What to Watch For in Serie A: Round 8

Round 8 sees a jam-packed schedule of Serie A fixtures coming our way out of the international break, with plenty of fascinating storylines to sort through.

Let’s break down what you should be watching for this weekend around Italy’s top flight. Continue reading

Lazio need Joaquin Correa to sharpen his blunt edges – and fast

IMG_1556

As he watched his penalty cannon off the crossbar, Joaquin Correa’s head sank into his hands.

He wanted this – no, he needed this – to go in.

Correa desperately wanted to dedicate a goal to his grandmother, who passed away recently.

He wanted to be the man to secure a hard-fought win for Lazio against Bologna, after seeing his side come back from behind twice.

But most of all, he needed the goal to help change the narrative that has been building this season: that the Argentine lacks a clinical edge.

Continue reading

Serie A Round 8 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Down

The international break came and went and gave us fantacalcio managers some much-need time to step away from our teams and evaluate where it’s all gone wrong…or right! However, don’t get too comfortable as the next game-week is already upon us. Lazio will be hosting Atalanta in what promises to be an exciting clash, while Stefano Sensi returns to Sassuolo with Inter. Otherwise, Juventus take on a fiery Bologna side at the Allianz Stadium.

With match-day eight upon us, here are FIVE players you should consider dropping from your fantacalcio side. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Allan (MID, Napoli, Value 13.9) – The Napoli midfielder has struggled for consistency this season and looks set for a period on the sidelines. Considering Eljif Elmas’ and Fabian Ruiz’ good form, expect the Brazilian to be rotated out of the eleven. While Allan is important for what he does off the ball for the partenopei, it doesn’t benefit you in Fantasy Serie A. The 28-year-old is also a yellow card risk costing you points and has already picked up two cautions on the season.

At 13.9 million euros, look elsewhere for your midfield.

Fabio Quagliarella (ATT, Sampdoria, Value 17.7) – Sampdoria are currently a club in disarray and sit in last place in the standings. Having just fired Eusebio Di Francesco, it will take some time for Claudio Ranieri to get the blucerchiati firing on all cylinders again. After the international break, Sampdoria host Paulo Fonseca’s Roma, in what promises to be yet another difficult clash for them. Fabio Quagliarella has struggled as a result of the chaos in Genoa and has only found the back of the net once this season, albeit in a 4-1 loss against Sassuolo. Much like it was the case last season, it was from the spot.

Given Sampdoria’s recent issues and Quagliarella’s inefficiency in front of goal, it would be wise to temporarily swap the 36-year-old out of your elevens. At least until Ranieri steadies the ship.

Cristian Zapata (DEF, Genoa, Value 17.7) – After a positive start to the season, the defender has struggled for form and has seen his Genoa side slide down the table to 19th. In addition to not getting the results, I Grifoni’s defence has looked porous, conceding goals at will. If that weren’t enough to drop him from your side, Zapata is an aggressive defender and is unafraid to slide into a tackle. Currently, the 33-year-old is on three yellow cards, costing your crucial fantasy points in the process.

At 17.7 million euros, it’s time you bid adieu to Zapata and remove him from your eleven once and for all. It doesn’t look like things are getting any better in Genoa anytime soon.

Duvan Zapata (ATT, Atalanta, Value 26.8) - Let’s get something straight. Zapata has been in sensational form this season and would never have made this list if it wasn’t for his recent injury while on international duty. He’s currently among the top fantacalcio point earners alongside Ciro Immobile and has picked up from where he left off last season.

However, his recent injury will reportedly sideline him for a minimum of three weeks. Given Atalanta’s wide array of attacking options, they have no pressure to force him back into action anytime before that. As a result of this in addition to his inflated price-tag, it would be wise to move him out of your roster for the next three game-weeks at least.

Christian Kouamé (ATT, Genoa, Value 24.5) – Yet another player from the Genovese clubs makes this list as Kouamé has struggled for form in recent weeks. After a positive start to the season that saw him notch three goals, the attacker has tailed off and has been inefficient in the eighteen-yard box. Much like Sampdoria, Genoa are currently a club in disarray, who’s manager’s future is in danger. Given the uncertainty surrounding the club, expect Kouamé’s goalscoring woes to continue.

At 24.5 million euros, it’s time to move on from the talented young man.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you’re up for it play www.fantasyseriea.com

On the Rise: Dejan Kulusevski

When Dejan Kulusevski was loaned to Parma from his parent club Atalanta not much was made of the move. Given gli Orobici’s wide array of attacking talents, many thought the young Swede was just another player who would go out on perennial loan spells before being sold. However, since joining Parma, the 19-year-old has established himself as a set starter and is a crucial piece to their front-three. But who exactly is Kulusevski?

Having grown up in Atalanta’s youth ranks after joining from his boyhood club Brommapojkarna, the 19-year-old got a comprehensive footballing education in Bergamo for three years. After all, Atalanta’s youth system is highly regarded and is viewed as one of the best in Italy. Last January, Kulusevski made his debut for Gian Piero Gasperini’s men in a 5-0 drubbing of Frosinone. The 19-year-old would make another two appearances before the season came to a close.

Given his lack of playing time and gli Orobici’s depth in the final third, Atalanta decided it was best to loan him out to Parma. With I Crociati, Kulusevski has been able to play regular minutes and has impressed this season. Typically fielded on the right-wing alongside Roberto Inglese and Gervinho, the 19-year-old is able to combine his pace and keen eye for goal to devastating effect.

In many ways, Roberto D’Aversa’s counter-attacking system suits Kulusevski’s qualities and makes the most of his talents. Given his success in this system, it’s only a matter of time before Gasperini calls him back and adds him to his arsenal of weapons.

In addition to being a goalscoring threat, Kulusevski has been Parma’s main creator this season, averaging 2.1 key passes per game. Given the freedom to roam between the lines and filter in centrally, the Parma man is able to make the most of his vision. After all, when he first started his career, he was initially an attacking midfielder.

In his seven appearances this season, Kulusevski is already up to three assists and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Moreover, he’s currently responsible for over 30 per cent of his side’s key passes and expected assists, highlighting his importance to D’Aversa.

In the most recent international break, the young forward played as a striker in U21 Sweden’s 5-0 win. From a central position, Kulusevski punished the Icelandic defence, continuing his impressive form and notching a brace. In the past, he also represented Macedonia at the youth levels but eventually chose Sweden.

Currently, Parma sit in 12th place on nine points and will be taking on Genoa after the international break comes to a close. I Grifoni have struggled this season and will be a good opportunity for Kulusevski to keep the positive streak going.

Beyond this season, Kulusevski appears primed for a return to his parent club Atalanta and join Gasperini’s free-scoring side. Given his qualities, the young Swedish international seems a match made in heaven with Gasperini.

As it is the case for any young talent, it’s all about maintaining this level of play beyond a few games. If his recent displays are anything to go by, it shouldn’t be a problem for Kulusevski.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you’re up for it play www.fantasyseriea.com

 

Serie A Team of the Round – Atalanta

Even though they did not succeed in getting a shut-out victory due to a cheap consolation goal, Atalanta were quite clearly the most dominant Serie A club of the weekend, as they torched Lecce.

They were hosting their first real home game of the season, as they had been playing in Parma in Serie A and at San Siro in Champions League so far. Their new and improved arena, which is now named after the naming sponsor Gewiss, features a Westfalelnsatdion-like Curva. Continue reading

The facts behind the figures: What we’ve learned about Lazio from the Serie A salary report

IMG_1556

At the start of the week, La Gazzetta dello Sport published its annual breakdown of each Serie A club’s wage bill for the season ahead.

Much of the reaction to the article has focused on Juventus’ massive financial advantage over the rest of Italy and the impact the summer mercato has had on Inter’s spending.

But there were plenty of intriguing sub-plots to be found behind the figures, not least at Lazio. For example…

On paper, a top-four finish would be an over-achievement…

This is by no means a secret, but the gulf in wage spend between Lazio and the teams they are expected to compete with for a top four place this season is significant.  Continue reading

Lazio’s quest for Champions League football has been long and painful – but this could be their time

IMG_1556

Ahead of the opening weekend of the Serie A season, there is no doubt about Lazio’s objective.

Champions League football has proven infuriatingly elusive for the Roman club since they last graced the competition in 2007/08, as they’ve found just about every imaginable way of not quite getting there.

In 2010/11 they finished fifth, losing out on a play-off place to Udinese on goal difference. Continue reading

Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap

After two sleepy weeks, Serie A teams have resumed dealing and wheeling with some very interesting purchases over the last few days. Inter finally landed Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United, while Juventus cashed in on Joao Cancelo in a swap with Manchester City, getting back Danilo in the deal. Cagliari pulled off an unexpected one by adding Radja Nainggolan from Inter, then successfully completed the chase for touted prospect Nahitan Nandez from Boca Juniors and, all of a sudden, they have a very crowded and well-assorted midfield despite losing Nicolò Barella.

Milan continue to work on the roster and acquired young centre-back Leo Duarte from Flamengo. He emerged over the last year and a half in Brazil and will contribute to holding down the fort until Mattia Caldara returns later in the year. He will compete with solid but unspectacular Mateo Musacchio to play next to Alessio Romagnoli to open the season.

The week was pretty much dominated by midfielders: a year after letting him go for free, the new Fiorentina management brought back Milan Badelj on loan with option to buy from Lazio, then they snatched Erick Pulgar away from Bologna by exercising the relatively low release clause. The Chilean international was a standout last season and was deadly on penalty, which will come in handy considering the departure of Jordan Veretout. Despite the age difference, the two are pretty similar, so it will be interesting to see whether Vincenzo Montella will tweak his system to accommodate both and perhaps deploy one more attacker.

Genoa have found their new technical leader in Lasse Schone from Ajax who, despite the rather defensive position as pivot, put up great numbers thanks to his ability on set pieces and therefore will be one to look out for in the fantasy game. The Griffon also signed Riccardo Saponara on loan from Fiorentina, whom coach Aurelio Andreazzoli will try to turn into an offensive box-to-box in the Rade Krunic mold, and Colombian youngster Kevin Agudelo from Atletico Huila.

For one brilliant midfielder joining Serie A, another one left as Sampdoria agreed to sell Dennis Praet to Leicester City, who has been a linchpin of their squad over the last three seasons and grew constantly year after year. They acquired Morten Thorsby from Heerenveen and could gamble on a Jakub Jankto resurgence on top of obviously reinvesting the funds on a newcomer.

For once, Atalanta decided to go with an experienced guy rather than bet on potential and brought in Martin Skrtel from Fenerbahce to fill in the gap after Gianluca Mancini left. Gian Piero Gasperini is now back to having five reliable centre-backs to rotate.

A decent coup for Verona, as they won the race for free agent Darko Lazovic, who was pretty good last year at Genoa, where he notched three goals and four assists. He reunites with coach Milan Juric and will be able to play in a number of positions on both flanks. They also grabbed two of the best Serie B players from last season: Gennaro Tutino, on loan from Napoli, who had a terrific year in Cosenza, and Valerio Verre from Sampdoria, who shined in Perugia. They both reached the double-digit threshold and could be significant parts of the 3-4-2-1 tactic Milan Juric is currently using.

Brescia got busy too and signed two presumptive starters in Jaromir Zmhral from Slavia Prague and Giangiacomo Magnani from Sassuolo. The midfielder could be a sneaky fantasy asset, while the centre-back started last season very well but was eventually overshadowed by more talented teammates. Lecce instead added Cristian Dell’Orco, who was serviceable as left centre-back at Empoli in 2018/2019 and will probably end up playing left back for them, alternating with other buzzed about newcomer Brayan Vera.

A pair of players departed from Serie A: Roma sent Rick Karsdorp back to Feyenoord on loan, while Bologna shipped Adam Nagy to Bristol City. The Dutch right back had some okay stretches and at times challenged Alessandro Florenzi, but ultimately he could not stay healthy, while Nagy had become merely a back-up. The Felsinei will have to address the midfield in a meaningful manner.

Sign up to eurofantasyleague.com the game where football fans meet to compete.

Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap

deligt

All in all, it was a pretty quiet week in Serie A, but it still included some massive deals, as Juventus pulled off one of the transfers of the summer by acquiring Matthijs De Ligt from Ajax, while Roma have commenced re-building the back-line with Gianluca Mancini from Atalanta and won the race to sign Jordan Veretout from Fiorentina

The Orobici have signed Ruben Malinovskyi from Genk, who is somebody to keep an eye on fantasy-wise since he was extremely productive in Belgium, thanks to penalties and other set pieces. Continue reading

Winners & Losers in the Transfer Window’s first month in Serie A

conte

The first month of the transfer window in Serie A was mainly an opportunity for clubs to get third financial houses in order. We saw a flurry of deals right before the fiscal year ended on June 30th and numerous new acquisitions announced right when the new year began.

Although there are still two full months of transfers ahead of us at least in Italy, we can still draw some conclusions on who is off to a fast start and who is falling more behind

 

Winners

 muriel

Atalanta- there was a lot of concern that the Bergamaschi qualifying for the Champions League over Milan and Roma was bad for the league since they would inevitably sell off their best players. At least so far the opposite has been true, Atalanta have no ongoing issues with Financial Fair Play (unlike Milan and Roma by the way) and have made some significant moves by extending Mario Pasalic’s loan and acquiring Luis Muriel- who could be the next talented striker to fully blossom under manager Gasperini.

Atalanta’s president Percassi has vowed to keep his best players, including Duvan Zapata and Josip Ilicic who has just one year remaining in his contract. The biggest challenge maybe to replace Gianluca Mancini who is heavily linked to Roma, but Atalanta have shown plenty of signs they want to build off of last season’s success.

Inter- right after the new fiscal year started, the nerazzurri announced Diego Godin’s arrival who will join the defense with the most clean sheets last season, Valentino Lazaro who looks like a right wing back tailor made for Conte and Stefano Sensi who in an ideal world is Borja Valero’s replacement and will end up following Politano’s trajectory at the club. Inter are also in the driver seat to acquire Nicolo’ Barella and are working on signing Romelu Lukaku and Edin Dzeko.

manolas

Napoli- if a few months ago I told you Kostas Manolas was going to join the partenopei, you probably would have assumed Kalidou Koulibaly was on his way out- instead the Greek defender replaced Raul Albiol. Napoli also signed Empoli right wing back Giovanni Di Lorenzo who was one of the breakout players in the league during the second half of the season.

Lazio/Lazzari- while Juventus, Napoli and Inter look like the clear favorites to finish in the top three spots, Lazio are the club who right now can make the best case for being the favorites for the last Champions League spot. Lazio officially announced the signing of highly rated defender Denis Vavro, who was previously linked to Atalanta, and are set to welcome Manuel Lazzari to own the right wing.

Lazio is a perfect fit for Lazzari, who will slot in perfectly in Simone Inzaghi’s formation- the soon to be former SPAL winger is taking a big step forward in his career while still being guaranteed the playing time of a starter.

Bologna- in order to convince Sinisa Mihajlovic to stay at the club after his impressive work following Pippo Inzaghi’s sacking, Bologna’s ownership group promised him they would invest on the squad. Former Roma and Sampdoria director Walter Sabatini was brought in and the chain smoking director signed very impressive prospect Jordy Schouten as well as Brugge defender Stefano Denswil who is expected to be a starter. Bologna also exercised their option to buy Riccardo Orsolini from Juventus for a very reasonable 15 million and retained evergreen striker Rodrigo Palacio.

Sassuolo- for the second summer in a row Sassuolo sold one of their starters to Inter for a significant amount, they also are set to replace Stefano Sensi with Hamed Traore’ who is coming off a very impressive season at Empoli. The neroverdi were also able to retain ace manager Roberto De Zerbi and are set to add Empoli striker Francesco Caputo who scored 16 goals last season. 

 

 

Losers

sampdoriaroma

 

Roma- in the span of a month the giallorossi lost arguably their three best players performance wise last season in Stephan El Shaarawy, Kostas Manolas and Daniele De Rossi. If that wasn’t bad enough, Francesco Totti resigned and publicly attacked the Boston based ownership and they have failed to sign Nicolo’ Zaniolo to an extension, on top of that Lazio seem ready to overtake them as the best team in Italy’s capital. On the bright side, new sporting director Gianluca Petrachi is off to a good start since joining the club following the mass exodus.

Edin Dzeko- the Bosnian striker is determined to join Conte at Inter but after Roma was able to make significant plusvalenze on Manolas and Luca Pellegrini, they had no incentive to sell him at a discount. 

Mattia Perin- Gigi Buffon’s return to Juventus have ensured that the former Genoa keeper is on his way out- but there are no logical destinations left for him in Serie A unless Milan sell Gigio Donnarumma.