Calcio Predictions – Round Six

Crotone-Atalanta: the Sharks are reeling as they have picked up just one point so far, obviously in the toughest match-up against Juventus, so the Bergamaschi will have a good opportunity to bounce back after two poor showings versus Napoli and Sampdoria: 1-3.

Inter-Parma: the Nerazzurri took care of business against Genoa, as they are ones to do versus the minnows, but they will not have their leader Romelu Lukaku in this one. The Ducali have improved offensively over the last three weeks, but the opponents will likely turn out to be too tough for their current state: 1-0. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Six

Atalanta: Marten De Roon strained the adductor in his left thigh and will sit out the next two matches. Cristiano Piccini picked up a similar issue while trying to gain some shape.

Benevento: Iago Falque and Federico Barba might be able to return after missing time with unspecified muscular problems.

Bologna: Federico Santander underwent reconstructive surgery on the right knee after spraining it midweek and will return in the Spring. Among their injured players, Gary Medel (calf) is the closest to recovering, but he might need another week. Andreas Skov Olsen (back) and Andrea Poli (fibula) could return after the second international break. Continue reading

AC Milan 3-0 Sparta Praha: Three things we learned from yet another secure Europa League win

Milan extended their unbeaten run to 23 games this evening, beating Sparta Praha by three goals to nil in the second round of the Europa League group stage. The win was never in doubt for the Rossoneri, just like against Celtic, and several players really impressed this evening. 

Brahim Diaz opened the scoring after just 24 minutes, having won the ball high up the pitch to start a counter-attack. Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked him out and the Spaniard made no mistakes with the finish, firing it through the legs of the goalkeeper. Another goal, in other words, for the Real Madrid loanee in Europa League. Continue reading

Serie A Probable Lineups – Round XI

CROTONE-ATALANTA

Crotone (3-5-2): Cordaz; Magallan, Golemic, Luperto; Pereira, Molina, Petriccione, Benali, Reca; Messias, Simy.

Potential lineup changes: Marrone for Golemic, Rispoli for Pereira, Vulic for Petriccione.

Likely bench options: Siligardi, Zanellato, Crociata.

Questionable: Djidji.

Ruled out: Dragus (COVID), Riviere (thigh).

Suspended: Cigarini.

Continue reading

Roma score 5 goals in 2 games amidst controversial encounter with Serie A leaders Milan

The week started in the Europa League for Roma as they took on Young Boys of Switzerland and won their Group A clash 2-1. It was the first game of the competition for the Giallorossi who found themselves 1-0 down early on courtesy of a Jean-Pierre Nsame penalty.

It wasn’t until the 2nd half that Roma got to grips with the game and the equaliser came from an unlikely hero in Bruno Peres. Five minutes later Marash Kumbulla made it 2-1 for the visitors as the Italians took hold of the game. The win will be welcomed as Roma try and negotiate a way out of the group stages.

It was an emotional winner from Kumbulla who went on to dedicate his goal to the club and all the help they have given his career. Coach Paolo Fonseca said: ”It was not an easy game, as let’s not forget that even Juventus lost here a few years ago and Young Boys won 15 home matches in a row. It was important to get the win and we did well. There’s still a long way to go in the group and the season. We rested a few players and can now focus on Milan in Serie A.”

And the Milan game was something in itself. The match finished 3-3 which was a positive for Roma as Milan lost their 100% start to the league but the game was marred in controversy of two penalties which looked like soft ones and naturally changed the nature of the game.

Referrer Pierre Giacomelli and VAR assistant Luigi Nasca are being reported to have been suspended for one month. This news hasn’t been confirmed but if true then Italian football is taking the right approach on the mistakes that were made in the game. Time and again odd decisions around Europe are being made even with the technology of VAR which is sometimes not even being used and when it is a decision that everyone thinks will go one way goes another. This is a welcome call and many more suspensions need to be served out across other leagues.

The first error of judgement came when Ismael Bennacer and Pedro simply collided as they both went for a loose ball and yet Pedro was adjudged to have been fouled but it just seemed like a normal clash between players, Milan were obviously furious and Roma scored from the penalty awarded.

Then after it felt as if the officials needed to level up the mistake and gave Milan a penalty after Hakan Calhanoglu was adjudged to have been fouled, Both seemed like weak decisions which seems to have been confirmed now by the Italian FA.

Roma’s next two games will begin later today on October 29th when they return to play in the Europa League against CSKA Sofia and they will be the favourites to win that one and keep their 100% record in Europe. At the weekend the club will play Fiorentina at home and in fact this is a moment that Fonseca’s side will want to take full advantage of the fact that they remain at home for their next three games in a row.

As for the fantasy points with another goal for Jordan Veretout he continues to have the most points for Roma and heads into another week with 19 so far.

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Giallorossi

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Six – Remaining Games

CROTONE-ATALANTA

Crotone: they had their best offensive game to date in the Cagliari trip, unfortunately their defence keeps letting them down and they do not have the horses to fully make up for it. Junior Messias and Salvatore Molina capitalized on their good run of form with their first goals of the season versus the Sardinians and they have welcomed back linchpin Ahmad Benali, who will be a weapon once he will have his legs underneath him. Simy has nailed two PKs so far and he always has a chance or two during matches. Arkadiusz Reca is coming off an assist and has squarely been their best wing-back. Jacopo Petriccione is likely to fill in for Luca Cigarini and he could be a cheap plug. The Goddess have been rather shoddy defensively so far.

Recommended picks: Simy, Messias, Molina. Continue reading

How Wolves have made progress in the Premier League with their football and sports science

Wolves have had some rich and successful years in the top tier of English football though we would have to go back to the 1950s when the team were at their best. Then they won 3 league titles and finished that decade off with an FA Cup win. After that the club had many problems, even in the 1980s they were close to financial ruin and bad investments and runs of bad luck have not helped the club in the latter years. But all of that has changed under current owners Fosun International.

Fosun themselves were only founded in 1992 and took ownership of Wolves in 2016 for just £45m and steadily they have seen incredible progress. When one thinks that Wolves have become a staple top 10 side in the Premier League and reached the quarter finals of the Europa League last season that is a stunning achievement compared to just over a decade ago when the club were plying their trade in the 3rd tier of English football.

It took a season to get their man who would turn out to be a superb capture in former Porto player Nuno Espirito Santo. And he has gone on to have a win rate of 51% with Wolves winning 84 of the 164 games he has coached for the club and losing just 39 games. Indeed only in his first managerial job with Rio Ave has he ever dipped under a 50% win average.

It was in Santo’s first season with the club that he made a huge impact as Wolves won the Championship for promotion to the Premier League and it was special given that it was in the clubs 140th anniversary year. The following season in the Premier League was Wolves’ return to the top tier since 2012 and they finished seventh and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in a memorable season for them.

The next season the club finished in the same position proving their consistency and of course had that superb run in the Europa League reaching the quarter-finals and only being beaten in the end by Sevilla who would go on to win the competition that season.

In Santo’s time so far there are a few players that have really stuck out. One was sold on to Liverpool this season in Diogo Jota and the player was initially taken on loan and then bought from Porto. Jota was an incredibly important part of the Wolves set up but was sold to Liverpool this season for a reported £45m. This was smart business from an financial stand as Fosun had made back their total investment in the club on one player. But it does remain to be seen how Jota’s sale especially to another Premier League club could hurt Wolves in the long run.

The other player who has made an impact and arguably the biggest is Raul Jimenez. Rare has it become not to see the players name amongst the goalscorers for the club now. Jimenez was bought from Benfica after a loan spell and he has scored 34 league goals in the last 82 games and has started this season well too scoring 4 goals in the first six matches.

Good investment, a driven manager and buying the right players are just three things that any club needs to be successful but there is also a key element that has been keeping Wolves well above the water and that has been in their injury department. Compared to other Premier League clubs Wolves have a very small percentage of injuries and in most games last season key players were always available and they hardly had any problems on the sidelines- they have started this season off in the very same way.

One of those key players behind the scenes was physio Phil Hayward who spent 11 years at the club. He has since moved onto LA Galaxy but the thinking is that Hayward spent such a happy and successful time at Wolves that he has passed on much of his information. Currently only Jonny is out long term for the club and Santo’s has a clean bill of health for his squad, he will be touching the dressing room wood that it stays this way throughout the season just like it has for the previous years.

Presently Wolves have had a bumpy start to the new season but the club are finding their way now and have gone their last 3 games unbeaten winning two of them and drawing their game last weekend 1-1 against Newcastle. They go into this weekend in 9th place and are keeping up that tradition of not only being a thorn in the side of so many of the bigger clubs but also a top 10 staple side.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Six – Top Matches

INTER-PARMA

Inter: Romelu Lukaku suffered a thigh injury that will cost him at least one game and the Nerazzurri will have to make up for the loss of their target man, something that rarely happened last year. Alexis Sanchez is dealing with a small problem as well, therefore Lautaro Martinez, who has slowed down after opening the campaign with three straight goals, will have to shoulder the attack, then they will hope Andrea Pinamonti can be decent right away. They also briefly used Ivan Perisic as second-striker in the last game. Stefano Sensi is back on the shelf with his customary muscular problems: Christian Eriksen had some flashes last week, but so far him and Marcelo Brozovic have produced nothing too exciting. Their best midfielder has been Nicolò Barella (two assists), while Arturo Vidal has mostly taken care of the dirty work. At some point Radja Nainggolan will get in on the action, but it has not happened yet. Fortunately, Achraf Hakimi (one goal, two assists) was a false positive and he will resume plowing the flank from the start here, while Ashley Young has shaken off the virus and will challenge Ivan Perisic, who has been solid (two assists) but has not really taken off. Their back-line has improved with Alessandro Bastoni back in the fold.

Recommended picks: Martinez, Perisic, Hakimi.  Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Champions League home game vs Barcelona

Juventus were handed the first loss of the season, at home no less, by a depleted Barcelona team that never really needed to get into second gear to create problems and whose laundry list of absences was very exploitable, but the Old Lady paid the price for a collective off-day of their most creative players.

Leonardo Bonucci: he bit the bullet coming off a small injury that in other times would have cost him some matches and he was surprisingly decent as started off with an incredible slide to block a shot and then thwarted some insidious actions simpluy with masterful positioning. Continue reading

A win in Genoa and draw in Ukraine keep Inter on the right path after hectic week

What a week it has been for Inter. First the derby defeat which put the club into a reality check after the pre-season hype and then they jumped back on the winning trail to beat Genoa away from home 2-0.

The victory in Genoa was a professional and solid win for Inter who had to fight hard for every ball and no one was that surprised to see the score locked in at 0-0 at half time. Star striker Lautaro Martinez was denied and was then shown the yellow card and it just seemed like it could be one of those days for Antonio Conte’s men.

However on the 64th minute Nicolo Barella teed up Romelu Lukaku who made no mistake to open the scoring and score his 5th goal of the season. The game was wrapped up 12 minutes later when Danilo D’Ambrosio scored his first goal in a month for the club which sealed the win. At 2-0 the game was over and Genoa gave up the chase.

It was 3 points that Inter really deserved and in truth they dominated the game having 6 shots on target in total. It said everything about Genoa who are now in 15th position with just one win this season that they didn’t even have a shot on target. With those stats had Inter dropped 2 points at the weekend they would have regretted it.

Whilst Milan remain top of the league they dropped 2 points as they were held at home in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Roma. Inter are now in 4th place and are just 3 points behind Milan.

On Tuesday Inter played their 2nd game of the Champions League and drew 0-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk. This match followed their opening game where they also drew 2-2 that time against Borussia Monchengladbach and the next fixture in their group is against the mighty Real Madrid. With two draws so far this leaves Inter in 3rd place with 2 points and they are a further 2 points adrift of current group leaders Shakhtar.

Coach Antonio Conte was disappointed with the draw saying: “I think we have to be disappointed in the final result because we played well and created many chances. We played with the right intensity, with the right commitment, as a big team. We dominated and we were not lucky. We had some chances to score, we played a very good game in both phases. Don’t forget Shakhtar have important technical qualities, we are sorry because we would deserve to win the game. We are on the right way, the mentality is a good one.”

Inter have a busy time coming up which includes a home game with Parma then they play Real Madrid away a few days later on November 3rd and then they are away to Atalanta. There are no easy games in that pick.

Top 3 best performing players in the fantasy rankings

1. Romelu Lukaku 19pts

2. Lautaro Martinez 11pts

3. Danilo D’Ambrosio 10pts

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