WE'VE sealed another stellar signing for the season 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 he previews two Sunday matches.
Verona v Roma (Sun 11am)
The transfer window has closed, and Edin Dzeko is still a Roma player. That’s the good news for the Giallorossi, but otherwise the outlook is still grim. This team has collected three points from its last six Serie A games, sliding to fifth in the table and inviting Sampdoria back into the Champions League race with a 1-0 home defeat last weekend.
Spoorting director Monchi sought to deflect the blame onto himself, insisting that he must be culpable as the man who has orchestrated Roma’s transfer policy. Noble though his words were, players cannot be absolved so easily. Roma have more than enough talent to expect better results than we have seen lately.
You might even argue that they have played well enough. The statistic which damns this Roma team is not possession or chance creation but simply its finishing. They have converted just six percent of their shots since the start of December: the worst such figure for any team in Serie A.
An optimist would say that they are due some breaks in front of goal. It is quite plausible that the uncertainty over Dzeko’s future has damaged his form, as well as the team’s. There will be chances to get back on track against Serie A’s second-leakiest defence, but victory is not a certainty. Verona showed a ruthlessness that Roma have lacked as they pulled off a stunning 4-1 win at Fiorentina last weekend.
- Verona 1, Roma 3 (19-2, Unibet)
- El Shaaraway to score first (22-5, Unibet)
- Both teams to score (73-100, Unibet)
Udinese v Milan (Sun 2.30pm)
Although they failed to make it two wins in four days over Lazio, Milan did come pretty close. By far the best chance of Wednesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final first leg at San Siro fell to Hakan Calhanoglu – who blasted wide with the goal at his mercy.
The match finished 0-0, and the Rossoneri deserve credit for keeping Serie A’s most prolific side to just a single goal in 180 minutes between this and the preceding league fixture.
There was further evidence, too, across the two games of Patrick Cutrone’s growing confidence. The 20-year-old scored the opener last weekend and it was his header – parried into the middle of the area by Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha – that created the chance for Calhanoglu.
On paper, Cutrone would appear to be a strong candidate for another lead role against Udinese: who will be missing one-third of their starting defence due to Samir’s suspension. Yet reports in Milan suggest that the Milan striker will begin this game on the bench – as he did in the cup – making room for Nikola Kalinic.
That would be a perplexing move, and potentially a damaging one against opponents who have lost only one out of nine league games since the start of December. Milan have made big strides in recent weeks, but now is not the moment to get complacent – especially when playing on such a short turnaround.
- Udinese 2, Milan 1 (10-1, Unibet)
- Lasagna to score first (13-2, Unibet)
- Draw no bet first half, Udinese 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.