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 he previews two key Sunday games with Juventus travelling to Sampdoria and Inter Milan hosting Atalanta.
Sampdoria v Juventus (Sun 2pm)
The focus was all on Gigi Buffon as he returned to training with Juventus. He retired from international football in the wake of Italy’s loss to Sweden, but he is not done at club level just yet.
The Champions League is the trophy Buffon covets most, but he also has a chance to become the first player ever to win nine Serie A titles, as well the league’s all-time appearance record holder.
For the latter target, he would need to play in 21 of Juve’s remaining 26 fixtures. For the former, he must simply keep his team on its winning trend. The Bianconeri have won four straight in the league since an early October wobble.
That said, this is a tricky fixture. Samp have taken maximum points at home, beating Milan and Atalanta along the way.
Key players such as Fabio Quagliarella and Lucas Torreira were also able to stay home and rest during the international break – a luxury afforded to few at Juventus (although Gonzalo Higuaín remains a notable exception).
At least the end of World Cup qualifying reduced travel demands on some of the Old Lady’s South American contingent.
Paulo Dybala went to Moscow and Krasnodar with Argentina, but he had voyaged much further during recent international pauses.
Juan Cuadrado had to go to Korea and China for Colombia’s friendlies, but so did Sampdoria’s Duvan Zapata.
- Sampdoria 2, Juventus 2 (15-1, Unibet)
- Higuain to score first (27-10, Unibet)
- Both teams to score (83-100, Unibet)
Inter Milan v Atalanta (Sun 7.45pm)
Eight months have passed since Inter thrashed Atalanta 7-1 at San Siro. That rout was something of an illusion: a one-off result which did not reflect either team’s performances over the course of the season.
Atalanta would finish fourth, claiming a Europa League spot, while Inter were 10 points further back in seventh.
So what happens now that the form is reversed? Inter are unbeaten after 12 games under Luciano Spalletti, who can boast fresh players such as Milan Skriniar and Borja Valero, but more importantly has moulded this squad into a coherent group.
Even he does not appear sure of his best first-choice midfield, yet his team continues to thrive in almost any combination.
Atalanta, by contrast, have found their thin squad stretched by the additional demands of a European campaign. Fewer of their players than Inter’s have been involved in international football over the past fortnight, however, so this might not be the ideal moment to play them.
Papu Gómez did feature in Argentina’s friendlies against Russia and Nigeria, but the likes of Rafael Tolói, Mattia Caldara and Andrea Petagna will be well-rested.
That said, a suspension to Remo Freuler, a key component in central midfield, ought not to be underestimated.
- Inter 1, Atalanta 1 (13-2, Unibet)
- Icardi to score first (31-10, Unibet)
- Goal in both halves – no (32-25, 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.