Empoli v Lazio – Stadio Carlo Castellani at 17:00 live at Eleven Sports
After one season out of Serie A, Empoli are back in the Italian top-flight after securing immediate promotion as champions of Serie B.
The Azzurri are rumoured to boast the division’s smallest wage budget so few will be anticipating anything other than a relegation battle this term. But Aurelio Andreazzoli’s outfit have made a solid start to life back in the big time, picking up four points from their first four fixtures (W1-D1-L1).
Cagliari was overcome before a 2-1 defeat in Genoa and a goalless draw against Chievo before the international break, although performance levels have been impressive from Empoli. The newcomers have given up just 0.40 Expected Goals from open play on average – a record that will be put to the test on Sunday.
Lazio suffered final day heartbreak as Inter Milan pipped the capital club to the fourth and final Champions League spot in a dramatic finale that saw the two teams go head-to-head. The Biancocelesti then saw key central defender Stefan de Vrij join Inter in the off-season, while Felipe Anderson also departed.
Simeone Inzaghi’s troops were given a devilishly difficult start to the new Serie A season with back-to-back games (and subsequent defeats) to Napoli and Juventus before they bounced back to beat Frosinone 1-0. Despite the tough nature of their openers, Lazio have performed reasonably well.
Goals on the agenda
The last term, Lazio were renowned specialists in the goals markets. The Biancocelesti beat the Over 2.5 Goals line in 29/38 (76%) league fixtures with a chunky 45% of that sample even surpassing the Over 3.5 Goals line. With Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic still about, there’s no reason why the Rome-based club can’t repeat the feat this time around.
Defensively, Inzaghi’s squad are weaker and that should encourage Empoli to get forward. The hosts were the highest scoring team in Serie B with 88 goals, but also conceded 49 times and that has to be a major concern against more potent attacking outfits, such as Lazio.
Although the duos early encounters are averaging a collective 2.07 Expected Goals from open play, there’s plenty of reason to believe this contest could break the Over 2.5 Goals barrier with 1.73 an appealing price on three or more goals being plundered on Sunday evening.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.740
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.