Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 21

Brescia-Milan: the Rondinelle will not have Mario Balotelli for a couple of matches, but Ernesto Torregrossa has actually carried the load scoring-wise recently and he and Alfredo Donnarumma formed a formidable partnership last season in Serie B, so they might be able to survive the blow. They have added two intriguing pieces in January in Birkir Bjarnason, who was very dangerous for a midfielder in his time in Pescara, and Simon Skrabb: they should both have their chances because Nikolas Spalek at no.10 has been pretty inconsistent. Sandro Tonali is coming off a two-assist performance and also Stefano Sabelli and Romulo have been decently proficient in a supporting role.

Ante Rebic saved the day versus Udinese and, with Hakan Calhanoglu still dinged up and Giacomo Bonaventura in a post-return funk, he could get the chance to start on Friday. Their new formation opens up space for one more attacker and Rafael Leao has been a pretty good partner for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, although his prolificacy is question mark due to his mobile style. The improvements brought by the ex-Galaxy man are palpable even if he does not hit the net. He could actually pair up pretty well with Krzysztof Piatek as well, but the management probably has other plans for him. Another player on the rise is Samu Castillejo, who has supplanted Suso, playing with with much more energy. Theo Hernandez instead has been a rock all season long and continues to lead them in scoring. Andrea Conti set up a teammate in the last match and Brescia have had few issues on the left flank.

Torino-Atalanta: just as they were putting together a nice run, the Granata dropped one in Sassuolo. The performance was actually passable though, Andrea Belotti had a pair of chances and they confirmed to be more effective offensively with Simone Verdi and Alex Berenguer together. Iago Falque is back from injury, but it is not certain he will stay past the January deadline so he might not feature until then. Either here or elsewhere, he could resurface as a strong option given his past numbers. Their ceiling is lower sans Cristian Ansaldi, who is poised to be a game-time call, because the other options there as not as creative. Their flank game has been uninspiring since Lorenzo De Silvestri, Ola Aina and Diego Laxalt never appeared in the stat-sheets, differently from previous seasons. Tomas Rincon is suspended, but Soualiho Meite did okay in his most recent outing, although he has a small role on offense.

The Goddess are coming off a baffling loss to SPAL, where, even if not at the peak of their powers, they still created enough to get the W but did not finalize and ended up conceding two cheap goals. Josip Ilicic continues to be on a tear, while Alejandro Gomez was visibly limited by a knee problem and he is the guy that makes them go. He should feel better after a week since it was just a knock. Duvan Zapata, as natural, fared better than in the previous match and, in a game or two, he should resume being his old, dominating self. Luis Muriel (two goals in the last 11 appearances) has been relegated to a bench role and it is uncertain whether he can produce from such role like at the beginning of the season. Robin Gosens has put up great numbers for a wing-back in recent rounds, while the two guys on the right, Hans Hateboer and Timothy Castagne, are a notch below him. It might be a war of attrition in the midfield so Remo Freuler and Marten De Roon probably will not have the chance to attack much.

Inter-Cagliari: the Nerazzurri sputtered in Lecce and, as the coach indicated, they were held back by the lack of intensity and so they could not take advantage of a very porous back-line. They will get to face another one this week and, should have learnt their lesson, Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez will be again elite fantasy options, also considering that the opponents will not have their defensive linchpin Fabio Pisacane. Similarly to Zapata, Stefano Sensi and Nicolò Barella are slowly but surely re-gaining steam following lengthy absences. Marcelo Brozovic instead is dealing with an ankle injury, so Borja Valero could get the nod, but he is not on the fantasy radar: Sensi might have to shoulder a very substantial playmaking load. Antonio Candreva is suspended, so it is possible that Ashley Young makes his debut on the right wing and he might have an instant connection with Lukaku.

The Rossoblù did not fully snap out of their drought against Brescia, but they did put up a nice fight, although the supporting cast is currently AWOL. As a matter of fact, Joao Pedro has been the only reliable player and bagged their last three goals. They need more from Radja Nainggolan and Giovanni Simeone but this is obviously a terrible match-up offensively since the Beneamata boast the best statistical defence in the League. It will surely be an interesting game for the Ninja, who has a bone to pick with Inter as they quickly dispatched him last summer, but he has not been particularly good recently. Nahitan Nandez picked up an assist in the last bout and his off-the-field issues are being resolved, while Marko Rog is out with an injury, but all in all the drop-off with Artur Ionita is not dramatic. They lean on their full-backs, Paolo Faragò and Luca Pellegrini is the expected duo for the day, but they are feast-or-famine.

Roma-Lazio: La Lupa unsurprisingly bounced back against Genoa, with Edin Dzeko returning to the box-score, Cengiz Under taking advantage of his first start after the Nicolò Zaniolo injury and Lorenzo Pellegrini picking up another assist. Justin Kluivert also returned, providing a nice dose of dynamism. Without Diego Perotti, penalty kicks will be taken by Jordan Veretout and Pellegrini and it would not be surprising if the latter started netting few more goals considering how well he has been showing. Aleksandar Kolarov and Alessandro Florenzi are back from suspension and it will certainly be a nice duel on the wings, especially between the Serbian veteran and Manuel Lazzari.

The Biancocelesti prevailed yet again in Serie A on the heels of a fabulous hat-trick by Ciro Immobile, but then could not exploit Napoli’s poor form in Coppa Italia and the striker missed a penalty in comical fashion. While that is unfortunate, it does no harm in the fantasy game, where instead the concern comes from Luis Alberto’s imperfect physical conditions, since he has a monumental role in their design. Joaquin Correa is up and running and so Felipe Caicedo will cede some, if not all of his playing time, but he can deliver also in short stints and he has already swung a Derby in the past. Correa was also once used instead of Alberto in the past, but that solution could be a little too daring for this kind of game. If the Spaniard was unable to go, it would likely up to Marco Parolo to replace him, but gone are the days where he was productive in opposing boxes. It would be beneficial if Sergej Milinkovic-Savic could up his game.

Napoli-Juventus: the Partenopei lost three in a row, scoring just once, with Arkadiusz Milik, but got a morale-boosting victory over Lazio in Coppa Italia and, while Lorenzo Insigne has struck out for a long time in Serie A, he has been excellent in the domestic cup. His usage remains very has remained very high even if he has unable to find the net, while the feeds to Milik are spotty. Allan is nicked up, so Diego Demme might anchor the midfield, moving Fabian Ruiz to box-to-box, where he would be more involved in the final third. The allure is still there thanks to his skill-set despite an underwhelming campaign, while Piotr Zielinski has been, for now only marginally, better after Gennaro Gattuso took over. José Callejon has not scored since the opener, but at times he has still been a force.

The blueprint for the Bianconeri has been the same for few weeks but it has been working with Cristiano Ronaldo being an even bigger catalyst than in the past and churning out goal after goal. He is cannibalizing the scoring, so Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain have been knocked down a notch. The former is a quality assist-man, while the playing time of El Pita has decreased with the coach preferring a more balanced team with Aaron Ramsey at no.10. The ex-Gunner has yet to fully take advantage of the position though. Their recent non-Ronaldo goals have actually been scored by centre-backs, Merih Demiral and Leonardo Bonucci, perhaps Matthijs De Ligt will be the next man up. Rodrigo Bentancur is back from a three-game suspension, but he, Adrien Rabiot and Miralem Pjanic are not very appealing fantasy-wise despite their decent displays until they score.

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