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Juventus has won each of its last four games against Chievo and one is predicting that the Italian Serie A champion will kick off its title defence with a fifth straight series win.
As one noted in another recent piece, Juventus may be under new management but it won last season’s Italian Serie A by 17 points with a record points tally. Massimiliano Allegri will have to have a hugely negative impact on Juve – and he is an Italian Serie A-winning coach so the likelihood of that is slim – for the rest of the teams to catch up.
Juventus has travelled the world playing pre-season matches, the toughest of which was its game against the Alessandro del Piero-captained Australian A-League All Stars. Juve won 3-2 but it played only in patches. Importantly, Juve scored pretty much every time that it upped its tempo, including twice in the last few minutes after Del Piero had departed.
Chievo’s pre-season campaign has been disastrous and it did not get any better for the Verona-based side when it played Italian Serie B team Pescara in the cup, going down 0-1.
Juventus won 33 of its 38 Italian Serie A matches last term, including a 2-1 away victory over Chievo. With some Italian Serie A pundits writing Juve’s obituary, which is silly, one thinks that Allegri’s side will want to make a statement in the opening round of the championship. Juve is available at odds of -175 with Coral, Paddy Power,and Sky Bet to accrue three points from the first of the competition’s 380 games.
There was just one draw in the opening round of Italian Serie A action last season – Parma and Chievo drew 0-0 – but one likes the odds about a couple of this term’s curtain raisers resulting in one point apiece for the participants.
Both Roma and Fiorentina ran into Real Madrid during their respective pre-season campaigns and, based on those results, there is little to choose between the teams. Roma beat Real Madrid 1-0 during the International Champions Cup event in North America – Francesco Totti scored the only goal of the game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas – and Fiorentina triumphed 2-1 over the UEFA Champions League winner in Poland.
Neither Roma nor Fiorentina would have been happy with its Italian Serie A opener when officials published the draw and one thinks that scheduling such a big match for the first round may result in a tight game where not losing is more important than winning, hence one’s interest in the draw.
Milan against Lazio is the other Italian Serie A match in which one thinks that the draw is overpriced, primarily because Milan does not deserve to be trading at odds on with many bookmakers given its pre-season form and novice boss.
Filippo Inzaghi has stepped up from coaching Milan’s youth side and only time will tell if Milan owner, former Italy prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi has made yet another regrettable appointment. But the early signs are not good.
Milan played in the aforementioned International Champions Cup and it lost each of its three games – 0-2 to Liverpool, 1-5 to Manchester City and 0-3 to Olympiakos. Factor in that Milan failed to defeat Lazio in Italian Serie A last term – both matches finished 1-1 – and Mario Balotelli has left for greener pastures and one cannot understand why bookmakers are so reluctant to lay the San Siro side on Sunday. William Hill is offering odds of +250 that Milan and Lazio share the Italian Serie A spoils. Punish it for liking Milan so much.
Milan v Lazio – Draw
31st August 17:00 GMT
Where to Bet: William Hill
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