Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku, left, celebrates with his teammates after he scored his side’s first goal during a Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Bologna, at Milan’s San Siro Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
- Riding a three-match win streak, Inter Milan have moved past Juventus, and now sit as narrow favorites in the Serie A futures
- AC Milan lags behind the favorites despite enjoying a five-point lead atop the Serie table and avoiding defeat in 22 straight league contests since March
- We’ve got you covered with all the odds and trends as the battle for the top of the Serie A table heats up
Juventus remained one of just two clubs undefeated in league play this season after escaping with a 2-1 win over Torino this past weekend. But with the club now six points adrift of first place on the Serie A table, and injuries still a big concern, Juve have dipped to +250 second favorites in the European soccer futures to claim a 10th consecutive Serie A title.
Odds to Win Serie A
Odds taken Dec 7 at DraftKings
Juve Unbeaten, but Far from Dominant
Pegged as +179 favorites in the Serie A odds as recently as mid-November, Juve have avoided defeat through their first ten outings of the Serie A campaign. But they have been far from dominant. The club needed a pair of goals in the final 15 minutes to claim a 2-1 comeback win over Torino on Saturday, marking the fourth time so far this season they have had to overcome first-half deficits.
Juve have largely enjoyed a favorable schedule, with three of their four other victories coming against teams currently residing on the bottom half of the Serie A table. Indeed, Juve’s only other dates with opponents in contention for a spot above the line have been recent draws with Roma and Lazio.
— Ricky⚽🏏 (@Carrickatured) December 6, 2020
That trend continues through the holiday season, with their next five league opponents sporting a combined 3-5-7 record over the last three Serie A matchdays. The run starts with next week’s date with freefalling Genoa. But while the upcoming schedule should provide Juventus with a golden opportunity to pad their record before an all-important visit to Milan on January 6, injuries remain a concern.
The Old Lady Hampered by Injuries
Among those currently sidelined are club captain Giorgio Chiellini, veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, and promising young defender Merih Demiral. Each are expected to miss Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League group stage clash with FC Barcelona. Cristiano Ronaldo has also been limited to just six appearances in league action as he has battled both an ankle injury and a bout with COVID-19.
Merih Demiral, Cristiano and Leonardo Bonucci are back in Juventus squad to face Dynamo Kyiv tonight, while Chiellini and Buffon remains sidelines. ✔⚪⚫
— Max Statman (@eMaxStatman) December 2, 2020
Ronaldo’s absence was most harshly felt in Juve’s first UCL date with Barca, in which they dropped a 2-0 decision.
However, the club has struggled to fill the net in league action with Ronaldo on the shelf. The club scored just three total goals in draws with lightweights Verona, Crotone, and Benevento, while their victory came by default against Napoli, who were unable to travel to their October 4 clash due to coronavirus restrictions.
But, when Ronaldo has been in the lineup, he has been vintage, potting eight goals including a pair of game-winners. The club should also get a lift from the imminent return of playmaker Alvaro Morata, who has been hobbled by a hamstring injury and missed this past weekend’s victory over Torino after taking a red card in last week’s 1-1 draw with Benevento.
AC Milan Set Themselves Apart in Return to Play
But even with a starting XI at full health, Juve face an enormous challenge to keep pace with their two rivals from Milan. Inter Milan have climbed to the top of the odds as +210 favorites during a three-match win streak, but it is AC Milan that offer the best value at +300.
Milan are now 22 unbeaten in Serie A and go five points clear at the top of the table!
It feels unbelievable to even write that. pic.twitter.com/LkF7t8uh1B
— Matteo Bonetti (@BonettiESPN) December 6, 2020
AC Milan have been nearly unbeatable since soccer returned in mid-June, suffering just one defeat in 35 matches across all competitions, and compiling a sparkling 17-5-0 record in league contests.
The club’s success has been reflected in the Serie A odds, where they were a distant +2667 bet to open the season.
Unlike Juventus, AC Milan have faced top-flight opponents during their rise to the top of the Serie A table, posting wins over Napoli and Inter while playing Roma to a 1-1 draw. And with a schedule featuring dates with Parma, Genoa, and Benevento prior to next month’s date with Juve, there is little reason to expect them to slow down from their current pace.
Inter’s Streakiness, Juve’s Reliance on CR7 Cause for Concern
Conversely, Inter maintains second place on the table but have struggled overall. The club has gone 5-5-3 across all competitions since the start of October, highlighted by a dismal 1-2-2 run in UCL group stage action.
Overall though, Inter have inspired confidence with their recent play.
And of course, sports bettors should never underestimate the ability of Ronaldo to carry the Old Lady to another championship. However, with the Rossoneri unencumbered by the distractions of a Champions League run, and producing results with a team effort, even while Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been injured, the Serie A title is theirs to lose.
The Pick: AC Milan (+300)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.