4/17 Recap: The games may have both ended up as draws, but for once I’m OK with that. That is because, for the first time in way too long, both my props hit yesterday. Granted, taking Both Teams Score props in games destined to have goals isn’t going out on a limb. But I’ll take the victories when I can. Kudos to Brighton for nearly securing safety and to Celta Vigo for once again bringing out the best in Barcelona. As for Spurs, best of luck in the FA Cup as this is a season where you deserve at least some silverware. And for Barca, the unbeaten run has hit 40 games in La Liga. But while those two leagues have their titles sewn up, we travel to Serie A today where today could determine whether or not theirs is as well.
My Picks: Tottenham Hotspur 3 Brighton & Hove Albion 1 (Both Teams Score [-125])
Barcelona 3 Celta Vigo 2 (Both Teams Score [-190])
Actual Results: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 1
Barcelona 2 Celta Vigo 2
The first stop for today is the Stadio San Paolo in Napoli where the hosts’ hopes of ending a 28-year Scudetto drought are on thin ice.
ITALIAN SERIE A
Udinese @ Napoli (2:45 PM ET/beIN Sports Connect, fuboTV, iGol)
They won’t be mathematically out of contention with a loss or draw today, but this is win or concede the title for Napoli today.
The Neapolitans held the top spot in Serie A for 22 of the 32 matchweeks this term. However, they’ve had some bad results in Serie A recently widening the gap between them and Juventus. Their argument that they always play before Juve goes out the window today as both clubs play at the same time, against equally poor competition.
Udinese has lost nine matches in a row in the league. They’ve been shut out five times in that span. One-third of their starting XI, including top scorer Kevin Lasagna, is out through injury or suspension. This spell has put them within six points of relegation, the exact distance Napoli is from a potential title.
With all that stacked against their opponent, I am still hesitant to back my beloved Napoli today. I’ve seen more of the Gli Azzurri this season than any prior, and they are the definition of a Jekyll and Hyde side. When on, they are one of the most free-flowing, beautiful examples of world-class football going. But they are horrible at taking a proverbial punch. The first sign of any sort of difficulty and they fold.
Napoli is two-goal favorites (per Bovada) today at home. But that is way too high for my blood. They haven’t won by two goals in over a month. Their two prior matches with Udinese (including in the Coppa Italia) both ended 1-0. Prove me wrong Napoli. Blow out Udinese today and keep the pressure on Juventus to be perfect.
PREDICTION: Napoli 1 Udinese 0 (Udinese +2 goals [EVEN])
ITALIAN SERIE A
Juventus @ Crotone (2:45 PM ET/beIN Sports Connect, Rai Italia America, fuboTV, iGol)
Many, myself included, believed this was the year Juventus would begin to show weakness. No matter how massive of a club they are, you can only absorb so many defections before the cracks begin to widen. However, stoppage time blunder against Real Madrid aside, it has been business as usual for the Old Lady this campaign.
They passed Napoli in the Serie A table five weeks ago and haven’t looked back. They’ve won fifteen of their last sixteen matches in Serie A, the one hiccup being a draw at SPAL.
Oddly enough, it is that one draw that is keeping SPAL above Crotone in the Serie A table at the moment. After barely surviving last year, Crotone is trying another great escape from the drop. They are in 18th going into today’s match at the Ezio Scida, a position they’ve ignominiously held for the past four weeks. Even a draw would work wonders.
But I can’t see Crotone getting anything off of the league leaders. With the Champions League gone and the Coppa Italia a ways off, Juve’s primary focus is seeing off Napoli as soon as possible for their seventh consecutive Serie A championship. They’ve never lost to Crotone. A clear win today would continue that trend and move them one step closer to glory. Oh by the way, did I mention that Juventus play Napoli next week? That one will have significantly less juice unless the upset of the year in Serie A gets pulled this afternoon.
PREDICTION: Juventus 2 Crotone 0 (Juventus -1.5 goals [+105])
If you have any picks you’d like to see made, you can contact me on Twitter @TREVORutley. In addition to the available media listed for each game, be sure to try out our Gameview service while watching as well. Also, here is a link for my results throughout and the points system. Cheers!