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The Milanese hitman Rafael Leao
Free soccer tips, best bets and analysis for Thursday’s Italian Serie A matches.
Where to look
Lazio vs. Empoli
BT Sport 1, 1:30 p.m. Thursday
Sassuolo vs. Genoa
BT Sport 3, 3:30 p.m. Thursday
Milan vs Rome
BT Sport 1, 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Empoli or double chance draw
1pt 11-8 BoyleSports
More than 3.5 goals in Lazio – Empoli
1pt 11-8 Betfair
Sassuolo wins and both teams score
1pt 21-10 bet365, Betfred, BoyleSports
2pts 21-20 general
Serie A preview
Serie A returns from its Christmas vacation with punters looking through the haze of Covid cases, Afcon calls and good old-fashioned injuries and suspensions before determining if there is value to be found on the first coupon of 2022.
Two massive games – Juventus v Napoli and Milan v Rome – are disease-permissible star attractions, while 3-10 title leaders and favorites Inter have a long chance of retaining their advantage with a win in Bologna.
Milan vs Rome
Milan were generously hailed as true Serie A contenders by many commentators after signing for the Christmas mini-break with a 4-2 win at Empoli, a victory that brought them four points behind their league rivals. city, Inter.
The victory came amid an injury crisis at San Siro and Stefano Pioli has to be backed up by the news that many of these pals are back in training, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rafael Leao, Davide Calabria and even Ante. Rebic, although home the clash with the Roma may be too early for the Croatian aviator.
There is a reshuffle to be made in the Milan midfielder – Ismael Bennacer and Franck Kessie are in Cameroon so Radi Krunic can expect a call-up – but the confidence is high and they can get the better of Jose Mourinho’s men.
Roma’s last away game was a remarkable 4-1 victory over Atalanta, but they took a possible 12 point from the other four teams above them in the standings and were beaten 2- 1 at home by Milan in October. They also had four positive Covid tests.
Lazio vs. Empoli
It won’t be one of the big titles in the 2021-22 Serie A season, but Empoli’s away form is emerging as a thing of beauty.
They might be in the middle of the table, but five wins in nine road trips are noteworthy and after proving they have the style and the staff to be able to go to Juventus and Napoli and score wins, they can at the very least avoid defeat in Rome.
Their 4-2 loss to Milan in December ended a five-game unbeaten streak and they have failed to find the net against Inter in their last 12 appearances.
On the other hand, Lazio – the only club not to report a positive Covid case until Wednesday morning – are solid at home and hope to welcome top scorer Ciro Immobile again with a knee problem.
Another bet to consider in this game is over 3.5 goals given that Empoli’s defense kept only one clean sheet in 14 and Lazio’s games scored 3.8 goals per league-leading game. Twelve of their 19 matches have resulted in four or more.
Sassuolo vs. Genoa
Predicting that both teams will score when Genoa is involved may seem odd, but Sassuolo’s defense gives any team a chance.
Sassuolo has not kept his clean sheet since a 1-0 win over Salernitana in late September. By the way, each of their 13 games since that win has netted three, four or five goals.
They’ve lost their habit of winning, but only lost three of their last 12 games, so even though they’re closer to the bottom six than the top six, they don’t care about the world the possibility of a relegation.
Genoa are in a very different situation and need to improve, otherwise their grip on top-level football will not last long.
Garbage before Andrei Shevchenko was appointed head coach in November, it actually got worse – at least statistically – with two out of 21 possible points under the Ukrainian.
They only managed one shot on goal against Atalanta last time around, but need to be more aggressive in Sassuolo where they can hardly afford to fall without a fight. They may very well lose, but at least support them to get on the scoresheet.
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FIRST PUBLISHED AT 4:00 PM, JANUARY 5, 2022