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Football

Napoli hosts Lazio in Serie A Round 20 headline fixture

Roma vs Torino

Olimpic Stadium, Rome

Saturday, 19-01-2019 @5pm

Only three points separate Roma and Torino going into the first Serie A round of 2019 and the Granata aim to continue their unbeaten away record. The Giallorossi have seemingly turned the tide over Christmas, putting together three wins and an unlucky 1-0 defeat to Juventus, while they swept Virtus Entella aside 4-0 in the Coppa Italia with a Patrik Schick brace. It is hoped the striker can rediscover his confidence, thanks also to hiring a mental coach to help these issues. Meanwhile, Edin Dzeko has recovered from injury and is raring to go, although Daniele De Rossi, Steven Nzonzi, Juan Jesus and Diego Perotti are out of action.

Torino have been one of the surprise outfits this season and are pushing for a place in Europe, sitting only three points behind sixth-placed Roma. It’s a very tight table, as Sampdoria and Atalanta are also up there, with Fiorentina, Sassuolo and even Parma one point behind. The Granata’s greatest strength is their away form, unbeaten on their travels with two wins and eight draws in the current campaign. However, the last four have been stalemates and it’s possible they will make it five away draws in a row during the same Serie A season for the first time since December 1973. Coach Walter Mazzarri has to revamp, because midfielder Soualiho Meite and defender Armando Izzo are suspended, with Emiliano Moretti still carrying a knock. Iago Falque faces his former club as support for hitman Andrea Belotti, while Lyanco should step in to defence after a lengthy injury lay-off.

Torino have lost each of their last eight Serie A visits to the Olimpico, conceding at least two goals every time.

Udinese vs Parma

Dercia Arena, Udine

Saturday, 19-01-2019 @8pm

The two sides shared the spoils in an entertaining opening weekend draw in a game that saw Udinese come back from two goals down at the Tardini. Davide Nicola has taken the hot seat at Udinese since that encounter and will come head-to-head against Roberto D’Aversa, as the two shared the dressing room at Ternana and Siena during their playing days. The close of the first half of the season saw Nicola claim his second victory in charge 2-0 at home to Cagliari. Ignacio Pussetto was a constant nuisance to the opposition, as he scored one and assisted Valon Behrami for the other in a game that also saw Kevin Lasagna win and miss a penalty near the hour mark.

Parma went into their last fixture off the back of a win away at Fiorentina, but Cengiz Under proved decisive as they came unstuck at home against Roma.

The hosts have welcomed Marvin Zeegelaar and Stefano Okaka to the club in this transfer window, but are unlikely to go straight into the starting line-up. Udinese should stick to the 3-5-2 formation and the only two personnel changes expected will be enforced due to suspension. Andrija Balic will likely get a rare opportunity to start thanks to the suspension of Rolando Mandragora and the injured midfield duo of Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Antonin Barak. Pussetto’s suspension means Rodrigo De Paul, who himself returns from a ban, will be restored to the line-up and it’ll be interesting to see his performance as a move to Inter appears to be gathering pace.

Despite defeat last time out, Parma aren’t expected to make changes to the starting line-up other than to their attack. Joint top scorer Roberto Inglese is likely to return to lead the front line pushing fellow hitman Gervinho back to his more familiar wide position, with either Jonathan Biabiany or Luca Siligardi filling in the remaining wide role. Federico Dimarco, Alberto Grassi and Matteo Scozzarella are all long-term absentees.

Both teams have scored in seven of their last eight Serie A meetings.

Inter Milan vs Sassoulo

Stadio Guiseppe Meazza, Milan

Saturday, 19-01-2019 @10:30pm

Sassuolo are on a dire run of form, but they are surprisingly something of a bête noire for Inter in recent years. La Beneamata beat Serie B side Benevento 6-2 in the Coppa Italia to kick off 2019 in style, which included braces from Lautaro Martinez and Antonio Candreva. Curiously, Sassuolo ended 2018 with a 6-2 Serie A pasting by Gian Gasperini’s Atalanta and the new year didn’t get any better, crashing out of the Coppa Italia against Napoli. Coach Roberto De Zerbi must make radical changes, especially in that leaky defence, but also faces injury concerns for Marlon, Claud Adjapong and Federico Di Francesco, but he will be pleased to see Kevin-Prince Boateng return to lead the attack from start. Domenico Berardi, Alfred Duncan and Stefano Sensi are one yellow card away from suspension.

Luciano Spalletti’s only absentee is Keita Balde Diao, who could be out for around three weeks following a thigh strain. It shouldn’t be too much of a blow, as the Senegal international was unlikely to start anyway, with Matteo Politano (facing his former club) and Ivan Perisic in better shape. Mauro Icardi hopes to continue his scoring form and put his contract issues aside, but don’t expect to see him start with Lautaro Martinez for a while. The tactical experiment didn’t work in the Coppa and Lautaro only really started firing once Icardi had been substituted. Inter currently sit third place with 39 points, six points clear of Lazio, but will be aiming higher at catching Napoli in second.

Sassuolo have slipped down in recent weeks to 12th place and the initial Europa League ambitions are fading fast.

Sassuolo have won seven of their last eight Serie A matches against Inter, including the most recent four in a row. It’s a remarkable turnaround considering the Nerazzurri beat them 7-0 on two different occasions.

Frosinone vs Atalanta

Stadio Benito Stirpe, Frosinone

Sunday, 20-01-2019 @2:30pm

Frosinone have the worst defence in Serie A and host the most prolific team in the division, Atalanta, so it’s safe to expect entertainment. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side will try to start the second half of the Serie A season with a win against the club in penultimate place. Things have improved lately for the Canarini, who took points off Milan and Udinese since new Coach Marco Baroni took charge. They only lost to bottom of the table Chievo thanks to a late Emanuele Giaccherini strike after Marco Capuano had seen red.

Expect plenty of goals, because Atalanta were the most prolific side in Serie A during the first half of the campaign, their tally of 39 out-scoring even Juventus and Napoli. In turn, Frosinone have the joint worst defence with Empoli, conceding 37. However, it’s not all one-way traffic, as Gasperini’s men haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last 10 top flight away fixtures.

The hosts are further weakened by bans for Marco Capuano and Camillo Ciano, while Lorenzo Ariaudo, Federico Dionisi, Emil Hallfredsson and Luca Paganini also miss out. Rai Vloet and Stipe Perica are on the market in January, as Andrea Pinamonti and Joel Campbell are preferred in attack.

Atalanta miss only Ali Adnan on Asian Cup duty, so Papu Gomez again supports Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata. Emiliano Rigoni has been sent back to Zenit St Petersburg six months into a disappointing loan spell in Bergamo.

Atalanta have never lost to Frosinone, winning three and drawing two between Serie A and B.

SPAL vs Bologna

Stadio Paolo Mazza, Ferrara

Sunday, 20-01-2019 @05:00pm

You know SPAL and Bologna in for a physical and intense battle when the game is a derby and a relegation dogfight. Both teams are based in the Emilia-Romagna region, which makes this a local derby. The last two meetings between ended with a 1-0 win for SPAL.

Ferrara-based SPAL are in 16th place, four points clear of the relegation zone and are coming off losses to Milan and Napoli. The only major transfer in January so far is the loan of Emiliano Viviano from Sporting CP and he will likely be on the bench for their upcoming game. President Simone Colombariniconfirmed they won’t sell Manuel Lazzari this transfer window, despite interest from Napoli. Johan Djourou will require a fitness test.

Bologna are in 18th place, three points off safety and are coming off hard-fought losses to Napoli and Lazio, along with an elimination in the Coppa Italia against Juventus. Pippo Inzaghi has come under fire lately because his team has underachieved as expectations from fans and directors were to fight for a European place. Some fan protests went as far as placing wooden crosses on graves with Bologna director’s names on them. This situation continues to escalate as fans threaten to go on strike if director Marco Di Vaio isn’t fired.

On the other hand, this transfer window has brought good news as the club signed Roberto Soriano and Nicola Sansone both on loan with option to buy from Villarreal and fought off other clubs by extending Erick Pulgar’s contract. Federico Santander should recover after missing the Coppa game, but Blerim Dzemaili, Adam Nagy and Godfred Donsah are carrying knocks.

While SPAL are without a win in 10 rounds, Bologna’s negative streak runs to 12 games.

Fiorentina vs Sampdoria

Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence

Sunday, 20-01-2019 @05:00pm

Fiorentina host Sampdoria at the Stadio Franchi in what could be billed as an early Europa League decider. Both teams will fancy their chances of attaining fifth or sixth spot this season, with some of the league’s big boys not performing to standard thus far. That makes claiming three points from a Europa League rival absolutely crucial.

La Viola’s shaky season continues as, despite two mid-December victories over Empoli and Milan, they ended 2018 with one point from two rounds. They currently sit in 10th place, but a win on Sunday would take them level on 29 points with their opponents.

This season, Sampdoria are matching their impressive 2014-15 campaign and sit one point behind the Europa League places in seventh. Their form of late has been strong, winning four and drawing one in December, up until their trip to Juventus. Even then, they looked like claiming a point, but in the end came away with nothing, as a late Riccardo Saponara equaliser was ruled out through VAR.

In recent seasons, Fiorentina would be the favourites for this match, but current form tells us otherwise. Despite the extra time loss to Milan in the cup last weekend, Sampdoria are in fine form and will be looking to claim all three points from Stefano Pioli’s men. Nobody embodies this form more than Fabio Quagliarella. The veteran striker has consecutively scored in his last nine league games and will be looking to make it 10 on Sunday. As for Fiorentina, their 2-0 win against Torino in the Coppa Italia will have restored some of the confidence lost at the back end of December. Neither team has any suspensions, though Fiorentina are missing right-back Kevin Diks through injury. We may also see a returning debut for Sampdoria’s Manolo Gabbiadini, though probably from the bench.

Samp are unbeaten in their last six Serie A meetings with Fiorentina, managing two wins and four draws since November 2015.

Cagliari vs Empoli

Serdegna Arena, Cagliari

Sunday, 20-01-2019 @8:00pm

It’s a relegation dogfight with only four points separating Cagliari and Empoli going in to the second half of the season. Both sides have important players out of action, as Luca Ceppitelli is suspended for the hosts, with Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Cerri and Darijo Srna needing fitness tests, but Lucas Castro is a long-term absentee. This means Valter Birsa could be thrown straight into the starting XI after his transfer from Chievo, having already worked with Coach Rolando Maran.

Empoli have both Rade Krunic and Ismael Bennacer sitting out bans, plus Leonardo Capezzi, Luca Antonelli and striker Antonino La Gumina injured, leaving precious few options. It’s possible Miha Zajc could be moved into a more advanced attacking role with Ciccio Caputo, bringing veteran Matteo Brighi in to the midfield.

Cagliari are unbeaten at home in Serie A against Empoli, winning four and drawing two. However, the Sardinians have won just one of the last nine rounds.

The return of Leonardo Pavoletti in attack is a huge boost for Cagliari, especially as Empoli tend to struggle defensively in the air, conceding eight goals from headers this season.

Not since 1998-99 had Empoli reached the midway point of a Serie A season without a single away victory.

Napoli vs Lazio

Stadio San Paolo, Neples

Sunday, 20-01-2019 @10:30pm

There are always goals and drama guaranteed when Napoli and Lazio cross paths, but this time the Partenopei have a decimated squad. Carlo Ancelotti’s men sit five points clear of Inter in second place and nine behind leaders Juventus going into the second half of the season. Simone Inzaghi may well be in fourth spot, but it has still been a disappointing campaign overall, with the reliance on Ciro Immobile more evident than ever. Napoli are forced to prove they have strength in depth here, because the team has been torn to shreds by a combination of bans and injuries. Lorenzo Insigne, Kalidou Koulibaly and Allan are all suspended for the hosts, with Marek Hamsik certain to miss out. Dries Mertens and Raul Albiol need fitness tests, so we could see Adam Ounas as a new partner for Arkadiusz Milik in attack. Youth team player Sebastiano Luperto is the only remaining option at centre-back with Nikola Maksimovic if Albiol doesn’t make it.

Lazio have Adam Marusic out on a two-match ban, so Senad Lulic is expected to replace him on the right flank of a five-man midfield. Although Inzaghi has been performing some tactical experiments of late, he should go back to the tried and tested 3-4-1-1 with Luis Alberto rediscovering his form as support for Naples hometown boy Immobile. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Lucas Leiva are back in shape too and eager to make an impact. Be wary of a strong start, because Lazio have taken the lead in each of their last three games against Napoli and gone on to lose all of them. Immobile will be particularly eager to make his mark against his hometown club, especially after his agent confirmed the striker could “never turn down” a move to the Stadio San Paolo. He hopes to score his first goal in Naples, as he’ll never get a better chance than with Koulibaly and Albiol out. However, he’s got to be careful, because Immobile and Marco Parolo are one yellow card away from suspension with leaders Juventus coming up next week.

Lazio have managed just one point in their last seven meetings with Napoli, since a dramatic 4-2 victory here in May 2015 that decided Champions League qualification, complete with missed Gonzalo Higuain penalty.

Genoa vs AC Milan

Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genova

Monday, 21-01-2019 @5:00pm

Milan are struggling to stay afloat and after the Supercoppa disappointment visit Genoa with three key players suspended. This match was originally scheduled for Monday evening, but was moved to an afternoon kick-off amid security fears, as there is a long and ugly history of violence between the two sets of fans.

It is a tense situation within the Rossoneri camp, as Gennaro Gattuso remains under pressure following Wednesday’s Supercoppa defeat to Juventus in Jeddah, a game overshadowed by Gonzalo Higuain’s push to leave for Chelsea. It remains to be seen if he’ll be in the squad come Monday, but his likely replacement – Krzysztof Piatek – certainly won’t be playing, as he is suspended for Genoa.

Franck Kessie was sent off in the Supercoppa, with Alessio Romagnoli and Davide Calabria reaching their yellow card limit, so all three sit out this Marassi trip through suspension. With Lucas Biglia, Jack Bonaventura and Mattia Caldara still injured, it leaves Gattuso with precious few options.

After a goalless draw with Fiorentina, Cesare Prandelli’s men will look to grab more precious points. Luca Mazzitelli is out injured, with former Milan striker Gianluca Lapadula frozen out all season. It remains to be seen who will step in for Piatek, who has been so decisive this season with 19 goals in 21 competitive appearances. Christian Kouame, a target for Napoli and Juventus, should be moved into a more traditional centre-forward role with Daniel Bessa in support.

Milan are unbeaten against Genoa since a 3-0 defeat here in October 2016, followed by three wins and a draw, in which they conceded only once.

Juventus vs Chievo

Allianz Stadium, Torino

Monday, 21-01-2018 @10:30pm

It’s David and Goliath time in Turin, as bottom of the table Chievo visit leaders Juventus, yet when they last met it was a 3-2 thriller. To most this seems like a short hurdle for the Old Lady to overcome, considering they’ve won 17 of 19 games played thus far, but coming off their first victory of the season just before the break, the men from Veneto will have something to fight for as they seek points for salvation. Since taking the reins from former Coach Giampiero Ventura, Domenico Di Carlo has managed a string of positive performances, beginning with his 0-0 draw against Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli, as well as a late 1-1 stalemate with third-place Inter, and of course the most recent first victory of the season against Frosinone, from which the Gialloblu may still be buzzing over coming in to Monday.

Max Allegri’s Juventus on the other hand are always high on confidence and the Supercoppa victory over Milan on Wednesday got 2019 off to a strong start. Lifting a trophy helps a team’s swagger, although having played on the January 12 in the Coppa Italia and again four days later in Jeddah, the Turin giants may be forced to rest a few stars for a fully energized Chievo, whose last match came on December 29. Miralem Pjanic will be one star not be participating in this battle, after receiving a yellow in the Supercoppa to spark a ban, while Douglas Costa had some muscular concerns. Mario Mandzukic, Medhi Benatia, Juan Cuadrado and Andrea Barzagli are still out of action.

While The Flying Donkeys have lost some star power in the sale of Valter Birsa to Cagliari in January, with Fabrizio Cacciatore and Joel Obi out injured. Having played for the Champions, Emanuele Giaccherini could be the difference. With 19 games left and currently nine points from 17th, could this be the game Chievo have been relishing to boost their spirits to another level.

Chievo have never won a top-flight trip to Turin, emerging with four draws from 15 attempts. The Verona club lost 12 of their last 13 Serie A meetings with Juventus, home and away, drawing 1-1 in September 2015.

Bet on these games here: Bunga Bet

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