August 26, 2016 By Fabian Odhiambo
The 2016-17 Serie A season kicked off last weekend and as you probably know (or don’t) it is our favourite hunting ground for making money off corners. Yes, corners because placing bets on win-draw-win scenarios is a tad too mainstream for our liking. Even then of course you realize that for this market or option, a lot of looking at the trend needs to be done before eventually diving in. So for the next few weeks that’s what we’re going to do: survey the pool back and forth before going in for a splash.
To recap, Roma beat Udinese 4-0 at the Olimpico, champions Juve squeezed a 2-1 home win over Fiorentina, Milan managed to stave off the Torino challenge at the San Siro to win 3-2, newcomers Pescara held Napoli to a 2-2 draw and Palermo went down 0-1 to Sassuolo. Genoa ran out 3-1 winners over Cagliari, Empoli lost by a solitary goal to Sampdoria, Chievo beat my Inter 2-0 (tears), Bologna welcomed Crotone to the big time with a 1-0 win while Atalanta were thwarted by Lazio 3-4 in a seven-goal thriller.
A total of 32 goals were scored on opening weekend, an average of just over 3 goals per game…yet people say Italian football is bland, ultra-defensive and bereft of goals. Lol. So for those who favour the Over 2.5 market, you wouldn’t be totally out of place. In fact 6 matches each registered 3 goals and above, meaning that for every 3 games, 2 had over 2.5 goals.
Half the games had a team with a clean sheet, meaning the other half had both teams scoring. Yes, GG enthusiasts, welcome to the party. Of the twenty teams, only 5, Udinese, Palermo, Empoli, Crotone and (strangely) Inter failed to score. All in all, going GG is not such a bad option, but still, your preference should be for the Over 2.5 market. And another interesting observation, there was only one draw out of 10, between Napoli and Pescara. I guess you won’t be having to worry much about a draw ruining your either home or away win pick that much.
Anyway, on to the core business for which we exist – corners. Italian football doles them out more than generously and we’re all the happier to cash in. For the opening weekend, there were 106 corners across 10 games, an average of 10.6 corners per game. See why we like the Serie A? That’s a more than impressive corner harvest by any standard. Essentially that means that more often than not, your choice for Over 8.5 corners or even Over 9.5 would be (handsomely) rewarded.
From last season, we had identified games involving Milan, Inter, Roma and Sassuolo as fairly reliable picks for the Overs markets in corners. So how did they fare in Matchweek 1? Milan’s clash with Torino had 20 corners, equally shared between the two, which was according to script. Milan, especially at home against an ‘inferior’ opponent attack a lot and naturally amasses many corners, usually more than 7, which is a market on its own (Home 7+). Going for Over 9.5 or 10.5 is usually a good idea in such an instance. Roma beat Udinese 4-0 and still got 10 corners to their opponents’ 5, pointing out just how utterly dominant the Giallorossi were. Expect more of such domination whenever they play at the Olimpico against lower opponents. Again, Over 9.5 in a Roma game proving a hit.
I was watching the Inter match when I started experiencing signal issues that apparently would spare me the agony of witnessing that loss. Sadly I would miss out on the corner count, which numbered 12, Inter getting the lion’s share, 8. Again, if you opted for the Away 7+ you’d be smiling all the way to the bank. Over 8.5 and 9.5 for Inter away still held true for this, so that’s a good sign. Sassuolo have come a long way and are increasingly becoming everyone’s favourite second team in the Serie A. They attack and are actually getting results. The Neroverdi visited Palermo and got away with the three points…and 8 corners out of the game’s 12. I would have picked the Over 8.5 and that was perfectly nailed on.
At the other end of the spectrum though, there are teams which are corner-averse. They just play, score, close the game down and walk away. At the end of last season we pointed out Juventus and Fiorentina as the major culprits in this regard. And as if the gods too were on the case, they were pitted against each other during the weekend. Juve won (of course) but there were only 4 corners during the 90 minutes – 3 for the champions and just the 1 for the Viola, from which Nikola Kalinic headed in their consolation goal. As much as we discourage betting on Unders, this was the game to break that habit, and go Under 8.5. If they aren’t playing each other, then it’s always tempting to go this route when they’re both playing away.
The surprise package of the weekend both in result and corners was Napoli. Last season they weren’t such a good source of corners, but against Pescara they registered 9 which was all too impressive, bringing the final tally to 12. Nine corners for Napoli away? Madness! Then again it was mitigated by the fact that the opponent was a promoted side, and also that Napoli trailed 2-0 for most of the game and so had to do a lot of chasing to salvage at least a point.
How do our prospects look like for Matchweek 2? Well, Roma are away at Cagliari but I’d be extra cautious on that. Were the Romans at home then I’d have Over 8.5. Then again Roma must be seething after being humiliated by Porto in the Champions League qualifier and so may have a real go at the newcomers. Still, I’m not convinced that it’s worth the hassle. Inter are at home for the first time this season, against Palermo. New boss Frank De Boer is making his San Siro debut, the Nerazzurri have a great deal of atonement to do to get the season back on track and they’ll not doubt be baying for blood. Inter 7+ or Over 10.5 should do perfectly and with minimal fuss.
Milan travel to Napoli and that should be a cracker. This is a huge test for both sides, for Milan to see whether they have really come back and for Napoli to see if things have stabilized post-Higuain. Over 8.5 should suffice, and yes, I’m being extra cautious. Sassuolo host Pescara and of course, I expect them to not only win the game, but win the corner count and for the Over 9.5 to sail through smoothly. Also I’m going to go out and say Torino v Bologna for Over 8.5 is worth a look. Torino coached by ex-Milan boss Sinisa Mihajlovic seems to have adopted his style and well, Bologna should be able to chip in with like 4 corners to top it all up. Lazio host Juventus at the Olimpico and as much as I avoid Juve games, I think Lazio will have more corners, so a Biancocelesti win on corners shouldn’t been that far-fetched.
Of course you can’t draw up trends from just one round of matches, and that’s why I said we want to do this for a few weeks before we can authoritatively give pointers. Anyway, the weekend is here, so let’s see how busy the area around the corner flags will be. Have a fruitful weekend.