Serie A Match of the Round – Empoli vs SPAL

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At this point of the season, the heftiest points are often on the line in the bouts between relegation strugglers, although it rarely happens that one terminates with a 2-4 result like Empoli-SPAL.

The Azzurri were coming off a good point on the road in Bergamo, but they need wins to get out of the third-to-last spot, while the Estensi beat Juventus’ second/third stringers last week and had prevailed in four of their last five fixtures.

Aurelio Andreazzoli, who has to navigate through several absences, chose Cristiano Dell’Orco as left wing-back, Dimitrios Nikolao to shore up the Matias Silvestre-less back-line and preferred to advance Rade Krunic rather than using Dimitri Oberlin up front. Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Round – Bologna

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Bologna fueled their hopes to stay in Serie A with a perfect result against Sampdoria on Saturday. They turned it around after Sinisa Mihajlovic took over, losing just once in the past seven rounds, to Atalanta on the road, and had tied with Fiorentina the previous week, their only other non-win recently.

The coach chose Ladislav Krejci at left back to replace Mitchell Dijks, who was disqualified, but pretty much once again confirmed the XI he has been deploying continuously featuring Rodrigo Palacio as false-nine sandwiched between Nicola Sansone and Riccardo Orsolini. Continue reading

Juventus and Ronaldo break new records

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Juventus improved some of their previous records and shattered some others by securing their eighth title in a row with a 2-1 win over Fiorentina on Saturday. They are the first Italian team to prevail for this many consecutive years, but they already held that since the closest domestic streaks stopped at five. However, it became the longest one in the top six European leagues, besting Lyon’s run in Ligue 1 that went on between 2002 and 2008. Bayern Munich’s top stretch finished with six, Real Madrid and Porto’s one at five, while there the historically stiff competition in Premier League limits the possibility to repeat, so the most productive team was Manchester United with three straight in two separate occasions.

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Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 33

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Standings implications: Juventus garnered the final points they needed for the title against Fiorentina. Torino were the only team to succeed in the European races, since Roma shared the spoils with Inter, Milan were pipped at post in Parma and Lazio were stunned by Chievo. Atalanta will play on Monday in Naples. Empoli find themselves in a hole after being torpedoed by SPAL at home and the Estensi have now comfortable lead over the last three places. Udinese tied with Sassuolo, taking a little step forward since they are four points above the Azzurri, but were leapfrogged by Bologna, whic thumped Sampdoria. Cagliari arrived at the 40-point mark with their W over Frosinone, whose relegation is pretty much a done deal. Genoa keep spiraling, but they still have a little cushion before being in serious troubles.    Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Round 33

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Juventus survived a lifeless first half again Fiorentina, where they could have found themselves in a big hole, cranked it up in the second 45 minutes and took home the points they needed to wrap up the title race, which for the first time in Serie A history is over before Easter.

Alex Sandro (4 points): not an overly impressive showing by the Brazilian left back, but the goal, a pretty header attacking the first post on a corner kick, massively helped the Bianconeri, who started to play convincingly only after that goal. As for the others, Wojciech Szczesny did not have an easy day between a knock on the wrist and a near laughable blunder in the first half, but came out perfectly late on the uncovered Bryan Dabo to prevent the equalizer. Continue reading

Allegri talks before the Fiorentina game

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Coach Massimiliano Allegri returned in front of the press on Friday: “Luckily there is potential Scudetto clincher tomorrow. We are disappointed, but we must accept what happened in Champions League. We will analyze everything once the title will be conquered and we will plan the future with lucidity and without being carried away by emotions following the elimination against a deserving team.”

On his future: “I have a year left on my contract, I have not discussed anything yet with the president since we were focused on the European campaign. It has still been a great season since we took home half of the trophies on the line. The Scudetto was not a sure thing.” Continue reading

Serie A Probable Lineups – Round 33

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Parma XI: 4-3-3 Sepe; Iacoponi, Alves, Gagliolo, Dimarco; Kucka, Scozzarella, Barillà; Sprocati, Ceravolo, Gervinho.

Potential lineup changes: Gazzola for Dimarco, Rigoni for Scozzarella, Siligardi for Sprocati.

Questionable: Siligardi (thigh).

Confirmed Out: Inglese (ankle), Biabiany (knee), Sierralta (thigh), Grassi (knee).

 

Milan XI: 4-3-3 Donnarumma; Conti, Zapata, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Bakayoko, Calhanoglu; Suso, Piatek, Borini. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 33

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Juventus: Mattia Perin and Sami Khedira will undergo season-ending surgeries for shoulder and knee problems respectively. Paulo Dybala sustained a quad strain against Ajax and will miss at least a couple of weeks. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) might be back next week, while Mario Mandzukic might not be back at all due to patellar tendon issues. Douglas Costa (calf) and Martin Caceres (thigh) will skip the next two matches.

Napoli: Raul Albiol (knee surgery) has resumed practicing and might be called up this week, leaving Amadou Diawara as the only injured player. Nikola Maksimovic will be on the mend for a while due to a foot infraction.  Continue reading

Juve’s UCL elimination financial ramifications & injury updates

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As expected, the ever-fluctuating stock exchange did not take lightly to Juventus’ early elimination from the Champions League: yesterday, after opening down by 25%, the stocks have closed with a 17,63% dip and the club lost €300M of capitalization, which is now at €1.41B. They crashed down from the historical high registered on Monday, €1.7 per share, to €1.39. They are still losing value today, but at a slower rate.

The team will bring in €94M from the Champions League prize pool, which is larger than in previous seasons, but missed out on at least €16M more in case they advanced to the semifinals (€10-12M from UEFA, €5-6M of ticket earnings) and about double that if they made all the way to the final. However, it still represents the second richest haul in the club’s history after the 2016/2017 record. The overall revenue will take a hit too and, while still projected to grow, they are unlikely to reach the €500M-mark and should stop a €455M. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 33

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Thomas Strakosha: fresh off a saved penalty in the Udinese game, he could be able to take home few more bonus points against Chievo, which have scored just nine times on the road.

Jens Larsen: the two-game trip to the Nation’s Capital went poorly for Udinese, which were handled by both Roma and Lazio. However, they have had much success at home, while Sassuolo are pedestrian away and the fullback has been able to haul in points in six of the last eight tilts at the Friuli stadium. Continue reading