Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Two – Top Matches

TORINO-ATALANTA

Torino: the Granata did really not show anything new in the Fiorentina game even though Marco Giampaolo is supposedly going to bring a ton of changes, but that will take time and likely a couple of new players to come to fruition. They created just a pair of changes, with Andrea Belotti fully in the thick of it as per usual, while Simone Zaza rubbished a tasty one. They might be better off signing a new striker. The coach went with Alex Berenguer in the hole and then voiced doubts about Simone Verdi’s playing in that position, however there is not really any other place for him in the formation, so he will have to adapt. Soualiho Meite and Karol Linetty were not very involved offensively, mostly because the match-up was not easy, but this upcoming one is worse.  Continue reading

Atalanta sign Miranchuk and Romero, sell Castagne

Atalanta moved quickly in the short transfer market window and already finalized two significant acquisitions ahead of the 2020/21 season, adding Aleksey Miranchuk from Lokomotiv Moscow and Cristian Romero from Juventus.

The 24-year-old Russian attacker was signed for €14.5M, as the fee was reduced by the fact that the contract with his former club was set to expire in 2021. He inked a four-year contract with the Goddess, with an optional fifth one. Miranchuk is coming off a career year where he scored 16 goals in 32 appearances across all competitions, including two against Juventus in Champions League, and provided five assists. He has found the target 43 times in 223 total matches in last nine seasons, all with the same team. Continue reading

Atalanta’s future is bright, despite PSG defeat

Three minutes. That’s all it took for Atalanta’s Champions League dream to unravel against Paris Saint-Germain. Heartbreakingly for the Italian side, those 180 seconds arrived at the end of a pulsating encounter against their profoundly more wealthy opponents.

This was never more evident than in the 60th minute, when the French side called upon the services of superstar Kylian Mbappe – their €180m signing – from the bench to rescue the game for the Parisians. Such is the disparity in wealth between the two sides that Mbappe’s transfer from Monaco three years ago is just a fraction under the entirety of Atalanta’s €188m club revenue. Continue reading

Dejan Kulusevski taking Serie A by storm

When Juventus spent nearly 40 million euros on Dejan Kulusevski, many were left scratching their heads in the January transfer window. The Swedish international had only just broken onto the scene at the Ennio Tardini with Parma and was only just starting to make a name for himself. Today, Juve’s move for Kulusevski looks to be the bargain of the summer, with the Parma forward emerging as one of the league’s elite talents.

Kulusevski has been in fine form in recent weeks, netting three goals and one assist in his last three games. The Parma man has come back from the halt in play in phenomenal shape and has since established himself as a true counterattacking force. Kulusevski’s recent goal brought him to 10 strikes on the season, becoming the first foreign player under the age of 21 to reach double figures for goals in a Serie A season since Mauro Icardi and Erik Lamela in 2013.

As a big-money move to Juventus beckons, Kulusevski will be eager to take the next step in his career and offer some much-needed creativity and unpredictability in the final third in Turin. Maurizio Sarri’s first season in charge hasn’t exactly gone to plan with the Bianconeri stumbling to their ninth consecutive title.

Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo have demonstrated signs of a budding partnership since the restart but lack a winger to tie it all together. In many ways, Kulusevski fits the bill. The Parma man is capable of playing anywhere across the front three and will slot in seamless on the right-wing alongside Dybala and Ronaldo. Recent reports suggest Juventus are considering playing Kulusevski as the side’s number ten but that would warrant a formation change.

Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi have both been given opportunities to make the right-wing spot their own, but for whatever reason, have not been able to cement their place in the starting eleven. The latter netted his first goal in Serie A in two years highlighting his inconsistency while the Brazilian is constantly battling injury problems. In this sense, the right-wing spot is there for the taking next season.

Kulusevski regularly looks to take on his man and is unafraid to drive at the opposition’s defense in possession. While Roberto D’Aversa’s counter-attacking football suits his pace, it will be interesting to see the Swede in Juve’s measured buildup play. The 20-year-old starts from a wide area but often drifts centrally to collect possession. Few players in Italy possess a better final ball than Kulusevski, with the winger trailing only Luis Alberto, Papu Gomez and Lorenzo Pellegrini for most assists this season.

Next season, Kulusevski will need to adjust quickly to life in Turin and will be hoping to form a deadly partnership with Dybala and Ronaldo. The Swedish international is at his best combining in tight spaces and fits Sarri’s playing philosophy. Sarriball may not have taken off this season, but the addition of Kulusevski will definitely help in that respect.

As the season draws to a close, Juventus will be monitoring Kulusevski’s progress closely and will be hoping to integrate him into their starting eleven upon his arrival. Whether he can translate his impressive form with Parma to a big club remains to be seen, but at the moment, Kulusevski is on the right path to stardom.

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Mbappe to miss Atalanta tie

Paris Saint-Germain will be without Kylian Mbappe for their single legged Champions League quarter-final tie against Atalanta.

The game is set to be played at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on Wednesday 12 August.

Mbappe sustained an ankle injury in Friday night’s French Cup final and is expected to be out for three weeks. He left the stadium on crutches.

PSG confirmed Kylian Mbappe’s injury today, saying scans showed “an ankle sprain with damage to the external ligament.”

“The player is expected to be sidelined for approximately three weeks.”

The Parisians were 1-0 winners thanks to Neymar‘s goal in the 14th minute to claim the domestic double. Thomas Tuchel’s side were awarded the Ligue 1 title at the end of the April following France’s division to suspend play indefinitely.

Tuchel has plenty of options in attack, with Mauro Icardi and Neymar expected to be part of the front three next month. Attacking midfielder Pablo Sarabia replaced the injured Mbappe on Friday.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Mouting and Julian Draxler were both among the substitutes. The French champions will be without Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier, who both left on a free transfer when their contracts expired on 1 July.

Kylian Mbappe scored 18 goals in 20 Ligue 1 appearances (17 starts) in the disrupted Ligue 1 season, adding a further five assists. The 21-year-old scored five goals in seven Champions League appearances (5 starts).

The French Cup final was the Parisians’ first competitive game since mid-March, which could play a role in their match against Atalanta.

Continue reading

AC Milan 1-1 Atalanta: Tops and flops for the Rossoneri – Calhanoglu secures draw with screamer

Ahead of tonight’s game against Atalanta, AC Milan were two points behind Roma in the standings, with the Giallorossi sitting in fifth place. Although the Rossoneri failed to grab all three points and at least temporarily move up, they secured an important point against a very good team. 

At the start, the game was what you would have expected. Atalanta controlled the game and put a lot of pressure on Stefano Pioli, who managed to fight back and win a free-kick in the 14th minute. Hakan Calhanoglu stepped up and scored a fantastic goal, giving his side the lead against the run of play.  Continue reading

Uncovering Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi

Cast your mind back to Atalanta’s third strike in their six-goal demolition of Brescia 10 days ago.

Ruslan Malinovskyi received the ball in the left hand channel of the Brescia half, some 35 yards from goal. The Ukrainian dropped the shoulder to sidestep Mattia Viviani, ran into a more central position, pulled back his traction engine of a left foot and unleashed a missile that flew into the bottom corner of Lorenzo Andrenacci’s goal.

It was yet another screamer for the Malinovskyi scrapbook. “I don’t have a bad left foot,” he joked in his first interview for Atalanta last summer. It’s safe to say that Malinovskyi was slightly understating things. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 34

VERONA-ATALANTA

Verona: after a consistent stretch with a pure striker up front, Ivan Juric went back to a false-nine, Valerio Verre in this case, against Roma, but the results were not that great, with the second half push coming on the heels of the subs. The returns from injury of Fabio Borini, Eddie Salcedo and Valentin Eysseric will allow the coach to go that route more often, especially against top teams, although Samuel Di Carmine has been decently effective (three goals in the last six games). Mattia Pessina scored again and he has separated himself from their slew of attacking midfielders, while Mattia Zaccagni picked up the assist. Darko Lazovic has been their most consistent player.

Suggested picks: Pessina, Lazovic, Borini. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 32

LAZIO-SASSUOLO

Lazio: the Biancocelesti had scrapped their way into two wins after the resumption, but they had generally looked off and everything came crashing down in Lecce. Ciro Immobile, other than drilling a penalty kick, has not been the same player he was prior to the stoppage and he has not been in synch with Luis Alberto. The issues were then exacerbated by key injuries, the latest one to Joaquin Correa. Sergej Milikovic-Savic, like Alberto, bagged one recently but has not been as dominating as in the past. Felipe Caicedo returned to the box score after a while in Lecce and he is poised to take on a massive role. The form is lacking, the talent is not, so they can snap out of it in any given moment. Manuel Lazzari has arguably been their most consistent player recently.

Suggested picks: Caicedo, Lazzari, Immobile.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 31

LECCE-LAZIO

Lecce: another losing effort caused by the nth defensive collapse, but the Giallorossi looked a tiny bit better offensively versus Sassuolo, as Diego Farias returned to the XI and was livelier than Filippo Falco and Riccardo Saponara and Khouma Babacar did a little bit more than usual. The goals came on corner kick and then through the usual penalty kick by Marco Mancosu and it is pretty crazy how many fouls they manage to draw in the box. Antonin Barak has yet to recapture is best form after an injury, but he remains their most appealing non-Mancosu midfielder.

Suggested picks: Mancosu, Farias, Babacar. Continue reading