Midweek Matters as ever and Mark O’Haire returns with two bets from Serie A.
It was nice to see Celtic and Atalanta deliver the goods on Sunday, overcoming their Asian Handicap hurdles to deliver profit for this column. My podcast selection of West Ham didn’t go quite so well; the Hammers still looked to be enjoying the international break and I’ll think twice before nailing my colours to the Claret & Blue mast again anytime soon.
The final furlong of the 2018/19 campaign is now upon us and there’s plenty of midweek league football from across Europe to enjoy. I’ve found two fancies I’m keen to support.
Old Lady Too Big To Ignore
Juventus’ almost-unassailable advantage at the top of Serie A was eroded to 15 points before the international break as the Old Lady fell to a first defeat of the 2018/19 league campaign at Genoa. Max Allegri’s men failed to impress again this weekend, taking until the 72nd minute to break the deadlock through substitute Moise Kean in a 1-0 win over Empoli.
Kean – capped by Italy in March – has now notched five goals in his last six appearances for club and country, thriving in his role as Juventus’ reserve firepower. The Bianconeri have been resting and rotating their squad with a Champions League quarter-final on the cards next week and players such as Kean are again expected to fill in on Tuesday night in Cagliari.
Even so, Juve are simply too big to ignore at 1.93 quotes to overcome a -0.50 Asian Handicap hurdle in Sardinia this midweek. The visitors have taken top honours in 15 of their 18 encounters against bottom-half opposition this term, nine of which were sealed by a margin of two goals or more.
Allegri’s outfit have registered eight victories from nine unbeaten contests with Cagliari since 2013/14 and they should be well capable of enhancing that return here despite the expected alterations.
Cagliari may have claimed four triumphs from their last six to cement their place in Serie A next season but the Rossoblu remain vulnerable when taking on the division’s leading lights. The Sardinians have managed only W2-D2-L17 against top-six Serie A sides since the start of last season, whilst performance data marks the hosts out as bottom-three material.
Head coach Rolando Maran is accustomed to overperforming with unheralded underdogs, although his game-plan is often limited, focussed upon containment and Juventus certainly have the ability to find Cagliari’s flaws on Tuesday evening.
Milan Can Dominate Zebrette
Back-to-back defeats before and after the international break has put Milan on the back foot in the race for Champions League qualification. The Rossoneri still occupy fourth, but Atalanta and Lazio have closed to within striking distance and Gennaro Gattuso’s group will know that anything but maximum points against Udinese on Tuesday night is a must.
Defeat in the derby hit Milan hard and they were sluggish when losing at Sampdoria on Saturday. Nevertheless, the hosts racked up W7-D2-L0 in their previous nine outings, with the stalemates arriving against fellow high-flyers Napoli and Roma. In fact, the Rossoneri have W11-D4-L0 against the bottom-half in 2018/19, a record that commands respect.
Udinese picked up a vital victory over Genoa at the weekend to ease relegation fears in Igor Tudor’s first game in charge. However, the Zebrette have endured plenty of problems picking up points on their travels this term (W1-D4-L8) with their sole success coming at rock-bottom Chievo. The guests have often toiled when travelling to the big guns.
The visitors have lost all but one of their nine trips to top-six outfits since the start of last season – with six of these by at least two clear strikes. Looking at 2018/19 in isolation, Udinese have W0-D0-L6 at the top-half by an aggregate 3-15, whilst only Frosinone and Chievo have netted fewer goals on the road.
Milan aren’t renowned for slicing and dicing opponents under Gattuso’s watch, although the January additions of Lucas Paqueta and Krzysztof Piatek has bolstered the Rossoneri’s forward-thinking options, and with likes of Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu also available, the hosts have enough punch to pocket a -1.5 Asian Handicap pay-out at 2.44 on Tuesday.
- Juventus -0.5 – 3 units @ 1.93
- Milan -1.5 – 2 units @ 2.44