Alejandro Gomez to Lazio: A perfect fit?

Atalanta’s ascent to stardom has taken Italian football by storm this season, punching above their weight season after season. The Bergamo-based outfit has shown no signs of slowing down this year and has since qualified for the Round of 16 of the Champions League. As an intriguing matchup with Real Madrid awaits them in February, Atalanta may have to take the field against Los Galacticos without their star man, Alejandro Papu Gomez. 

The diminutive playmaker has reportedly fallen out with Gian Piero Gasperini and as a result, has been frozen out of the first team. Italian clubs have circled like vultures following the reports, with Roma, Lazio, and Milan all being linked with a move for the playmaker. Rumours quickly surfaced that Gomez would appreciate a move to Lazio, adding further fuel to the story.

In many ways, Gomez is a perfect fit for Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio. While his setup may be far more rigid than Atalanta’s free-flowing system, the Argentine playmaker is extremely familiar with the 3-5-2 formation and could slot in seamlessly alongside Ciro Immobile. Gomez has demonstrated he can be devastating alongside a more physical presence in the final third and will almost certainly strike a deadly partnership with the Italian international.

Alternatively, Inzaghi can alter his 3-5-2 to include a trequartista behind the strikers. The Italian tactician has flirted with this possibility in the past but has never used it over a sustained period of time. A front three of Gomez, Correa and Immobile could open up any rearguard and would be worth tinkering with.

Luis Alberto acts as a defacto attacking midfielder despite slotting into the midfield three and regularly looks to get forward between the lines. Gomez’s arrival would take the creative burden off the Spanish international, who is largely tasked with linking up play in the final third. Luis Alberto excelled in that position last season, registering six goals and 15 assists in 36 appearances. The former Liverpool man has since slowed down this season and is yet to record an assist. Regardless, Luis Alberto continues to create countless chances and remains an integral piece to Inzaghi’s attack.

When the 28-year-old is struggling, Lazio is not nearly as dangerous in the final third and often look toothless. Available at around 10 million euros, Gomez would be an ideal alternative to Luis Alberto’s creativity. With Gomez roaming dangerously between the lines, much of the focus would be off the Spaniard in the final third, allowing him to use his vision to hurt the opposition backline.

Gomez may be turning 33 in February, but the Atalanta man is a bonafide gamechanger. In Italy, countless players on the wrong side of 30 – notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic – have proven they can still contribute. If anything, Gomez has only gotten better with age and has, at the very least, another two or three productive years ahead of him. If he is available at the right price, Lazio would be foolish not to pull the trigger on a deal for him.

The Biancocelesti took Italy by storm last season, competing against Juventus for the Scudetto and qualifying for the Champions League. Should Lazio want to replicate last year’s exploits, they will need quality reinforcements. Their summer arrivals have failed to make an impact since joining, forcing Inzaghi to rely on his usual suspects despite competing on three fronts.

Lazio’s Round of 16 encounter with Bayern Munich is a tall ask for the capital-based club, but in a season unlike any other, they may just spring a surprise. Gomez could be the inspired piece of business the Biancocelesti need to get themselves over the line and into the next round alongside Europe’s elite.

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Serie A’s most intriguing storylines going into 2021

The past year has been unlike any other across the footballing world, forcing clubs to play in empty stadiums and tackling unprecedented challenges. Italian football has not disappointed, regularly delivering excitement and unlikely surprises at every turn.

Once Wednesday’s final games are played, Serie A will take a much-needed break, halting action until the new year. Without further ado, here are three things to look out for in 2021 in Serie A:

1) The Alejandro Gomez saga: 

When reports surfaced that Gian Piero Gasperini and his star man, Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez, had a falling out, it shocked the entire calcio world. The two have proven to be a match-made in heaven in Bergamo, firing the side to newfound heights. Just last season, Gli Orobici were painfully close to booking their place into the Champions League final four, but eventually lost a narrow affair against PSG.

Gasperini’s relationship with Gomez was a special one, claiming he would resign if ever the club sold the diminutive playmaker. The veteran tactician got the most out of Gomez, with the Atalanta man establishing himself as one of Italy’s elite creative threats. Fast forward to today, and Gomez is very much on his way out, with reports saying the damage is irreparable.

Milan and Roma among others have queued up for his signature, in hopes of adding an elite player on the cheap. At 32-years-old, Gomez can still play a crucial role in any team and has shown no signs of slowing down. While his inevitable transfer is intriguing in itself, the Atalanta man has claimed he will reveal exactly what went down once he leaves. It will also be interesting to see just how Gian Piero Gasperini’s men cope without him in the lineup.

Atalanta is coming off a vintage 4-1 win over Roma with Gomez out, but sustaining it over an entire season is a completely different story. Beyond one of Serie A’s best players moving on mid-season, this story is far from over.

2) Can Andrea Pirlo turn it around? 

Andrea Pirlo has struggled since assuming the reins in Turin, stumbling out of the gates in Serie A. Juventus has drawn six of their 13 games and most recently saw their unbeaten run snapped in emphatic fashion against Fiorentina.

Pirlo may have led the Bianconeri to an impressive Champions League group stage campaign, but desperately needs to turn it around, as soon as the season restarts. Juventus has dropped points in countless games they should have won, including draws against Crotone and Benevento, and can no longer afford to fall further behind.

The Italian champions sit seven points behind Milan and have an incredibly tough schedule to kickstart the new year. As a two-legged affair with Porto looms, Juventus need to achieve some form of consistency and begin stringing results together. One of the biggest storylines going into the new year will be to see if Pirlo can bounce back from an indifferent start – otherwise, we might just have a new champion heading into next season.

3) Are Milan legit Scudetto contenders? 

Well, we’ve been asking this for the better part of 13 matchdays now and the answer seems to be yes. However, Milan will need to demonstrate its resolve heading into the new year, welcoming Juventus into San Siro on January 6. As we approach the half-way point of the season, Milan can announce themselves as serious contenders, especially with a statement win against Juventus.

Stefano Pioli’s men have played some sensational football in recent months, navigating a tricky schedule diligently, despite a number of injuries – including one to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. As we enter 2021, the Rossoneri will need to confirm their contender status and demonstrate they can handle the pressure that comes with it. If their recent run is anything to go by, Milan will be up for it.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Seven – Top Matches

SASSUOLO-UDINESE

Sassuolo: the Neroverdi were missing their top three players against Napoli, but they won anyway thanks a brand-new scheme by Roberto De Zerbi, who, for once, opted for caution and a three-man back-line and got rewarded with their talented central midfielders stepping up. Filip Djuricic has COVID and will not return here, Domenico Berardi and Francesco Caputo have been called up, but they might be limited, so it is possible Giacomo Raspadori stays initially in a big role and Gregoire Defrel gets the nod. Both the Frenchman and Jeremie Boga have not looked great as they work their way into shape, while Hamed Traore is generally pretty lively. Even if at less than 100 percent, Caputo and Betardi are always good choices, while Lopez would be an outstanding one if used as no.10 to substitute Djuricic. Continue reading

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

Serie A Fantasy Previews – Round Five – Top Matches

ATALANTA-SAMPDORIA

Atalanta: the Bergamaschi looked unprepared to match Napoli’s aggressiveness in the last fixture and the much-anticipated bout ended with a shocking beating. They will look to return to form in Serie A as well after pummelling Midtjylland. Alejandro Gomez has been the tip of the spear so far and straight-up one of the best players in the League. Luis Muriel has put his name in the stat-sheet twice, like Sam Lemmers, who has made the most of his limited opportunities. Duvan Zapata has been more up-and-down. Josip Ilicic looked rusty in his first game back, but that is understandable: the good news is that he indeed came back and the coach will likely give him regular minutes to get him into shape. Ruslan Malinovskyi is questionable due to an injury, which may lead to some playing time for the intriguing Aleksey Miranchuk. Their stud wing-backs Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens have scored one goal each, with the German international adding two assists.

Suggested picks: Gomez, Muriel, Zapata. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Four – Top Matches

NAPOLI-ATALANTA

Napoli: they did not get to play the third game because of well-known reasons, but the first two were pretty indicative. Victor Osimhen has yet to score, but he has had a major impact anyway and he is bound to break through soon. In the meantime, Dries Mertens has led the charge (two goals, two assists), helped by the resurgent Hirving Lozano, who has kept up the momentum from the restart. The injury to Lorenzo Insigne and Piotr Zielinski and Elijf Elmas getting COVID might slow down the deployment 4-2-3-1 in full force, but that should be the way forward and the arrival of Tiemoué Bakayoko cements it. The absences could give Matteo Politano and/or Stanislav Lobotka a bigger role than usual and the former scored in the Genoa romp. If Atalanta do not adjust the way they defend, they could make some sweet music on counters.

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Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Three

Results: COVID-19 took away two fixtures in this round, including the much anticipated Juventus-Napoli. In the other crunch game, Lazio weathered the early storm produced by Inter and came away with a quality. Atalanta keep rolling and bagged five goals against Cagliari, while Milan throttled Spezia in the second half and the they are the only two perfect teams in the season. Right behind them in the standings there is Sassuolo, which rag-dolled Crotone. Roma snatched their first W of the season over the point-less Udinese, same feat for Sampdoria, which upset Fiorentina on the road. Benevento is now up to six points after squeaking by Bologna.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Three – Top Matches

ATALANTA-CAGLIARI

Atalanta: the Bergamaschi took it to Lazio as well, making the second game in a row with four goals scored, as the machine is still working like a charm. Alejandro Gomez not only pulled the strings, but also scored twice and was joined in the stat-sheet by Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens. Hateboer has already matched his entire production for the 2019/2020 campaign, while Gosens opened his tally. Ruslan Malinovskyi got the start this time and dished an assist, while Luis Muriel almost hit the net off the bench. The only negative aspect of the young season is that Duvan Zapata has not really looked dominant and might need some time to be in peak shape, but they surely have the manpower to work around that. The flank game has been particularly terrific so far. Mario Pasalic might feature in a less offensive position going forward since they are stacked with attackers but short on midfielders and his output could suffer.

Suggested picks: Gomez, Muriel, Gosens. Continue reading

Serie Best Fantasy XI – Round Two

Thomas Strakosha (7 points): among the four goalkeepers that managed to keep a clean sheet in this round, he was the one that was called into action the most and had a key save on a long-range effort by Marko Rog.

Adam Marusic (7 points): the Serbian fullback took over the left flank against Cagliari since Jony was recently sold and Mohamed Fares has yet to be announced. He was actually a force to be reckoned as he dished Manuel Lazzari a ball that just needed to be nudge in few minutes into the contest and linked up with Ciro Immobile to ice it in the second half. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Two

Results: Roma and Juventus shared the spoils in an entertaining fixture to cap off the Sunday slateNapoli demolished Genoa, Milan easily got past Crotone, while Verona nipped Udinese to stay perfect in the season. Inter furiously rallied back late against Fiorentina, while Lazio breezed past Cagliari and Atalanta toyed with Torino, so the three ‘top four’ teams that had their opener delayed were all successful. Among the newly promoted teams, Benevento got off to a brilliant start as they mounted a glorious comeback against Sampdoria, tough sledding instead for Spezia, which run into an in-form Sassuolo. Bologna trounced Parma on Monday night.  Continue reading