Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 12

Alex Meret: he quickly bounced back from an uncharacteristic error and Napoli have had a stingy back-line at home, giving up multiple goals just once. They might be able to take advantage of the fact that Genoa’s best striker, Christian Kouame, will not be available. David Ospina also showed pretty well when called upon.

Stefan De Vrij: Inter have conceded in few games in a row, but Verona have struggled almightily to produce offensively and will be without one of their main weapons, Miguel Veloso. The Dutch defenders has been able to feed the strikers twice thanks to his strong passing game. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Week – Round 11

Roma-Napoli had the right combination of magnitude coming in and action on the field and therefore easily gets the choice this week.

The Giallorossi approached the tilt looking to build on their two recent wins over Milan and Udinese and to continue climbing in the standings, while Napoli had prevailed just once in the last four, sharing the spoils three times and therefore losing ground.

Paulo Fonseca confirmed most of what has been his go-to XI, replacing the suspended Federico Fazio with Mert Cetin in the back, thus keeping Gianluca Mancini in the midfield, next to Jordan Veretout. Continue reading

Serie A Game of the Round – Napoli vs Atalanta

The best match of the round was rather predictable this time, as Napoli-Atalanta had excellent premises in terms of entertainment and it delivered.

The Partenopei had tied in the match versus SPAL, furthering their trend of not being a supremely consistent side, while Atalanta had walloped Udinese to garner their fourth win in the last five fixtures. The two sides came in separated by three points in the standings. Continue reading

Serie A Best XI – Round Eight

Alex Meret (7 points): Napoli would have found themselves in an early hole if it was not for his spectacular triple save in the span of ten seconds on point-blank attempts by Darko Lazovic, Matteo Pessina and Mariusz Stepinski.

William Troost-Ekong (5 points): if Udinese are rock-solid at home a lot of the credit goes to their defensive linchpin and to his quiet leadership, which contributed to holding in check the likes of Andrea Belotti and company. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round Seven

Alex Meret (7 points): pretty solid goalkeeping by those who earned a clean sheet, Bartlomiej Dragowski and Marco Silvestri in particular, but the nod goes to the Napoli youngster, who managed to parry away a cannon shot by Cristian Ansaldi and exuded confidence throughout the game.

Nikola Milenkovic (9 points): he decided the match against Udinese with a trademark header where he soared in the sky. The switch to a three-man defence has surely helped him. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round Five

Alex Meret: he got the day off during the weekend, so he will be back between sticks in his one as Napoli will host Cagliari, which might be satisfied with the two wins they got recently and therefore not push the opponents too much.Giovanni Di Lorenzo is in the same situation.

Stefan De Vrij: it is not great round for the top defences, so it could be a wise move to pick out the best one, as Inter have conceded just once, even though they have a difficult match-up against Lazio on the docket. He is an ex-Biancoceleste, so you never know. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round Four

Gianluigi Buffonhe is rumoured to be getting the first start since coming back and Juventus have a good opportunity for a clean sheet against Verona. The previously indicated Alex Meret is in strong form but he might be rested this week ahead of the midweek round.

Diego Godin: Inter’s defense has been as advertised and should continue to grow as it gels after some absences. They could take advantage of the fact that Milan have not figured out the proper combinations up front yet. He is coming off an assist and it would not be surprising to see him solve a big game or two with his headers. Continue reading

Serie A Best XI – Round Three

Alex Meret (7 points): Napoli breezed past Sampdoria, but their goalie saved them twice in the first half, with a great instinctive save on Alex Ferrari and then hypnotizing Emiliano Rigoni on a one-on-one.

Luca Ceppitelli (7 points): he exaggerated in the Parma game with a brace, finding the target first with his feet as he was left all alone in the box and then with a textbook and more traditional header. A rare appearance in the top XI for a defender that did not keep a clean sheet. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Round – Napoli

Just one shout-out win with multiple goals in this round and it belonged to Napoli, as Sampdoria find themselves again on the wrong end of the column despite showing some improvements compared to the first two outings.

The Partenopei wanted to put behind them a very bitter loss to Juventus considering the way it went down, while they had prevailed over Fiorentina in the opener. Carlo Ancelotti tweaked his system moving Fabian Ruiz back to pivot, Piotr Zielinski filled in for the banged up Lorenzo Insigne on the left flank and Hirving Lozano partnered Dries Mertens up front. Elijf Elmas and Nikola Maksimovic gave Allan and Kostas Manolas a breather ahead the mammoth Champions League clash with Liverpool. Continue reading

Patience Needed With Current Crop of Azzurrini

The U-21 European Championships are unlike any other tournament in world football. Typically, most rosters feature a blend of established talents, your Dani Ceballos’ and Federico Chiesas of the world, mixed with players eager to make a name for themselves on the world stage. What this tournament inevitably leads to, unfortunately for most, is the exaggeration of their talents. While their ability isn’t in question as most of them are, without a doubt, the best their age group has to offer, it’s rare to see an U-21 international push on and live up to the hype, bar a select few. This is no different with the current group of Azzurrini.

While many of them will go on to become established internationals, a majority of them will fizzle out and eventually fade into the background of the hype machine that once proclaimed them to be world beaters. Currently, Azzurrini boss Luigi Di Biagio has one of the most talented group of players at his disposal, yet, it would still be wise to exhibit patience. After all, most of these players are yet to establish themselves as regulars at their respective clubs, for one reason or another.

Take Federico Chiesa, for example. After breaking out onto the scene at Fiorentina, the winger is now seen as the future of Italian football. His electric performances against Spain and Poland have pushed him further into the limelight of the nation, and have now burdened him with immense expectations. Recently, it’s been reported that the new Fiorentina brass have slapped an 100 million euro price-tag on the young man. Remember, he’s just 21, and has only just come of his first full season as a regular starter in Tuscany.

For some, this newfound responsibility acts as the catalyst for their progression, while for others, it slowly eats away at them until their talent becomes a thing of the past and they become average, middling professionals. Look at Mattia De Sciglio, who was once dubbed the ‘Next Maldini’. Today, the defender is a reliable fullback, but is the furthest thing from a world beater.

Luckily for Italian football, it appears Chiesa thrives with this pressure on his shoulders and spurs him on to become a better player. You would expect no less from the son of Enrico Chiesa, if we’re being honest. But not every player is like the Fiorentina man. Looking at Di Biagio’s roster, a number of players stick out from the rest: Moise Kean, Nicolo Zaniolo, Alex Meret and Nicolo Barella among others. These players, at one point or another, demonstrated the potential to become world beaters. While getting lost in their hype, it’s easy to forget they’re still teenagers with the world at their feet.

If the past is anything to go by, heaping immense expectations on these teens inevitably leads to failure. For every Alessandro Del Piero that has emerged from the Azzurrini, there is a Domenico Berardi. Italian media loves to sensationalize the current crop of talents, but they would be wise to exhibit caution, and allow these players to become their own men.

Like in anything in life, we must learn from the past and our mistakes not to repeat them. Despite these warnings, and there have been many, Italian football seems dead-set on proclaiming this generation as calcio’s saving grace.

Perhaps it stems from a burning desire to reach former heights, or perhaps there’s something larger at play here; a cultural aspect, of sorts. The need to keep the memories of former greats alive or, on the other side of the spectrum, the need for something new; something better than what we already have. Regardless, Italians are playing dangerous game forcing their talents to skip crucial steps in their progression and expect them to become great overnight. Eventually, it may come back to haunt the current iteration of Azzurrini, as it has so often occurred in years past. As always, only time will tell.

How well do you know Italian Football? Do you want to battle the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Playwww.fantasyseriea.com now!