Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 17

Lazio-Cagliari: after four draws in a row, the Biancocelesti came a cropper in Bergamo, following another subpar performance. The Sardinians have been unable to win in the past six weeks and they caught on Sunday their first L at home versus Napoli. So both teams are reeling, one more of the other considering their seasonal targets. Simone Inzaghi is giving Sergej Milinkovic-Savic every opportunity to get off his schneid, but he keeps misfiring. Luis Alberto is showing some signs of life, but he is far away from last year’s level of brilliance. So Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa remain their only two productive fulcrums, with Marco Parolo at times able to chip in.

Cagliari are obviously way less threatening without their centre-pieces Leonardo Pavoletti and he might be forced to miss another one. Rolando Maran went with a light attack against Napoli, but it did not work out. In any case, Joao Pedro and Artur Ionita figure to be their most interesting fantasy options against a team that has conceded in the past seven fixtures, while the other strikers Alberto Cerri, Marco Sau and Diego Farias have not been consistent.

Milan-Fiorentina: the return of Gonzalo Higuain did not give the Rossoneri the boost they were hoping as they have been shutout in the last two matches, against Torino and Bologna. Prior to these, they had beaten Parma and shared the spoils with Lazio. La Viola returned to winning ways after nine weeks and did it rather resounding fashion, coming back versus Empoli despite being undermanned. Gennaro Gattuso will be in a tough spot here because both of his central midfielders, Tiemoué Bakayoko and Franck Kessie, are suspended and the alternatives are not great. Regardless of that, even if it features all their best players, his go-to 4-4-2 has not been effective lately, as Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu are too distant from the goal and Higuain and Patrick Cutrone step on each other’s toes. On the other hand, Stefano Pioli has found in Kevin Mirallas the third point of the trident he was looking for and Giovanni Simeone has broken out of his slump. They have both hit the net twice in a row and having more weapons will give Federico Chiesa more room to operate.

Napoli-SPAL: the Partenopei have been undefeated in the last nine fixtures and have came away with the full loot in the last three, twice thanks to Arkadiusz Milik’s late-game heroics. They have been pretty much a steamroller at home, dropping points only against Chievo and Roma. SPAL have not won since October 10th, but they have been able to pick up four ties in the last five matches, which keeps them afloat. Napoli’s Polish striker is obviously on a tear, which comes in handy since Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne have not been producing like in the early going. Piotr Zielinski recently resumed scoring, Fabian Ruiz has been a stud and Adam Ounas can do damage when given playing time, so they have a vast array of weapons at their disposal even if two pillars like Marek Hamsik and José Callejon have not been great so far. As for the Estensi, Andrea Petagna is putting up decent numbers this year, while Mirco Antenucci has been hot-and-cold. Manuel Lazzarri is a thorn on the defense’s sides and Jasmin Kurtic gives their midfield an extra dimension. Mo Fares is not very reliable defensively, but he is playing with great energy lately.

Chievo-Inter: while they are still seeking for their first win of the season, the Flying Donkeys have been able to get back to their usual way and tightened up defensively since Domenico di Carlo got the job. They have conceded just twice in the previous four games, drawing in all of them. Inter were unconvincing against Udinese, but were still able to grab a much-needed win. They have stumbled in the last three road fixtures. The other side of the coin for the Gialloblù is that their offensive numbers have been dismal so far. Mariusz Stepinski and Sergio Pellissier have netted their lone two goals of the last month. Perhaps the return to form of Emanuele Giaccherini and re-creating the inventive tandem with Valter Birsa will help them. Mauro Icardi has been splendid in the last period, finding the target in seven of his last eight starts. Balde Keita had a little surge, but consistency has always been his Achilles heel. Ivan Perisic has been constant, but not in a positive way, so Matteo Politano slid into the role of second fiddle. Luciano Spalletti is finding more minutes for Lautaro Martinez, who is always pretty electric, and Radja Nainggolan is working his way back into shape after an injury-ridden stretch.

Juventus-Roma: the Bianconeri have been unimpressive in the last two demanding fixtures versus Inter and Torino, but they have been capable of strong-arming their way into narrow wins, keeping up their otherworldly pace. The Giallorossi finally showed some spine versus Genoa, turning around a match that looked doomed and nabbing the second victory in the last eight encounters. Scoring has not been an issue, as they have piled up seven goals in the last three outings, but the back-line, including the goalkeeper, has been so leaky. The Old Lady has been using the same recipe the whole season, at least in the domestic league, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic have been the main beneficiaries up front. Sami Khedira should be back, Emre Can returned recently returned, so they will have maybe find some goals in the midfield, while Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi’s fantasy stocks have taken a hit due to lack of minutes. They have kept five clean sheets in a row and conceded more than one goal just once this year. The Giallorossi might get Edin Dzeko back this week, while he was out Aleksandar Kolarov and Bryan Cristante have stepped up scoring wise, Justin Kluivert bagged his first one in Serie and Cengiz Under and Nicolò Zaniolo have been dependable playmakers.

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