Soccer Picks: Napoli vs. AS Roma

Nila Amerova

Thursday, March 6, 2014 2:43 PM GMT

Thursday, Mar. 6, 2014 2:43 PM GMT

Roma descend on Napoli in week 27 Serie A betting, intent on avenging their defeat to hosts in Coppa Italia last month. Find out what odds makers have released for this match and where the value soccer picks are to be had.

Roma has edge on defence

Roma go into this clash noticeably at the disadvantage with odds listed at +230 to win outright at Bet365. You could say the odds are stacked against the club from the nation’s capital, most likely a stance encouraged by the 3-0 defeat to Napoli in the second leg of Coppa Italia which resulted in a surprise exit from the competition after gaining the 2-0 advantage in the first leg.

That said there is value to be had in backing Roma to the win. This is a pivotal week in Italian top flight with the top four colliding – Roma take on Napoli while Fiorentina take on Juventus – and while the outcomes will not change the hierarchy (not anytime soon) those in the chase (all save for Juventus) could take a significant step forward towards redressing the table.

With a 17-7-1 mark Roma are second in the table, eleven points behind Juventus (but with a game in hand) and six points clear of Napoli (in third). A victory over Napoli at Stadio San Paolo on Sunday would go some way towards closing the gap on Juventus – that is, if Fiorentina actually lives up to their “dangerous floater” billing and defeats Juventus – and simultaneously extending the edge over Napoli.  

Where Roma have the advantage is on defence; their statistics are frankly mind blowing. They started the season on a flawless run of ten straight wins highlighted by conceding just one goal against – in week 3 of Serie A betting against Parma. Overall, they’ve conceded just 11 goals through 26 laps around the league – albeit ten of which were conceded in their last 16 matches. Still just eleven goals and the better part of the season behind us is a stunning defensive effort which ranks as one of (if not the most) solid accounts by a backline across football leagues around the world.

Most recently, Roma are flush off a scoreless draw to Internazionale – without question a result that cost them dearly towards the title race, if not rendering it a pipedream. With the Juventus juggernaut refusing to quit – they beat Milan at the weekend to extend their edge over Roma to eleven points – the Turin side has the Scudetto race cornered at -6600 future odds. By contrast, Roma, following their recent stalemate, have had their odds to win the title more than doubled – from +600 they’ve drifted out to +1600 at Bet365.

At face value, these Serie A future odds suggest it would take a miracle for Roma (along with a healthy dose of bad luck for Juventus) for the balance to shift in their favour. It’ll be interesting to see however how much (if at all) the market changes after week 27 if Roma does actually beat Napoli and Fiorentina does actually pull off the upset in Turin. Of course, Roma can only do its part. Therefore, the premium on the victory here is huge.

Napoli at the advantage

Napoli have the home advantage as well the recent Coppa Italia comeback victory over Roma but sportsbooks aren’t cornering this match entirely in their camp. Granted they are the so-called favourites, but at soccer odds just shy of even money at +120 at Bet365 they aren’t exactly runaway favourites either.

Admittedly, Napoli, third in the table on the back of a 15-7-4 mark and 52 points, have dropped the ball in their last two games. Back-to-back draws to Genoa and Livorno came at a steep price. Had they won both they would be level on points with Roma today. As things currently stand, they’ve allowed the top tandem’s gains in the table to go unchallenged and might rue those missed opportunities.

That those draws coincided with midweek Europa League action can’t be a coincidence. Clearly, Rafa Benitez was being mindful of his club’s campaign in Europe’s second tier competition, not to mention his own credentials – he led Chelsea last year to Europa glory after all. Of course there’s the fact that it’s a lot of match play for his side to adjust to, the wear and tear catching up to them. 

Such is their lot however, the privilege of competing on many fronts. Unfortunately – well, if you are a Napoli fan– Europa League action looms ahead, just four days after this pivotal clash with Roma and it promises to be a stern away test at Porto.

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Soccer Betting Verdict: Under most circumstances we would present this match as a home banker all the way. And with a strong 8-4-1 home record and the measure of Roma in recent weeks, Napoli at +120 soccer odds would be our recommended steal soccer pick.

That said it’s hard to ignore Napoli’s upcoming commitment in Europe, a pivotal R16 clash with Porto on the road that Benitez will be mindful of surely. Whether it is to the point of being overly cautious against Roma in order to rest players and avoid key injuries remains to be seen. It’s possible he would opt for safer tactics however, which open the door for the upset or the draw that is trading at +230 as well. This doesn’t mean that the upset isn’t possible on the merit of Roma’s quality alone mind. On the contrary, Roma are solid both at home and on the road where they are 7-4-1 and, as such, have to be considered quite capable of beating any club including Napoli. But the fact that Rafa Benitez and his men might be distracted by Europa League duty plays additionally in their favour and that prompts us to recommend Roma on the upset win here at +230 for your soccer picks.

Soccer Free Picks: Roma to win outright at +230

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