Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 12

Inter-Verona: while Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku continue to be very reliable, the Beneamata are getting additional pieces back, as Matias Vecino scored in Champions League and Stefano Sensi looked pretty good in his stint off the bench. The two are certainly better fantasy options than Roberto Gagliardini, who filled in while they were sidelined, and the ex Sassuolo player, in particular, was fantastic at the beginning of the season. Valentino Lazaro was okay against Brescia and his skill-set is interesting, especially against the minnows where he would not need to defend a lot. Matteo Politano got hurt in Dortmund, so the first man up off the bench in the attack would be Salvatore Esposito. Verona have scored just nine times so far, so their back-line is certainly in play despite the ongoing clean sheet-less run. Continue reading

One to Watch: Christian Kouamé

After an impressive debut season, Christian Kouamé was tipped to take Serie A by storm in 2019-2020. Alongside Andrea Pinamonti, the Ivorian was expected to form one of the league’s most youthful and dangerous duos in attack. The duo lived up to the hype early on, combining to devastating effect in their opener against Roma. Kouamé followed up his goal against the giallorossi with another impressive performance against Fiorentina, putting in a man-of-the-match display and adding another goal to his tally.

The 21-year-old would find the back of the net once more against Cagliari, starting his season in brilliant fashion with three goals in four games. However, following their convincing defeat at the hands of Cagliari, Genoa went winless in their next four games and Kouamé struggled. In his next four starts, the Ivorian played the full ninety minutes in all games and failed to score in any of them.

Genoa’s 5-1 defeat against Parma was the last straw for President Enrico Preziosi and he promptly sacked Aurelio Andreazzoli for former midfielder Thiago Motta. Motta was previously coaching PSG’s U-19 side and has been labelled a progressive tactician in his brief managerial career.

In Motta’s first game in charge, Kouamé started on the bench and came on for Sinan Gumus with over twenty minutes to play. In his cameo appearance, the 21-year-old was electric and helped Genoa overcome a one-nil deficit to claim the three points. Outside of his match-winner, a fantastic scissor-kick, Kouamé was a constant threat in the final third and didn’t give Brescia’s defenders a moment’s rest.

With I Grifoni up a goal, Brescia tried taking the game to them and left open spaces in behind. Kouamé took full advantage of this and registered his first assist on the season on Goran Pandev’s goal. In just 25 minutes of action, Kouamé displayed exactly why he comes so highly-rated around the peninsula. Whether he’s driving in possession or making the most of his incredible turn of pace, Kouamé makes for an increasinly dangerous striker.

This season, the Genoa forward has demonstrated that he could be efficient in front of goal, as illustrated by his four goals on the season already. One knock against Kouamé last season was that he couldn’t create his own chances. Much like his finishing, this is an element of his game that has since improved significantly compared to years past. Currently, Kouamé is averaging just under two shots per game and is also establishing himself as a creative threat with just under 1.5 key passes per game.

Moving forward, Genoa are going to need Kouamé to maintain his positive exploits in front of goal if they want to avoid relegation. Under Thiago Motta it will be interesting to see the young forward develop, especially considering the tactician’s desire to play attacking football. In any case, Kouamé is definitely one to keep an eye on as the season wears on and into the January transfer window. Capable of creating chances or taking them for himself, Kouamé will undoubtedly be atop most club’s wish-lists when the mercato reopens.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Ten

Brescia-Inter: Eugenio Corini has had some reservations in using Alfredo Donnarumma and Mario Balotelli together, but Florian Aye, while tactically precious, has not been productive and so the more predictable duo should be the way to go moving forward. However, they have combined for just one goal in the last three matches and they will face one of the best back-lines in the League. Daniele Dessena’s injury ended up hurting Romulo’s fantasy stocks in the short-term, since he is being used as box-to-box, at least until one between Emanuele Ndoj and Jaromir Zmhral manages to unseat Nikolas Spalek, who has not been effective as no.10. Sandro Tonali is coming off his first Serie A goal and constitutes is half of their offense. Continue reading

Genoa hire Thiago Motta to replace Andreazzoli

After a dismal display against Parma that led to the third loss in a row and the fifth one in the last six matches, Genoa decided to move on from Aurelio Andreazzoli and appointed Thiago Motta as their new coach. They have collected just five points so far, thanks to two draws against Roma and Bologna and an early win over Fiorentina, and are second-to-last in the standings. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Eight

Standings implications: the top two teams prevailed as Juventus defeated Bologna, while Inter survived Sassuolo’s late rally. Napoli got closer to the third spot after besting Verona since Atalanta three away a three-nothing lead against Lazio. Roma stumbled away against Sampdoria. Cagliari remain in the high-end district thanks to an easy win over SPAL and they have now put together the best start in their history. Milan got halted at the one-yard line by Lecce despite a decent debut for Stefano Pioli. Fiorentina’s winning streak was stopped by Brescia. Parma humilated Genoa, while Udinese grabbed another home win. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 1

Results: Juventus and Napoli started with three points as the Bianconeri nipped Parma, while the Partenopei outlasted Fiorentina in a crazy match. Atalanta staged a glorious comeback against SPAL, Milan took a tumble in Udine and Roma were too naïve versus Genoa. Lazio thrashed Sampdoria and Inter did the same against Lecce. Torino edged out Sassuolo. Verona hanged on to dear life versus Bologna and Brescia caught Cagliari off guard on the road.

Confirmations: Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, Luis Muriel and Simone Zaza got off to a flier thanks to their braces. The Colombian striker had the most impressive one, sigle-handedly turning the SPAL bout. Kevin-Prince Boateng, José Callejon and Joaquin Correa bagged terrific cross-shots, while Erick Pulgar remains deadly on penalties. Continue reading

Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap and Ended Loans

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The last week prior to the official start of the transfer market was understandably quiet: Sampdoria pulled off the most interesting move by adding another talented youngster, Gonzalo Maroni from Boca Juniors, who can feature in few positions up front and has the potential to be electric. Genoa made a sizeable investment to have Andrea Pinamonti from Inter, who had a very promising rookie season in Frosinone and is set to be their featured guy up front moving forward. Fiorentina are giving the keys to their goal to Barlomiej Dragowki, who blossomed in Empoli last season, and thus sent Alban Lafont to Nantes on a two-year loan. Sassuolo permanently signed left back Rogerio from Juventus after the 18-month loan, Brescia did the same with Ales Mateju, who belonged to Brighton.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 38

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Juventus: Blaise Matuidi and Federico Bernardeschi are suspended, while Joao Cancelo and Mario Mandzukic both fractured their nose in the same week and are unavailable for Sunday. Alex Sandro is dealing with a rib contusion. Douglas Costa (calf), Mattia Perin (shoulder) and Sami Khedira (knee) remain sidelined as expected. Cristiano Ronaldo will be rested, while Wojciech Szczesny has suffered a knee injury.

Napoli: Allan and Kalidou Koulibaly are disqualified. Amadou Diawara looked close to returning from a foot fracture for a pair of weeks, but he was again unable to make the squad list, like Adam Ounas that is banged up and David Ospina, who is still in Colombia. Mario Rui is out with an undisclosed injury.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 37

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Sassuolo-Roma: the Neroverdi were handed their first loss since April last week by Torino, even though they certainly put up a fight, despite not being in need of points. The Giallorossi defeated Juventus with a late surge, garnering their fourth win in the last six rounds, tying in the other two and staying close to the fourth spot. Sassuolo have found the target in five of the last six rounds and La Lupa have not been great defensively on the road: they have spread the wealth around since Domenico Berardi was the only one to bag one in multiple matches. Jeremie Boga, Stefano Sensi, Manuel Locatelli and all the defenders contributed scoring-wise: Boga and Sensi have been their most lively contributors in the last few fixtures. The Giallorossi are getting a lot from Stephan El Shaarawy and Edin Dzeko, while the latest tactical change, if confirmed, would help the likes of Nicolò Zaniolo, Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert, as the last two would see more minutes. Lorenzo Pellegrini is iffy due to a thigh ailment and his absence could allow Bryan Cristante to have a big role.

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Bargain Hunting: Three Relegation Bound Players

With the Serie A season coming to a close, many of the league’s relegation-bound sides will be putting their best players on the market. Needing to trim their wage bill, some players will be available cheaply, opening the room for bargains. Every year there’s a few players that stick out from the rest, and frankly deserve better than a season in Italy’s second division. Here are three players who might be worth a look into for Italy’s mid-table sides.

Chievo – Mariusz Stepinski (Striker)

In his second season in Italian football, Stepinski has grown immensely as a forward, and has done his best to lead Chievo’s misfiring front-line. While goals proved hard to come by in Verona this season, the Polish forward found the back of the net six times, two of which came in the early goings of the year against Juventus and Roma.

At just 24 years old, Stepinski deserves another shot at top flight football, albeit with a more progressive side. Simply put, any side in the bottom half of the table could make do with his services.

Midfielder Sofian Kiyine could also be of interest to sides looking to bolster their midfield with youth, and has demonstrated he’s more than capable of holding his own.

Empoli – Ismael Bennacer (Center Midfield) 

The Empoli midfielder has been in sensational form this season, and has done exceptionally well at the heart of the Tuscan’s midfield. Bennacer has proven equally capable of shielding the back four, as he is spreading the ball as evidenced through his five assists, and is undoubtedly ready for a bigger club. With many of Serie A’s sides missing a link between attack and defence, the Algerian could prove to be an under-the-radar, low-cost option.

However, English giants Arsenal reportedly have a lowly 6 million euros buy-back clause in the 21-year-old’s contract, and are worth monitoring themselves. With Empoli’s Serie A status in doubt, expect Bennacer to be on the move come summertime.

Teammate Francesco Caputo, and his 15 goals, are also worth mentioning, but his age may prove to be a deterrent for most sides. In any case, the striker could prove to be an interesting option for the newly-promoted sides.

Frosinone – Camillo Ciano (Attacking Midfielder)

With Frosinone going down to Serie B, many of their players will be available rather cheaply. While loanees Francesco Cassata, and Andrea Pinamonti are of great interest, they will return to their parent clubs Sassuolo and Inter respectively. If either is available again, they should definitely be made priorities. However, Serie A’s mid-table to lower tier sides would be wise to focus their attention on attacking midfielder Camillo Ciano. 

The 29-year-old has proven effective in a front two, and is versatile enough to play behind the striker as well. His seven goals and four assists illustrate he’s worthy of Italy’s top flight, and will undoubtedly be on the radar of the newly-promoted outfits looking for goals, and creativity in the final third. As he is nearing 30 years old, Ciano could prove to be a bargain.

Sportiello is worthy of consideration, as well, but is coming off one of his poorer seasons since establishing himself as a number one within Italy.

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