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Football | Tuesday, September 19, 2023 11:03 AM (Revised at: Thursday, September 21, 2023 11:17 AM)

Early Bird Tips for Serie A: Surprises, goals and a new man in charge?

Early Bird Tips for Serie A: Surprises, goals and a new man in charge?
IMAGO / Marco Canoniero Lautaro Martinez of Fc Internazionale celebrates after teammate Henrikh Mkhitaryan scores the first goal during the Serie A football match

As seven Italian teams are featuring in European competitions this week, starting with Milan vs Newcastle United, I’ve decided to focus the Early Bird Tips for Serie A on clubs who will have the full week to prepare, albeit one.

For Daniele Fisichella’s Serie A selections this week, he’s taking you to Salento, where Lecce host Genoa, who have taken points from last season’s top two teams, Emilia-Romagna, as Juventus could inflict more pain on Sassuolo, and finally to Tuscany for a Sunday lunch-time match where the bottom club Empoli face the leaders, Inter Milan.

Acca odds: 4.47

Odds via bet365 as at 5pm Monday, August 28th. Odds may now differ.

Lecce vs Genoa: an early relegation six-pointers

Italy, Serie A, Friday, September, 22nd, 7:45pm (UK)

Few would have expected such a good start to the campaign from both sides.

The Salentini look completely transformed under Roberto D’Aversa: they’re unbeaten and have scored seven goals already (new signing Nikola Krstovic has contributed to three), whereas last season, they averaged less than a goal x game (33 in 38 encounters).

But don’t get fooled by these numbers. Lecce are not an expansive, attacking side. They seemed to have become smarter at making the most of the few opportunities they get during games, mostly quick transitions and counter-attacks.

They’re eighth in Italy for shots taken despite averaging just over 23 minutes of ball possession per game (only Verona, Cagliari, and Genoa are keeping the ball less well).

The hosts have been a touch lucky, too (Monza, at the weekend, should have scored at least twice after Federico Baschirotto got sent off), whereas Genoa probably deserved more than a point against Napoli at Marassi.

Alberto Gilardino’s side showed great character and limited the champions to very few shots before the hour mark. With Gudmunson and Malinovsky behind Retegui (already two goals this season), they look a threat, and I feel they’ll be able to climb the Serie A table quickly.

Neither side is in desperate need of a win, and this could result in a slightly cagey game: Lecce only won three home matches last season (as they scored more than one goal at the Via del Mare only on four occasions). On the other hand, both of Genoa’s away games this campaign have ended 1-0.

  • Selection: Under 3.5 Goals
  • Best Odds: 1.30
  • Bookmaker: bet365

Sassuolo vs Juventus: Bianconeri could fly without midweek games

Italy, Serie A, Saturday, September, 23rd, 5pm (UK)

Inter Milan’s emphatic win in the derby perhaps overshadowed Max Allegri’s men’s performance against Lazio. In their 3-1 win last Saturday Juventus showed great aggression and excellent pressing: they preferred to leave the ball to the Biancocelesti (over 63% possession for Maurizio Sarri’s men, but less shots on target than the Bianconeri), but when they had it they were quick and decisive.

Dusan Vlahovic’s brace (four goals for the Serbian in four matches) was a beauty, as he took two ferocious shots with his ‘weak’ right foot. Federico Chiesa looks completely recovered from his injury and Manuel Locatelli is growing into the role of playmaker.

Since last season the Bianconeri have won 11 away games without conceding and on Saturday they pay a visit to Sassuolo that, as always, look unpredictable and shaky at the back.

The Neroverdi haven’t kept a clean sheet in the last 13 games; in fact since they beat Juventus 1-0 in mid-April. Against Frosinone they squandered a two-goals lead and, in the end, they got soundly beaten. In Serie A, Alessio Dionisi’s side have only won two out of their last 15 games.

  • Selection: Juventus -0.25 Asian Handicap
  • Best Odds: 1.68
  • Bookmaker: bet365

Empoli vs Inter Milan: Barella and Co might turn the screw on desperate hosts

Italy, Serie A, Sunday, September, 24th, 11:30am (UK)

By the time you read this piece, Empoli might have already sacked manager Paolo Zanetti. Empoli looked hapless at the weekend when, after eight minutes, they had already conceded twice against Roma. The Tuscans are a young side with some promising players (Tommaso Baldanzi, above all, who inexplicably did not start Sunday’s game), but so far, they have looked too soft at the back and without a gameplan.

The fixture list has not been kind with Empoli, who are now facing Inter Milan after they played Juventus and Roma, but the numbers don’t lie: they couldn’t score (although they hit the post/bar three times) and conceded 12. Can they turn it around? Their hope is that Inter Milan will be slightly tired after a tough test in the Champions League against Real Sociedad.

However, the Nerazzurri possess such a deep and talented squad and should not be too bothered by two games in quick succession at this stage of the season.

Simone Inzaghi will make at least four changes to the XI that dismantled AC Milan, and the likes of Marko Arnautovic, Carlos Augusto and David Frattesi are all eager to take their chance. Inter’s confidence has never been higher, and they’ve won six of their last seven games against Empoli: all their previous three trips to the Castellani have ended with a comfortable win to nil.

  • Selection: Inter -1.5 Asian Handicap
  • Best Odds: 2.05
  • Bookmaker: bet365

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