Torino Hang Around and Enter Top Four Race

With much of the attention surrounding the top four race going to Milan, Roma, and Lazio, Walter Mazzarri’s plucky Torino side have flown under the radar, but are still in it with a chance. With just five games to go, I Granata are in seventh place, however, sit just three points back of fourth place Milan. Playing in Mazzarri’s patented 3-5-2 with veteran leadership spread evenly across the pitch, Torino have proven to be one of the harder sides to break down within the peninsula, and hurt the opposition on the break through Andrea Belotti, and Iago Falque.

Torino are undefeated in their last five clashes, and are currently in good form ahead of a crucial stage. Next week, Torino’s top four credentials will be put to the ultimate test when they take on Milan in a direct clash for European football. A win against the struggling rossoneri would put them on equal points awaiting other clashes, and would signal their Champions League intent to the rest of the pack.

While Champions League football is unlikely given that there are five teams vying for one spot, all sides in the top four race have displayed a propensity to shoot themselves in the foot at crucial points. Just this past weekend, Roma, Milan, and Lazio all dropped points in games they should have won. As a result, the likes of Atalanta and Torino have been able to stick around the top four, and have a legitimate chance going into the final match-days.

After taking on Milan, Torino will travel down the street to take on their fierce rivals Juventus at the Allianz Stadium. While the bianconeri have regularly bested Torino over the years, they have already clinched the Scudetto, and will already be thinking of their summer vacation. After his side’s triumph over Fiorentina, Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri admitted himself today that he will try new schemes in the remaining five games. With Juve experimenting, they will likely field a wealth of their youngsters and try to blood them through. This gives Torino a unique opportunity to use their experience, and claim,what would be, a crucial three points to their top four aspirations.

Following their clash with Juve, Torino then close the season against Sassuolo, Empoli, and Lazio. While the first two opponents should be straightforward, it’s their last clash that will determine their fate.

Right now, Torino are spreading responsibility in the final third wonderfully, and don’t simply rely on one player to see them through. In fact, there are seven players on their roster this season with at least three goals or more. This includes defenders, defensive midfielders, wingers and of course, their highly rated talisman Andrea Belotti. Factor in Salvatore Sirigu’s exploits, and it’s clear to see why Torino have been hard to beat this season.

With their side firing on all cylinders, Torino could just be this season’s surprise package in Serie A and snatch Champions League football under from everyone’s noses. Until now, they haven’t received many plaudits for their efforts, but expect that to change if they were to overcome Milan.

How well do you know Italian football? Want to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

 

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 32

ROVETTA 08-07 -2018- ATALANTA  CAMPIONATO SERIE A TIN 2018-19  .Alberto mariani - silpress

Juventus: Blaise Matuidi subbed off against Ajax due to a calf problem, but the injury is not believed to be severe. Emre Can (ankle) and Giorgio Chiellini (calf) will sit Saturday’s game too but they are not distant from returning. Juan Cuadrado is back after knee surgery, while Douglas Costa suffered a new calf problem. Miralem Pjanic, Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo have not been called up for rest purposes.

Napoli: Simone Verdi was scatched late for the previous match due to muscle fatigue, but he was called up for the London trip. Raul Albiol (knee) and Amadou Diawara will miss another one, but at least of them could be back next week.

Inter: Marcelo Brozovic suffered a pull of the semitendinosus muscle in the right pull and will miss the Frosinone game and perhaps one more after that. Lautaro Martinez and Stefan De Vrij are set to be called up after being sidelined by thigh ailments. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 31

belotti

Salvatore Sirigu: even if the Torino’s defense has slipped a little in the past few games, he has pulled off some amazing performances and perhaps, differently from Frosinone, they will be able to take advantage of Parma’s absences up front.

Mario Rui: he showed well even in a losing effort in Empoli. Genoa have had a lot of troubles coming up with goals lately, so the Napoli defenders are certainly intriguing in this round, especially Ghoulam, Rui and Kevin Malcuit who are the most involved offensively.

Fabrizio Cacciatore: SPAL are not great on the road, while Cagliari were very solid at home up until the match with Juventus. He is coming off two assists in a row and Darijo Srna is suspended. Luca Pellegrini is faring well too and he will not have to deal with Manuel Lazzari.  Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Round – 30

gagliardini

Emiliano Viviano (7 points): he contributed to SPAL’s impressive victory with a solid save on a Ciro Immobile’s shot and a rather lucky rejection with the help of the post on Lucas Leiva point-blank attempt.

Merih Demiral (13 points): he almost ruined a perfect night with a silly penalty foul late, but Emanuele Giaccherini missed and so his fantasy haul remains the best of the season for a defenders thanks to two outstanding headers.

Leonardo Bonucci (9 points): a commanding performance by the Juventus defense in Cagliari and the veteran centre-back embellished it with a great header on a corner kick.

Pol Lirola (7 points): a dominating performance for the energetic fullback, who was no match for the opponents on the right flank and set up two goals for Sassuolo

Josip Ilicic (10 points)he single-handedly knocked out Bologna in the span of ten minutes, punishing them with two venomous lefty strikes and then teeing up Hans Hateboer three-nothing goal. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 30

ciofani

Standings implication: Juventus overwhelmed Cagliari, while Napoli fell to Empoli and therefore the Bianconeri could potentially clinch the title in the weekend. In the Champions League race, it was a positive round for Inter, which thumped Genoa on the road, and Atalanta that demolished Bologna, while Milan had a disappointing tie with Udinese and Lazio were outlasted by SPAL. The Biscione built a little lead while the Orobici are one point behind the Rossoneri.

Torino returned to winning ways against Sampdoria, while Roma again failed to take home the W as they equalized with Fiorentina. The Granata pulled even with the Nation’s Capital teams and distanced Sampdoria. As it is often the case in this time of the year, the relegation strugglers are starting to get some surprise victories: SPAL and Empoli gained points on Udinese and Bologna. Frosinone snatched their first home win of the season, but it might be too late for them as they are * behind the 17th position. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 29

romanapoli

Juventus-Empoli: the Bianconeri are coming off their first Serie A loss this season, against Genoa, while they dropped points just twice at home thus far. The Azzurri defeated Frosinone in Aurelio Andreazzoli’s return match, nabbing the second win in the last 13 rounds. They have lost in five of the last six away games. The Old Lady will be without Cristiano Ronaldo, who got hurt while playing with Portugal, and Douglas Costa, who remains sidelined. Therefore, Federico Bernardeschi, Moise Kean, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic will lead the charge and try to alleviate the absence of the Portuguese star. They could be helped by the fact that the Tuscans have one of the leakiest defenses in the League. Continue reading

Mancini Makes Questionable Choices in The Final Third

belotti

Since being appointed Italy boss after the World Cup debacle, Roberto Mancini has done well to implement a distinct style of play, and identify key players for his setup moving forward. With the defence and midfield all but set, barring a few adjustments, the attack remains Mancini’s last puzzle. While the former Inter tactician has introduced the likes of Federico Chiesa and Moise Kean into the fold, some of Mancini’s choices in the final third have been questionable, to say the least.

In Mancini’s latest selections, Vincenzo Grifo and Leonardo Pavoletti both got the call to represent their nation. The latter, a 30-year-old mid-table journeyman, won’t be on the international scene for much longer and failed at the only big club he was at, while Grifo has only played eight games in league action this season thus far for Freiburg and has never demonstrated to be anything more than a decent squad player.

After years of struggling for options in the final third, Mancini is finally blessed with various talents in the attacking department, be it with Bernardeschi, Chiesa, and Kean among others. Now is not the time to experiment with players who are on the wrong side of 30 or haven’t been consistent in front of goal.

Regardless of their form this season, neither Pavoletti or Grifo will represent Italy next summer, and neither deserves to take valuable experience away from the nation’s budding forwards. What is more puzzling is that the in-form Andrea Belotti was left home, despite his recent resurgence.

The Torino forward has lead the line exceptionally well, and has propelled I Granata into an unlikely race for European football. While he’s had better goal tallies in past seasons, Belotti has become a more well-rounded forward under Walter Mazzarri and is ready for another go on the international scene. At 25 years old, Il Gallo is about to enter the prime of his career, and is an excellent option for Mancini.

Another player who could have also gotten the call ahead of Pavoletti and Grifo was Mario Balotelli. Despite some previous attitude concerns, Supermario’s has been Italy’s most consistent forward over the years, and has done well in Marseille, scoring four goals in his last six games. Mancini had this to say about Balotelli’s exclusion.

“Balotelli still isn’t in peak condition, he’s improving but I expect a lot from him and he can improve further. In general, all of the technical players are improving and this is comforting for me.” (Source: Twitter – @Azzurri)

The reality is that, much like Balotelli, Grifo hasn’t played much for Freiburg, and yet still received a call-up. Had Mancini cited previous indiscipline as his reason, it would have made Balotelli’s exclusion understandable. Regardless, Supermario deserves one more run with the Nazionale, and will likely get the chance next time around.

Balotelli

While Mancini has done relatively well at blending youth with experience, another player who should have, at the very least, been part of the training camp is Milan’s Patrick Cutrone. Since breaking onto the scene, the Milan forward has demonstrated all the raw abilities of a top forward, and has a knack for being at the right place at the right time.

At just 21 years old, Cutrone, alongside Juventus’ Moise Kean, are easily Mancini’s best long-term bets. Since Krzysztof Piatek’s arrival, however, Cutrone has found playing time hard to come by. Despite this, he deserves a shot with the national team, and could prove useful at the upcoming Euros if given consistent playing time.

Moving forward, Mancini can’t keep turning to the likes of Pavoletti and Grifo as they are taking away development time from Italy’s potential, long-term number nines. Let’s face it, neither will make the final squad while Belotti, Balotelli and Cutrone all have a great shot. The ball’s now in Mancini’s court.

Are you a Serie A expert? Can you defeat the top Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you think so, playwww.fantasyseriea.com now!

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 27

belotti

Lukas Skorupski (7 points): just three clean sheets in this round and, out of the trio, the Polish goalkeeper had the best performance as he denied a point-blank Joao Pedro header with a miraculous save to protect his team’s lead.

Erick Pulgar (9 points): it has not been easy this season to beat Alessio Cragno from the penalty spot, but he did it with great aplomb in Sunday’s lunch match.

Cedric Soares (7 points): he finally started in Serie A and had a very solid showing motoring down the right flank and sending in multiple juicy crosses. He was credited for an assist to Gagliardini, but he really was trying to shoot there. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Report – Round 27

belotti

Standings implications: Juventus further extended their lead after pummeling Udinese as Napoli equalized in Sassuolo. Both Milan and Inter were successful against minnows in this round, the Rossoneri beat Chievo, the Beneamata did the same with SPAL, and therefore head into next week’s Derby separated by just one point, with the Devil on top. Roma sweated it out by bested Empoli and remain in pursuit. Atalanta recorded a big win in the Europa League race by besting Sampdoria on the road, but Torino staged a comeback in Frosinone and the two remain hand-in-hand, while Lazio lost some ground as they were held to a one-one tie in Florence. Waiting to see what Empoli will do, only Bologna took home the W in the rear: they stay in the 18th spot, but have closed a little the gap with Empoli, SPAL and Udinese.

Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 26

cataldi

Standings implications: Juventus most likely inflicted the final blow to the title race with a 1-2 win over Napoli in a crazy game. Milan leapfrogged Inter in the third spot as they eked out a win against Sassuolo, while the Nerazzurri were blitzed by Cagliari back on Friday. Roma stayed behind as they got battered by Lazio, which re-entered the fray for the fourth spot, as they have six fewer points than the Beneamata, but have to recover one game. Atalanta and Torino remain in hot pursuit of an Europa League berth with their convincing victories over Fiorentina and Chievo. Massive points for the Sardinians and for Udinese in the relegation zone: the Friulani moved seven points clear of Bologna after besting them on Sunday afternoon. Frosinone and Empoli treaded waters down there with their gritty ties against Genoa and Parma. Continue reading