Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 27

Fiorentina-Brescia: the Viola will welcome back Franck Ribery, at least in limited fashion at first, and the coach is ready to tweak is system to accommodate him either in the hole or on the left wing, joining Dusan Vlahovic/Patrick Cutrone and obviously Federico Chiesa up front. In the meantime, it could be Gaetano Castrovilli taking on a bigger role. Alfred Duncan and Marco Benassi have some decent potential.  It is an extremely appealing match-up considering Brescia’s defensive woes and absences: Vlahovic and Castrovilli in the particular were in great form before the lockdown.

Brescia will move forward without Mario Balotelli, who is engaged in a contract dispute with the management that will likely end with an early termination. That means that Alfredo Donnarumma will resume being the starter and he was fairly productive at the very beginning of the season, while Ernesto Torregrossa (four goals) emerged afterwards. The third fiddle offensively will be either Romulo or Birkir Bjarnason, with the former being the more interesting option as a disrputor. They have had meager returns from their box-to-box midfielders Dimitri Bisoli and Daniele Dessena, while Stefano Sabelli is fairly spry.

Lecce-Milan: the fizzy forward Filippo Falco recovered during the hiatus, while Diego Farias is not fully and Antonin Barak, who has been a key player since joining in January, is questionable as well. That could lead to some adjustments, especially concerning their star midfielder Matteo Mancosu (eight goals), who has scored against pretty much any top club. The two other interesting pieces fantasy-wise are Riccardo Saponara, who has been a great assist-man when healthy, and Gianluca Lapadula (seven goals).

The Rossoneri will not have Zlatan Ibrahimovic like in Coppa Italia and will be hoping Ante Rebic does not get himself sent off after few minutes. The Croatian winger was on a tear in March and could be fine as centre-forward since Rafael Leao appears to be in the coach’s doghouse right now. Giacomo Bonaventura should get an opportunity from the start and he generally has a bigger nose for the goal than Hakan Calhanoglu and Samu Castillejo, who are however full-time starter, and especially Lucas Paqueta. Theo Hernandez has been one of the best defenders fantasy-wise so far. Lecce have been very leaky so far, therefore the Devil’s attacker should be in a nice spot.

Bologna-Juventus: the Felsinei will have to deal with some suspensions, but not super relevant ones fantasy-wise. Their front-line is intact and dangerous: Riccardo Orsolini will have something to prove, Nicola Sansone has been a giant killer in the past and Roberto Soriano and Rodrigo Palacio are strong tactical weapons. But the biggest weapon is Musa Barrow, who has wreaked havoc since the move from Atalanta. With Mitchell Dijks back into the fold, he will form a strong pair of fullbacks opposite to standout Takehiro Tomiyasu.

The Bianconeri did not look good in the two Coppa Italia matches and uncharacteristically misfired even though they had their most qualitative trident on the pitch: Douglas Costa-Paulo Dybala-Cristiano Ronaldo. Dybala performed the best out of the trio, but it is rare for Cristiano to go few matches in a row without scoring. Gonzalo Higuain is set to be a game-time decision and could need some time to be fully fit. Until Aaron Ramsey is fully ready to go, their most alluring midfielder is Rodrigo Bentancur, who has dished out a bunch of assists in the current campaign.

SPAL-Cagliari: Luigi Di Biagio was using a pretty aggressive lineup three months ago and, even if Federico Di Francesco got hurt again, he could press on deploying all four of Andrea Petagna, Mattia Valoti, Gabriel Strefezza and Lucas Castro together, or turning to Marco D’Alessandro. They can usually use as much offense as they can get. Petagna has been the usual stud (11 goals out of 20), the others have sneaky potential, especially Valoti. Not much going on in the rest of the formation.

Mixed results from the Valter Zenga’s debut game: Giovanni Simeone scored and played well, Gaston Pereiro and Artur Ionita flopped and Valter Birsa did not bring much off the bench. The defense was too porous and Luca Ceppitelli will be suspended for this one. Nahitan Nandez and Luca Pellegrini also had noteworthy performances and the Uruguayan dynamo is given a lot of freedom. The good news is that Joao Pedro (16 goals) is available for this one, not it will be up to the coach to decide what way to go between the two systems he used against Verona. Pedro, Simeone, Nandez and Pellegrini are the go-to-guys here.

Verona-Napoli: Milan Juric surprised a bit with his selection against Cagliari, but it worked out wonderfully. After a prolonged run with a false-nine, he went back to using a pure centre-forward and Samuel Di Carmine repaid him with a dazzling brace, which should clarify the pecking order moving forward. Fabio Borini is suspended and Matteo Pessina is banged up, so Valerio Verre and Mattia Zaccagni should man the attacking midfielder’s spots and they are both sly. Verre looked pretty good in the last game, same for Darko Lazovic, who picked up an assist, while Marco Faraoni had a more muted outing on the other flank. Miguel Veloso should be back in the XI after getting a partial day off and his set piece prowess is very precious.

The Partenopei lost some of their proactivity edge under Gennaro Gattuso, but reaped the benefits from the result standpoint. The linchpin with the safest role is Lorenzo Insigne (five goals), those instead with the highest scoring potential are Arkadiusz Milik and Dries Mertens, who will however for the most part end up splitting time, which is not ideal. The same is set to go on at right winger between Matteo Politano and José Callejon, but their haul is more muted anyway. Fabian Ruiz and Piotr Zielinski could thrive with Diego Demme taking care of all the dirty work in the midfield and both are strong shooters.

Genoa-Parma: the Grifone had a good thing going before the pause thanks to the tandem made up by Antonio Sanabria (three goals and two assists since January) and Goran Pandev, who has been their most reliable striker all season long. The coach might try to reintroduce the struggling Andrea Pinamonti as well to have more options. Domenico Criscito has been a killer on penalties and Paolo Ghiglione could be very at ease in this system. Instead, among Lasse Schone, Stefano Sturaro and Francesco Cassata, there is not really much fantasy juice in the midfield, although the return of Lukas Lerager could lend a hand.

Pretty much more of the same from Parma, who remain steadfast in their wait-and-see approach. The three attackers, Gervinho, Andreas Cornelius and Dejan Kulusevski, seemed a little behind physically and did not have great displays, while Juraj Kucka bagged one and also Jasmin Kurtic looked okay. The match-up has a similar degree of difficulty. For the time being, the more intriguing pieces fantasy-wise appear to be in the midfield.

Torino-Udinese: Moreno Longo did not dramatically change his scheme, but did tweak it just enough to accommodate another attacker, Simone Edera in this case, likely a placeholder until Simone Verdi is back, and Andrea Belotti played few meters behind Simone Zaza. Even though the two strikers did not deliver and Belotti even missed a penalty, the more proactive attitude should allow them re-enter the fantasy radar. Alex Berenger was pulled early, but provided an assist and was one of their most active guys and Edera was fine too, despite missing a sitter. Ola Aina came out firing off the bench. Like before, not much pizzazz out of the midfield, although Soualiho Meite has shown some potential in the past and might be deployed more.

The Bianconeri are a pretty top-heavy side and the recommendable options generally stay the same, starting with Rodrigo De Paul (five goals, two assists) and then Stefano Okaka and Kevin Lasagna, whose attractiveness depend on the match-up. Okaka has been better but his work rate can take something away from his scoring. Seko Fofana and Ken Sema have had their moments this season and could be worth a flier.

Inter-Sassuolo: riding Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez continues to be a winning formula, now they can mix in Christian Eriksen, who looked fantastic against Sampdoria and, since Marcelo Brozovic and Stefano Sensi will be out for a while, he will be their main playmaker in the upcoming matches and he could turn into a fantasy star, also considering his set piece prowess. Nicolò Barella and Roberto Gagliardini do not participate much to the offense in this scheme, while out on the wing Antonio Candreva confirmed to be in a good run of form and is outplaying Victor Moses, while Ashley Young is a good hand but probably less prolific bonus-wise. Alexis Sanchez looked to be in good conditions. It could be another ripe match-up for the Beneamata.

The Neroverdi actually had their chances before their defence completely fell apart against Sassuolo, as Domenico Berardi, Francesco Caputo and Gregoire Defrel eluded the offside trap few times only to be denied by Pierluigi Gollini. They will be facing a better back-line this time around though, but might be able to squeak one through. In the end, it was shockingly Medhi Bourabia who had the consolation goal. Jeremie Boga laid an egg, while Filip Djuricic was okay off the bench.

Atalanta-Lazio: the Bergamaschi lost Josip Ilicic right before the Sassuolo game, but still proceeded to rout the opponents, with Duvan Zapata leading the way and Berat Djimsiti netting one. Alejandro Gomez was dealing and wheeling as per usual, picked up an assist and could have easily scored. They would obviously be better off if Ilicic recovered, but even if he did not, they are not short on alternatives, despite Mario Pasalic’s suspension, because they can deploy either Ruslan Malinovskyi and Luis Muriel. They are not as solid as the Slovenian ace, but can fill the void in the short-term.

No dramatic hiccups for the title contenders during the second preparation and so the four-headed monster in back in business, with Serie A’s capocannoniere Ciro Immobile (27 goals) leading the way and Luis Alberto, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa (seven goals) ready to either set him up or strike on their own and Felipe Caicedo as a viable super sub. Senad Lulic will not be back for a while but, despite his tactical usefulness, fantasy owners might be better off with Adam Marusic and Jony in that role. On the other flank, Manuel Lazzari has been a medium-sized threat: it will be a great battle with Robin Gosens.

Roma-Sampdoria: both Lorenzo Pellegrini and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are a little banged and perhaps just one of them will be on the pitch. Either in the hole or out on the wing, the Armenian attacker (six goals) has been terrific when available and he is their second top scorer, alongside Aleksandar Kolarov, behind the ol’ reliable Edin Dzeko (12 goals). Sans Nicolò Zaniolo, they will have to lean on Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert, who have potential but are generally feast-or-famine, or Diego Perotti, who makes a living out of penalties. Jordan Veretout and Bryan Cristante are limited by their role, while Leonardo Spinazzola is generally pretty active. The easy match-up makes them a team to target.

Claudio Ranieri could not utilize either Fabio Quagliarella nor Manolo Gabbiadini against Inter and they predictably struggled up front, although they somehow found a way to stay in the game with a random goal by Morten Thorsby. Quagliarella remains iffy for this one, while it is unclear what problem is affecting Gabbiadini. Antonino La Gumina and Federico Bonazzoli did not have chances at San Siro, Gaston Ramirez had had subdued outing but was still their best guy. Morten Thorsby scored and his vitality is always useful, while Jakub Jankto and Karol Linetty were again subpar.

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