Serie A Club of the Round – Empoli

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Two perfect results in this round, one rather predictable by Juventus against Frosinone, which has already been covered on the site, the other a little more surprising, by Empoli, which rolled past Sassuolo. The Azzurri had not won since December 9th and copped just two points in the past nine fixtures, against Cagliari and Chievo, and were beaten in all the remaining ones.

Giuseppe Iachini fielded Afriyie Acquah over Hamed Traorè and Cristiano Dell’Orco over Jacob Rasmussesn compared to his most used line-up. Sassuolo posed very little resistance, perhaps caught by surprise by the vigor of the opponents, and Francesco Caputo and company pulled the strings all game long. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 24

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Juventus: Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have been called up, while Douglas Costa remains out with a quad problem. Daniele Rugani has a sore thigh, but he is in the squad list. Alex Sandro is suspended.

Napoli: Dries Mertens and Simone Verdi missed the midweek Europa League clash due to a contracture and a bruised knee respectively, but they have been able to recover. Raul Albiol underwent a clean-up surgery on the patellar tendon of the left knee and will miss six-to-eight weeks. Mario Rui suffered a thigh pull and will be sidelined this week.

Inter: Sime Vrsaljko had season-ending knee surgery. Balde Keita’s recovery from a thigh strain has had a hiccup and he will not be available this week. Mauro Icardi has a sore knee and will not be called up this week.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 23

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Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi will be good to go after leaving the last game with a chest injury. On the other hand, Douglas Costa is iffy due to a bruised quad and Leonardo Spinazzola has a sore ankle. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) will be out again, while Leonardo Bonucci (ankle) is making a late push to be in the squad list.

Napoli: Amin Younes is having troubles with the surgically repaired Achilles tendon. Raul Albiol is reportedly dealing with a patellar tendon issue that could turn out to be a very serious one.

Inter: Matteo Politano will serve the final game of his suspension. Balde Keita has been called up despite the coach saying that he is not ready. Borja Valero is out with knee soreness.

Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 22

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Juventus: Giorgio Chiellini suffered a calf pull that should force him to miss a couple of games. Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira returned in Coppa Italia, while Mario Mandzukic (ankle) is expected to be available this week. Emre Can is ill but available.

Napoli: Fabian Ruiz is suspended. Raul Albiol and Elseid Hysaj are fatigued, while Adam Younes is banged up: the first two have called up, the winger has not.

Inter: Matteo Politano was slapped with a two-game ban. Stefan De Vrij is dealing with some muscle fatigue, but he has been called up, while Balde Keita remains out.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 21

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Juventus: Mario Mandzukic is trying to come back from high strain, but it might be too early. Miralem Pjanic and Joao Cancelo are dealing with minor calf ailments, while Sami Khedira has a sore knee: they are unlikely to be available this week, but the fullback has a shot. Medhi Benatia (groin), Andrea Barzagli (thigh) and Juan Cuadrado (knee) remain out.

Napoli: Marek Hamsik will return from a thigh strain, while Allan is experiencing some back pain and has been ruled out.

Inter: Balde Keita (thigh) will not be able to come back this week, while Sime Vrsaljko is under the weather and also nursing an achy knee. Matteo Politano is fatigued.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 20

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Juventus: Miralem Pjanic is suspended, while Douglas Costa (calf) and Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh) are banged up after the Supercoppa, but they could recover by Monday. Mario Mandzukic will be on the mend for a couple more weeks and Medhi Benatia remains iffy with a sore groin.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne, Allan and Kalidou Koulibaly are disqualified. Dries Mertens is trying to shake off an ankle sprain and his presence is not 100 percent certain. Marek Hamsik is not expected to come back from his thigh strain. Raul Albiol is fatigued, but available.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 19

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Juventus-Sampdoria: after a string of close wins over fierce enemies, the Bianconeri draw against Atalanta, in a game where they came back in ten men. It is just their second tie in Serie A. The Blucerchiati are in a marvelous moment, as they have not lost in the last six games and have won in four of their last five. The offensive production remained the same for Juventus in the last four matches, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic were the only one to hit the net. Paulo Dybala is stuck in a playmaking role, while Douglas Costa has always been more of an assist man. They are awaiting for some goals out of the midfield and Emre Can and Sami Khedira have some potential there, while Rodrigo Bentancur will be suspended in this one. On the other hand, Sampdoria’s attack is humming as Fabio Quagliarella has scored for eight matches in a row and Gaston Ramirez, Gianluca Caprari and Riccardo Saponara have all found the target recently and even Karol Linetty and Dennis Praet have done some damage. The only one not playing well is Gregoire Defrel, but this could be a decent match-up for his skillset, should he be given the start. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Empoli vs Sampdoria

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Empoli-Sampdoria was by far the highest scoring and the most entertaining game of the round. The Azzurri came into the match looking to bounce back the 3-1 defeat in the Tuscan Derby with Fiorentina, their first loss in over a month. The Blucerchiati had brought home points in four straight contests, prevailing at home against Bologna and Parma and tying against Genoa and Lazio.

The two coaches pretty much went their regular XI, with Afriyie Acquah replacing the suspended Rade Krunic for the home team and Jacopo Sala in at right back for the injured Bartosz Bereszynski for the guests. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 15

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Goals galore in Serie A this week: here are the top 11 perfomers.

Gianluigi Donnarumma (7 points): just four clean sheets in this round, by Milan, Torino, Napoli and Juventus. The starlet once again showed off his cat-like reflexes with a pair of superb saves on a header by Iago Falque and on an attempt by Andrea Belotti.

Faouzi Ghoulam (9 points): his return on the pitch after over a year and two major knee injuries could not have gone any better as he perfectly set up the two goal by Arkadiusz Milik with crisp crosses. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 15

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Standings implications: Juventus sank Inter in the most anticipated game of the round, while Napoli wiped out Frosinone, maintaining the distance from the top spot and gaining ground on the Nerazzurri. Both Roman teams were incredibly pipped at the post against Cagliari and Sampdoria and Fiorentina tied the game late versus Sassuolo. Milan and Torino shared the spoils, so the only team prospering in the Europa League zone was Atalanta, which upended Udinese on the road. Among the relegation strugglers, Empoli keep soaring with the third win in the last month, this time over Bologna. Genoa showed grit in the one-one tie with SPAL in Cesare Prandelli’s debut. Continue reading