The Serie A two-week winter break is here, which means it’s officially the midway point of the season. This has been one of the most exciting seasons in awhile, with a wide-open title race and parity among the top clubs.
Serie A online gambling might be on hiatus for a while, but we’re here to review the best (and worst) in the league relative to expectations so far.
High: Inter Milan
The defending Serie A champions were expected to regress. Inter had a bunch of high-profile exits over the summer, starting with manager Antonio Conte.
Star striker Romelu Lukaku was shipped out to Chelsea and talented full back Achraf Hakimi departed for PSG. Midfielder Christian Eriksen also suffered cardiac arrest at the Euros and is barred from playing in Italy again due to his heart condition.
Despite the turnover, Simone Inzaghi’s Inter has been one of the best soccer picks around. They’re on top of the Serie A table and have won seven straight matches before the break.
A couple of free transfers have given Inter new life. Edin Dzeko might be 35 but he’s still prolific and has eight league goals to his name. Hakan Calhanoglu made the switch from inter-city rivals AC MIlan and he hit the ground running. The Turkish international has six goals and a team-leading seven assists.
Inter is the favorite to repeat but AC Milan is just four points back.
Juventus tried the Andrea Pirlo experiment last season and it didn’t work out as well as imagined. With the midfield legend at the helm, The Old Lady missed out on the Serie A title for the first time in 10 years.
Massimiliano Allegri was brought back as manager after winning nine trophies with Juve. His second spell has gotten off to a bumpy start, at least by Juve standards. For starters, Cristiano Ronaldo departed in August, leaving Juve with a dire striker situation.
The Bianconeri are currently in fifth place and at risk of missing out on the Champions League for the first time since 2011. A recent good run of form has obscured just how poor Juve’s attack has been.
In every game in the month of October, they managed one goal. While teams like Liverpool and Bayern Munich have routinely defeated opponents four- and five-nil, Juve hasn’t scored three goals in a Serie A match since September.
One of the only teams not from a provincial capital to ever play in Serie A, Empoli is true underdogs. They’ve had spells in the top tier before but have always been relegated within a few seasons.
This time, they’re hoping to stick around. The Tuscan side got promoted last season by winning the Serie B title and have been the most surprising team in the league. Just five points from a European qualifying spot, ninth-place Empoli recently went on a six-game unbeaten run.
Before a 4-2 loss to AC Milan, they managed to defeat Napoli and Fiorentina. Inter Milan loanee Andrea Pinamonti has led the way with six goals and he could be the catalyst for a top-half finish.
Lazio has been a poor soccer betting pick and it’s mostly due to a leaky defense. Maurizio Sarri won the Serie A title with Juve in 2019-20 and gave up only nine goals more over the course of a full season than Lazio has given up in half that time.
Sarri eased the pressure on himself as Lazio won two consecutive games going into the break without star striker Ciro Immobile. However, they’re in eighth place and have displayed frustrating inconsistency in the first half of the season.
Under Simone Inzaghi, Lazio qualified for European competition in five straight seasons. Without a defensive improvement, it looks unlikely they’ll be playing continentally next season.
High: Dusan Vlahovic
The 21-year-old Serbian striker has lit up Serie A to the tune of 16 goals in 19 matches and is the top scorer in the league. Vlahovic’s 33 goals in 2021 matched Cristiano Ronaldo’s Serie A record for most goals in a calendar year.
He just rejected a new contract at Fiorentina that would make him the highest-paid player in the club’s history. With his superb play, he’s drawing interest from a host of English Premier League clubs and is set for a big payday soon.
As long as he’s with the Viola, they’ll be an intriguing pick for betting online and have a chance of playing European football next season. Fiorentina finished a disappointing 13th last season but Vlahovic has carried them to seventh at the break.