Serie A Fantasy Player of the Month in April – Ruslan Malinovskyi

A pretty prolific month for Serie A, which, thanks to an extra round, managed to insert three representatives in the EuroFantasyLeague Team of the Month for April. Simy almost took home the award for the second time in a row, but Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi bested him by a single point.

The Ukrainian attacker always showed flashes of tremendous upside during his time in Bergamo, but he had never managed to be a regular starter up until recently. He was also hindered by a nagging abdominal injury in the first part of the campaign, even though he played through it. A combination of better health, a tactical modification, the January departure of Papu Gomez, and a pair of physical issues to his teammates allowed him to get consistent playing time in the last six games. He took the ball and run with it, become a linchpin of the formation.

While he is a well-known sharpshooter, especially with his left foot, the trait that impressed the most over the last 30 days was his vision. He has tallied six assists in as many games, displaying great chemistry with Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel. It manifested itself in his most recent goal as well, versus Bologna, where the former Sampdoria striker freed him up with an extra inventive back-heel flick, opening a clear lean for him to bag a wicked cross-shot.

He started the month with two straight matches with two assists. Sharp passes for one of the Colombian internationals that cut through the defense and beat the offside trap have pretty much become routine for him, plus he is a quality set-piece taker. Moreover, he has hit the net in three consecutive matches, as he punished Roma with a sneaky deflection on a low-driven cross and Juventus with a strike from distance that was deflected by an opponent.

It was his most impact goal of the lot as it allowed the Goddess to finally beat the Bianconeri in League play after a lengthy drought, a result that massively propelled them in the standings. The Orobici are currently in second place, with two more points than Napoli, Juventus and Milan. Given the favorable schedule, they are the frontrunners to finish in the top four and secure the third straight Champions League participation.

Malinovskyi saw an uptick of minutes as coach Gian Piero Gasperini tweaked his system, making it a 4-2-3-1 and going with one more attacker instead of a wing player. But the former Genk midfielder performed so well that he has retained his spot as no.10 over Matteo Pessina and Mario Pasalic, who take care of that position more for tactical reasons, also after the coach went back to his usual 3-4-1-2. Constantly fielding a pure trequartista with both Zapata and Muriel rarely happened in the past, but they managed to sustain the super aggressive XI in the recent stretch. The Nerazzurri now boast the most productive offense in the League.

Malinovskyi amassed 25 points, one more than Simy, who narrowly misses out the second shout-out in a row despite another explosive run of matches. The Crotone striker found the target four times in five games, hitting paydirt twice versus Napoli and in the Parma clash, a rare win for the Squali, whose relegation is about to be mathematical. But the offense will not be the reason for it, as the Nigerian forward has improved to 19 goals in the season, a haul that puts him in third place in the capocannoniere standings, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku and on a par with Luis Muriel.

The third and final Serie A player to crack the elite XI is Inter’s unlikely Scudetto sealer Matteo Darmian, who scored decisive goals in two of the last three rounds, versus Cagliari and Verona, thanks to deep cuts and tidy finishes in the box, and benefitted by his sides’ stingy defending as they kept three clean sheets in seven fixtures.

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