Fantasy Football News

Growing excitement over Gattuso’s Napoli

“Nobody gave me anything,” is reportedly the mantra Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso is trying to instil in his players.

The former Milan legend understands this better than most. As a player, Gattuso wasn’t blessed with the divine talents of his partner-in-crime, Andrea Pirlo, or even with the skillset of vastly underrated teammate Massimo Ambrosini. Gattuso was a fighter, someone who wasn’t going to pick out a rampaging right-back with a sumptuous 40-yard diagonal pass or produce an outrageous piece of skill, he was the player who did the grunt work, who took the ball from the opposition and gave it to his more talented colleagues. The Calabrian-native made a career out of it, and won a flurry of accolades as a result.

And in his short stint as Napoli coach, he’s succeeding in transferring his ethos to the players. Gattuso has brought a tighter cohesion to the team, installed a more diligent work ethic than had seemingly been evident during the final months of the Carlo Ancelotti era.

Gattuso guided the club to the Coppa Italia title in June, beating Juventus 4-2 on penalties. It was their first piece of major silverware since lifting the same trophy in 2014. It must also be remembered that Napoli beat Lazio, Inter and Juve en route – three of the top four sides last season – and conceded a single goal.

Going into this season, the club has almost gone under the radar. The €60m signing of Victor Osimhen hasn’t received the coverage that a signing of that expense should garner. Much of the focus surrounding the club has been on the potential departures of Kalidou Koulibaly and Arkadiusz Milik.

Eight goals in their first two Serie A games without reply suggests that Gattuso’s side mean business. They looked sluggish in the opening half against Parma on the opening day, and didn’t spring into life until the introduction of Osimhen in the second half, who caused havoc with his mere presence.

The Nigerian was granted his first start against Genoa at the San Paolo, and was instrumental in Napoli’s 6-0 demolition job, including a deft touch for Piotr Zielinski’s goal. Whilst Osimhen hasn’t got on the score sheet himself, it’s evident that he offers more to the Partenopei than Milik, who’s more static and less nimble than the 21-year-old.

Furthermore, Chucky Lozano has impressed Gattuso with his start to the season following a disappointing debut campaign in Italy. “I’m not giving anything to him,” said Gattuso following the 6-0 win. “He’s a different player now, he’s got great strength in his legs, and doesn’t fall to the ground like a kid when he gets kicked.” Lozano has inherited the departed Jose Callejon’s position on the right flank in Gattuso’s 4-2-3-1 system, and with the pressure of being the club’s most expensive signing lifted due to the arrival of Osimhen, the Mexican is beginning to look like the player Napoli shelled out €42m on a year ago.

During the Maurizio Sarri reign, the point was always argued that Napoli had a great starting XI, but little in the way of players that could’ve come off the bench and made a difference. However this is no longer the case. The January signings of Diego Demme, Stanislav Lobotka, Matteo Politano and the summers arrivals of Andrea Petagna, Amir Rrahmani and Osimhen have given Gattuso a far greater squad depth than either of his two predecessors were afforded.

In addition to having a bigger squad, with Serie A allowing five substitutions for this season only, Napoli could be one of the main beneficiaries of the rule, as Inter exemplified in their 4-3 win against Fiorentina last weekend.

Whilst yes, one could argue that their two wins were only against Parma and Genoa and that it’s very early in the season to be making grand proclamations, but, whisper it quietly – Napoli look a formidable opponent, and are in with a strong chance of securing Champions League football next season.

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Serie Best Fantasy XI – Round Two

Thomas Strakosha (7 points): among the four goalkeepers that managed to keep a clean sheet in this round, he was the one that was called into action the most and had a key save on a long-range effort by Marko Rog.

Adam Marusic (7 points): the Serbian fullback took over the left flank against Cagliari since Jony was recently sold and Mohamed Fares has yet to be announced. He was actually a force to be reckoned as he dished Manuel Lazzari a ball that just needed to be nudge in few minutes into the contest and linked up with Ciro Immobile to ice it in the second half. Continue reading

La Liga: Best 11 Players of Matchday 3

It’s officially the 3rd week of the Spanish season but this was the first game that Barcelona were involved in and they didn’t disappoint as they swathed aside Villarreal 4-0.

Champions Real Madrid came back from a losing position to stun Real Betis and win 3-2 in a very entertaining game. But the man taking all of the headlines will be Luis Suarez, who scored 2 goals for his new club Atletico Madrid as they crushed Granada 6-1.

Let’s take a look below at the best 11 players this past weekend, did any of them make your team?

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Norberto Neto- Barcelona 7pts

Credit need to be given to Norberto Neto who usually doesn’t get much game time for Barcelona. He joined last season but this was only his 3rd game for the club. Barcelona were clearly the superior team as they demolished Villarreal 4-0 but Neto still had a job to do and kept composed and got his clean sheet.

Defender: Jordi Alba- Barcelona 7pts

Jordi Alba was part of a defence that kept a clean sheet as Barcelona easily beat Villarreal 4-0 at home. Alba also assisted in Barca’s first goal of the game, and their first of the season and it was another solid game for him.

Defender: Xabier Etxeita- Getafe 5pts

Xabier Etxeita earned 5pt as he helped keep a clean sheet for his club Getafe as they drew 0-0 with Alaves, he is valued at just 3m and could be a bargain pick if he can keep up his performances throughout the season.

Defender: Clement Lenglet- Barcelona 5pts

Lenglet was criticised last season in an overall poor season that his club Barcelona had. Of course this wasn’t all his fault and the defender put in an assured performance as he helped keep a clean sheet in Barca’s win over Villarreal which they won 4-0.

Defender: Ruben Duarte- Alaves 5pts

Ruben Duarte put in a good shift at home as Alaves were able to pick up a point with a 0-0 draw against Getafe. It wasn’t the best of games but Duarte showed his qualities and made a few very good interceptions during the game. Because he was in minus points before, these 5pts have helped him and he now has a total of 4pts.

Midfielder: Angel Correa- Atletico Madrid 8pts

Atletico Madrid were superb in beating Granada 6-1 and Angel Correa was at the heart of the action in midfield. Correa assisted in 2 of the six goals and was a constant threat in his position. He is valued at 7.5m.

Midfielder: Unai Lopez- Athletic Bilbao 8pts

Unai Lopez had a great game in midfield for Bilbao and scored both of their goals grabbing the three points as Bilbao beat Eibar impressively away from home by 2-1.

Midfielder: Portu- Real Sociedad 6pts

Portu had a solid game as he opened the scoring for Real Sociedad and made brilliant use of possession in midfield. Sociedad went onto beat Elche 3-0 at the weekend. Portu is valued at 8.5m and has an overall score of 8 points so far this season.

Midfielder: Marcos Llorente- Atletico Madrid 6pts

A brilliant game for Marcos Llorente in midfield who scored Atletico’s 4th goal in their 6-1 win over Granada. He was all over the pitch- in a good way and it was no surprise in the end that he also assisted in another goal.

Striker: Luis Suarez- Atletico Madrid 10pts

What a debut for Luis Suarez who signed from Barcelona just a few weeks ago. Not only did he see his new team score 6 goals in their first league game of the season, he scored a brace. What made his debut more impressive is that he only came on for the last 20 minutes. He is valued at 15m.

Striker: Anssumane Fati- Barcelona 8pts

Anssumane Fati seems like a striker worth keeping an eye on, he had a very decent last season and has started this one in great form. He scored 2 of Barcelona’s 4 goals against Villarreal and they were the opening two goals which effectively killed off the game. At just 5m Fati looks a steal for a great bargain.

Player of the weekend: Luis Suarez- Atletico Madrid 10pts

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Premier League: Best 11 Players for Matchday 3

Another 29 goals were scored at the weekend in the Premier League from 8 games, keeping a frantic and exciting goal average up since the beginning of the season. The stunning result was Leicester travelling to Manchester City and beating them 5-2, as a result Brendan Rodgers side are now top of the league.

Chelsea and Tottenham could only draw their games and West Ham finally put in a great performance to condemn Wolves to their 2nd defeat in a row.

So which players performed the best this past weekend, are they in your team, look below to find out.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski- West Ham 7pts

Lukasz Fabianski didn’t have a lot to do but made some good saves and kept himself composed as he kept a clean sheet. He really got over his instructions to the back four also, and played his part in a fantastic win for the Hammers. He now has 3 points overall as was in the minus points after a poor start from the club.

Defender: Arthur  Masuaku- West Ham 7pts

With Masuaku earning 7 points at the weekend for his clean sheet in West Ham’s 4-0 win over Wolves he now has the most points for any defender at the club with an overall score of 6 points his value is 5.5m. Masuaku capped off a great match by assisting for the clubs 4th goal.

Defender: Jannick Vestergaard- Southampton 5pts

Not many clubs are keeping clean sheets in the league this season, but Southampton did and they won their first game by beating Burnley 1-0 away. Vestergaard was clearly the best defender for the Saints and earned the most with 5pts, in an important victory for the club.

Defender: Liam Cooper- Leeds United 5pts

Leeds had conceded 7 goals before this game and so it was a surprise to see the club keep a clean sheet. Liam Cooper really rose to the occasion to keep Sheffield United quiet and Leeds marched on with back to back wins. Cooper is valued at 6m.

Defender: Aaron Cresswell- West Ham 5pts

It’s been a nightmare time for West Ham, so beating Wolves 4-0 was very welcome. Cresswell was able to keep a clean sheet in the process and made some very daring tackles and set the play up well as the game went on.

Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez- Manchester City 6pts

Manchester City had a nightmare losing 5-2 against Leicester but one bright light was Mahrez’s performance. He scored the opener for the home side and assisted in the clubs 2nd goal, of course by then the game was over. Mahrez is valued at 9.5m.

Midfielder: Bruno Fernandes- Manchester United 5pts

Bruno Fernandes was one of the best players for Manchester United last season. He has started this one slightly quiet but made up for it this past weekend as United beat Brighton 3-2. He scored an injury time penalty which was the winning goal, assisted in the clubs 2nd goal, and got booked though which lost him a few points.

Midfielder: Lucas Moura- Tottenham 4pts

A controversial game saw Tottenham draw 1-1 with Newcastle who were clearly the second best side. Lucas Moura got the goal to put Tottenham ahead and he will hope this is the first of many to come this season.

Midfielder: Jack Harrison -Leeds United 4pts

Jack Harrison had a solid game in midfield for Leeds and capped off his day by setting up Patrick Bamford to get the only goal and winning one for Marcelo Bielsa’s side in the 88th minute. Harrison now has 8 points overall and is valued at 5.5m.

Striker: Jamie Vardy -Leicester 14pts

Easily one of the best Premier League strikers of the decade, Jamie Vardy like a fine wine just keeps getting better and better defying his age. Vardy was remarkable as he scored a hat trick against the mighty Manchester City away from home. Two were penalties but he still had to put them away and then scored a cracking goal in between. Vardy earned a huge 14pts and now has 5 goals already this season.

Striker: Callum Robertson- West Bromwich Albion 8pts

Callum Robertson had a fantastic game as his side took on Chelsea and ended up drawing 3-3. He will feel disappointed given that he had given WBA a 2 goal lead, but the final result shouldn’t distract from his fantastic performance and he makes the team of the weekend. He is valued at just 3.5m.

Player of the weekend: Jamie Vardy- Leicester 14pts

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Koeman silences the doubters but bigger tests await Barcelona

It was, perhaps, one of the most keenly awaited debuts in La Liga for many a year.

After such a disastrous end to their last campaign, the football family wanted to know how the ‘new’ Barcelona would fare under Ronald Koeman.

It’s fair to say that the team did everything asked of them by their coach, and then some. Continue reading

Is the Scudetto realistic for Inter this season?

Internazionale have spent big again this summer, so far bringing in the likes of Achraf Hakimi (€40m), Nicolo Barella (€25m), Stefano Sensi (€20m) and Arturo Vidal as they look to challenge Juventus for the Serie A title.

Antonio Conte’s side made an exciting start to the 2020-21 campaign on Saturday with a dramatic 4-3 victory at home to Fiorentina, with goals in the 87th and 89th minutes, from Romelu Lukaku and Danilo D’Ambrosio respectively.

Their participation in the Europa League final last month saw them given an additional week’s rest so they are a game behind the majority of the league, though Atalanta and Lazio were also given an extra week to prepare, as well as each of their scheduled opponents.

Three points for I Nerazzurri will have come to much relief given that Fiorentina already had a competitive game under their belt – a 1-0 win over Torino the prior weekend.

In a further boost to Inter’s hopes of winning the Scudetto for the first time since 2010, reigning champions Juventus were held to a 2-2 draw away to AS Roma on Sunday. Andrea Pirlo’s side were reduced to 10 men early in the second half.

Given a rookie manage in charge, many are expecting the 2020-21 Serie A title race to be open this campaign, the first time in several years. Napoli and AC Milan have both made impressive starts themselves, taking six points from six.

Inter’s hopes of sustaining a title challenge this season has all the ingredients they need, especially if they keep hold of star striker Lautaro Martinez, amid strong interest from Barcelona.

The Argentine has formed a great partnership with Romelu Lukaku up front, with the pair scoring 37 league goals between them last campaign.

Behind them, Conte has a wealth of talent to pick from. He went with Ashley Young, Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Perisic and Christian Eriksen in his 3-5-2 formation for his season opener, with Achraf Hakimi, Alexis Sanchez, Stefano Sensi, Arturo Vidal and Radja Nainggolan all coming off the bench.

Behind them is a talented defence of Stefan de Vrij, Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni, backed up by the reliable Samir handanovic.

The manager himself knows all about success. Antonio Conte started Juventus’ current run of titles during his first season in charge back in 2011-12, winning all three during his time in Turin before taking over the Italian national team. Conte won the English Premier League title in his first attempt at Chelsea too.

Whilst Juventus have dominated the league for the past nine seasons they have taken a huge risk with the appointment of inexperienced manager Pirlo, regardless of how good he was as a player himself.

The Old Lady’s main ambition is also to win the Champions League, which could have a negative impact on their domestic campaign, particularly with how competitive it is getting at the top now.

If ever there was a season for Inter Milan fans to head into confidently, it has to be this one. With the manager and players at their disposal they have the makings of being 2020-21 Serie A champions.

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Juventus Top Performers – Round Two versus Roma

In a game of many faces, Juventus’ plans felt overambitious from the get-go and they were almost completely undone by the glaring lack of balance, but they showed great resilience after the red card in the second half and came away with a tie against Roma.

Danilo (1 points): if Cristiano Ronaldo had not scored a brace, he would have been the man of the match, not only for the precise lob that set up the second goal, but also for full ninety minutes of very energetic defending as for long stretches he looked the only really apt for such an aggressive style in the back.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Two

Results: Roma and Juventus shared the spoils in an entertaining fixture to cap off the Sunday slateNapoli demolished Genoa, Milan easily got past Crotone, while Verona nipped Udinese to stay perfect in the season. Inter furiously rallied back late against Fiorentina, while Lazio breezed past Cagliari and Atalanta toyed with Torino, so the three ‘top four’ teams that had their opener delayed were all successful. Among the newly promoted teams, Benevento got off to a brilliant start as they mounted a glorious comeback against Sampdoria, tough sledding instead for Spezia, which run into an in-form Sassuolo. Bologna trounced Parma on Monday night.  Continue reading

Crotone 0-2 AC Milan: The positives for the Rossoneri as winning streak continues

Milan continued their winning streak earlier this evening by beating Crotone away from home, scoring two goals just like in the league opener. Once again, the performance wasn’t spectacular from the Rossoneri but they did the necessary, keeping a clean sheet as well which is important for the defence. 

Franck Kessie gave Milan the lead in stoppage time of the first half, safely converting a penalty after Ante Rebic was brought down in the box. The Rossoneri also had a few chances prior to that, including a Simon Kjaer header that struck the bar after Hakan Calhanoglu picked him out from the corner flag.  Continue reading

Brighton 2-3 Man Utd: The Red Devils win the game in the final moment from a Bruno Fernandes penalty

Following the shocking defeat at home to Crystal Palace to start off the new Premier League season, Manchester United were intending on returning to winning ways as they travelled away to Brighton & Hove Albion, who are predicted to have an exciting campaign under the reigns of Graham Potter.

The hosts were dominating the match and were constantly in the opposition’s half, where the movement and pace of Brighton’s wing-backs along with the front three were proving to be too much for the United defence to handle. Not only that, but the Seagulls deserved at least a draw from the game, as they were denied three penalties, as well as the by crossbar and post on five occasions.

Looking at the game as a whole, Brighton had surprisingly experienced more time in possession of the ball, achieving just over 53% of the possession, whilst creating 13 chances throughout the whole game with three of them being big chances. Meanwhile, for United, they had only managed 60 passes in the final third, with eight passes in the penalty box and just one big chance being created.

Graham Potter’s men took the lead from the penalty spot in the 40th minute of the game, through Neal Maupay, as Bruno Fernandes was penalised for bring Tariq Lamptey down in the box. However, the home side’s lead was cancelled out in a matter of minutes, with Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick into the far corner of the box was met by the perfect touch from Nemanja Matic to return it into the danger area, which led to centre-back Lewis Dunk accidentally hitting the ball into his own net.

After the half-time break, the situation between both sides had remained the same, where the visitors were lacking the aggression and intensity to keep the home team contained and isolated. Despite Brighton’s missed chances and inconsistent end product, United were able to pounce effectively on the counter, as Bruno Fernandes was able to set Marcus Rashford through on goal, who had perfectly cut in and out on Ben White before smashing the ball into the back of the goal.

The last 10 to 15 minutes of the game was the main highlight of the fixture. Brighton continued to constantly attack United around the penalty box, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with no option but to move to a defensive stance, as Eric Bailly and Fred came on from the bench for Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba. On the other hand, Graham Potter had to change the game around and went all out with the attacking options, as both Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Pascal Gross entered the pitch.

Brighton were able to pick up a last-minute equaliser through Solly March, who was a very busy player down the left flank and was causing problems for Aaron Wan-Bissaka time after time. Though, eight minutes into stoppage time, Maupay handled the ball in his own penalty box when trying to block the headed attempted from Harry Maguire, which resulted in a crucial penalty for the visitors, leading to Bruno Fernandes scoring from the spot to give his side the much needed three points.

The situation was controversial, given that the referee had blown the whistle for full time, with the Brighton players believing they have earned the crucial point that they deserved. However, the United team complained instantly, meaning that the referee had to do his job and refer to the replay of the incident in the penalty box, which resulted in the match being called back for the penalty.

Overall, Graham Potter and his men will be absolutely gutted that they could not pick up a point. And for a United point of view, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will surely be concerned about the side’s fitness and performance as a whole, but will be content with picking up their first league victory of the season. On that note, The Red Devils sit in 14th place whilst the Seagulls remain above them in 12th place.