Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 14

Juventus-Sassuolo: Cristiano Ronaldo came back midweek and now it will be interesting to see whether or not he will be load managed in Serie A player after the knee injury. Nevertheless, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala have been excellent in relief and have been able to contribute also when coming off the bench in their standard configuration. Douglas Costa got hurt again, which takes away their most explosive option at no.10, so it will Federico Bernardeschi and Aaron Ramsey running the show there for a while, but they both have not done damage in a while. Ramsey has the most upside in the duo. Khedira is fading and, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi are serviceable contributors, they are not strong fantasy options. It could be instead the right kind of match-up for Miralem Pjanic to have a meaningful offensive role, while Juan Cuadrado has been a pretty good fullback for a while now.

The Neroverdi are waiting for news on Domenico Berardi’s recovery from a thigh injury, while Gregoire Defrel will be on the shelf for a while. Filip Djuricic filled in up front against Sassuolo but did not have a great outing and he might be better off in a more central role. They will instead have Hamed Traore back after prolonged international duties and, while he has yet to be turned loose, the talent is certainly there. Francesco Caputo has been leading the charge with Berardi ailing and he has scored three times in the last two rounds and he possesses deceptive speed and playmaking on counters. Speaking of that, Jeremie Boga has been terrific recently, notching three goals in the last six contests and he might have to serve again as their go-to-guy creatively. Alfred Duncan had a strong start but he has since abated, but Manuel Locatelli has not been able to fully take advantage of that and their midfield remains a work-in-progress. Jeremy Toljan has shown steady improvement over the last few matches.

Inter-SPAL: more of the same from the Nerazzurri and they have to reason to change their M.O. as Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez are the gifts that keep on giving and they will be popular picks again this week. It is rare to have two strikers produce at such a strong rate at the same time. They lost Nicolò Barella for the rest of the calendar year and it is uncertain whether Stefano Sensi will be able to make his long-awaited return. At least Matias Vecino has been faring well and found the target twice recently, while Roberto Gagliardini, also banged up, and Borja Valero are not that enticing. Cristiano Biraghi is coming off an assist and this could be a spot where Valentino Lazaro gets the nod on the right wing and he does have some intrigue in easier match-ups. Stefan De Vrij has been their best defender so far, both fantasy-wise and on an eye-test level.

Andrea Petagna returned to the box score on Monday, but Federico Di Francesco appeared to get hurt again, which would be a bummer because the other second-strikers, Sergio Floccari, Alberto Paloschi and Gabriele Moncini, have been underwhelming. His absence would also make it more difficult for them to use a different scheme, with him and Gabriel Strefezza out wide, which is more intriguing than their standard one, but probably not stout enough for this kind of game. The Brazilian winger has been pretty good so far with his two assists and Jasmin Kurtic continues to serve as their second banana and he has hit the net twice. However, they have gotten close to nothing from the other wing-backs, Arkadiusz Reca and Jacopo Sala, and more importantly from the midfielders that have room to attack, like Simone Missiroli, Alessandro Murgia and Mattia Valoti. It is no surprise then that they have had so much trouble scoring.

Lazio-Udinese: Ciro Immobile found the target again in Sassuolo and he can not be stopped even when he does not have that many chances and Luis Alberto posted another assist to reach the double-digit threshold in the season. The diversion compared to the norm was Felipe Caicedo deciding the game, but he is unlikely to garner a particularly sizeable role, because Joaquin Correa has been tremendous and Immobile is obviously untouchable. They could use some more continuity out of Sergej-Milinkovic-Savic and their wing players, Manuel Lazzari and Senad Lulic, and Simone Inzaghi did go to Jordan Lukaku very early in the last fixture. It remains to be seen whether that was just a blip or the start of a trend.

The Zebrette have tightened up in the back after the coaching change, which was not that hard, but they remain pedestrian up front. Stefano Okaka will be back from suspension and he has been their leading scorer with three goals. Their other two linchpins Kevin Lasagna and Rodrigo De Paul have yet to get it going this year and the Italian striker might be used as a super sub if Ilija Nestorovski can hold down the fort. The ex-Palermo man opened his seasonal tally against Sampdoria. The biggest problem is the Argentinian international failing to produce, because he can unlock everything for them if he turns it around. Mato Jajalo will be disqualified, which will generate some changes to the midfield, with either Seko Fofana or Walace drawing the start. They need their midfielders, including the best one Rolando Mandragora, to provide some offense in order to get out of their stagnation. While Jens Stryger Larsen has not been as positive as last season, Ken Sema has been okay.

Napoli-Bologna: Carlo Ancelotti continues to change his men and he is now tweaking the system as well, making it quite impossible for fantasy owner to trust even the most palatable fantasy options in the squad. The most appealing one that has emerged lately is Hirving Lozano, especially because he is listed as a midfielder, and the coach does seem to have a soft spot for him. Arkadiusz Milik is dealing with a nagging injury and he does not have a clear timetable, while Lorenzo Insigne subbed off against Milan due to an elbow bruise but should be back in the weekend despite missing the Liverpool clash. He was used as second-striker in the Milan game, which would help his fantasy stocks, but it has really been a game-to-game proposition. The recent tactical developments could potentially hurt primarily Dries Mertens, but, taking advantage of Insigne’s absence, he snapped out of his slump in Champions League. A more crowded midfield could instead help Piotr Zielinski, Fabian Ruiz and Elijf Elmas, who would have more liberty. José Callejon has not scored since the opener but has registered four crosses. Giovanni Di Lorenzo has been very steady as right back, while they have had revolving doors on the other flank, with Mario Rui representing the slightly better option.

The ageless wonder Rodrigo Palacio deservedly keeps spearheading the Felsinei’s attack and he has logged four goals so far, heading one home in the last bout as well. Riccardo Orsolini has had one goal and one assist in the last two outings, which is a very welcomed sign, while Nicola Sansone has been subpar for a while. Roberto Soriano is nursing an injury: Matthias Svanberg has not been positive filling in as trequartista, while Blerin Dzemaili scored when he moved there and that could be the way to go here. The veteran does have some very prolific seasons under his belt and he perhaps will be able to turn back the clock in that position, at least for a brief stretch. Takehiro Tomiyasu should be back on the flank on Sunday and he was a weapon before getting hurt. Federico Santander and Mattia Destro are both injured but they are not on the fantasy radar and neither are their very defensive pivots.

Verona-Roma: Milan Juric is testing out every alternative to find some goals and the latest one, Samuel Di Carmine, worked out on and he could get some run, probably again with Eddy Salcedo in a supporting role since the responses there were pretty good. It is a matter of balance and push-and-pull between the two phases, because using central midfielders, such as Mattia Zaccagni, Valerio Verre or Matteo Pessina, helps out on the other end. It depends on how courageous the manager decides to be in this one, but it is clearly hard to trust their offensive players. Miguel Veloso is questionable with a thigh strain and he has been their main catalyst so far. They roster few other solid contributors, primarily Darko Lazovic, Sofyan Amrabat and Marco Davide Faraoni, that are more dependable in reality than in the fantasy game.

Nicolò Zaniolo is suspended for this one, but they can rejoice for the fact that Lorenzo Pellegrini came back from a major injury and it looked like he did not skip a beat, immediately providing an assist, an area where he has been a wizard so far. He has played his best football as no.10, so Zaniolo is set to continue featuring as right-winger, but that has not damaged him, while Javier Pastore will take a big hit, even though he has been fine when he saw consistent playing time. Edin Dzeko resumed scoring and, while Justin Kluivert has not been boom-or-bust, they are getting weapons back with Cengiz Under rounding into form and Henrikh Mkhitaryan finally healthy. One of the two will inevitably get the nod with Zaniolo out and the Turk is capable of superb performances. Since Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini both knocked one on goal on Sunday and Aleksandar Kolarov was a stud to open the season, they are the team has scored the most with defenders.

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