Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Six

Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri have not been very spectacular in the last two matches against minnows, but they got the job done with the contribution of few different players. Cristiano Ronaldo has shaken off his injury and will be back in this one, Paulo Dybala has outperformed Gonzalo Higuain in the last couple of outings, but the latter is usually closer to the goal. Aaron Ramsey has been pretty good and they could carry on with the tactics where he is heavily featured, but it remains to be seen whether he can play thrice in a row, otherwise Adrien Rabiot or Federico Bernardeschi could get the nod there and reap the benefits of a very offensive role. They have gotten goals from Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi, even though Sami Khedira is generally the midfielder who is most involved in the offense. Juan Cuadrado loses some steam because he is forced to play as right back for the time being.

SPAL have scored five goals so far and all by predictable players: Andrea Petagna (2), Federico Di Francesco (2) and Jasmin Kurtic and, like last season, they are very top-heavy. The Slovenian international has been ruled out for this one though. However, the ex-Sassuolo man might have sustained an injury and is likely to miss this one and the options to replace him, either up front or on the flanks are not as appealing fantasy-wise. Sergio Floccari could get the nod and he was decent at the end of last season, while on the younger side Alessandro Murgia and Mattia Valoti have not broken through yet, but they have had few opportunities to do so. Simone Missiroli might play in a more offensive role than usual.

Sampdoria-Inter: the Blucerchiati are looking for answers throughout their formation and Eusebio Di Francesco has tilted his beliefs and switched to a 3-4-1-2 recently to have more support for Fabio Quagliarella, who should be healthy for Saturday after missing the midweek round. The move makes sense because Manolo Gabbiadini, Gianluca Caprari and Gaston Ramirez are better suited for such formation and Emiliano Rigoni can play in a couple of spots even though he is a natural winger. However, the results have been paltry because they are unable to keep the possession and churn out chances. The only one doing damage has been Gabbiadini, who is banged up, but probably the quicker players will be more dangerous here, although beating the Inter back-line is a tall order.

The Nerazzurri can seemingly do no wrong at this time of the year and it was an unlikely hero who solved the fiddly Lazio match, Danilo D’Ambrosio. They will never be too prolific, but their nexuses are clear and have all already been able to score, led by Romelu Lukaku (3). He has not gotten a day off yet despite a bad back, but if he did, Lautaro Martinez’s stocks would skyrocket and Alexis Sanchez would likely be getting his first start if that was the case. El Toro will be return in the XI anyway after resting a bit on Wednesday, replacing Matteo Politano. Same thing for Stefano Sensi, who has been amazing so far. Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolò Barella have both been able to rack up bonus points, but one might get a day off.

Sassuolo-Atalanta: the Neroverdi have been as great at home as they have been woeful on the road, both from a results standpoint but also considering the way they have played. Their trident gets a boost back on the familiar boost: Domenico Berardi and Francesco Caputo have been superb, Gregoire Defrel has been fine but more in a supporting role, while Jeremie Boga has had a slow start of the season. Out of the midfield, Alfred Duncan and Hamed Traore have impressed, while Manuel Locatelli and Mehdi Bourabia have had some forgettable displays. Their top two fullbacks, Jeremy Toljan and Mert Muldur, are coming along nicely.

Like last season, the Orobici have been splendid on the road. Duvan Zapata have rounded into shape right away and has notched four goals, Josip Ilicic have had a slower start but got one, Luis Muriel is at three but he has been sick this week and his presence is uncertain. Alejandro Gomez is deployed in the same role as the second half of the previous campaign, which means that he will set up others rather than finish and as a matter of fact he has already posted three assists. Ruslan Malinovskyi was super productive in Belgium but it looks like he will mostly play in that position. Their wingbacks Timothy Castagne and Robin Gosens have scored once, now it could be Hans Hateboer’s turn. They have gotten help in the final third also from Remo Freuler, Marten De Roon and Mario Pasalic, which was rarely the case in the past, especially for the two regulars.

Napoli-Brescia: the Partenopei bombed away against Cagliari but could not beat the goalie once, but it was an outlier as their attack had not had any troubles producing and as a matter of fact recorded the most goals by any team so far, led by Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens with three and the Italian winger has provided three assists as well. As expected, the rotations are a big headache and might even be a bit harmful for some of the players involved, as the newcomer Hirving Lozano and Arkadiusz Milik, who is coming off a significant injury, could use some consistent playing time. The Rondinelle have battled but they have gone down against both Juventus and Milan, so picking from Napoli is a fine strategy, starting with the their top two players up front, Fernando Llorente, who has surprisingly been their best pure centre-forward in this limited sample size, and Fabian Ruiz, who is still searching for his final and best role but buried a pretty one the last time he started.

The Biancazzurri welcomed Mario Balotelli back from suspension on Wednesday and his performance was as expected: plenty of shots, including some questionable ones, and a lot of physicality and fouls drawn. He will take some of the pressure off Alfredo Donnarumma, who has already netted four goals and has been thoroughly fantastic, and they will both benefit from the partnership. In the same way Romulo is taking advantage from being a major cog in their offense and he had a goal and an assist in their last two outings. While Dimitri Bisoli should soon join the club in that regard considering his past, Sandro Tonali has been able to pull the strings with astounding confidence and consistency for a 19-year-old Serie A rookie and he is a factor both on set pieces and on open play.

Milan-Fiorentina: the Rossoneri folded at the first sight of danger against Torino, but had actually played their best game up until conceding on Monday night. The 4-3-3 works better for all their attackers: Krzysztof Piatek is more comfortable when he does not have to share the central area with anybody, Rafael Leao and Suso, who was good in the previous iterations but quiet in this one, have more room on the flanks. That being said, even though they created more chances than usual, they still scored just once on a penalty. Now it remains to be seen whether the coach will be stubborn and go back to his preferred scheme or adapt to the situation. Leao is their most in form player, and Monday’s contest took a turn for the worse once he was taken out. Piatek is clearly the most palatable pick even though he has not been very clutch. Hakan Calhanoglu’s play has abated after a decent start and Franck Kessie has done much so far. It does not look like Giacomo Bonaventura is there physically, while Rade Krunic has not gotten a chance yet.

La Viola finally got a W and they deserved it: the 3-5-2 with no pure strikers is working, because both Federico Chiesa and Franck Ribery are capable scorers and they are more solid in other areas in that way. The Italian starlet was subpar at the beginning of the season but he has found the mark in the last and his performances have gone back to the norm. It looks like their top two guys will be fine selections in any round. The third banana up front is Kevin-Prince Boateng, but it depends on how much he gets to play on any given game. Erick Pulgar and Gaetano Castrovilli have been extremely good in the midfield and they both have the potential to pick up points, one because of set pieces, they other because he attacks a lot. Dalbert had an assist in the last match but their flank game has been a slight disappointment, especially considering what Pol Lirola was able to do in Sassuolo and the fact that they have a lot of freedom in this scheme.

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