Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 15

juventusinter

The next round features one of the games of the season, Juventus-Inter, and few other juicy match-ups.

Juventus-Inter: the Bianconeri got the better of Fiorentina, extending their winning streak to five fixtures, but in that occasion they were not as dominant as the final score showed. Against Roma, Inter dropped points for the second time in a row on the road and, despite scoring twice, they never looked in control. The same thing happened in Bergamo, but they are extremely opportunistic, so they can never be counted out. Cristiano Ronaldo added one to his tally with a penalty in Florence, while Rodrigo Bentancur continues to impress. Mario Mandzukic is generally money in big matches, while Douglas Costa has the potential to be a factor off the bench. Despite being useful in other areas, Paulo Dybala’s offensive stats in Serie A have been subpar. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 14

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Standings implications: Juventus continue to roll and toppled Fiorentina, but Napoli outlasted Atalanta away. Roma showed great character against and the big match of the round ended in a 2-2 draw. Milan put together a gritty comeback against Parma: a valuable result that allowed them to leapfrog Lazio, which got halted by Chievo. Sampdoria finally got a win trouncing Bologna, which are officially in trouble. SPAL and Empoli shared the spoils in a very well played game, similarly to Frosinone and Cagliari. Torino downed Genoa with two quick goals at the end of the first half, while Sassuolo-Udinese was scoreless. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 11

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Samir Handanovic (7 points): five clean sheets in the weekend, by Inter, Milan, Frosinone, Parma and Sassuolo, but there was no particularly superb performance by any goalie, so Handanovic gets the nod by default because he has earned the most points so far in the season and he is also the most owned in the bunch.

Alessio Romagnoli (8 points): it is hard to believe that a centre-back could be involved in late goals in two games in a row, but this was the case for the Milan captain. The one versus Genoa was more impromptu, while in Udine he followed a fast-break and punished an howler by the back-line with a powerful strike from inside the box. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 11

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Standings implications: the top three teams did not stutter in favourable match-ups. Inter and Napoli pummeled Genoa and Empoli, while Juventus had to dig deeper against Cagliari, but maintained their lead. Fiorentina and Roma shared the spoils in a result that helps neither. Lazio smoked SPAL, but Milan kept up with an improbable late goal in Udine. Torino looked very impressive again on the road as Sampdoria were their latest victims. Sassuolo tamed Chievo very easily despite being away. Atalanta keep climbing the standings and mounted a comeback against Bologna.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 11

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Just a pair of juicy match-ups on deck this week, while the top teams will try to take advantage of cozy fixtures on paper.

Napoli-Empoli: the Partenopei were not super sharp versus Roma, they salvaged a draw but could have probably done more if they did not put themselves in the predicament of having to come back. It was the first time they dropped points at home. Empoli have not won since the first game, but they certainly put up a fight against Juventus before Cristiano Ronaldo decided to win it. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 10

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Standings implications: Juventus run into some troubles in Empoli, but still escaped with a win thanks to his ace. It turned out to be a meaningful result because Napoli were halted at home by Roma. Milan grabbed a quality win over Sampdoria. Torino and Fiorentina shared the spoils on Saturday, while Atalanta soundly defeated Parma to nab their second victory in a row. Frosinone finally won one by blindsiding SPAL in Ferrara. Udinese came back twice versus Genoa.

Confirmations: Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a brace, including a wondergoal, which remedied to Francesco Caputo’s brilliant strike. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 10

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The next Serie A round features few titillating match-ups.

Empoli-Juventus: the Azzurri’s talented offence showed up in Frosinone, but this time they were held back by their back-line. They have won just once so far, in the season opener, and lost five times. The Old Lady dropped point for the first time against Genoa, but then bounced back in Champions League. The Bianconeri are pretty short-handed due to injuries, this could be the right spot for Federico Bernardeschi or Douglas Costa because they have not gotten many minutes in the last two fixtures. Continue reading

Losers of Serie A’s First Stretch of the Season

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The first stretch of the Serie A season gave us a flawless start from Juventus, a late resurgence from Inter and surprising performances from Sampdoria and Sassuolo. But for every action there’s a reaction, and while there have been plenty of positive story lines and winners in Italy in the first eight matches, as we covered last week, there have also been teams and players not meeting expectations- here are the losers of the season so far

 

 

Atalanta

 

Going into the season, the Bergamaschi were probably everyone’s second favorite team. What is there not to like? A club that isn’t afraid to launch young players, most of them Italian, a manager known for often playing offensive minded football while also showing significant tactical acumen against Italy’s top coaches and a star player in Papu Gomez who is very relatable and exciting to watch.

But this season Atalanta have not been themselves. The team started their summer preparation early to get ready for the Europa League preliminary round, but their immediate elimination has given the squad a hangover reminiscent of what happened to Pioli’s Lazio and Benitez’ Napoli after being eliminated in preliminary round of the Champions League.

While Atalanta boosts a very deep and impressive attack (Zapata, Ilicic, Gomez and talented striker Barrow), years of selling off prospects may have caught up to them- Gasperini’s squad looks rather weak on defense and on the wings after parting ways with Conti, Spinazzola and Caldara the past two summers. 

Andrea Belotti

 

Everything was pointing to a fast start for the striker known as Il Gallo. He was finally healthy after battline nagging injuries last season, manager Walter Mazzarri had made him the focal point of his first summer retreat as the granata’s manager and Torino spent significantly in the summer to make a run for the Europa League.

But while Belotti must have been thrilled to hear that Roberto Soriano was returning to Serie A to join him and that Iago Falque was staying despite offers from Spain, the late arrival of Simone Zaza had the potential to change the major tenants of Torino’s attack. But because the former Juventus striker needed time to adapt to his new team, Belotti didn’s make the most the opportunity to take the bull by its horns- he’s off to a sluggish start with only two goals scored.

 

 

Sergej Milinkovic Savic

 

There are already many who believe the Serbian international has taken the crown from Belotti as the poster boy for the saying “better to sell a player a year too soon than a year too late”, and while Lazio and Torino approached the market for their young stars in very different ways, there’s no doubt Milinkovic Savic’s stock has taken a substantial hit.

After a stellar Serie A season in which he scored 12 goals, SMS had a disappointing World Cup where many were left wondering what the hype was all about. Those performances were defensible considering he had barely played with his Serbian teammates prior to the tournament in Russia, but his disastrous start to the season in Italy has been far more concerning- is Milinkovic Savic getting full of himself? Or is he disappointed he wasn’t sold to a bigger club? Simone Inzaghi is going to need to find out very soon 

 

Mattia Caldara & Alex Meret

 

I know what you are thinking- calling them losers of the season so far is very unfair considering their injuries. But while they rehabbed to get back to the pitch their situations are starting to change. For one Mateo Musacchio has made the most out of Caldara’s absence, and is establishing himself as a solid partner for Alessio Romagnoli, if that weren’t enough Caldara struggled significantly in Italy’s match versus Portugal which reinforced the story line that he needs time to adapt to playing on a bigger stage than Atalanta.

Meret on the other had already struggled with injuries in his first season in Serie A which however didn’t stop Napoli from investing significantly in him to replace Pepe Reina. Meret has yet to play this season, and just like Musacchio with Romagnoli, his replacement David Ospina has performed well enough to be compared to Claudio Garella, the keeper on the club’s first scudetto winning team.

Caldara and Meret have the talent to turn this around, but this is definitely not the start they envisioned either 

 

 

 

 

Bologna/Chievo

 

While Parma and Sassuolo are distancing themselves significantly from the relegation zone, these two clubs are setting themselves up for a season of suffering and stress. Bologna never adequately replaced Simone Verdi, who almost single handedly carried their offense last season, and new manager Pippo Inzaghi is probably considering suiting up since his team only scored four goals this season (second worst in the league).

Chievo still find themselves with negative points after the deduction for the inflated plusvalenze on the transfer market. The flying donkeys made the first manager change of the season (barely defeating Gena in this dubious race) by hiring Gian Piero Ventura, the biggest pariah in Italian football. While Chievo have enough talent to make up ground since there are other teams struggling, their impressive streak of ten consecutive seasons in Serie A could be coming to an end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serie A Match of the Round – Torino vs Frosinone

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The last round had a pair of really intriguing and well-balanced match-ups, Lazio-Fiorentina and Atalanta-Sampdoria, but those were decided by a single goal. The most entertaining game was surprisingly the Friday one between Torino and Frosinone.

The Granata were coming off a late win against Chievo, while Frosinone picked up just one point so far. Walter Mazzarri gave Simone Zaza the start after the deciding goal in the previous contest, picking Daniele Baselli over Roberto Soriano as attacking midfielder and Ola Aina and Alex Berenguer as wing backs since Lorenzo De Silvestri was out. Moreno Longo, former coach of Torino’s youth team, stuck with a 3-4-3 featuring Joel Campbell, Daniele Ciofani and Camillo Ciano up front. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 5

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Standings implications: Juventus eked out a win in Frosinone, while Napoli prevailed rather easily in the lunch match in Turin. Lazio put together a three-game winning streak by topping minnows. Milan and Atalanta shared the spoils in a very entertaining game. Inter grabbed their second Serie A win in dramatic fashion, while Roma are officially in a tailspin after the shocking loss to Bologna. Sassuolo and Fiorentina remain in the upper part of the standings thanks to their convincing victories over Empoli and SPAL, Udinese are a little lower, but still in a pretty good spot after defeating Chievo. Parma defeated a direct rival like Cagliari. Continue reading