Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 22

Sassuolo-Roma: an early red card took the Neroverdi out of the Sampdoria game pretty early, but they still came away with a decent point, even though they were understandably unable to do much on offense. In the previous round, Domenico Berardi and Jeremie Boga propelled them past Torino the previous week and they have an intriguing front-line when everybody is healthy and on his day, since they are quite moody, the concerns are more on the other end and the suspension of Federico Peluso adds to those. Francesco Caputo has not scored since mid-December after a fast start, while their duo of no.10s Hamed Traore and Filip Djuricic, who generally alternate, have been able to do a decent amount of damage. Manuel Locatelli and Pedro Obiang/Francesco Magnanelli rarely attack due to their defensive position, they have combined for just one goal, while Jeremy Toljan and Grigoris Kyriakopoulos are decent fullbacks, but the match-up is pretty hard.

La Lupa deserved to come out on top in the Derby as they controlled the proceedings for most of the game and created more chances. Edin Dzeko has found the target twice in a row, Cengiz Under has looked very spry while taking Nicolo Zaniolo’s spot and, even if less consistent game in and game out, he looks to score more than Lorenzo Pellegrini, who instead primarily play-makes for others and is not super clinical when finishing. Justin Kluivert came back with an assist in the Genoa tilt and his presence adds more dynamism to their offense compared to Diego Perotti and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, even though the teammates are generally better bets to hit the net. Aleksandar Kolarov should return to the XI following a conservative decision last week and he is always a threat on set pieces, while Jordan Veretout should be next in line as penalty taker. Leonardo Spinazzola seems to have re-gained the starting job over Alessandro Florenzi following the Inter transfer fiasco and he has been very fizzy.

Juventus-Fiorentina: the Bianconeri were extremely flat against Napoli, but Cristiano Ronaldo still found a way to knock one on goal late, as he had done in past seven rounds. Using the heavy trident did not really worked out there, so it is possible that Aaron Ramsey returns to the XI on Sunday, but he is not a fantasy asset until he shows some signs of life. Rodrigo Bentancur instead picked up an assist in the last round and scored in Coppa Italia, so he might be worth a look, while Adrien Rabiot is not a lock to play, unless Miralem Pjanic’s injury turns out to be more severe than anticipated. Fiorentina will be without half of their starting defence, so the Old Lady’s forwards will be in a good spot and it would help if Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain had a more continuous production.

La Viola did not manage to crack Genoa’s defence last week and, despite the decent results following the coaching change, they have not been particularly impressive in the final third in the past month, scoring a grand total of four goals in as many fixtures, two stemming from set pieces, one for German Pezzella and one from Marco Benassi, two on quick fast-breaks, by Federico Chiesa and Dusan Vlahovic. Patrick Cutrone gives them a more dangerous presence in the box and the Madama’s defence has been pretty subpar in recent weeks. Chiesa runs hot-and-cold but he usually shows up in big games and they lean on him heavily. Benassi resurfaced with Iachini and he has provided some dynamism that was missing in the midfield. Gaetano Castrovilli has been a stud all year long, but he is out with a head injury: they will probably go with the more defensive Milan Badelj this week.

Atalanta-Genoa: the Goddess proved that the SPAL game was just a blip by submerging Torino with goals and their top dogs delivered again. Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens have been unconscious in the past six rounds, Alejandro Gomez is more assist-oriented but always brings it, he just needs more luck when shooting. Duvan Zapata broke the ice after the injury and he might go on a run as he is a goal-scoring machine when in form and Luis Muriel, while apparently counter-intuitive, could actually benefit from a limited role. Genoa showed some improvements in the back, but it remains to be seen whether it will be enough to stop Serie A’s most potent attack and even their defenders are chipping in there.

The Griffon is desperate for new solutions up front as Goran Pandev has been their most reliable guy so far (five goals), which is less than ideal. Nicola has been circling through strikers, but neither Antonio Sanabria nor Andrea Favilli appear to be the answers and Andrea Pinamonti could be headed elsewhere. They could perhaps revisit their decision to put aside Kevin Agudelo because he had provided a jolt when he was out there with Thiago Motta and Francesco Cassata, Stefano Sturaro and Valon Behrami are more hustle guys than offensive contributors. Paolo Ghiglione and Lasse Schone have returned to the XI and they carry some fantasy value for their crossing and passing respectively, while Antonio Barreca has been showing well on the left flank.

Milan-Verona: the Rossoneri took a slight step back in the Brescia game, but they still prevailed, again with Ante Rebic stepping up in the clutch. The Croatian attacker has looked like a new player after the winter break and he would be deserving of starting, but since it worked out nicely, he might again be kept as a super sub. Zlatan Ibrahimovic uncharacteristically missed a sitter in the last game but at least, differently from was happening with Krzysztof Piatek, the teammate are indeed finding him in the box. Rafael Leao combinates convincing showings with duds, but he is playing more now and he complements Zlatan pretty well. After being pretty lacklustre for weeks, Hakan Calhanoglu put together a brace in Coppa Italia and so he will likely continue to have a firm grasp on the starting job and Samu Castillejo has a clear pathway on the right flank with Suso about to leave town, so Giacomo Bonaventura, who had been promoted for a minute, might stay in a back-up role for some time. Ismael Bennacer is suspended, so Rade Krunic could get the nod if Lucas Leiva does not recover and he can be a sneaky fantasy guy. Theo Hernandez finds a way to be dangerous even in apparently off games, as certified by the late thunderbolt against Brescia.

The Scaligeri have set a new club record by scoring in 11 straight Serie A matches as Milan Juric has gotten their offensive phase going, on top of maintaining a high level of defensive efficiency. They do not really have a go-to guy, but they have spread the wealth around and Matteo Pessina, Valerio Verre, Mattia Zaccagni, Fabio Borini, besides the strikers Giampaolo Pazzini and Samuel Di Carmine, have all put their name in the stat-sheets in the recent stretch. They have few ex Milan players, which is usually an ominous sign, and they are also proficient on set pieces, Pawel Dawidowicz was the last centre-back to score but also Amir Rrahmani, Koray Gunter and Marash Kumbulla attack the box with some purposes in those instances. They boast a very peppy flank game manned by Darko Lazovic and Marco Davide Faraoni, who have both picked up multiple goals and assists.

Udinese-Inter: even though they dropped two in a row, the Zebrette are trending in the right direction offensively and that has raised the fantasy profile of Kevin Lasagna, Rodrigo De Paul, Stefano Okaka and Seko Fofana, who have all found the net at least once in January. They are not super explosive, but no longer one of the worst offenses like at the beginning of the season. Jens Stryger Larsen and Ken Sema are a viable pair of wing-backs, while Rolando Mandragora has been the recipient of some big chances, but squandered them all. He will redeem himself at some point because he is a good shooter.

The Nerazzurri have been pretty mediocre in the last two months, bagging multiple goals in only two of the last seven matches, almost exclusively with Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez. El Toro is suspended, so the Belgian powerhouse will have to take on an even bigger role and that opens up minutes for Alexis Sanchez, who was okay at the beginning of the campaign before a major ankle injury and could be relatively cheap add. Sebastiano Esposito could get some run as well and he is usually electric. Stefano Sensi had a promising flurry in the second half of the Cagliari bout and so he resumes being a fantasy option, although the acquisition of Christian Eriksen will likely affect him the most going forward. Marcelo Brozovic remains iffy, but Borja Valero, or Nicolò Barella for that matter, are not on the radar. Ashley Young debuted with an assist and, while Antonio Candreva will be back from suspension, that could earn him the job on the other flank over Cristiano Biraghi.

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