Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 23


The next Serie A round will start very early, on Thursday, and stretch throughout the weekend.

Lazio-Empoli: it was not necessarily pretty, but the Biancocelesti returned to winning ways against Frosinone after three unsatisfactory results and now are in the fifth spot, tied with Roma and Atalanta, one point away from Champions League. The Azzurri came back against Chievo, collecting the second draw in the last three fixtures after a slew of losses, but behind them Bologna have gotten closer. The Biancocelesti are really banged up and, considering the minuscule turnaround, there is growing pessimism about the presence of Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto, who got hurt on Monday. Joaquin Correa should be able to play and in this scenario he and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic become very attractive fantasy assets and Felipe Caicedo could be a cheap plug considering he has scored in the last round. Valon Berisah and Riza Durmisi might be unlikely protagonists. Empoli are still sorting out the pecking order up front after the January shake-up, but Francesco Caputo and Rade Krunic are their fulcrums, while Diego Farias and Dimitri Oberlin will get extended minutes while Antonino La Gumina is out. Fullback Giovanni Di Lorenzo has made the leap in the last few games and Hamed Traorè is growing constantly as well.

Fiorentina-Napoli: the midweek Coppa Italia game took a toll on few teams and La Viola was one of them, as they did not look in tip-top shape against Udinese, where they picked up their third tie in the last four games. The Partenopei bounced back after the clashes with Milan by manhandling Sampdoria at home: they have won in three of their last matches. Luis Muriel has been spectacular after his return and Federico Chiesa has benefitted from having a partner in crime that operates at the same speed. Giovanni Simeone has not scored in the last five games and Kevin Mirallas has at times been picked over him to form an intriguing light attack. Jordan Veretout recently returned to box-to-box, but he has yet to stand out despite the fantastic performances in that role last season. Marco Benassi will serve the final game of his suspension, which opens the doors to the XI to Gerson, who has potential but is also wildly inconsistent. As for the guests, Lorenzo Insigne returned to the scoresheet after a way too long absence and Arkadiusz Milik is scorching hot with his four goals in the last four fixtures and 12 in the season. He seems to have definitely overtaken Dries Mertens in the pecking order, but perhaps the departure of Marek Hamsik will affect things offensively too, with Insigne playing more on the left. José Callejon and Simone Verdi also recently snapped out of their slumps and therefore their front-line could soon be running on all cylinders.

Parma-Inter: the Ducali stunned Juventus at home with a two-goal comeback late, maintaining the trend that sees them more prone to big results on the road rather than at home, where they have won just once in the last seven matches. Inter are floundering as they have yet to score in 2019 and lost to Bologna and Torino. The Crociati keep being carried by their tandem Gervinho-Roberto Inglese, while Juraj Kucka is coming off a great performance in Turin and might become their third banana. Not much is functioning for the Beneamata lately, as even their vaunted back-line was burned in the last two rounds. Mauro Icardi and Lautaro Martinez have unusually missed some chances, they are trying to make it work with Ivan Perisic after his transfer request, Radja Nainggolan and Matias Vecino are giving them little offensively and Antonio Candreva can not properly replace Matteo Politano. At least it looks like that Balde Keita is close to returning.

Sassuolo-Juventus: the Neroverdi have picked up just one win in the last six matches, but they have shown some signs of improvement, especially defensively, in the first three games of 2019, where they have yet to lose. The Bianconeri are now the only undefeated team in Europe, but they have few problems to deal with as they have conceded six goals in the last two matches after Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci got injured. Offensively, Cristiano Ronaldo has been helped by Mario Mandzukic coming back, but he had stayed productive even with the Croatian out. Douglas Costa is ailing, which should lead to more minutes for Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala, but his role does not make him very appealing fantasy-wise. Sami Khedira is coming in hot in that regard, but he will rotate a lot with other midfielders. As for the home team, Khouma Babacar is getting an extended run after the sale of Kevin-Prince Boateng, but his numbers have not spiked. Roberto De Zerbi might go back to a false-nine in some match-ups, with Filip Djuricic, who scored in the last game, Federico Di Francesco and Jeremie Boga as potential candidates. Domenico Berardi is a massive reference point for them, but he is not very prolific. One of their star, Alfred Duncan, is suspended, while Stefano Sensi is banged up.

Milan-Cagliari: despite not attacking all that much, the Rossoneri came away with a precious tie against Roma on the road and Krzysztof Piatek proved once again that he needs just one or two chances to score. They have not lost in the last five fixtures, winning two of them: they are fourth on their own, but with three teams breathing down their neck. Cagliari have been defeated in three of the last four matches, against Udinese, Sassuolo and Atalanta, failing to hit the net in all three. Leonardo Pavoletti has fallen into a drought, while Joao Pedro has become feast-or-famine. Valter Birsa broke his arm, so they will have to rely on Artur Ionita in a more offensive position or on Cyril Thereau. The fantasy values of the midfielder certainly increases. As for the Rossoneri, Suso is not in his best moment of form, but he and Lucas Paquetà could be able to take advantage of a favourable match-up. Hakan Calhanoglu should try to do something before fading into irrelevance and gets supplanted.

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