Form Labs Weekender

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Lazio v Milan - Monday 19:45, BT Europe

There aren’t a lot of high profile games around Europe this weekend but two of the biggest names do square off in Italy in what is starting to look like a fight to finish fourth. Lazio currently hold that position but are certainly not out of the podium fight, with just a five point gap to Napoli in third ahead of this round (Napoli play Friday night and will probably extend that advantage before this game happens). Milan, meanwhile, are just two points further back in 7th.

These sides finished 8th and 7th last season so on the face of it there isn’t much between them, and you might think Lazio’s price of 1.8 is a bit skinny. However, there are good reasons to think that is not the case. In the previous two campaigns Lazio won nine of 16 home matches against teams that finished 3rd-11th and while they lost the other seven it’s worth noting that seven of their wins were by more than one goal. This season they are on a run of six wins from their last eight home matches and while the most recent of those matches was a defeat, they bounced back to thrash Pescara 6-2 on the road last weekend.

So we know the home side is more than capable of bagging a few goals and winning these sort of matches. However, the main reasons they are good value on Monday are to do with Milan’s form and team news. Milan won despite being reduced to nine men in midweek but that came at a cost as Gabriel Paletta is now suspended and Alessio Romagnoli looks likely to miss out through injury having limped off. Those are Milan’s two first choice centre-backs and the alternatives of Gustavo Gomez and Cristian Zapata have never started together in the league. They are already down to third choice left-back Leonel Vangioni, while central midfield is missing all of Montolivo, Bonaventura and Kucka. They’ve scored just 12 times in the 11 games Bonaventura has failed to start since the beginning of last season.

Milan have won five of 11 away games this season but Sampdoria, who are now 10th, are the highest placed of those victims, and they’ve lost both trips to teams currently above them. Furthermore, their recent form, regardless of venue, is W2-D2-L4 in their last eight matches, during which they’ve scored a paltry six times. Given all their problems at the back, and a dangerous opponent, that spells big trouble.

Milan have gone W1-D6-L11 away to top-eight finishers in the past two campaigns and teams currently in those spots this term and Lazio look ready to inflict more misery on the Rossoneri. Back them to win at 1.75 but it’s also worth taking them to cover the -1 Handicap at 3.3.

Weekend Team News Analysis

Osasuna v Real Madrid

Roberto Torres (AM) and Miguel Flano (CB), Osasuna

Osasuna continue to miss important defenders with both Flano twins and first choice keeper Nauzet Perez injured. They’ve conceded 17 times in the current seven game run without captain Miguel Flano – which has included four matches against the current bottom-seven. Torres, meanwhile, is suspended and he’s their second highest scorer this season as well as chipping in with a couple of goals. They’ve picked up only two points from the six matches he’s missed this season.

Real are yet to travel to a bottom-six side this term but have won 11 of 12 unbeaten trips to such opposition in the previous two season, netting on average 3.3 goals per game. What's more, in their last 14 matches against Real and Barcelona going back to 2011/12, Osasuna have conceded at least four on eight occasions. Given their absentees, we’re backing Over 3.5 Real Madrid Goals at 3.1.

Inter v Empoli

Ivan Perisic (LW) and Mauro Icardi (FW), Inter

Inter’s two leading scorers this season are both suspended this week. Icardi has played every game this season but last term they scored only 10 times in the nine matches he missed, which included three 1-0 wins in their four home games (the other was a 2-1 win).

Inter have won their last seven at the San Siro, keeping clean sheets in three of the last four. Indeed, they’ve played three bottom-five sides during that run, beating Crotone and Pescara 3-0 and Genoa 2-0. Empoli are comfortably the lowest scoring side in the division as they’ve netted only 14 goals in their 23 games, failing to score in eight of their road games. They’ve lost 2-0 at both Napoli and Lazio and with Inter’s attacking absentees we’re backing the home win and Under 2.5 Goals at 3.4.

Cagliari v Juventus

Luca Ceppitelli (CB), Cagliari

Ceppitelli has only missed four games this season but Cagliari have conceded 12 times in those, including at least twice in each.

Juve have won without conceding in three of their four trips to bottom-six sides this term while Cagliari were thumped 5-0 by Napoli the last time one of the big boys came to town. We’re backing Juve to cover the -2 handicap at 3.75.

Fancy the three bets above? It's a 35/1 treble that they all come in!

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