Serie A returns with a pretty decent slate capped off by the mouth-watering Milan derby on Sunday night.
Roma-Spal: the Giallorossi have solved some of their initial problems and have put together a three-game winning streak, defeating Frosinone, Lazio and Empoli. The Estensi are going in opposite direction, since have suffered four straight losses, to Fiorentina, Sassuolo, Sampdoria and Inter, after a hot start. Eusebio Di Francesco seems to have found the right scheme for his men, a 4-2-3-1 with Lorenzo Pellegrini in the hole. The youngster has been remarkable filling in for the injured Javier Pastore, to the point that there is a real competition here. Like last season, in their recent run they were boosted by some goals on set pieces and the attack has done the rest, with Stephan El Shaarawy, Cengiz Under and Edin Dzeko all finding the target. The trio remains a reliable source of fantasy points, waiting for Justin Kluivert to be unleashed. The only problems are Patrik Schick’s lackadaisical performances and Diego Perotti’s health. Spal has scored just twice in the last four fixtures and in both occasions it was Alberto Paloschi finding the target, so he has made his case for more minutes. Offensively, they have slowed down by Jasmin Kurtic’s tough elbow injury and Mirco Antenucci poor form, while he was a driving force last season. Manuel Lazzari is the usual bright spot, but more in reality than in the fantasy game. La Lupa’s back-line could be in play here.
Juventus-Genoa: the Bianconeri have won every single match so far and will try to keep it going against a team that has surprisingly just fired the manager. Their overall record is still pretty solid, with four wins in seven fixtures, but they have been extremely porous in the back and that led to the coaching change. Douglas Costa has finished serving his suspension and could start right away, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic could be poised for a positive showing after resting during the international break. Federico Bernardeschi had some aim problem with Italy and Paulo Dybala subbed off with an apparent injury against Brazil. On the other side, Krzysztof Piatek has been on a tear and will face the biggest test to this point, considering that Juventus’ defense has turned it up recently, having allowed just one goal in the last four Serie A games. The game plan here could benefit the slippery Christian Kouamé, but scoring at the Stadium is never easy. Joao Cancelo has been producing like an attacker so far.
Udinese-Napoli: the Friulani are on a downswing due to three straight defeats, against Lazio, Bologna and Juventus. However, they have hit the net in all but two matches, so they remain fairly dangerous for any opponent, but, as mentioned before, Rodrigo De Paul needs more help. Kevin Lasagna had an assist in his international debut and Ignacio Pussetto scored against Bologna, but they have to be more consistent if they want to chase satisfactory results. The Partenopei bounced back immediately after the Turin loss and downed Sassuolo at home, keeping a clean sheet, which is not easy against the Neroverdi. With the Champions League heating up, Carlo Ancelotti could rest some of the starters in Serie A and players like Simone Verdi, Adam Ounas and Fabian Ruiz will benefit from that. Dries Mertens is catching up to Arek Milik, but the two will be stuck in a tough timeshare for fantasy owners. Lorenzo Insigne has been their offensive linchpin and has delivered big time, while José Callejon has been more active in the assist department, as usual.
Inter-Milan: both teams arrive in pretty good shape to their most important game of the early part of the year. The Nerazzurri have won the last four matches, versus Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Cagliari and Spal, while the Devil is undefeated since the season opener and recently prevailed against Sassuolo and Chievo. Mauro Icardi has shaken off a slow start and has bagged five goals in his last five appearances, including the Champions League. Milan have always conceded so far, even against the cellar-dwellers. Ivan Perisic had an assist against SPAL, but he has not scored since the first couple of match days: Radja Nainggolan, Matteo Politano and Lautaro Martinez have picked up some of the slack, but nobody really snatched that no.2 role on offense from the Croatian winger yet. The first two could be value picks in this case, while they have rarely fielded the two Argentinian centre-forwards together so far. Milan have been more consistent as far as their offensive productions go: Gonzalo Higuain has been a stud when healthy, Patrick Cutrone has done damage despite the limited opportunities and Suso has provided a plethora of assists, with Giacomo Bonaventura chipping in from time to time.
Sampdoria-Sassuolo: the Neroverdi have lost two in a row, against Milan and Napoli, but the two teams are enjoying a nice start of the season, having collected 14 and 13 points respectively. There is the potential for a high scoring game here, mainly due to Roberto De Zerbi’s playing style. The Blucerchiati bested Spal and Atlanta in their last two outings, with the help of the random goals of Lorenzo Tonelli and Karol Linetty and Gregoire Defrel netting his fifth of the season. Sampdoria’s explosivity has abated after a torrid start, but Defrel, Fabio Quagliarella and Gianluca Caprari are always valuable picks when the match-up is not too challenging. Sassuolo was shut out in Naples for the first time this season, but still produced a decent amount of chances, particularly with Domenico Berardi and Khouma Babacar coming off the bench. It was just a blip for Berardi and he is expected to be a regular starter, but both had similar starts, with a pair of dominating performances and a string of lackluster ones. Kevin Prince Boateng has been steadier, Federico Di Francesco, Filip Djuricic and Jeremie Boga all had some flashes but are not yet reliable fantasy assets.
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