WE'VE sealed another stellar signing for the new campaign with Serie A don Paolo Bandini bringing his expertise to the site thanks to our partner Unibet.
Paolo is an Anglo-Italian sportswriter who pens a superb weekly Serie A column for the Guardian and his other credits include ESPN, the BBC and TalkSport as well as making regular appearances on the Football Weekly podcast.
He's a Trevi Fountain of knowledge and we're delighted to have him on board. Here are his unmissable previews and tips for this weekend's Serie A action:
Inter Milan v SPAL (11.30am)
Early days it may be but for a team who were supposed to plummet straight back out of the top division SPAL have at least made a promising start. Four points from two games demonstrate Leonardo Semplici’s side are capable of holding their own at this level and there was further encouragement to be drawn from Marco Borriello’s goalscoring debut.
Whether they are capable of hanging in with Inter is another matter. Even after taking steps to trim down a bloated squad the Nerazzurri still have a first-team wage bill four times the size of their opponents. More to the point Luciano Spalletti appears to have done what his predecessors could not – getting a talented group playing with at least a measure of coherence.
Inter’s performances against Fiorentina and Roma were hardly flawless – there were periods in both games when they lost control of the middle of the park – but Borja Valero lends an air of composure that this team lacked and Spalletti has shown himself adept at reacting to change his team mid-game. He also has a wealth of different options to deploy off the bench.
It helps that Mauro Icardi has started the season in scintillating form with four goals in two games. Indeed, if Inter have any real concern going into this game it might regard his match-readiness after a long flight home from South America where he played a combined 165 minutes of Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela. Either way I suspect Inter will get by.
- Correct score: Inter 2, SPAL 0 (6-1, Unibet)
- First scorer: Ivan Perisic (11-2, Unibet)
- Safe bet: Half-time/full-time Inter/Inter (4-6, Unibet)
Lazio v Milan (2pm)
According to Gazzetta dello Sport’s figures, Milan spent €63m to sign André Silva and Nikola Kalinic this summer. And yet both players now find themselves stuck behind a teenager who happens to wear the No.63 shirt. Between Serie A and the Europa League, Patrick Cutrone has already scored four times for the Rossoneri this season and on Monday added a goal for Italy’s Under-21s as well.
Behind him the rest of this reconstructed team looks to be coming together nicely. Suso, one of few holdovers from last season, has helped things along with sparkling performances on the right flan but the willingness of both new full-backs – Andrea Conti and Ricardo Rodriguez – to get forward has lent this team fresh width in Vincenzo Montella’s 4-3-3.
Lazio too have played well though they do feel light on goalscorers now Keita has departed. That truth was in evidence as they failed to break down SPAL on the opening weekend. They did add Nani on deadline day but he is not yet match fit and will play no part against Milan. Felipe Anderson remains out, leaving Ciro Immobile as the main threat to the Rossoneri’s back-line.
Will that be enough to break through against opponents benefiting hugely from Leonardo Bonucci’s leadership? Lazio’s manager Simone Inzaghi has got a lot right since taking charge last April but his record in the biggest games still lags a little bit behind.
- Correct Score: Lazio 1, Milan 2 (19-2, Unibet)
- First scorer: Patrick Cutrone (13-2, Unibet)
- Safe bet: Milan draw no bet: away win (11-10, Unibet)
Anglo-Italian Paolo Bandini writes about Italian football for the Guardian and his tips appear here thanks to our football partner at MrFixitsTips, Unibet. They're making a big splash in the UK betting scene and if you join them today you can claim up to £30 in Welcome Bonuses when you deposit and place your first bet.