Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 21 – Early Games


Fiorentina: the news for them is that somebody not named Dusan Vlahovic managed to hit the net, as Franck Ribery bagged his first goal of the season with a pretty play against Torino. The Frenchman had indeed started to show better recently: he also has four assists in the season, but he has had an hiccup in practice, which could allow Jose Callejon or Christian Kouame to get the nod in this one. Giacomo Bonaventura has been their only other scorer in recent games and he showed up versus Torino with an assist, thus picking up bonuses in two matches in a row. His role will be bigger due to the suspension of Gaetano Castrovilli. Erick Pulgar, who is first in line to replace the teammate, has some value due to PK duties, but he has not done much this year, while Sofyan Amrabat could move to a more dynamic position. Cristiano Biraghi is a secondary option as he has tallied one goal and four assists thus far. Their defense has been quite stingy but the match-up is complicated.

Recommended picks: Vlahovic, Bonaventura, Ribery/Callejon.   

Inter: both Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez halted their little drought in the previous game, and it was bound to happen given their mammoth role and the amount of offense the Nerazzurri generate. The Belgian ace is now at 14 goals, while El Toro has reached the double-digit threshold. Achraf Hakimi (six goals, three assists) has had a pair of off-games, despite hauling in points thanks to clean sheets, but he surely remains one of their options, especially because their midfielders are not huge factors in the final third and only occasionally make their presence felt. Arturo Vidal and Nicolò Barella did it in the recent Juventus clash: the latter has been a more constant force thanks to few assists. Marcelo Brozovic’s streak in that respect has come to an end, but he remains their primary playmaker. There is the chance they rotate the squad a bit, so Alexis Sanchez would have some value if starting, but not as much as Martinez.

Recommended picks: Lukaku, Hakimi, Martinez/Sanchez.  



Atalanta: the Bergamaschi have incredible offensive potential, but sometimes they have very lackadaisical displays like the one versus Lazio, especially if things do not go their way early. The only positive contributors were Luis Muriel, who zigzagged through defenders to set the table for Mario Pasalic’s tap-in, who made his return with a bang after six weeks on the shelf. He is set to compete with Matteo Pessina in that tactical spot and he has been sneakily productive over the years, while Aleksey Miranchuk and Ruslan Malinovskyi have dropped the ball when called upon lately. Muriel is at 11 goals, Duvan Zapata at nine and will look to pick it up as he has found the target just once in the past four matches after a red-hot stretch and Josip Ilicic (three goals, five assists all recently) has cooled off. Stud wing-back Robin Gosens is back from suspension.

Recommended picks: Zapata, Ilicic, Gosens.

Torino: after setting up a teammate in the previous game, Andrea Belotti returned to the stat-sheet following a seven-game absence in the Fiorentina game and will now try to recapture his early-season consistency. Simone Zaza netted a brace two weeks ago and will have more opportunities because newcomer Antonio Sanabria will not be a factor for a while as he tested positive for COVID during the medicals. Simone Verdi resurfaced in the past game with a great assist, but it remains to be seen whether the coach is keen on fielding the three forwards together from the start. Their wing-backs Wilfried Singo and Cristian Ansaldi are usually decent weapons, the youngster in particular, and it will be a great battle on the wings, instead midfielders Sasa Lukic and Karol Linetty have not had much fantasy upside in a while and newcomer Rolando Mandragora should be a big factor either.

Recommended picks: Belotti, Zaza/Verdi, Singo. 



Sassuolo: the Neroverdi are struggling to turn the corner and return to their previously impressive levels as they botched a pair of very feasible matches in January. The absence of Domenico Berardi has been very detrimental since their other forwards, despite some success here and there, have just not been continuous. Jeremie Boga delivered against Cagliari, Francesco Caputo did it in the Lazio game and Filip Djuricic nailed a PK against Parma, but there has not been a game when the whole front-line was humming. However, given the way Spezia play, this could be a plum match-up and so an explosion would not be shocking. Djuricic has looked the best out of their attackers, while Caputo has the most prominent role and Boga is generally streaky. Hamed Traore and Gregoire Defrel have been in the mix as well, but have not took home points in the last three outings, while they had produced when some teammates were sidelined.

Recommended picks: Djuricic, Boga, Caputo.

Spezia: after hanging three goals to Roma in a losing effort, the Aquilotti struggled to come up with credible offense against a robust side like Udinese and the prolonged absence of M’Bala Nzola is hurting them. The star forward is slowly progressing from his ankle injury but he is unlikely for this one as well. Andrej Galabinov has been hit and miss: he picked up an assist versus the Giallorossi, but he has not scored since his return from injury. However, the center-forward position is pivotal in their design, so it would not be shocking if he started producing. Their starting wingers have done some damage but not as much as they hoped: Diego Farias has hit the net three times, while Emmanuel Gyasi has notched one goal and four assists. Kevin Agudelo and Daniele Verde have actually been livelier lately but the coach has stuck with the regular duo, but Farias will be a late call due to a small injury. They will be down two more weapons as Tommaso Pobega and Riccardo Saponara are suspended, but Giulio Maggiore and Nahuel Estevez are pretty decent midfielders, although not as prolific as the Milan loanee.

Recommended picks: Galabinov, Farias/Verde, Gyasi. 



Juventus: Cristiano Ronaldo has slowed down in League play, but he remains the capocannoniere and he delivered in Coppa Italia and he can always be counted on in top matches. Federico Chiesa helped them out against Sampdoria with his sixth goal of the season: he is inching towards the fantasy elite as he has also provided four assists. Aaron Ramsey scored as well, but he is banged up and his playing time has been spotty since Weston McKennie has been much more effective in both phases. Alvaro Morata picked up a helper last week, but he has not hit paydirt since mid-December, also due to an injury, so he is looking to turn it around and Dejan Kulusevski has been a serious contender for minutes in that position. Juan Cuadrado (five assists) has been a quality release valve out on the flank throughout the season, while Arthur recently made his first peep and, while he is unlikely to turn into a major asset, his level of performance is improving.

Recommended picks: Ronaldo, Chiesa, Morata/Kulusevski.

Roma: the Giallorossi had one of their best games of the season versus Verona, striking a usually sturdy side three times in the first half. Borja Mayoral found paydirt for the second time in a row and Henrikh Mkhitaryan returned in fitting fashion from a short absence: he has logged nine goals and eight assists in the year. Edin Dzeko has mended fences with Paulo Fonseca, but it is uncertain whether he will start in this one. Pedro, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Stephan El Shaarawy are all out, while Carles Perez has mostly been disappointing up to this point and in fact they will go with one more midfielder, Bryan Cristante in this one. Jordan Veretout and Leonardo Spinazzola, who both dished an assist two games back versus Spezia, are both on the radar even though they have not scored in the past month.

Recommended picks: Mayoral/Dzeko, Mkhitaryan, Spinazzola.



Genoa: Mattia Destro bagged two more against Crotone and he has been the most productive Serie A striker in the last two months as he has found the target eight times. While his usual partner Eldor Shomurodov has been pretty good but not too prone in picking up bonuses, Miha Zajc is surging with one goal and one assist in the last four contests. Davide Zappacosta set up the other wing-back Lennart Czyborra in the past game and both flank players have been going strong. Kevin Strootman has been a stabilizing presence in the midfielder and he has been able to participate to the offense a little as well. Gianluca Scamacca ended up staying but he, like Marko Pjaca and Goran Pandev are dented by the fact that the starting pair is performing so admirably. However, Shomurodov is dealing with so fatigue, which could open the door of the XI to one out of the trio.

Recommended picks: Destro, Zajc, Shomurodov/Pjaca. 

Napoli: their usual linchpins Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne (both at nine goals) did not score against Parma, but the supporting contributed greatly as Elijf Elmas showed off in his first start and Matteo Politano sealed the deal with his fifth goal of the campaign, a pretty rich haul considering that he is not a regular. While Elmas would be a very tasty options, it is not certain that Gennaro Gattuso will go again with the same formation. Dries Mertens flew back to Belgium to rehab the bothersome ankle, while Victor Osimhen was unused in the most recent tilt, so the outlook of the center-forward position remains worrisome with Andrea Petagna (four goals, three assists) as the only fully healthy option. The big striker has been okay but not particularly consistent. Piotr Zielinski is always intriguing but quite seesawing.

Recommended picks: Insigne, Lozano, Petagna.

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