The European football season is heading into the final furlong and Mark O’Haire peruses the markets across the continent whilst picking out his favourite fancy from midweek.
The Premier League came to a conclusion on Sunday but the mainstream European season still has another 10 days to run.
On Wednesday night I’ll be pinning my focus upon the Coppa Italia final from Rome where Atalanta are looking to cap off a marvellous campaign with an unexpected trophy against the more illustrious Lazio in the Italian capital.
Back La Dea To Deliver Famous Victory
Lazio effectively enjoy home advantage in Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia final from the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, but Atalanta are the side that tick all the boxes from a punting perspective. La Dea are on the verge of securing Champions League qualification in Serie A following a stupendous season and are worthy of our support in the Asian Handicap market.
Gian Piero Gasperini has worked miracles to put the Bergamo outfit in contention for silverware. Atalanta boast only one major trophy in the cabinet – the Coppa Italia from way back in 1963 – but the Nerazzurri are in prime position to end that barren streak having already ousted all-conquering Juventus over two legs at the quarter-final stage.
Atalanta are Italy’s great entertainers. But Gasperini’s group have substance to add to their scintillating style, and there’s a fair argument to be had that La Dea have been Serie A’s best performer since October’s international break.
A slow start to the season was expected from the Bergamo boys. Being a smaller fish in a big pond, Atalanta often see their leading lights pinched and last summer was no different. However, Gasperini’s found a formula to improve and enhance this likeable club once more and La Dea have gone from strength-to-strength.
Indeed, Atalanta have returned W18-D5-L5 since October’s international break – a 2.11 points-per-game average – a quite staggering effort for such a modest club. The underdogs have struck at least twice in 19 of those 28 fixtures and notched three goals or more on 11 occasions. And those goals figures are backed up by the underlying numbers.
No Serie A side fires in more shots from inside the penalty area generates a larger Expected Goals (xG) figure or produces a better xG from open play return. La Dea require four points from their final two Serie A outings to guarantee Champions League football next season and they come into this contest with recent pedigree for seeing off Lazio.
Gasperini’s charges were convincing 3-1 winners here against Lazio just 10 days ago and followed that success up with a home victory over Genoa at the weekend despite missing the suspended Papu Gomez, Andrea Masiello and Gianluca Mancini. All three should return to their thrilling 3-4-2-1 system that caused Lazio so many issues last time they met.
I’m delighted we’re able to support the Nerazzurri off a scratch 0.0 start at 1.98 as the ‘away’ side will have no concerns about their role as underdogs.
The visitors arrive in the capital having W9-D4-L0 in their last 13 encounters, bagged eight triumphs from 11 on their travels since Christmas and lost just once in eight on the road at the top-half teams in Serie A.
Lazio have pocketed a sole success in nine when welcoming top-half teams this term to the Olimpico. That victory came in the derby and happened to be Eusebio Di Francesco’s final stand in Serie A as Roma boss; it was supposed to spark the Biancocelesti’s campaign but they’ve continued to be a model of inconsistency in the league.
Simone Inzaghi’s constant tinkering with formation and personnel hasn’t helped and Le Aquile followed their famous derby win with just W5-D2-L4. That includes a woeful home reverse to rock-bottom Chievo, a concerning outcome considering Lazio have secured eight of their nine home successes this season against bottom-half teams.
Lazio’s inferiority complex against Italy’s elite is nothing new under Simeone.
The Biancocelesti have managed only seven victories in 27 here against the top-half in Serie A under his watch – a 26% win rate – recording only three clean sheets. Le Aquile are a very capable team on their day, but it’s hard to get on board with the Romans as favourites here.
- Atalanta +0.0 – 4 units @ 1.98
Mark O’Haire joins Sully to preview the best bets from Saturday’s showpiece from Wembley as Man City take on Watford with an unprecedented domestic treble on the line.