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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Make it pay in Serie A by backing Roma to win at Udinese

Best bets across Europe and the EFL

Roma's Cengiz Under
1 of 1

Serie A
2pm Saturday

Udinese v Roma
Eusebio Di Francesco recently admitted that Roma's attacking woes had left him facing sleepless nights but he could rest easier after last week's five-goal return and things could improve further when the Wolves hunt maximum points at Udinese.

In terms of confidence-boosters, last week's home clash with Benevento was perfect as Roma scored more than once for the first time in 12 matches to follow up a 1-0 success at Verona with ten men.

Those wins helped Roma back up into the top-four positions and qualifying for the Champions League is much more important than Wednesday's trip to Shakhtar Donetsk in the same competition, so don't expect much rotation from Di Francesco.

Much has been made of Roma's recent wobble - they had failed to win in seven games  prior to the double over the bottom two - with observers looking for the reasons why their title dreams had disappeared after they were in contention a couple of months ago.

Was it due to talk of Edin Dzeko leaving for Chelsea? Were they disrupted by Radja Nainggolan's ill-advised New Year's Eve Instagram posts of him drinking and smoking which led to the influential midfielder being dropped?

However, sometimes people look for things that are not there.

Of those seven games, Roma comfortably "won" on expected goals in five of the fixtures, drew at Inter and were unfortunate to go down 1-0 at Juventus. 

They are the third-best side in Italy with Dzeko a fine target-man and Turkish wonderkid Cengiz Under has delighted the Roma crowd with some sublime performances.

Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson is one of the best in the world and Udinese don't possess that kind of quality.

The hosts failed to have a shot on target in last week's 2-0 loss at Torino, scored with their only effort at goal in the 1-0 win at Genoa, were comfortably beaten 3-0 at Lazio and needed a lucky own goal to hold ten-man Milan to a 1-1 draw last time out at home.

1pt 10-11 Hills

Serie A standings

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English Football League
3pm Saturday

Swindon v Port Vale
Swindon's recent run of one win in four games may not tell the whole story and they look worth backing to beat Port Vale at the County Ground.

It has been a tough run of fixtures for the sixth-placed Robins, who have faced trips to Lincoln (seventh), Wycombe (third) and Accrington (second) as well as a home date with Mansfield (fifth) which ended in a fully deserved 1-0 success.

In those away games they had men sent off in the 2-2 draw at Lincoln and 2-1 loss at Accrington and they suffered a last-gasp defeat at Wycombe, but on paper this is a much easier assignment as Swindon aim to make it five straight home wins.

Vale, beaten 5-1 at Cheltenham last week, will be looking for a positive reaction but the wily old heads of Marc Richards and Matty Taylor plus the midfield quality of Timi Elsnik can push the visitors closer towards the Sky Bet League Two relegation scrap.

1pt 21-20 Hills

Sky Bet League Two standings

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Morecambe v Forest Green
Forest Green have lost their last six league away games but can get over their travel sickness at Morecambe.

Most of those dodgy results came before Mark Cooper brought in several new players, who have since helped Rovers to record home wins over Cambridge (5-2), Coventry (2-1) and Stevenage (3-1).

Morecambe have triumphed in just three of their last 15 matches and an Asian handicap wager on the visitors will result in a profit as long as Forest Green avoid defeat.

Forest Green +0.25 on Asian handicap
1pt 19-20 188Bet

Sky Bet League Two standings

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Southend v Portsmouth
Southend look a different beast under Chris Powell and the popular coach can continue his fine start against Portsmouth.

The Essex side have taken ten points from a possible 12 under Powell, including home wins over Scunthorpe and Wigan, and it's difficult to see why Portsmouth are favourites at Roots Hall after one victory in eight games.

Southend draw no bet
1pt 11-10 BoyleSports

Sky Bet League One standings

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Plays of the day

Swindon 21-20
There are 20 points between Swindon and Port Vale and that gulf could be highlighted when they meet at the County Ground.

Sevilla 11-10
Manchester United on Wednesday in the Champions League is a big deal for Sevilla and they could be vulnerable at Las Palmas if Vincenzo Montella rests players for the long trip to Gran Canaria.

Roma 10-11, Swindon Evs, Napoli 1-6, Atletico Madrid 4-9 Hills

Both teams to score
Games at Sunderland 4-6, Blackpool 8-13, Cheltenham 4-6 BoyleSports

Thought for the week

It was a great start for the Premier League's clubs in the Champions League knockout stage but with one eye on future European fixtures punters should be careful of overrating the English form.

There is no getting away from the fact that Manchester City and Liverpool, who won by a combined 9-0, looked superb but did they really beat much away to a couple of the worst sides left in the competition in Basel and Porto?

Basel, only second in Switzerland's Super League, lost their best centre-back Manuel Akanji to Borussia Dortmund in January, while Porto are only two points clear of Benfica in Portugal.

That's the same Benfica who lost all six of their Champions League matches, scoring just once and one of those defeats was 5-0 at Basel. 

Tottenham fought back superbly to draw in Turin, yet Juventus were big market drifters and on expected goals this season they are not seen as anywhere near the level traditionally associated with the Old Lady.

They were missing influential players like Blaise Matuidi and Paulo Dybala, who will both be back for the second leg at Wembley, and Gonzalo Higuain had two outstanding chances to see off Spurs before Gigi Buffon's error allowed Tottenham to equalise.

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Southend look a different beast under Chris Powell and the popular coach can continue his fine start against Portsmouth
E.W. Terms
Sky bet