Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 8


It will be inevitably a quieter round compared to the previous ginormous one, but Serie A never lacks reasons to tune in.

Udinese-Juventus: the Zebrette have certainly been more interesting this season, but after losing just once in the first five games, they have been defeated two times in a row, against Lazio and Bologna, so their point total is not that conspicuous. The Bianconeri from Piedmont, on the other hand, are coming off a seminal win over the main title contenders, Napoli, and have prevailed in the first nine games of the season. They will eventually come a cropper, but they have had a lot of success in the past in this stadium. Rodrigo De Paul has been leading the charge for the home team, but very little help scoring-wise from his teammates: Kevin Lasagna notched just one, Lukasz Teodorczyk and Darwin Machis are still scoreless, Ignacio Pussetto found his first last week. They can ill afford to be a one-man band. On the other hand, the Old Lady’s attack has been breathing fire and Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi have picked up the slack with Douglas Costa sidelined, then Mario Mandzukic has cashed in on the fact that defences are focusing more on Cristiano Ronaldo and company. Udinese play proactively, but Juventus recently run over a similar team like Sassuolo. Massimiliano Allegri has been constantly rotating the squad, but the ex-Real Madrid ace was suspended in Champions League and Bernardeschi has been spared a lot, so they could be primed for a satisfactory performance.

Empoli-Roma: the Azzurri have been drawing rave reviews for their playing style, but it has not necessarily translated into points. They won the opener, then lost four times and tied twice. The Giallorossi are back on track after smoking Frosinone and Viktoria Plzen and topping Lazio in the Derby, now they need to make up some ground on the rivals in the standings. Lorenzo Pellegrini has stepped up in a major way with Javier Pastore limited by a calf issue, but the last three games have been productive for all their top players: Cengiz Under, Stephan El Shaarawy, Justin Kluivert and more importantly Edin Dzeko. La Lupa has the potential to be a fantasy goldmine. They have kept a couple of clean sheets lately, but Empoli are pretty menacing up front, particularly with Francesco Caputo and Miha Zajc.

Lazio-Fiorentina: probably the most intriguing match-up of the slate. Both clubs have had a similar path: they pounded the minnows, but have struggled to come away with points against the top clubs. The Biancocelesti lost against Napoli, Juventus and Roma, Fiorentina versus the Partenopei and Inter. So this is a true acid test to see who can maybe challenge concretely for something big and who will have to be content aiming at Europa League. Ciro Immobile has woken up in the last couple of weeks and he is up to four goals this season, but they need more consistency from Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. The former has also been banged up, but he is nowhere near as effective as last season. On the bright side, Joaquin Correa looks like a real weapon. The Viola have been carried mostly by Federico Chiesa and Jordan Veretout and they too could use more regularity out of Giovanni Simeone and Marko Pjaca. Stefano Pioli has also perhaps been a little too conservative when facing tougher competition.

Napoli-Sassuolo: the Azzurri bounced back beautifully from the disappointing result against Juventus with a clutch win over Liverpool in Champions League. Sassuolo have already nabbed four wins and drawn once and so far have lost only to Juventus and Milan, in a resounding way both times. Roberto De Zerbi’s offensive mentality has helped them in the easier fixtures, but has had its drawbacks in the more challenging games. If they can find a happy medium, they could be poised for a very satisfying season. Carlo Ancelotti too has been taking advantage of the depth of the roster, which makes it a little harder on fantasy managers. They have gotten something pretty much out of everybody up front and Marek Hamsik has pretty much been the only underperforming player so far and the defence has not been particularly airtight. Piotr Zielinski, Simone Verdi and Dries Mertens did not start on Wednesday, so they could get a prolonged run in the weekend. Arek Milik has worked also in small doses, while José Maria Callejon has been an assister dispenser. Their best performer remains Lorenzo Insigne. The Neroverdi have exploited Kevin Prince Boateng and Khouma Babacar’s scoring, but they have a tasty array of weapons at his disposal and few others, like Domenico Berardi, Federico Di Francesco and Filip Djuricic have been able to put their names in the scoresheets.

Spal-Inter: the Estensi had a hot start, but they quickly crashed down to earth with three losses in a row, against Fiorentina, Sassuolo and Sampdoria, three quality opponents. The Nerazzurri defeated two of those recently and Cagliari. Inter have not been particularly impressive, but they got the job done lately, with the assist some fluky goals, like Marcelo Brozovic’s one late against Sampdoria or Danilo D’Ambrosio’s versus Fiorentina. The last one against Cagliari was a more complete game. Their summer additions are starting to contribute, as Lautaro Martinez and Matteo Politano delivered last Saturday, so their desire to have more weapons on top of Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic is beginning to come to fruition. Antonio Candreva came off the bench late against PSV, while Lautaro Martinez and Balde Keita did not see the field: they might get some heavy playing time on Sunday. Icardi finally has it going, while Radja Nainggolan scored his first in black-and-blue. The Biancazzurri recently lost Jasmin Kurtic for a long time, so Simone Missiroli and Mattia Valoti will have to make up for his offensive contribution. Andrea Petagna has had a decent start of the season and Mirco Antenucci has been their best striker last season.

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