Soccer Picks: Udinese vs. Napoli

Lee Benson

Friday, February 22, 2013 6:38 PM GMT

This Monday night fixture sees the ninth placed hosts to second place Napoli at the Stadio Friuli in Udine, North Eastern Italy. How should we play our soccer picks here?


Udinese vs. Napoli


Udinese is the second oldest club in Italy after Genoa, and was Founded in 1896. It sits not far from the Slovenian border and is actually much closer to the capital Maribor than it is it's own in Rome or for that matter, the capital of the north in Milan! All of which helps you not a jot in figuring out where the best value lies in this game and how you should bet in this match-up.

Well, the bookies have the game's betting odds a close affair with 2/1 being offered by bet365 and William Hill for a home win whilst the side from Naples are offered at 11/8 or 7/5 by those two houses respectively. The draw is at 9/4 with William Hill. The corresponding fixture in Naples back in October was won 2-1 by the home side and 17/2 with bet365 will get you the correct score prediction for a repeat of that score to the second placed side.

Napoli have just come away empty handed from their Europa League tie, losing 2-0 at Viktoria Plzen to crash out 5-0 on aggregate. However, with Juventus likely going through and therefore still involved in the Champions League for at least one more round, this could be a blessing in disguise in the race for the Scudetto as the team from Naples tries to close the four point gap before facing their title rivals next weekend at Stadio San Paolo in Week 27 of Serie A.

Udinese still may be harbouring slim hopes of a European spot but ninth place and seven points from fifth and a Europa League spot means they must win starting this weekend to realise those dreams. They are way too inconsistent for me though winning three and losing three their last six as they win at home and lose away with uniform regularity it seems. Pure and simple. Udinese have scraped just one point from their last four away games and one win in eight away from their remote home. That home has seen them lose just once all season though, but six defeats and just two wins on their travels shows the contrast in their Jekyll and Hyde form this season.

Napoli missed out on closing the gap at the top to Juventus to two points when they could only draw with Sampdoria on home ground Monday night as Juve lost to Roma. They will want to make up for that mistake in Udine and with 13 games left and no other competition to distract them they really must have a very good chance of causing an upset in this season's title race. At 11/4 to Juve's 1/3 to win it they are well worth a flutter with Juve still facing at least three more games in Europe with a three goal lead going into their home tie second leg with Celtic.

Napoli are the only real contenders left to Juventus in the title race now and know they must keep up the pressure with a win in this game as most will have Juve winning their Week 26 tie at home to Siene with ease and with next weekends showdown in Naples between the top two looming there is no room for error and no excuses if Napoli are to rest the title away from the holders.

Diego Maradonna is so excited about the possibility of Napoli winning the Scudetto that he is risking arrest by Italian authorities over tax issues and says he may be at the game against Juve in Naples to watch his beloved team.

Udinese have won their last four at home hitting eight and conceding just one but with Edinson Cavani back and fit again for Napoli the visitors will be confident of getting back to scoring and winning ways, having not netted in three games, though two of those were in the Europa League tie so did not affect their league position. The Partenopei know they simply must win this game and then next week also to really put the pressure on Juve and close the gap to a point at worse and if results go their way to even be in a position to overtake them next weekend!.

I am backing the visitors in this one and like the Napoli win and under 2.5 goals as my favoured pick here at 7/2 with bet365. 1-0 at 7/1 and 2-0 at 11/1 are both great value bets here as Napoli have scored in all but three of their last 21 games in all competitions. Udinese have scored just twice in their last five outings and if Antonio Di Natale is unfit as has been reported he may be, then their goal threat becomes vastly diminished.

If he does make the game he and Cavani will be vying for first goal honours and are 9/2 and 7/2 respectively to open the scoring for their teams. Udinese defender Mehdi Benatia stated in the press this week that everyone at Udinese should be 'proud' of their achievements over the past two seasons. The Zebrette finished fourth and third in the table over the past couple of years, and the 25-year-old has called their recent success 'extraordinary', despite the team having a tougher time this term. He is obviously up for this one and is at 33/1 to turn that bravado into the first goal of the game and 12/1 to net anytime with William Hill. That could all change with a good run these last 13 games and a place in Europe is up for grabs for any of the top nine who go on a winning run as only eight points covers seven places from ninth through to third.

[gameodds]10/219288/169-1537-1096/us[/gameodds]

Napoli are almost certain of a Champions League spot now with a five point gap to third and with most around them still with European competition to contend with as they focus solely on Serie A now! Udinese will have to retain the same spirit and resolve that has served them well these last two seasons if they are to secure a win in this one and a challenge for the top places in Serie A. Their challenge will be over with defeat in this one and maintaining their safety with mid table mediocrity the only concern then

I believe Napoli will be too strong for Udinese and that the motivating factors will have then forcing the issue in this one. For my football betting tips I am leaning heavily on them keeping up their pursuit of leaders Juventus by winning this one in a tight match of few chances. Edinson Cavani and compatriot Lorenzo Insigne to score the goals that decide this game. Napoli to score both halves at 11/4 and only them to win to nil at 3/1 with William Hill are both good bets for me.  

Free Soccer Picks: Away win for me at 7/5 and a correct score prediction of 2-0 at 10/1 with bet365. 

Elsewhere in Serie A....

Parma vs. Catania

Atletico Madrid vs. Espanyol