Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 38

Empoli v FC Internazionale - Serie A

Atalanta-Sassuolo: the Goddess survived Juventus’ second half push last week and returned from Turin with a precious point that allowed them to catch Inter and maintain a narrow lead over Milan. They have not lost since February 23rd and triumphed in eight of the following 12 rounds. Sassuolo are right in the middle of the pack but played spoiler last week by drawing with Roma. They have been defeated just once in the last eight matches, tying in five occasions. Josip Ilicic scored at the Stadium after being shut out for few weeks and also their rock Duvan Zapata and Alejandro Gomez will be popular picks since the Neroverdi are not the stingiest bunch. Neither are the Bergamaschi to be honest: the locals have spread the wealth in terms of scoring, but in general Domenico Berardi, Jeremie Boga and Stefano Sensi have been their best contributors in the final months. Hans Hateboer’s suspension makes it clear that Timothy Castagne and Robin Gosens will man the flanks: the former is more interesting since he is listed as a defender and in the midst of a prolific run.

Fiorentina-Genoa: the Viola have failed to win since mid-February and have cratered in the last few games, losing five in a row, finding the target just once. The Griffon snatched a point late versus Cagliari and they have collected three in the last four fixtures. They too have not prevailed in a while. The two teams are separated by three points. Udinese are safe, but their final position still factors in the survival race because if the three sides end up with the same amount of points, the Rossoblù would have to win by two goals to condemn the Gigliati to the hell of Serie B, if Empoli win in the season finale. Not much has been working offensively for the Vincenzo Montella troops: Federico Chiesa has been their liveliest player, but he is not the most precise finisher. Luis Muriel was even benched last week: he and Jordan Veretout, their technical leaders, will have to step up. Giovanni Simeone or Gerson could get a shot if Kevin Mirallas ends up missing the contest. Cesare Prandelli has tried different configurations, but they have not found a consistent source of goals: Cristian Romero has been oddly involved in three of the last four, two by Goran Pandev and Gianluca Lapadula, and the other was a Domenico Criscito penalty. The two strikers and Christian Kouame will lead the charge here, but the Ivorian speedster has not hit the net in a while.

Inter-Empoli: the Nerazzurri failed to secure the third place in the last few weeks since they have been victorious in just one of the last five tilts, against Chievo, and hit rock-bottom in Naples with a 1-4 defeat. They share their position with Atalanta, but what matters the most is that Milan have cut the disadvantage to one point, putting the Champions League berth in jeopardy. They could not have found a worst opponent for the final game since Empoli are literally fighting for their lives and are also in a nice run of form, having topped Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Torino in the last three games, putting together a tremendous late push. The Azzurri would be sure to stay in Serie A with a win, with a tie if Genoa are not successful, while if they lose, they need the Rossoblù to be defeated too, because they would go down if even. Mauro Icardi snapped out of his slump with a penalty, but it was actually Lautaro Martinez the centre-forward that looked the best against the Partenopei, despite not scoring. Ivan Perisic and Radja Nainggolan have done a lot of damage recently, while Matteo Politano looked clearly hampered by an ankle sprain last week, but should be in better conditions. Afriyieh Acquah and Matteo Brighi perfectly filled in for the injured Rade Krunic against the Granata, both finding the target, while Francesco Caputo bagged yet another goal. Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Diego Farias and Marko Pajac are also bringing a lot to the table.

Roma-Parma: the Giallorossi could not best Sassuolo last week and now just one of the 81 possible combinations would allow them to play in Champions League, the one that sees Atalanta, Inter and Milan all losing and them winning. They have been undefeated for eight matches, but the problem is that they drew in half of them. The Ducali, after a slow descent in the standings, got the win they needed against Fiorentina. La Lupa’s best players in the last couple of months have been Edin Dzeko and Stephan El Shaarawy, while Nicolò Zaniolo is in a funk and Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert are hit-and-miss. Lorenzo Pellegrini has been their third banana but he is dinged up. Aleksandar Kolarov and Federico Fazio have been two of their most prolific players. The Crociati might give ample playing time to second-stringers, also because Gervinho and Roberto Inglese are unlikely to feature: Mattia Sprocati, Roberto Ceravolo, Juraj Kucka and Federico Dimarco carry the most appeal, but it is obviously not a great situation.

SPAL-Milan: despite losing, the Estensi put up a fight against Napoli and Udinese even though they have already clinched their objective. The Rossoneri have won three in a row, against Bologna, Fiorentina and Frosinone and, besides picking up at least a point, they need one between Atalanta and Inter to slip in order to nab a Champions League spot. Andrea Petagna has been terrific all season long and scored in the last two matches too. Their other two head honchos have been Jasmin Kurtic and Manuel Lazzari, while Sergio Floccari perked up late. Marko Jankovic could have some value if given heavy minutes. Krzysztof Piatek returned to the scoresheet last week and will be a good pick here as well, like Suso, who has been fantastic down the stretch. Hakan Calhanoglu is up and down but he has generally played better as box-to-box midfielder. Fabio Borini continues to have sneaky value.

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