Fantasy Football News

Juventus Top Performers – Round 24 vs Brescia

Even if the score was not too one-sided, Juventus controlled the Brescia game from start to finish, taking care of business in a favourable match-up.

Giorgio Chiellini (5 points): nothing too interesting to report from the performance of the defenders, as they were challenged just once or twice by a very timid and resigned opponent. As a matter of fact, Daniele Rugani and Leonardo Bonucci had their highlights on the other box and the young centre-back was denied a goal only by a sensational save. Danilo and Alex Sandro took advantage of the narrow formation of the adversaries to motor down the flanks more than usual and a decent amount of success while doing that. The best news was the return on the pitch of the grizzled captain, who takes home a token spot while he begins to gear up for the battles that are ahead. Continue reading

6 classic Chelsea vs Manchester United games from the Premier League era

Chelsea 4-0 Manchester United (October 2016)

Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge did not go well. Ten months on from his acrimonious sacking as Chelsea boss, Mourinho took his United side to west London and was on the wrong end of a one-sided thrashing – much to the delight of the home support, who taunted the manager they had once adored.

This was a third consecutive victory for Antonio Conte’s men, who were finding their stride having recently converted to a 3-4-2-1 formation. Pedro Rodriguez opened the scoring after 30 seconds, with Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante also getting in on the act.

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United (August 2004)

Mourinho was in the opposite dugout 12 years earlier, leading Chelsea out for his first competitive game as the club’s manager. The newly-rich Blues had spent heavily in the summer transfer market, with new signings Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira and Didier Drogba included in Mourinho’s first Premier League XI.

Manchester United, who were forced to play Roy Keane at centre-back because of injuries, had the lion’s share of possession but were deservedly beaten by their hosts, for whom Eidur Gudjohnsen notched the winning goal.

Manchester United 3-0 Chelsea (April 1993)

Manchester United were bottom of the table after two games in the division’s inaugural season. They quickly climbed higher up the standings but were still down in third following a 0-0 draw with Arsenal, which makes their achievement of ultimately winning the league by 10 points rather impressive.

Alex Ferguson’s won each of their last seven games to storm to the summit, including a comfortable 3-0 defeat of mid-table Chelsea in April. Mark Hughes and Eric Cantona were both on the scoresheet, as was Steve Clarke, albeit at the wrong end of the field.

Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United (December 1994)

A five-goal thriller at Stamford Bridge ultimately ended in Manchester United’s favour, although it was a closer-run thing than Alex Ferguson would have hoped after goals from Mark Hughes and Eric Cantona had given them a 2-0 lead early in the second half.

Chelsea fought back admirably, though, with Eddie Newton drawing them level in the 77th minute after John Spencer had equalised from the penalty spot. Parity did not last long, however, with Brian McClair finding the net just seconds after Newton had done so at the other end.

Chelsea 5-0 Manchester United (October 1999)

In Premier League terms, the 1999/00 season was arguably Alex Ferguson’s best as Manchester United manager. The Red Devils won the title by a huge margin of 18 points, amassing 91 in total and scoring 97 goals.

Curiously, though, their three defeats that campaign were all comprehensive, none more so than a 5-0 demolition by a Chelsea side who were flying high under Gianluca Vialli in November. This was United’s first loss in 29 Premier League matches, as Gus Poyet (two), Chris Sutton, Jody Morris and a Henning Berg own goal gave the Londoners a famous win.

Manchester United 3-3 Chelsea (September 2000)

This was Claudio Ranieri’s second Premier League game as Chelsea manager following the dismissal of Vialli in mid-September. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink gave the visitors to Old Trafford the lead in the eighth minute and Tore Andre Flo struck on the stroke of half-time, but United were into the interval with a 3-2 advantage thanks to Paul Scholes, Teddy Sheringham and David Beckham.

Chelsea battled back after the break, though, with Flo grabbing his second and the Blues’ third in the 70th minute. It was Ranieri’s first point as Chelsea boss, and one of the 80 United accumulated as they went on to win another Premier League title.

The players Juve must offload this summer

Juventus remain tied first in Serie A, are in the semi-final of Coppa Italia and are still in the Champions League. Despite still being in contention on all three fronts, Juve’s unimpressive performances- for an extended period of time- highlight the need for change at the club.

Several players must be sold or released from their contract. Below is a list of the players who should no longer be part of the Bianconeri squad for 2020/21 season:

Mattia de Sciglio

The Italian full-back is often sidelined by injury or fitness concerns. There are three advantages to keeping Mattia: his relatively low salary, his ability to play as right-back or full-back and the fact he is Italian.

No wonder the Juve supporters- at least on social media- were divided when word broke out about a potential swap deal which would involve Mattia joining French champions PSG.

While de Sciglio has experience with Italy as well, there’s no point denying that he is often injured. He has featured even less than Aaron Ramsey and Douglas Costa- two other injury-prone players who have played more minutes than Mattia in the Italian league.

Daniele Rugani

Rugani is still 25-years-old but his future at Juve appears to be coming to an end. Every season the expectation is that Rugani will get more playing time and his chance to prove he can cut it at a massive club such as Juve.

So far this season he has managed a single appearance in Serie A. This is despite captain Giorgio Chiellini’s heartbreaking injury during the first weekend of action in Italy. Young signings Merih Demiral and Matthijs de Ligt have stolen the spotlight and already showed they are much more prepared to start for Juve this season.

Despite Demiral’s unfortunate injury, Rugani still cannot get any playing time with de Ligt partnering club captain Leonardo Bonucci in the heart of the defense. With Chiellini expected to return to action soon, it’s hard imagining Rugani getting much playing time. The best outcome for both club and player would be for Rugani to move elsewhere to cement his place as a starter while Juve can earn a decent fee from his sale.

Sami Khedira

The veteran midfielder- a former World Cup winner- turns 33 years-old before the end of the season. The German has started just 9 league games (with another 3 substitute appearances) in Serie A this season. Last season, he started just 8 times in the league with another 2 appearances as a substitute.

Such stats highlight not just the player’s inability to remain injury free but also his declining ability on a squad in desperate need of physical presence and younger legs to cover more ground. Khedira is also among Juve’s big earners in terms of salary.

Factoring in age, declining ability and a considerable salary, Juve should offload Sami in the summer.

Aaron Ramsey

Ramsey seems to do all the rights things such as learning Italian and he is well liked- whether by Arsenal or Juve fans- but has failed to meet expectations when it comes to the most important thing: simply being able to step on the field to play on a regular basis.

Ramsey has started just 6 league games with another 6 appearances as a substitute. Those are very poor numbers for a midfielder brought it not just to fill a squad member or serve as backup. Per revised figures, Ramsey is one of the club’s highest earners, behind the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain.

To earn such a high salary, Ramsey needs to repay that with not just regular appearances in the league and in Europe but also some solid performances. The concern is Ramsey’s recent history does not bode well. He made just 14 league starts and another 14 substitute appearances in the Premier League in 2018/19.

If we go back to the 2016/17 season, he made just 13 starts and a further 10 league appearances as a substitute. Even during one of his best seasons in recent memory, the 2017/18 season, Ramsey made 21 starts and another 3 appearances as a substitute in the English league. Clearly, the Welshman has fitness concerns and a history with injuries.

Douglas Costa

Just as Ramsey, winger Douglas Costa spends more time getting treatment than starting matches for the Bianconeri.

So far Costa has started just 5 league games with another 8 appearances as a substitute. He is currently injured again. For the 2018/19 season, he made just 7 starts with another 10 appearances as a substitute in Serie A.

Costa is extremely talented and is very fast, but he just cannot stay fit or healthy. He is 29-years-old so it could be worthwhile to sell him this summer over keBreping an injury prone player who will make at most 15 league appearances next season. Juve should cash in and reinvest the money where needed.

Other names

There are a few other players who should be sold under the right circumstances. For instance, if full-back Danilo receives the right offer and Juve can make up the fee paid last summer then it would be wise to sell him. The Brazilian player is injury prone and was signed as part of the deal to sell Cancelo to Manchester City.

Another name to consider is Blaise Matuidi. The Frenchman can cover space and is a willing runner but this is football and at Juve he is required to do much more than just run around. When fully fit, Matuidi can track back and tackle, however, has poor control and is a poor passer as well.

Matuidi slows down the team and often kills the momentum when Juve launch counter-attacks. His need to take multiple touches to control or pass the ball mean that the opposition may have recovered by the time he released the ball or passed it to a teammate. Matuidi also turns 33 years-old in a few weeks.

Another player who should be sold is Federico Bernardeschi who is having an awful season. Bernardeschi’s last impressive performance was against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in the Round of 16 last season.

If Juve’s management is looking to conquer and then dominate in Europe, some of the struggling players must be sold to make way for better players with the right skills. This summer is expected to be a decisive one in Juve’s quest to maintain hegemony in Italy and to win in Europe. The Champions League is the aim of certain club stars, particularly Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

Will Achraf Hakimi replace Dani Carvajal at Real Madrid next season?

Going to the Bundesliga proved to be the making of Dani Carvajal. Indeed, the right back grew during his one season at Bayer Leverkusen, persuading Real Madrid to activate the buy-back clause they inserted in the Spaniard’s contract. Carvajal has been the club’s first choice right back ever since, earning himself a reputation as one of Europe’s very best.

Could history now be about to repeat itself? There is another Real Madrid youth product currently excelling in the Bundesliga as a right back. On current form, he is one of the best around and so it’s entirely possible that Carvajal could be replaced by someone who has followed the very precedent he set.

Indeed, Achraf Hakimi has been somewhat of a revelation for Borussia Dortmund this season, notching six goals and nine assists for the Bundesliga outfit. Rather sensationally, the Moroccan has scored four times in six Champions League appearances. And he’s done all this as a right back. It’s a remarkable record.

This is the second season of Hakimi’s two-year loan spell at the Westfalenstadion and the stint has certainly served him well. While the 21-year-old was an unpolished diamond in his first and only season to date at the Santiago Bernabeu, he has used the time in Germany to refine his game. As a defender and an attacker, he is accomplished far beyond his years.

Hakimi is the perfect modern full back. He is fast, mobile, energetic and has a final product, as illustrated by his statistics for the season so far. In the same mould of someone like Trent Alexander-Arnold or Dani Alves in years gone by, Hakimi is an entire right wing in one person. Full backs have never been as important in football as they are now and the Moroccan is one of the best there is at this moment in time. He is another victory for Real Madrid’s youth system.

It’s therefore reasonable to assume that he will already be in the thinking of Zinedine Zidane ahead of next season. Real Madrid have a number of bright young players out on loan, with Martin Odegaard excelling for Real Sociedad, but Hakimi might well be the best of the lot. He might be the one that slots immediately into Los Blancos’ starting lineup upon his return to the Spanish capital.

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Do Mestre’s Neymar revelations spell the end for Dembele?

The last thing that Barcelona needed was confirmation that Ousmane Dembele was ruled out of action for the next six months.

On the cusp of a return after being out since before Christmas, the Frenchman broke down once again, and this time the injury has turned out to be worse than first feared.

Not only will he miss the rest of this season, but also the European Championship and 2020/21′s pre-season. Continue reading

What to Watch for in Serie A: Round 24

Can you believe we are headed into round 24 of the 2019/20 Serie A season? Neither can we.

For this set of fixtures, there is no shortage of action coming our way. Here, we provide you with what you should be watching for in this weekend of calcio.  Continue reading

Serie A Round 24 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Up

Can you believe we are headed into round 24 of the 2019/20 Serie A season? Neither can we. Let’s briefly recap what happened on the peninsula last weekend.

Once again, Roma were stunned as Bologna came into their own yard and handed them a 2-3 defeat with Riccardo Orsolini and Musa Barrow delivering the big blows in this one. As for Atalanta, they overturned a deficit and managed to pull out a 1-2 win over Fiorentina at the Franchi, climbing back into 4th place.

Torino’s struggles continued as Fabio Quagliarella and his Samp came away victorious by the scoreline of 1-3. The Granata’s local rivals Juventus also fell on the day as Fabio Borini and Giampaolo Pazzini goals cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo’s 20th strike on the season to send the Bianconeri into second.

Jeremie Boga put on another clinic as Sassuolo found a way to win away to SPAL 1-2, while Gianluca Lapadula’s brace saw Lecce topple Napoli 2-3 in Naples.

For Sunday’s finale, Inter and Milan opened up another chapter in their Derby della Madonnina history at the San Siro. A tale of two halves, the Nerazzurri managed to erase a 2-0 deficit create by Ante Rebic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic by putting in four second half goals to complete the 4-2 comeback to reclaim possession of first place.

Here are five players to add to your fantacalcio roster ahead of the weekend. Continue reading

Zinedine Zidane cannot count on Eden Hazard’s return any longer

He was the marquee addition of Real Madrid’s summer. Eden Hazard had been on the Santiago Bernabeu club’s radar for a number of years and so there was a sense of accomplishment when the Belgian finally pitched up in the Spanish capital before the start of this season, costing around £100 million from Chelsea.

Hazard was signed to be the natural heir to Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid had failed to replace the Portuguese forward since he left for Juventus in the summer of 2018 and so Hazard was meant to be the new face of the capital club. So far, though, Hazard’s face has barely been seen in all-white.

Injuries have all but devastated Hazard’s first season at Real Madrid. The Belgian was forced to wait until the middle of September to make his debut for his new club and even after that there were lingering concerns over his fitness. Some even accused the former Chelsea and Lille man of being overweight, something the player himself admitted to being the case afterwards.

An ankle injury then ruled Hazard out of the first Clasico of the season at the start of December. The Belgian hasn’t played since. He is back in first team training, but there are concerns that Real Madrid’s new number seven could still miss as much as another month of action.

Hazard has never been one to hit the ground running after injury and so even if he were to return soon it will likely take him a number of weeks to find match sharpness. That would take the Belgian all the way to the final month of the season. He is just one more set back from his first season in Spain being a complete write off.

Indeed, Zidane cannot count on the return of Hazard any time soon. The stakes will be cranked up for Real Madrid over the next few weeks and months with the Spanish title race and the Champions League moving forward and so Zidane must focus on what is immediately in front of him.

It might well be the case that Hazard can contribute in the final few weeks of the season, but Zidane must reward the likes of Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior for the way they have stepped up in the Belgian’s absence. They have earned the faith of their manager and a half-fit Hazard must remain on the sidelines for the time being.

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Serie A Probable Lineups – Round 24

Lecce-SPAL

Lecce: 4-3-1-2 Vigorito; Rispoli, Rossettini, Lucioni, Donati; Majer, Petriccione, Barak; Saponara; Falco, Lapadula.

Potential lineup changes: Calderoni for Rispoli, Tachtsidis for Petriccione, Mancosu for Saponara.

Probable: Mancosu, Falco.

Questionable: Gabriel (back), Tachtsidis (knee).

Ruled Out: Farias, Babacar, Meccariello.

 

SPAL: 4-3-3 Berisha; Cionek, Bonifazi, Zukanovic, Reca; Murgia, Missiroli, Castro; Strefezza, Petagna, Di Francesco. Continue reading

Inter are the last team to beat Lazio in Serie A – but they face a different beast on Sunday

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Regret was the overwhelming emotion the last time Lazio faced Inter.

Joaquin Correa was guilty of squandering a series of good chances during an excellent performance, but the game was decided by Danilo D’Ambrosio out-jumping Jony for the decisive goal in a 1-0 victory for the Nerazzurri.

Not even the most  mindlessly optimistic Lazio fan would’ve guessed back then, on 25 September 2019, that the Biancocelesti wouldn’t have lost another league game by the time they faced Antonio Conte’s side again.

Last Sunday’s 1-0 win over Parma set a new club record of 18 games unbeaten in Serie A , on a day that the gap between the top three clubs was squeezed to just one point. Continue reading