Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire returns to share his favourite fancies from the weekend’s European action with Italy and France taking centre-stage.
Genoa’s transformed fortunes can be directly attributed to the appointment of Davide Ballardini.
The 57-year-old, in his fourth spell with the Grifone, was parachuted into the hot-seat after a disastrous start to the Serie A season under Rolando Maran, in which the Rossoblu earned only seven points from their opening 13 league fixtures.
The following 15 matches have returned 24 points (W6-D6-L3) with Genoa cruising close to mid-table safety. Despite a nine-point cushion over the dreaded drop-zone, Ballardini – who performed a similar rescue mission in 2018 with the Grifone – will be well aware the Liguria outfit cannot afford to rest on their laurels just yet
I’m surprised to see the Rossoblu rated as underdogs at home to Fiorentina this weekend.
That trio of aforementioned losses has come against high-flyers Inter, Roma and Sassuolo. The hosts come into this contest unbeaten at the Marassi since Juventus pitched up here in December, before Ballardini’s arrival.
Genoa have suffered only four defeats in 17 meetings with teams starting the weekend in ninth and below and have managed to match defensive pragmatism with a flash of flair in forward areas that defies their unsexy performance data. For example, pulling Ivan Radovanovic out of midfield to play at the centre of a back three has proven a masterstroke.
Ballardini has been helped, too, by the January signing of Kevin Strootman, who looks more at home already back in Serie A than he did for most of his Ligue 1 stay. Meanwhile, Matteo Destro’s form alongside the physically imposing Eldor Shomurodov has put the former Italy international into contention for a return to the Azzurri squad for Euro 2020.
Visitors Fiorentina brought Beppe Iachini back to the club during the international break following Cesare Prandelli’s resignation for personal reasons. Various reports have suggested the Viola squad were saddened by the departure and it’s difficult to know what effect the past fortnight may have on the Florence club in the immediate future.
It’s hard to justify Fiorentina at such a short price considering the evidence at hand.
The Viola have tabled only seven triumphs across the whole Serie A campaign, and just twice picked up maximum points in 13 games as guests.
The visitors have registered a measly six clean sheets in league football and that sort of defensive efforts always adds extra pressure on a pre-match favourite to deliver, especially so considering Genoa have only failed to score once on home soil in 2020/21.
With an expected home goal incoming, I’m therefore happy to have the Grifone onside.
Supporting Genoa with a +0.25 Asian Handicap start, we’ll make money should the hosts avoid defeat at the Marassi, collecting a half-stakes win should the match end all-square and a full-stakes pay-out should Ballardini’s boys earn top honours.
Dijon Not Cutting The Mustard
Marseille have endured a maddeningly inconsistent campaign and are nowhere near securing pre-season aims of Champions League qualification. With Andre Villas-Boas departing mid-season and various off-the-field issues afflicting the famous French club, chaos has never been too far away from OM.
Nevertheless, the exciting arrival of Jorge Sampaoli as Les Olympiens new head coach earlier this year has given supporters fresh hope, and the team a degree of direction and impetus that was worryingly absent through the winter.
Results have remained a little hit-and-miss but Ligue 1 watchers can already see signs of progress from Marseille.
Rennes and Brest have both been downed at the Stade Velodrome under Sampaoli and OM should be more than capable of making it three wins from three when they welcome rock-bottom Dijon this weekend. And I’m happy to support the hosts clearing a -1 Asian Handicap hurdle ahead of Sunday’s showdown.
Dijon are 14 points adrift of safety and arrive on the back of a 10-game losing streak.
Les Hiboux have managed two wins all season, and have been beaten in 19 of 30 fixtures, including nine of 10 against top-six teams. The away side have conceded 1.7 goals on average and rank bottom across almost every possible metric.
The Dijon hierarchy are already planning for Ligue 2 next term and Marseille have enough class to secure a cushy home success against their doomed opponents.
- Genoa +0.0/0.5 – 2 units @ 1.81
- Marseille -1.0 – 2 units @ 1.9
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