Verona v Inter Milan
Inter may have had a summer fire sale, but Simone Inzaghi’s tenure got off to a great start with a 4-0 trouncing of Genoa, where new signings Hakan Calhanoglu and Edin Dzeko bagged a goal and an assist each. Although there’s a similar setup with Antonio Conte’s back three remaining intact, there appears to be less focus on counter-attacking and more upon possession, with a few gaps in the defence that went unpunished. Inter looks set to be a high-scoring team this season and with Lautaro Martinez back in contention, as well as new wing-back Denzel Dumfries, we’d expect that to continue here.
Verona went down 3-2 to Sassuolo and although they had to play the second half with 10 men after captain Miguel Veloso saw red just before the break, they were already a goal down by that stage. The loss of Veloso to suspension further weakens the midfield department, with Manuel Locatelli having completed a move to Juventus. More worryingly, Verona are now W1-D4-L9 going back to early March, registering just a single clean sheet over this period, while they’ve also gone nine home games without tasting victory.
Inter have won 19 of 25 matches this calendar year and only Man City across Europe’s top five leagues have won more over this period. Six of the last seven encounters between Inter and Verona have seen at least three goals, with Inter winning five of the last six, so the visitors looks set to continue winning and entertaining.
INTER TO WIN AND OVER 2.5 GOALS
Juventus v Empoli
Cristiano Ronaldo’s future been decided and his days in Serie A are over after deciding to return to Man United. The Portuguese superstar was benched but Juventus went 2-0 up inside 25 minutes regardless, though Massimiliano Allegri will have been concerned with the display after the break, even if the most marginal of VAR decisions denied Ronaldo the winner at the death having been introduced during the second half.
Wojciech Szczesny’s two howlers are easy to point towards, but in truth the team generated less chances and Aaron Ramsey was particularly guilty of not tracking his man for Udinese’s first goal. The Welshman and Rodrigo Bentancur were Allegri’s only real options in midfield, with new signing Manuel Locatelli only deemed fit enough for a cameo from the bench. Weston McKennie is however available now following suspension, Adrien Rabiot looks set to return from injury, though Ramsey appears to have suffered another setback having been withdrawn in the second half.
Juventus won all eight encounters with newly promoted Empoli in their previous top-flight stay between 2014 and 2019, shipping just two goals along the way as both concessions came on the road. However, clean sheets have been much harder to come by of late, with Juventus failing to collect one in 15 Serie A games now, as two of those exceptions came against Atlanta and Milan.
Meanwhile, Empoli are not without an attacking threat of their own and were joint-top scorers in Serie B last term. They unexpectedly opened the scoring in their 3-1 defeat to Lazio, while they had other chances to find the net in what was an open and entertaining game.
JUVENTUS TO WIN AND BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE
AC Milan v Cagliari
Cagliari battled back from two goals down hosting Spezia to earn a draw, but they may find it harder to restore parity away at Milan should they fall behind. The Rossoneri have kept five consecutive clean sheets against Cagliari, winning all but one of these games, and kicked off their season with a 1-0 triumph over Sampdoria, preserving a lead established after just nine minutes.
Milan also had chances to extend their lead, though might have ridden their luck on occasion defensively, but showed good resolve and are now on a roll of six consecutive clean sheets since the start of May. Mike Maignan’s commanding display quells some of the fear of losing Gianluigi Donnarumma over the summer, while Sandro Tonali and Rade Krunic played well in the middle, also allaying fears as to how the team will perform when Ismael Bennacer and Franck Kessie are away for a month later this season for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Only three sides registered fewer goals than Caligari last term, while striker Giovanni Simeone, who bagged six goals, has just departed on loan to Verona. They lost 10 of 12 winless clashes with top-six finishers last season, scoring just six goals across these games, while they failed to score in five of the last seven of these.
AC MILAN TO WIN TO NIL