There are 12 games to go in the 2008/09 Serie A season and time is running out for those punters who are expecting the Scudetto to change hands. Inter Milan, winners of the title for the last three seasons, hold a seven point advantage over second-placed Juventus.
Juve’s backers will have identified week 27 as a key opportunity for closing the gap. Inter travel to Champions League place-chasing Genoa, unbeaten at home, whilst Claudio Ranieri’s outfit will be involved in the fiery Turin derby.
Derbies are hard to call, especially between ground-sharing teams, but Torino are there for the taking. They are embroiled in a relegation battle and are finding wins hard to come by, having won five of their 13 home games this term. They have drawn six of their last seven overall so the smart money should really be on a stalemate, but I fancy Juventus to nick this one by the odd goal, as they did earlier in the season.
Inter hit a sticky spell this time last season just when they appeared to be romping to the title and things might get a bit nervy, especially if Juve keep the pressure on as Roma did last time around.
Genoa have made the Marassi Stadium a fortress this season, winning eight and drawing four of their 12 home fixtures, and Inter are sure to find this a tough test. The teams shared a goalless draw at the San Siro earlier in the season and I’m backing the home side to go one better on home turf.
If this is a key weekend for Juve’s hopes of closing the gap at the top, it is a similar story for Reggina at the bottom of the table.
They are four points adrift of 19th-placed Lecce, to whom they travel on Sunday. A win at the Stadio Via del Mare would put them right back in a tightly-bunched group of teams fighting to avoid the trap-door, although they will start as distinct second favourites in this one due to their shocking away record.
Reggina have won just once on the road all season, scoring four times in 13 matches. However, they have been more resolute recently, picking up a point at Milan and at home against Fiorentina, suggesting they might just be in the better form going into this relegation six-pointer.
Lecce have lost their last four without scoring a goal and slipped to a 2-0 reverse at Reggina earlier in the season. Backing such a goal-shy team on the road as Reggina to win is a big call, but if this one doesn’t end goalless I think they will be the ones celebrating victory.
Written by Philip Oliver, a professional sports writer who blogs about Italian soccer gambling at Betfair.