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.
Benevento v Milan (Sun 11.30am)
Gennaro Gattuso could hardly have asked for a more accommodating opponent for his first match in charge of Milan. Fourteen games into their first Serie A season, Benevento remain without a point.
Still, the Rossoneri would do well not to take them too lightly: all of their last three defeats have been by a one-goal margin, and they have travelled to both Juventus and Atalanta in that stretch.
Not that Gattuso is known for going easy under any circumstance. His persona has not changed from his playing days, and it is a safe bet that Milan under his charge will be called on to play with greater aggression. As coach of the academy side he typically sent his teams out in a 3-4-3, and deployed an up-tempo high press.
A similar formation is expected this weekend, though questions abound regarding the likely personnel. Will Gattuso bend to the will of fans who would prefer to see André Silva and Patrick Cutrone given opportunities ahead of Nikola Kalinic up front? Which two out of Riccardo Montolivo, Lucas Biglia and Franck Kessie will start in midfield?
Against such modest opposition, he has an opportunity to experiment. But with Milan already 11 points outside the Champions League places (and fourth-placed Roma have a game in hand), he needs to get this team up and running fast.
- Benevento 1, Milan 3 (19-2, Unibet)
- Suso to score first (9-2, Unibet)
- Both teams to score (93-100, Unibet)
Sampdoria v Lazio (Sun 11.30am)
What a perplexing team Sampdoria are. Marco Giampaolo’s side have shown that they are capable of hanging with the big boys this season – beating Juventus, Milan and Atalanta at Marassi – yet their meltdowns away from home have been spectacular. Beaten 4-0 by Udinese in late September, they followed that up by losing 3-0 to Bologna last weekend.
They will be back in front of their own fans this weekend, and might be running into Lazio at a good moment. The Biancocelesti have not won any of their last three matches. Could it be that midseason fatigue is already setting in? If Wallace shakes off a calf bruise to start on Sunday, then Lazio are expected to line up with the same starting XI for the seventh consecutive league game.
There is some concern, too, regarding the form of Ciro Immobile. Whilst he remains the league’s joint-top scorer, the centre-forward has not struck in open play for more than a month. Has his confidence been dented by Italy’s lost World Cup play-off? Immobile was one of the players used most consistently by Giampiero Ventura with the national team.
Sampdoria might have to do without Karol Linetty in midfield, after he picked up a muscle strain. Otherwise, they are close to full strength. In front of their own fans, we ought to see them back at their best.
- Sampdoria 2, Lazio 0 (18-1, Unibet)
- Quagliarella to score first (11-2, Unibet)
- Samp draw no bet (163-100, 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.