Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 18

Brescia-Lazio: it did not take much, but the Rondinelle are playing way better after the return of Eugenio Corini and have rediscovered a pair of weapons that had not produced in the first handful of games, such as Ernesto Torregrossa and Nikolas Spalek. Torregrossa is a more natural fit next to Mario Balotelli and, while not overly prolific, he can hit the net from time to time. The Slovenian no.10 instead had struggled to find his footing in the top league, but he is getting there. His emergence, on top of injuries to other midfielders, pushes Romulo to a less offensive position, where he is not as appealing fantasy-wise. Dimitri Bisoli is also faromg  better lately, while Balotelli has corrected his attitude and found the target twice in the past month and is obviously their featured guy up front. Stefano Sabelli is always very frisky for a right-back.

The Biancocelesti will be riding the wave after taking home the Supercoppa and defeating Juventus again, however it cost them two centre-pieces, as Luis Alberto and Lucas Leiva picked up their fifth yellow card of the season and will thus be suspended for this one. Danilo Cataldi and Marco Parolo are expected to fill in and, while they have some sneaky value, they are nowhere close the superstar level of the Spaniard. It will therefore be up to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Joaquin Correa and Ciro Immobile to pick up the slack. The Serbian powerhouse has been the most productive of the trio, but it would be pretty weird if Immobile went three straight games without scoring after his lengthy streak and Brescia do have some problems in the back. Manuel Lazzari has been pretty good for few weeks now.

Roma-Torino: the Giallorossi are coming off an offensive explosion against Fiorentina, where all their linchpins knocked one on goal. Lorenzo Pellegrini notched his first one of the campaign, Aleksandar Kolarov, Edin Dzeko and Nicolò Zaniolo snapped out of their mini slumps. Justin Kluivert’s injury turned out to be more severe than initially thought and he is not lock to be back here. Diego Perotti and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have been passable, the former especially thanks to penalties, but they are not as trustworthy as the aforementioned studs and they usually split time. Alessandro Florenzi has managed to outplay Leonardo Spinazzola lately.

The Granata fumbled away two good opportunities for major points in the last two matches and have actually been more effective than usual on offense, despite Andrea Belotti missing time. That has been the result of a more aggressive scheme featuring Alex Berenguer and Simone Verdi together behind a striker, but it remains to be seen whether Walter Mazzarri will deploy it again here in a more challenging match-up. Both fantasisti have been positive, while the Italian centre-forward has not done damage in a while. They will be without Cristian Ansaldi due to disqualification and it is a significant loss because of his playmaking and Diego Laxalt and Ola Aina simply are not as creative. Tomas Rincon put one on goal in the last game and he, Sasa Lukic and Soualiho Meite will be heavily relied upon as Daniele Baselli could miss another game with a knee sprain.

Atalanta-Parma: the Bergamaschi literally demolished Milan before the break and they will finally get back Duvan Zapata from a thigh injury. Although he will likely be limited at first after a three-month absence, the rich gets richer as he was a beast before getting hurt. The others have been no slouches themselves: Josip Ilicic led the way against the Rossoneri and is putting together a great year stat-wise and Alejandro Gomez has been a rock throughout the season, even when he does not score. Luis Muriel will take a hit once his Colombian compatriot will be at full speed, and his play was not great up until two recent scores, but he was a pretty devastating weapon off the bench in the early portion of the season. Mario Pasalic has been outstanding while plugging holes in few spots and Ruslan Malinovskyi has been showing better too, but their minutes might decrease now that rotating the squad is not strictly necessary. Robin Gosens and Timothy Castagne are both on the rise.

The break has not really solved their injury issues, as Gervinho picked up a thigh strain and will sit out at least this upcoming one and, among the attackers, Roberto Inglese has been the only one making progress in his recovery from a previous injury. They are set to be again depleted up front and Dejan Kulusevski, whom the Orobici obviously know very well, will have to shoulder most of the offensive load, likely joined by Mattia Sprocati and Juraj Kucka, unless they opt for a more defensive scheme. The absence of the Ivorian speedster is clearly damaging, as there could be some opportunities to counter on Sunday and he and Kulusevski thrive in tandem there. Kucka delivered the last time he was fielded in such an offensive position but he too is at less than 100 percent. Alberto Grassi hit the net after an eternity in the most recent game, while, among their midfielders, Hernani carries some second-level interest for his shooting.

Juventus-Cagliari: Paulo Dybala and yet again Cristiano Ronaldo put their name in the stat-sheet in the last Serie A game versus Sampdoria. The star-studded trident, including also Gonzalo Higuain, has been reaping its benefits in the league, barring the bouts versus Lazio, and Maurizio Sarri could ride it, much to the delight of fantasy owners. The big losers would eventually be Federico Bernardeschi, who had plenty of opportunities to grab the brass ring, and Douglas Costa, who has not proven to be dependable from a physical standpoint. Aaron Ramsey can easily slide to other positions, but his stocks would drop a bit too if not used as no.10. Rodrigo Bentancur has been hit with a three-game suspension following a regrettable sequence in Riyad and he had been their best midfielder recently, while Miralem Pjanic has been pretty pedestrian for a while. Adrien Rabiot could have a healthy amount of minutes thrown his way and has been trending positively. Alex Sandro uncorked two great crosses versus Sampdoria, but he is hit-and-miss, while Juan Cuadrado’s efficacy as right-back has gone down a tick.

After late-game collapse against Lazio, Cagliari had a paltry outing against Udinese and so they are decisively losing steam, but they should not be counted out and they have shined in fixtures where they had room to counter. Radja Nainggolan has been silent in December but he always has a pep in his step when going against the Bianconeri and he is a master of the fast breaks. Giovanni Simeone instead has hit the net once in the last month and he remains extremely feast-or-famine. Joao Pedro instead solved that issue and he is having a career year, having already compiled 11 goals, scoring even when he has an off day, like professional poachers do. Nahitan Nandez and Marko Rog have occasionally showed up on offense but they are more energy players, while they do get a lot out their fullbacks, no matter who is starting.

Napoli-Inter: the Partenopei finally returned to winning ways in Sassuolo despite an unimpressive display and that can go a long way for a team that has been sputtering for a long time. Allan, of all people, found the target in that match. Arkadiusz Milik did his thing right away after coming back, while they are still waiting for Dries Mertens and especially Lorenzo Insigne, considering his bigger role, to bust out of their domestic funk. The new 4-3-3 helps their box-to-box midfielders and Piotr Zielinski is set to be the main beneficiary, as already proven in the Parma match. Allan followed it up one week later, but they have not settled on who will play pivot between him and Fabian Ruiz, who has been very disappointing this season. Maybe the solution will come from outside. The other players scoring recently were Fernando Llorente and Hirving Lozano, but they have not been elevated from their back-up roles by Gennaro Gattuso. José Callejon was very springy in the last outing.

Romelu Lukaku carried the team with a dazzling performance against the lowly Genoa and they will get their band back together in this one, as Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic return from suspension, Stefano Sensi played few minutes in the last tilt and Nicolò Barella could feature as well. There are good chances Kalidou Koulibaly misses the game and it would be a big boost for the Nerazzurri offense. The two strikers obviously pace the team in terms of fantasy allure, but Sensi was dynamite before the lengthy absence. Roberto Gagliardini, Borja Valero and Matias Vecino have been okay in relief, but they will inevitably be phased out now. Antonio Candreva has quite surprisingly been one of their most consistent performers so far.

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