Serie A Match of the Round – Brescia vs Bologna

No proper head-to-head clashes in this round, where Fiorentina-Juventus was the match with the highest profile but ended with in a zero-zero. It was instead goals galore in most of the other ones and in particular in Brescia-Bologna, which was the funniest contest out of the weekend.

The Rondinelle had collected three points thus far due to a road win in Cagliari and a loss to Milan, while the Felsinei were at four as they shared the spoils with Verona but then beat SPAL late. Eugenio Corini picked Alessandro Matri to partner Alfredo Donnarumma as Ernesto Torregrossa is hurt and put the newcomer Romulo in the hole replacing Nikolas Spalek. Continue reading

Serie A Deadline Day Recap

A pretty eventful deadline day in Italy ended with the most anticipated news of the summer as Mauro Icardi finally left Inter to join PSG on loan with option. Roma finished off their summer with two more international additions: Nikola Kalinic and Henryk Mkhitaryan, while Milan brought in another striker in Ante Rebic, sending André Silva to Eintracht Frankfurt in return.

Napoli rounded up their attack by signing free agent Fernando Llorente, who is back in Italy after playing for two seasons at Juventus. The Spaniard has not been prolific with Tottenham, just two goals in Premier League in the last two seasons while he scored a bit more in the various cups, but they wanted a back-up for Arkadiusz Milik and he could be useful in late-game situations. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 36

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Juventus: Paulo Dybala (calf), Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh), Emre Can (thigh) and Alex Sandro have resumed practicing fully and therefore should be available on Sunday, while Douglas Costa (calf) and Daniele Rugani (thigh) will not come back this week. Federico Bernardeschi is suspended. Moise Kean is out with the flu, Leonardo Bonucci with a bruised ankle.

Napoli: David Ospina is on personal leave to tend to a personal matter in Colombia. Nikola Maksimovic (toe) is slated to remain on the shelf, while Amadou Diawara (foot) got in a full practice after a long time, so he might be called up. Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Adam Ounas have been surprisingly ruled out due to small ailments.
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Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 6

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The midweek round is always a little wacky, mainly due to some heavy rotation by the managers. The most recent one was no different and several teams failed to score. Here is a quick recap of what went down.

Standings implications: Juventus and Napoli keep marching on and did quick work of their Emilian opponents. Roma returned to winning ways by steamrolling Frosinone, while Inter and Lazio maintained their momentum by defeating Fiorentina and Udinese. Atalanta and Torino shared their spoils in a dull match, while Sampdoria was held to a nil-nil tie in Cagliari. Genoa grabbed another home win over Chievo. Sassuolo fly high after they resounding win over SPAL, while Milan had another disappoint result in Empoli. Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 28

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The injury bug is running through few teams, also most of last week’s suspensions have carried over to this round. Here are the updates.

Napoli:  Vlad Chiriches could return from a hamstring strain, while Faouzi Ghoulam is in the rehab phase of a fractured fibula. Arek Milik played few minutes against Roma.

Juventus: Alex Sandro and Stephan Lichtsteiner are suspended. Mario Mandzukic missed the last game due to some adductor pain, but he might recover in time for Sunday. Gonzalo Higuain played at Wembley, so he got past an ankle sprain. Mattia De Sciglio is expected back from a hamstring strain. Medhi Benatia rolled an ankle against Tottenham and is questionable. Juan Cuadrado should resumed practicing fully next week after undergoing sports hernia surgery, while in the coming days Federico Bernardeschi will take the tests on his knee to determine his rest-of-the-season outlook.

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Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 27

<> at Appiano Gentile on February 27, 2018 in Como, Italy.

Once again some key players risk missing the next Serie A round due to injuries. Here are the latest news: you can find the updates compared to the original version in italic.

Napoli:  Marek Hamsik was under the weather late in the week, but he will try to shake it off by Saturday night. Elseid Hysaj was subbed off on Monday, but it was only precautionary. Vlad Chiriches is out with a hamstring strain, Faouzi Ghoulam with a fractured fibula. Arek Milik should make the squad list this time.

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Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 26

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Few top players are in danger of missing the next Serie A weekend, let’s take a look at the status updates.

Napoli:  Dries Mertens rolled an ankle in practice, but he played against Leipzig, so it was nothing severe. Arek Milik could be inserted the squad list this weekend or the next, but he will be obviously brought along slowly, while Faouzi Ghoulam’s return is up in the air, but it will not be before 30 days from now. Vlad Chiriches is out with a hamstring issue. Mario Rui was subbed off midweek for some plantar fascia pain and he is questionable.

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Sassuolo struggling to find a new identity

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Since they were promoted in Serie A in 2013, Sassuolo have always been a very interesting team to watch because of the tantalizing talent of Domenico Berardi and the tactical brilliancy of Eusebio Di Francesco. The coach was deservedly hired by Roma this summer, while the forward has struggled to come back to full form after a knee sprain last season and spent time on the shelf this year as well.

Under Di Francesco, the Neroverdi have always had a big-team flair: their playing style was proactive, a little daring, with a high defensive line and and an emphasis on quick passing and ball possession. It did not immediately work, and the coach was briefly fired in the first season in Serie A, but once they avoided relegation, they managed to assert themselves in the top half of the table, even earning a Europa League spot two seasons ago, always staying true to their identity.

They have hired Cristian Bucchi this summer, who was coming off an excellent stint at Perugia. At first, the new manager maintained Di Francesco’s typical 4-3-3: they drew with Genoa and lost three-nothing against Torino. It turns out that such scheme is highly automated and it is tough to make it work without its creator at the helm. Roma had a little trouble incorporating it, but then things clicked.

Without Berardi, Bucchi moved on to a 3-5-2, which is more natural to him. They had a good outing against Atalanta and Juventus, but were defeated both times because right now those teams are clearly above Sassuolo’s level. They collected three precious points in Cagliari, but then lost to Bologna at home due to a late goal, but the performance was uninspiring, and then they were battered by Lazio despite finding the opening score: it ended with a 6-1 at Olimpico.

No tactic guarantees you success: the players and the attitude play the biggest part in succeeding in football. But with the three-man defence, Bucchi not only moved away from Di Francesco’s formation, but also from the whole mentality his squad had. Right now, the Emiliani are no different from other low-table teams, who rely heavily on defending and counter-attacks. It might be enough to avoid relegation because they have some above average players, but it certainly takes away the shine they had in previous seasons. The most noble part of the table is a mirage at this point.

Misfortunes always pile up in rough times, so they have lost Timo Letschert for a good chunck of the season due to a torn ACL and they will have to hope Edoardo Goldaniga manages to come back quickly from a sports hernia surgery, otherwise they do not have three natural centre-backs in the roster. Other than some decent showings by Stefano Sensi, Pol Lirola and Claud Adjapong, most players have underperformed. Domenico Berardi has scored only once in five games and does not look at ease in his new position as second-striker, while Diego Falcinelli is in a slump. Alessandro Matri can not be the one carrying them. Some of the leaders of the locker room spoke very highly of Bucchi and his coaching acumen, but now they need to help him on the pitch because he is walking on thin ice: the next three fixtures against Chievo, Spal and Udinese will decide his future.

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