Our attempt of scooping up some extra coinage midweek turned sour, although our predictions were pointed in the right direction. We correctly called that Inter would knock out Chelsea, while also plumping on Barca to smack the goals past Stuttgart. Sadly we strayed in the particulars, but buoyed by our overall analysis we look forward to trying to do better this weekend.
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We begin this weekend’s predictions in Italy on Sunday afternoon as Cagliari welcome crisis-club Lazio to the Stadio Sant’Elia.
Cagliari ended on the wrong side of the eight-goal thriller against Genoa last weekend but they are still very much in with a chance of finishing in the top six in Serie A this campaign. Their success has been built on a strong home foundation in which Cagliari have won seven times in the league in front of their own supporters. That record looks all the more impressive against a Lazio side that have won just twice away from home all season in the league.
Lazio are quite simply awful this season, holding their heads just above the drop-zone by two wafer-thin points.Â The problems are increased this weekend with a crippled squad in which Bizzarri, Dabo, Meghni, Foggia, Manfredini and Matuzalem are all out injured, Zarate, Radu and Firmani are suspended, while Biava, Baronio and Rocchi are all doubtful with knocks.
Later on Sunday night in Spain, Europa League quarter-finalists Valencia host Almeria at the Mestalla. Despite holding down third place in the table, Los Che have been stuttering in the league of late, and Almeria, who have shown good form in recent weeks will look to take advantage of their hostsâ€™ uncertainty.
Hampering Valencia this weekend are the suspensions of Bruno, Hedwiges Maduro and Nikola Zigic, however, with the likes of David Villa, Juan Mata, David Silva and Ever Banega in their team, the hosts will have a formidable starting XI against Almeria.
Writing off Almeria should be done with caution as since Juan Manuel Lillo was appointed at Christmas the side have done a complete 180 this season. Almeriaâ€™s turnaround since New Year has been staggering. Having previously won only 13 points, Lillo has helped them to 20 points in only 11 fixtures, suffering only one loss along the way, that coming on a bog of a pitch away to Sevilla.
Lastly, on Monday night we turn to Norway where local powerhouse Rosenborg have a scored to settle against Start IK. Last season Rosenborg were almost perfect, losing just one match throughout the whole Tippeligaen season against this weekend’s opponents Start. That match was infamous for Rosenborg’s late implosion as the Troll Kids let in two last minute goals, and ruined their undefeated season for no reason whatsoever. Unquestionably, Rosenborg will be looking for revenge this time around.