Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 12

milanjuventus

The next slate before another international break is pretty juicy.

Genoa-Napoli: the Griffon have not won in four games and the effects of the coaching change have not been palpable, since they continue to concede a lot. They lost twice in San Siro last week and the schedule does not do them any favor. The Partenopei easily romped Empoli last week and have won three out of their last four games, looking splendid at times. Krzysztof Piatek has not scored for four games in a row, which is unlikely to be a coincidence, and their last goals under Milan Juric have been pretty random, by Cristian Romero on a free kick, by Romulo on a penalty and by Daniel Bessa on a defensive mishap. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 11

romafiorentina

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 Predictions – Round 8

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It will be inevitably a quieter round compared to the previous ginormous one, but Serie A never lacks reasons to tune in.

Udinese-Juventus: the Zebrette have certainly been more interesting this season, but after losing just once in the first five games, they have been defeated two times in a row, against Lazio and Bologna, so their point total is not that conspicuous. The Bianconeri from Piedmont, on the other hand, are coming off a seminal win over the main title contenders, Napoli, and have prevailed in the first nine games of the season. They will eventually come a cropper, but they have had a lot of success in the past in this stadium. Rodrigo De Paul has been leading the charge for the home team, but very little help scoring-wise from his teammates: Kevin Lasagna notched just one, Lukasz Teodorczyk and Darwin Machis are still scoreless, Ignacio Pussetto found his first last week. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 7

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A seminal Serie A weekend is approaching, featuring the Derby della Capitale and Juventus-Napoli.

Roma-Lazio: the Giallorossi shook off at least part of the negativity surrounding them by routing Frosinone on Wednesday, which is not particularly difficult these days, but they needed it. They had won just in the opening round. The Biancocelesti keep feasting on the minnows and are coming off four wins in a row. La Lupa has been so inconsistent so far, but 4-2-3-1 with Javier Pastore in the hole and Steven Nzonzi and Daniele De Rossi screening the defence might ultimately be the way to go, at least in big matches. Stephan El Shaarawy has been their most trustworthy player so far, but Cengiz Under broke through on Wednesday and he does not need a lot to get hot. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 6

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Inter-Fiorentina: the Beneamata is coming off a rewarding result against Sampdoria, their second win in Serie A. They have showed some improvements between the last game and the one versus Tottenham, but they have not turned the corner yet. For instance, they have not found a way to constantly feed Mauro Icardi in the box, and he is still scoreless in the domestic league. Ivan Perisic and Radja Nainggolan have compensated on that front, then their dangerousness on set pieces has helped. Antonio Candreva has surprisingly looked better than the newcomers Matteo Politano and Balde Keita. Continue reading

Luciano Spalletti should shoulder blame for Inter’s earlier wobbles.

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If you cast your mind back to how Luciano Spalletti’s team started last season, you realize that Inter Milan have been less productive this season. Before their one zero win over Sampdoria last Saturday, the Nerazzurri had amassed just four points from four games and sat 15th position on the league rung. That is nine points short of what they achieved after match day four in the previous campaign.

There are a couple of factors that have accounted for this bad start, and one of them could be laid right at the doorstep of the manager Luciano Spalletti. Spalletti has been doing a lot of tinkering with his team selection and system, which hasn’t helped them much. It’s quite understandable that the Italian tactician wants to his new recruits to bed into his method and assimilate his ideas very early in the season, but the lack of consistency in his approach has been problematic.

Now let’s photograph some of Luciano Spalletti’s confusion with clear illustrations.

In Inter’s opening fixture against Sassuolo at the MAPEI Stadium, the manger played a back four which comprised of João Miranda and Stefan de Vrij as center back pair, whiles Dalbert Chagas and Danilo D’Ambrosio played as laterals. In the midfield, Luciano Spalletti opted for Matías Vecino  alongside Marcelo Brozović with new signing Lautaro Martínez playing behind Mauro Icardi. The captain had Kwadwo Asamoah supporting him from the left wing and Matteo Politano on the other side. Inter dominated possession but was on par with Sassuolo on the number of shots on targets and corners. In the end, the home side held onto Domenico Berardi’s 27th minute penalty kick.

At home to Torino at San Siro, Luciano Spalletti altered his starting line-up and changed the system to a back three. Miranda was pulled out for M. Škriniar alongside S. De Vrij and Danilo D’Ambrosio to form a trio at the back. Š. Vrsaljko and Asamoah played as wing backs whiles Perisic and Politano attacked the flanks with Icardi as the target man. He maintained the midfield duo of Brozovic and Vecino.  Inter squandered their two goal lead before the interval as Torino rallied in the second half to level the score.

Against Bologna, Spalletti returned to a back to four and made three chances to the previous line- up. M. Škriniar and S. de Vrij continued their centreback partnership. D. D’Ambrosio and Asamoah played as lateral defenders. Roberto Gagliardini took the place of Vecino with Radja Nianggolan playing behind Keita Balde Diao. Inter produced an assured performance in the second period of that game, scoring three goals through Nainggolan, Perisic and substitute Antonio Candreva.

It’s normal for coaches to rest players in a league game ahead of a Champions League fixture, and given Inter’s absence in the European Competition for the past seven years, it was imperative that they started with a win on home soil. And before that, was a home game against promoted side Parma who are proving to be tough customers for the established teams in the league. Spalletti maintained a chunk  of the players in the previous game but still made two changes with Dalbert Henrique taking the place of Asamoah and Candreva coming in for Politano.

The change of players and systems means the manager is not wedded to one particular approach, but it sends the message that Luciano Spalletti is yet to find the right permutation for the team. Nainngolan is a huge character in midfield, dominant and very demanding. The Belgian is all about strength, passion, technique and athleticism. Playing him behind Icardi or Keita doesn’t seem to be the ideal fit. Nainggolan has proven to be a threat from A distance with his long range shots, but he is not a reliable creative player. He can function better in tandem with Brozovic in the middle of the pitch.

In Kwadwo Asamoah, Spelletti has got a versatile player capable of operating both as a left back and a winger, but Asamoah’s favorite position, the role he revels in, is playing behind the attack. Inter’s midfield is currently oversubscribed with the manager having to rotate between Borja Valero, Vecino and Gagliardini. However, the Ghanaian will be a vital component in the Nerrazurris charge for a successful league campaign.

It would have been ideal for inter to have approached the Tuesday’s Champion league game against Totteham Hotspurs in a much healthier position. The Nerazzurri didn’t look like a team prior to the 2-1 win over the English side. They looked disjointed and uninspiring, with their defending a bit abject this season. Luciano Spalletti’s comments after overcoming Spurs was quite significant about his team’s performance “We weren’t at the level, in a couple of areas, which we had prepared to be. Some phases of the game could have been managed better. “A victory like this, after having come from behind, gives us a lot of enthusiasm and allows us to believe more about the future’’

We can’t say how far Inter will go into the Champions League, but after showing determined spirit to come from behind to secure a very important victory they could go far. The win over Spurs proved to be a shot in the arm for Spalletti’s men as they continued with another victory away to Sampdoria on Saturday. Hopefully Inter will make up for their early stutters to close the gap on their opponents in the league.

Support for the manager was beginning to sag after a year, but winning two games on the trot should blow the doubt and lift confidence around the team. Talent wise, Inter are the best of the chasing pack, but Spalletti’s team need to be a real title threat by churning out consistent performances. The manager’s lack of clarity of how to deploy his players in the right system is what contributed to their poor start.

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Serie A Fantasy Game Predictions – Round 5

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There are not any mammoth clash this week, but a pair of match-up could turn to be very succulent.

Sampdoria-Inter: if it was not for the tumble they took in Udine in their season opener, the Blucerchiati would be regarded as one of the most impressive squads in Serie A, considering they how they dusted Napoli and Frosinone and came back against Fiorentina. Their attack is humming: Gregoire Defrel, Fabio Quagliarella, Gianluca Caprari and Dawid Kownacki have all already found the target at least once and the former Roma and Sassuolo striker is raining fire.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 3

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There will be a lot to mull about in the international week after a very meaningful Serie A round.

Standings implications: Juventus scooped up another win and are now alone on top since Napoli did not pull off the comeback this time versus Sampdoria, Milan won this week’s big match against Roma, Inter got back on track with a large result against, Lazio had more troubles but the same results. Sassuolo again excelled at home with Genoa as their victim this time, while Cagliari exploited Atalanta’s tiredness to bring home a precious win. Chievo and Empoli were content sharing the spoils. Torino prevailed in a very wet encounter with SPAL that was suspended and resumed late. Continue reading

Inter sign Matteo Politano

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After acquiring Radja Nainggolan, Inter have completed another big move and have announced the acquisition of Matteo Politano from Sassuolo. The formula is fairly similar, but this time it will be season-long loan with 20M option to buy and Jens Odgaard moved to the Neroverdi as part of the deal. The 24-year-old winger has signed a five-year contract.

Politano is coming off his best season yet, where for the first time in his career he reached double digits goals and provided five assists on top of that. He truly spearheaded the Neroverdi’s late push to avoid relegation, scoring seven goals in the last ten Serie A games and clearly emerging as their best go-to guy. He recently debuted with Italy. He leaves Emilia after three seasons, 110 appearances and 24 goals. He was intensely pursued by Napoli in January, but the management did not let him go.

A natural left-footed right winger, Politano has very often played on the other flank to co-exist with Domenico Berardi. In the final few months of last year, he has found a lot of success as striker in a light attack after Giuseppe Iachini decided to switch to 3-5-2.

His versatility will give Luciano Spalletti some flexibility as he is pondering a new system based on a three-man defence. In any case, Politano is poised to challenge Antonio Candreva for the starting job, since the production of the former Lazio has steeply decreased last season. The Beneamata also did not have any alternatives behind the starters beside Yann Karamoh, who showed some promise but needs more consistency.

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Serie A Game of the Week – Round 35: Inter vs Juventus

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Once again, the most anticipated fixture of the round came through in terms of drama, so Inter-Juventus is a natural pick for game of the week.

Inter came into the match looking to extend his two-game winning streak and keep up with Roma, which had defeated Chievo earlier on Saturday. Juventus were trying to bounce back after the tough loss in last week’s big match and put pressure on Napoli, which would play on Sunday versus Fiorentina.

Luciano Spalletti made a couple of changes to the lineup he was using recently, putting Antonio Candreva back in for Yann Karamoh and inserting Matias Vecino for Borja Valero, who was not 100%.  Continue reading