Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 23

Atalanta-Roma: the Goddess continue to add to their offensive arsenal, as Duvan Zapata is returning two his usual pre-injury numbers (two goals and three assists in the last four games) and Ruslan Malinovskyi came through last week. The Ukrainian attacker seems to have surpassed Luis Muriel as first option off the bench. Josip Ilicic did not score against Fiorentina, but still had a great performance and he has been en fuego for a while. The one small negative is that, with their front-line now featuring two quality scorers, Alejandro Gomez is back at looking more to feed them rather than finishing on his own: as a matter of fact he set up two goals last week and has not hit the net since in six weeks. Timothy Castagne came back and he is a bigger offensive weapon than the more diligent Hans Hateboer, but they will likely continue to alternate, while Robin Gosens on the opposite flank is slowing down a bit after a gorgeous January. Mario Pasalic fumbled away a pair of sitters in Florence. Rafael Toloi (one goal and six assists) has been their most intriguing defender.

The Giallorossi are in a funk, but at least they can count on the return of their offensive mastermind Lorenzo Pellegrini and that will aid the whole front-line. The problems, however, have mostly been on the other end since they have always able to score at least once even in the recent losing efforts. Henrikh Mkhitaryan delivered right away upon returning and he has been prolific when available (four goals in ten appearances) and he will be a strong option for the left wing, where Justin Kluivert is yet to get it going after his injury and Diego Perotti is just not very dynamic. After a little burst, Cengiz Under felt back into his old, inconsistent, habits and he is set to be pushed by Carles Perez, who has fared well in limited minutes. Edin Dzeko had hit the net in tree straight before the last game, while Aleksandar Kolarov reconquered his starting job and had a strong showing, although he is no longer a superb asset without penalties.

Juventus-Brescia: Cristiano Ronaldo keeps scoring, vacuuming up the goals for the other forwards as Gonzalo Higuain has not found the target since January 6th and Paulo Dybala since mid-January, although he has collected five assists in that time. Douglas Costa suffered another injury right as he was surging and his absence will lead to more minutes for La Joya and likely for Aaron Ramsey as well, who however has not really found his footing in the Peninsula. Rodrigo Bentancur dished another helper in Verona, making it three in a row and seven in the season and, until one of the Argentinian strikers wakes up, he is their second-best fantasy asset, considering that Miralem Pjanic and Adrien Rabiot have proved not to be a significant part of their offensive plan.

The Rondinelle got a point in the first game under Diego Lopez, but it did not seem like things change all that much, as Udinese ran the show and they bagged an opportunistic goal, with Dimitri Bisoli doing damage for the first time in Serie A. The scheme was the same, shore up by two muscular midfielders, Bisoli and Daniele Dessena, and with a creative no.10, Nikolas Spalek, so removing Romulo, who had been one of their top performers, but he can at times pay the price for the lack of a proper role. Jaromir Zmrhal, who has not made a peep this season, got minutes before him, we will see if this one a one-off or will become a trend. Ernesto Torregrossa (three goals in the last three games) will be back from suspension, but there is concern about the status of Mario Balotelli, who is dealing with a sore calf. He lost his momentum with a two-match ban. Sandro Tonali has been their beacon but he is not a big ‘bonus guy’, also Stefano Sabelli is pretty bubbly and involved for a right back.

Cagliari-Napoli: the Sardinians are having troubles snapping out of their slump, even though their offense has been producing at an acceptable clip, barring the last scoreless game in Genoa, where Joao Pedro was unusually wasteful. A date with the suspect Napoli back-line could help out the Brazilian striker (14 goals in the season, three in the last four games) and Giovanni Simeone, who had interrupted a drought two weeks ago. Radja Nainggolan is suspended and it is a gigantic loss, even if his level play had abated. They have few options to replace him, Gaston Pereiro being the most appealing one even though it might be too early for him to be a real factor, or they can simply drop a midfielder and go with 3-5-2, as they are doing more and more recently, giving Paolo Faragò and Luca Pellegrini more freedom on offense, where they both have potential. Nahitan Nandez has been showing very energetically lately and since they will likely be without Marko Rog too, he is slated to be the main cog in the midfield.

The Partenopei came a cropper against Lecce after two wins in a row, undone by shoddy defending despite the return of Kalidou Koulibaly. Their front-line instead is in okay form, as they netted six goals in the last two matches, with Arkadiusz Milik putting his name in the stat-sheet for two weeks in a row, and José Callejon and Dries Mertens coming alive after few scoreless months. Lorenzo Insigne instead has not followed up the goal versus Juventus. The new formation has given more responsibility to the midfielders: Piotr Zielinski has reaped the most benefits (one goal and one assist in the last three games), but also Elijf Elmas and Diego Demme knocked one on goal. Fabian Ruiz is expected back after a prolonged illness and he bagged a beautiful goal in Coppa Italia.

Lazio-Inter: the Biancocelesti did not get the full spoils in a three-game week, but they can certainly be delighted with the level of consistency and this will be the final test to see if they are really title material. Ciro Immobile has scored ‘only’ a brace in the last three fixtures, but his numbers remain terrific with 25 goals in the season, so he was due to regress a bit. Felipe Caicedo came through in Parma and he has fully taken advantage of the increased playing time with Joaquin Correa on the shelf, as he bagged four goals in the last five tilts. However, Correa is back and will most likely be in the starting lineup, looking to halt a lengthy scoring slump, since he last put one on goal in mid-November. Luis Alberto (12 assists in the season) is in otherworldly form, even though that has not showed up in the box-scores. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is back from suspension and, even if he has been boom-or-bust, he tends to show up in crunch games. Manuel Lazzari has looked like his best SPAL self in the last few weeks.

The Beneamata dig deep in the Derby and rallied back thanks to a couple of players that had not done damage in a while, Marcelo Brozovic and Matias Vecino, although the Croatian maestro had been active assist-wise. Stefan De Vrij and Romelu Lukaku (three goals in the last two games, 17 in the season) did the rest. They will get back Lautaro Martinez following a two-match suspension and he had been electric with three goals in the previous four fixtures before the incident. Alexis Sanchez has been useful, but he will now be an off-the-bench option. It might take some time for Christian Eriksen to get a full complement of minutes, but he can still have an explosive impact. Antonio Candreva and Victor Moses both had an assist in the Derby and that is going to be a nice duel for the starting job, while Ashley Young has easily run away on the left flank.

Milan-Torino: the Rossoneri fell apart in the second half versus Inter, but the first half reaffirmed their current strengths, as Ante Rebic (four goals in the last four rounds) is going like gangbusters and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still a force. Hakan Calhanoglu hit the net last week and rattled the post in the Derby, so he is back as a fantasy option, while Samu Castillejo on the other wing has been sprightly but not very productive, as he has yet to score in Serie A this season. Rebic exploding has phased out a little both Rafael Leao and Giacomo Bonaventura, who had a brief moment in the sun. Theo Hernandez has slowed down a bit with just one goal in the last seven rounds, which would fine for any other fullback, but he has had some stretches where he was uncontainable.

The Granata played a good first half in Moreno Longo debut, but then were bitten again by a crumbling defence. Alex Berenguer and Simone Verdi played in a wider position and combined for the first seasonal goal of the Italian winger, who might be able to go on a run given his past. The Spaniard instead has been steady with five goals in the year. Their paltry offense has hurt mainly Andrea Belotti, who has scored in just one of the last nine appearances, but was also rarely put in position to do so. Cristian Ansaldi (four goals and two assists) played few minutes and his presence will help things out on that end, while the contribution of the midfielders, Tomas Rincon, Sasa Lukic and Soualiho Meite, has been spotty at best and Daniele Baselli probably will need some time to be effective even if he does come back.

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