Palladino on the wings but results are yet to improve and their porous defence will again prove their undoing.
Crotone have been beaten in each of their five away fixtures and although they’ve scored in games at Sassuolo, Cagliari and Empoli, I’m not at all confident they can find the net at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Wednesday night.
Fiorentina have beaten eight of their last 10 promoted guests but crucially, have kept their sheets clean in over eight hours of home Serie A action, including matches against Milan and Roma this term.
I’ll back the hosts to win ‘to nil’ at 15/14 with 188BET.
Lazio v Cagliari | Wednesday 19:45
Lazio have W2-D2-L0 in their past four fixtures and their season-long W4-D3-L2 has seen the Romans slide into sixth spot. But Simone Inzaghi’s side haven’t particularly impressed thus far, often appearing as flat-track bullies.
In attack, Ciro Immobile is firing on all cylinders and it’s true too that the Biancocelesti have seen nine other first-team players get on the scoresheet already this season. Impressive figures.
However, Lazio have looked lightweight in midfield and although Stefan Radu is back in the squad here, the hosts must still do without defenders Stefan De Vrij, Bastos and Jordan Lukaku, as well as holding midfielder Lucas Biglia.
The Biancocelesti have beaten 10 of their past 12 promoted visitors to the Stadio Olimpico but with so many crucial backline performers unavailable, I’m keen to support goals once more as free-scoring Cagliari arrive in the capital.
Since returning to Serie A, the Sardinians have been a joy to follow. All nine of the Rossoblu’s encounters have featured Over 2.5 Goals winners with a further four producing at least four goals. On Sunday, Massimo Rastelli’s charges were involved in an eight-goal thriller with Fiorentina (3-5).
The visitors have netted at least twice in each of their past four games, and in six of their nine overall, but have only once kept their sheets clean this term. Cagliari have shipped 19 goals already with only the dreadful Crotone facing more efforts per-game.
The Rossoblu won at San Siro in their last away trip so Rastelli’s men shouldn’t be fazed by their surroundings and their forthright approach should lead to another goal-heavy game in Rome. With that in mind, I’m more than happy to back Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score at 1/1 with Coral.
Pescara v Atalanta | Wednesday 19:45
League tables and results can often prove a little deceiving and in Serie A, Pescara’s position in 17th with W1-D4-L4 is a perfect example of such.
The Dolphins technically haven't won a game this season, as their only victory was handed to them by Sassuolo fielding an irregular player. The hosts actually lost that encounter before the points were handed to them by the Italian FA.
Pescara have W0-D2-L3 at their Stadio Adriatico home but since opening their account following promotion with a thrilling 2-2 draw against Napoli, performances have dipped. Chievo and Sampdoria fired in 37 shots between them during the Dolphins’ most recent two home fixtures.
Maurizio Oddo’s troops have scored just a solitary goal in their last three games as hosts whilst only five Serie A clubs are returning worse shot ratio figures (42.36%). Meanwhile, Valerio Verre and Rej Manaj are both major doubts.
Visitors Atalanta are beginning to click under the astute leadership of Gian Piero Gasperini. The Bergamo-based club were full value for the three points against Inter on Sunday, extending their impressive recent run to W3-D1-L0.
La Dea have defeated Napoli and held Fiorentina during that four-match streak and their season-long 54.17% shot ratio is only bettered by seven top-tier sides. The guests have leaked more than one goal just once since August and facing an average of just six attempts from inside the penalty box.
Atalanta’s long-term way record doesn’t make particularly appealing reading (W4-D7-L12) so instead of backing the away win, I’ll enter the Asian Handicap market and support La Dea off a scratch 0 start at 68/67 with BetVictor.
This selection works in the exact same format as the Draw No Bet market – we’ll see our stake returned should the match end in a draw, only losing our money if Pescara pull off an unlikely victory.
Inter Milan v Torino – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (11/10 William Hill)
Fiorentina v Crotone – Fiorentina to win ‘to nil (15/14 188BET)
Lazio v Cagliari – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (1/1 Coral)
Pescara v Atalanta – Atalanta 0 Asian Handicap (68/67 BetVictor)