Juventus: Sami Khedira underwent a heart ablation with an arrhythmogenic atrial focus and will miss a minimum of one month. Emre Can is suspended. Douglas Costa remains questionable with the quad injury that has forced to skip the last few games.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne is disqualified, while Mario Ruihas slim chances to return from a thigh pull.
Inter: Mauro Icardi took some tests this week, which revealed no structural damage on his achy knee, but he is still poised to be unavailable this week amid the standoff with the managament. Balde Keitais having a hard time shaking off a thigh strain. Continue reading →
The most significant game this week was the bout between Atalanta and Milan with the fourth spot on the line. The Goddess came into the fixture having won four of five, while the Rossoneri were coming off their most convincing win of the season, against Cagliari, and riding a six-match undefeated streak, where they had tied three times.
Both coaches confirmed the XIs they have been using consistently for few weeks: the only tweak by Gian Piero Gasperini was picking Berat Djimsiti to anchor the back-line and moving José-Luis Palomino to left centre-back, over Gianluca Mancini, while Gennaro Gattuso marshaled his usual 4-3-3. Continue reading →
Juventus-Frosinone: the Bianconeri quickly bounced back in Sassuolo after the 3-3 draw with Parma and have won four times in the last five fixtures, fortifying their lead in the standings. The Ciociari have been pesky recently and they are coming off a surprise win over Sampdoria, their second in a row on the road, and they are now within striking distance from the 17th spot. With Champions League just around the corner, Cristiano Ronaldo might be rested for the second time in Serie A, which would mean more scoring opportunities for Mario Mandzukic, Federico Bernardeschiand Paulo Dybala, or whoever will compose the front-line. Continue reading →
Every season there’s one team in Serie A that pushes above their weight and vies for European football among the league’s elite. With Lazio, Milan and Roma all fighting for top four this year, they all seem to have forgotten about Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta and Marco Giampaolo’s Sampdoria. Both sides have been in excellent form playing impressive football and have now entered the Champions League race without making too much of a fuss. Right now, the five teams are separated by a mere three points going into a crucial stage of the season.
Led by the eternal Fabio Quagliarella, who has now scored in 11 consecutive games equalling Gabriel Batistuta’s record in the process, Sampdoria find themselves just two points back behind fourth place Milan. Giampaolo has been able to get the most out of his men in his preferred ‘Christmas Tree’ formation (4-3-1-2) and has since attracted interest from the peninsula’s elite for his good work. Insisting on possession football and building patiently, the blucerchiati have dominated the opposition at times, and have proven to be a match for any team in the league.
While Quagliarella is the one bagging the goals, the impressive work done by midfield dynamos Dennis Praet and Karol Linetty should not go unnoticed. Juventus loanee Emil Audero has also manned the sticks wonderfully in his debut season in Serie A, especially with the veteran presence of Lorenzo Tonelli in front of him.
Atalanta, on the other hand, have played some explosive football this season and lead the league in scoring with 47 goals. In fact, gli Orobici have found the back of the net 16 times in their last four league games, three of which coming most recently in their comeback against Roma on the weekend. With Duvan Zapata flanked by Alejandro Gomez and Josip Ilicic, Gasperini’s side posses arguably one of the world’s most underrated front-lines. Zapata is currently on 15 goals on the season and has now scored in Atalanta’s last nine games in all competitions.
Chievo-Fiorentina was a little more bonkers, but Roma-Atalanta had a higher profile, so it is the pick for match of the week. Both teams came into the game in positive stretches, having won four times in the previous six fixtures, with just one loss, and firmly in the running for the fourth spot.
Gian Piero Gasperini confirmed last week’s XI featuring Berat Djimsitiand Timothy Castagne over usual starter José-Luis Palomino and Robin Gosens. With Cengiz Under injured and Alessandro Florenzi banged up, Eusebio Di Francesco moved Nicolò Zaniolo to the right flank, with Lorenzo Pellegrini in the hole and Ivan Marcano replacing Federico Fazio, who was under the weather. Continue reading →
Alban Lafont: Chievo can be an annoying opponent, especially lately, but they still have one of the least prolific attacks in the League, while Fiorentina have been able to keep three clean sheets in the past four road games. The young goalkeeper has been as good as advertised thus far.
Nicola Murru: Sampdoria have won three in a row at home, shutting down opponents twice, while Udinese have failed to score in their last three away fixtures. The ex Cagliari full-back has also been able to pick up some bonus points offensively here and there. Continue reading →
Sampdoria-Udinese: the Blucerchiati were pipped at the post in Florence last week, in a game that turned on its head a thousand times. They have won three straight at home. After three positive, or semi-positives, results Udinese took a tumble at home against Parma. They have managed to prevail just once on the road thus far. Fabio Quagliarella has found the target in ten straight appearances and is one shy of tying the record, so he is obviously a must-start, considering that the match-up is not that hard. Gaston Ramirez is suspended, so Riccardo Saponara will draw the start and could be worth a look. Even Jakub Jankto showed some life in the last game, but Karol Linetty might be able to return in the midfield. Continue reading →
Standings implications: nothing changes in the upper echelon after the final game of 2018, as the top three teams did not look particularly impressive, but all came away with wins as Juventus and Napoli outlasted Sampdoria and Bologna and Inter beat Empoli on the road. Lazio and Torino shared the spoils in a very nervous games and this result allows Milan, who finally came through against SPAL, and Roma, which blitzed Parma, to close the gap for the fourth spot. In the Europa League race, Atalanta pummeled Sassuolo, while Fiorentina drew with Genoa. In the lower districts, Udinese outfaced Cagliari and Chievo finally earned their first win of the season by besting Frosinone in a battle of sad sacks. Continue reading →
The first ever Serie A boxing day will culminate in a tasty match-up between Inter and Napoli.
Frosinone-Milan: the Ciociari snatched a decent draw in Udinese in Marco Baroni’s first game, but they need some Ws as they have gotten just one so far and it dates back to October 28th. The window to reduce the gap is closing quickly. Milan are sputtering in the last period: they have prevailed just once in the last six fixtures, tying with Lazio, Torino and Bologna and losing to Juventus and Fiorentina. They have been unable to score in the past three games. With so little time to work with, the new coach did not change much, opting for a 3-5-2 and benching Joel Campbell to have one more midfielder, Francesco Cassata. Continue reading →
An extra-long Serie A round is main evented by the Derby della Mole on Saturday night.
Inter-Udinese: the Nerazzurri will be looking to bounce back after a heartbreaking elimination from Champions League, where they fumbled away a great opportunity, and the tough loss against Juventus, where they squandered their chances. The Zebrette were handed their first loss under Davide Nicola by Atalanta last week. Inter continue to be carried by Mauro Icardi and Matteo Politano, with Balde Keita capable of some impressive showings, but still lacking that consistent playing time necessary to be a fantasy stud, even though the real Ivan Perisic has not showed up in a while. Continue reading →