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. He runs the rule over Saturday's Serie A action.
Juventus v Lazio (Saturday 5pm)
Massimiliano Allegri has had a long fortnight to contemplate what went wrong in Juventus’s 2-2 draw with Atalanta. He has not had much chance to work on any solutions with his players, however, with 14 members of the first-team squad disappearing on international duty.
What shape will they return in? Paulo Dybala did not play a single minute of Argentina’s qualifiers against Peru and Ecuador, but he did travel more than 15,000 miles by plane and will barely have had a chance to train with his club-mates again before playing on Saturday night. Alex Sandro, Juan Cuadrado and Rodrigo Bentancur have likewise all been to South America and back again.
The Bianconeri were already missing Miralem Pjanic through injury, hardly ideal for a match against opponents who already beat them in August’s Supercoppa. Lazio have started their Serie A campaign brightly since then too. Their only defeat came at home to Napoli, and they have not trailed at any stage in their three away matches so far.
Then again, those games were against Chievo, Genoa and Verona. And Lazio are also without a few important pieces of their own. Felipe Anderson has not played all season, but injuries to wing-backs Dusan Basta and Jordan Lukaku will be keenly felt.
Can Juventus take advantage of any weaknesses down the flanks? Allegri will have the fresh legs of Douglas Costa to unleash after the player failed to receive a call-up from Brazil. In any case, it would take a bold soul to doubt a Juventus side that has steamrolled all-comers so far at home.
- Correct Score: Juventus 3, Lazio 1 (23-2, Unibet)
- First scorer: Douglas Costa (24-5, Unibet)
- Juventus win (53-100, Unibet)
Roma v Napoli (Saturday 7.45pm)
Seven games, and seven wins. Napoli are yet to put a foot wrong in this Serie A season, but emerging from the Stadio Olimpico with their perfect record intact really would serve as a statement of intent.
Roma have not always impressed under new manager Eusebio Di Francesco, but they have won five out of six. They have also scored in 27 consecutive league games dating back to last season.
The Giallorossi will not be at full-strength. Kevin Strootman has a thigh injury, and Stephan El Shaarawy suffered a strain while away on international duty. Whether the latter player would have had a place in the starting XI is, admittedly, open to debate, after Alessandro Florenzi marked his return to the forward line with a goal against Milan.
His role here will be crucial. Roma will hope to control the game in midfield – deploying the muscularity of Radja Nainggolan and Daniele De Rossi to keep the ball away from their opponents as much as possible. What they cannot afford to do, though, is bank on a clean sheet. Napoli have scored at least three times in every match so far.
And so the question becomes whether or not they can keep up if this becomes a shootout. The greatest burden will fall on the shoulders of Edin Dzeko – whose seven goals account for half of Roma’s total. It will be up to Florenzi, though, as well as Diego Perotti on the opposite flank, to make sure the Bosnian is not left to go it alone.
- Correct Score: Roma 2, Napoli 2 (19-2, Unibet)
- First scorer: Edin Dzeko (11-2, Unibet)
- Over 2.5 goals (57-100, 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.