Italian Football Betting
Last year, Fiorentina against Milan was a match of significance for the Serie A Scudetto race. This term it doesn’t seem worth a bet.
When the clubs kick off at the Stadio Franchi on Saturday night, the result will be more interesting to those teams battling relegation.
The two sides are paying a heavy price – but maybe not a high enough one -- for their roles in the Serie A match-fixing affair, a scandal that put Italian football to shame during a summer of celebration as Italy's national team won the World Cup in Germany .
Fiorentina had their original punishment reduced on appeal, starting the season on a 15 point deduction after originally being penalized 19, while Milan's original eight-point penalty was maintained after they were found guilty of less serious charges.
Even with that obstacle, the Milan suporters expected the Rossoneri to be challenging for the Italian title this year. Last season they finished second, three points back of Juventus -- now relegated to Serie B after their leading role in the Calciopoli scandal -- and a full 12 points clear of third-placed Inter.
But instead Milan find themselves in 15th spot, just three points from the relegation zone after clawing themselves back to a total of 13. Whether they have endured an emotional shock after the scandal or just hit a very poorly timed drop in form is uncertain, but it is a question that manager Carlo Ancelotti needs to find answer quickly. Milan are a whopping 200/1 wagering odds to win Italy's Serie A.
Team president and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is supporting his manager, but the pressure on Ancelotti mounting.
"Carlo has my full trust," declared Berlusconi earlier this week.
"We have a great team, but at this time we cannot use half of our squad (due to injuries) and it is evident that this is hindering us."
There are key figures missing like goalkeeper Dida, defender Alessandro Nesta and midfielder Kaka -- three of Milan's crown jewels -- but there is more to the Rossoneri's problems than an congested hospital room.
The goals have stopped ever since Andriy Shevchenko departed to Chelsea in the summer. Italy international striker Alberto Gilardino has scored only three in 16 games, while Filippo Inzaghi has four goals in 15 and Ricardo Oliveira just one in 11 matches.
That is surely a big concern as they travel to face a club which is behind them in the league table on paper only.
The bookmakers cannot split these two sides, offering both at 2.60 bet odds for the victory and pricing the draw at 2.80, but there are lots of reasons to wager on the hosts.
The Viola, who finished in fourth spot last season, may be two points back of Milan in the table, but that is just because they started seven points further behind.
If it weren't for the points penalty, they would sit in a comfortable fourth place.
Fiorentina's strong start to the campaign in the face of difficulty has aided Coach Cesare Prandellli secure the Golden Bench Award last week, a prize given annually to Italian football's top coach. Last year it went to Carlo Ancelotti, but much has happened since then.
This year Prandelli has steered his club to eight wins, two draws and five losses. Two of those losses were on home soil, where Fiorentina have won five of seven matches.
After this match, the Viola have fixtures against Cagliari and Messina -- the next two teams ahead of them in the Serie A table -- in the span of a week, and Prandelli knows these are vital days ahead.
"We are expecting two weeks that will be decisive for our season," he asserted.
"I will ask the team for another push. I will ask my players for two extraordinary weeks. I want us to continue to work with the intensity and concentration that we have shown in the past five months."
Since the Serie A table is tight, a good spell of form could drive Fiorentina into an improbable attempt at a UEFA Cup spot . Anything less, and the Viola will be back to the relegation battle.
Betting on Fiorentina to win the Italian football Scudetto is available at 200/1 odds at BetFred bookmakers.