Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Nine

Lecce-Juventus: the Salentini have weirdly been better away than at home, but, in any case, they are set to be pesky in most of the contests due to their daring style. While Gianluca Lapadula was out nursing an injury, Khouma Babacar proved to be a better reference point for the offense, even though he is unlikely to be particularly consistent in terms of scoring. With his latest performance, Diego Farias is seriously threating the starting job of Filippo Falco, who has not been able to produce despite starting in the eight matches. Marco Mancosu has instead bagged four goals, three on penalties, and he is always lurking as the trailer. Andrea Tabanelli is the other midfield tasked with meaningful offensive duties, while left back Marco Calderoni has found the target twice from distance so far.

The Bianconeri are getting goals from all their three strikers, which makes life harder to the fantasy owners as the duel between Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain is a week-to-week proposition. It would not be super shocking to see Cristiano Ronaldo rested with the midweek round coming up, so perhaps the two Argentinians will get to play together. Aaron Ramsey will at most be ready for the bench, so Federico Bernardeschi should start in the hole after making room to Rodrigo Bentancur midweek. He and Adrien Rabiot are trending in the right direction after a slow start and might be able to take advantage of the porous Giallorossi defence, although the Vecchia Signora remains very top heavy. Juan Cuadrado is turning into a threat as right back.

Inter-Parma: their vaunted strikers’ duo put on a show in Sassuolo, with Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku both bagging a brace. Should Stefano Sensi continue to be sidelined, their whole offense would basically run through them, as Nicolò Barella, Roberto Gagliardini and Matias Vecino have not had that many chances to score, even though the Uruguayan used to be a factor there in the past. Marcelo Brozovic, instead, has found the target twice from distance. Their back-line could be poised to bounce back as the Ducali have been poor on the road. Antonio Candreva has been a sneaky contributor so far and the injury to Alexis Sanchez has opened the door for more playing time for Matteo Politano and he might be able to cash in here or there.

Parma lost Roberto Inglese for the foreseeable future, Andrea Cornelius filled in sterling fashion with a hat-trick, but he got hurt too. They are likely to use Gervinho as false-nine now and he will have a chance to get out of his mini-slump. The player leading them has actually been Dejan Kulusevski, who is tied with Luis Alberto for most assist in Serie A and he put two on goal. Yann Karamoh, Luca Siligardi and Matteo Sprocati are all set to get a look on the wings with two centre-forwards out of commission. Juraj Kucka opened his seasonal tally in the last game and he should be good for five or six throughout the year, while Hernani is a quality shooter but has not broken the seal yet. Matteo Darmian could be a quality fantasy defender.

SPAL-Napoli: the Estensi continue to struggle on the road, but they gathered their only two wins at home. They have struggled offensively and their six-goal haul is tied with Verona for the worst clip in the League. Andrea Petagna is their clear target man, but the opponents know it too and, with Federico Di Francesco on the shelf, he does not have a can opener next to him. His three goals have all come in this stadium. Sergio Floccari has not rounded into shape yet and the other alternatives are all typical centre-forwards. Jasmin Kurtic has netted one but he has not been as dangerous as last season. The energetic Gabriel Stefezza will be back from suspension and he can provide a spark on the flank. The coach has opted to use Mirko Valdifiori next to Simone Missiroli recently, reducing the playing time of the two more intriguing midfielders, Alessandro Murgia and Mattia Valoti.

Arkadiusz Milik finally came alive for the Partenopei and he certainly possesses the potential and the skills to be their top scorer, if he can phase out some misses and stay healthy. The go-to scheme is actually tailor made to help the main striker, also Fernando Llorente capitalized, but it remains to be seen whether Carlo Ancelotti will continue tweaking with it or rotating his players like a mad man. Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne both shined midweek in Champions League and they might put an emphasis in getting Hirving Lozano going. Their midfielders, Fabian Ruiz, Allan and Piotr Zielinski, have not had a meaningful output in the final third, so most of the value is in their strikers. Insigne had an assist in the last time out, Mertens has notched four goals. Amin Younes got a spot start but fumbled away the opportunity.

Roma-Milan: they lost Brian Cristante too and Paulo Fonseca is about to run out of midfields to the point that a tactical switch could be in the cards because the depth is non-existent there and assortment of traits dubious. The Jordan Veretout-Javier Pastore tandem that played for most of the Sampdoria match is pretty light. Either way, their offense has sputtered in the last four matches, scoring just twice, one by Edin Dzeko, the other was an own-goal, and they have been severely hurt by the simultaneous absences of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Cengiz Under. They would be limited even if they were able to come back here. Justin Kluivert has been better than last season, but he remains a bit feast-or-famine and he is suspended here, which will likely lead to Diego Perotti and Alessandro Florenzi getting the nod on the flanks. The results might not be great. Nicolò Zaniolo has not been able to translate his touches into goals yet, but not for lack of trying. The efficacy of Dzeko, who has logged four goals, hinges on the quality of the supporting cast, which varies. Their other star has been Aleksandar Kolarov.

The Rossoneri showed some interesting stuff in the first outing with Stefano Pioli at the helm: the best signals came from Hakan Calhanoglu, who looked like a different player as left winger, Krzysztof Piatek found his first goal of the season on open play and also Lucas Paqueta and Rafael Leao were pretty bouncy. They would benefit from using their two strikers together, but it is tough to do with their current roster. More importantly, they were proactive and able to keep the ball up front, something they were rarely able to achieve under Marco Giampaolo. A goal poacher like Piatek would surely be helped if they can create chances in bunches also against stouter teams. On the negative side, Suso and Franck Kessie keep having pedestrian showings.

Fiorentina-Lazio: a clash between two sides with precise designs and even clearer fantasy contributors. For La Viola, it has been all Franck Ribery, Gaetano Castrovilli and Federico Chiesa so far, with Erick Pulgar taking advantages of penalties. The Italian winger could certainly be a little more prolific for the role he is currently being used and Brescia did manage to hold their light attacking duo in check. Vincenzo Montella has a couple of weapons to tilt 3-5-2, Kevin Prince-Boateng and Dusan Vlahovic, but it is likely too early for drastic changes.

Simone Inzaghi has been deploying it for few seasons now and, despite some inexplicable pauses by their top players, it surely works when Ciro Immobile is able to rain hellfire like he is currently doing. If Joaquin Correa and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic were a little more continuous, they would be uncontainable. Luis Alberto played poorly against Atalanta but he has been their puppet master. Manuel Lazzari is likely to start here but he has not been able to assert himself as the playmaker on the wing they hoped he would do.

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