AC Milan vs. Benevento: Serie A Round 34 – Team news, stats and prediction

Milan suffered a heavy defeat away at Lazio on Monday evening and are now desperately scrambling for points to make the top four. Taking their schedule into consideration, as well as their rivals’, it won’t be an easy fight for the Rossoneri with just five games to go. 

Stefano Pioli isn’t the most popular man right now as the down-fall in 2021 has been horrendous, even for a team with that many injury struggles. Not only are Milan failing to collect the points necessary, but they are also lacking ideas on the pitch and we have seen this recently, failing even with a strong team. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 26 – Early Games


Spezia: they produced a solid effort for about an hour in the Juventus match, then the home team took over and left the in the dust. Andrej Galabinov missed a late PK, likely squandering his remaining slim chances to overtaking M’Bala Nzola and Kevin Agudelo for the center-forward spot. Agudelo did not feature midweek so he will probably get the nod here, while the Frenchman has not look explosive after his injury, but it should be just a matter of time given his early stellar production. Emmanuel Gyasi (four goals, four assists) has gotten the most run out of the supporting cast and he has been solid, while Daniele Verde has been exuberant coming off the bench in the past two, but he has fully been handed over the keys on the wing yet. Diego Farias is also in the mix, but he too is trying to re-find his footing after an injury. Since Tommaso Pobega is banged up, Giulio Maggiore has been their most proactive midfielder, while Nahuel Estevez, Matteo Ricci and Leo Sena, who has gotten good minutes in the past two games, are pretty decent but not as dangerous. Ricci, like Simone Bastoni at left-back, has been able to notch some helpers. Continue reading

One foot in Europa League quarter finals but a step back in Serie A for Roma

Roma are almost in the quarter finals of the Europa League after they beat Braga of Portugal 2-0. The return leg is tonight in Italy and it is widely expected that the Giallorossi will have few problems in reaching the last 8 after their dominant display in the 1st leg.

The Europa League win was a game of a goal in the early stages and a goal at the end. Within 5 minutes of the start Leonardo Spinnazola had set up Edin Dzeko with a beautiful pass that caught out the Braga defence and Dzeko made no mistakes to put Roma in front. Dzeko has struggled to hold down a place this season and had fallen out with coach Paulo Fonseca so this goal felt like redemption for him.

Roma could have been 3 goals up within the hour if they had had some luck. A penalty appeal was rejected by a VAR review and then a goal was wiped off due to offside after another VAR review. But Roma knew that if they had a chance going into the 2nd leg against a quality side like Braga they would need to try and grab that second.

The goal finally came with just four minutes remaining but there would still be some controversy and tense moments to have it confirmed. Good work from Jordan Veretout set up Borja Mayoral to slot in an easy chance but VAR called it back for yet another possible offside. After some tense minutes the goal was given and Roma deservedly won the game 2-0. In the end Braga managed just 1 shot on target which was simply not good enough.

So the Europa League game was the good news, but the bad news was that Roma’s league title challenge could be over. The club could only draw 0-0 away to Benevento. The Giallorossi created numerous chances and again were denied a stoppage time penalty by VAR. They deserved the win this time but could only get a point. The end scenes were also chaotic as Benevento coach Filipo Inzaghi was sent off.

Roma are in 4th place with Atalanta and Lazio only one point behind them for a Champions League place. The Giallorossi have also slipped 9 points behind league leaders Inter and have Milan and Juventus in front of them. The league title isn’t quite over for them but realistically it now looks a distant hope and the focus has to be on finishing in a top 4 place.

What do the bookmakers think?

Let’s look at the two competitions that Roma are still in with a chance of winning which of course is Serie A and the Europa League. This is what the bookmakers think of Roma’s chances of winning either competition.

Serie A : 45/1

Europa League: 14/1

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 24 – Late Games


Crotone: as expected the Juventus clash proved to be too hard for them to overcome, even though Junior Messias got few shots off and Adam Ounas tried to get something going with his mazing runs. The duo will lead the way again here in a much easier fixture. Messias has bagged seven goals thus far, while Ounas scored on his second appearance with the Squali and will be facing his former team, which did not trust him too much. Samuel Di Carmine has quickly unseated Simy but has not really shined thus far. The coach initially tweaked his system in the past game, but the changes were not that profound. Salvatore Molina returned from a lengthy absence and he was dynamic early in the season (one goal, four assists). Milos Vulic has not made the stat-sheet but he has been very busy over the last couple of matches and could be due. Left-back Arkadiusz Reca (one goal, three helpers) has been one of their most consistent players. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 23 – Late Games


Parma: they did manage to score against Verona, thanks to a successful penalty kick by Juraj Kucka, but they lost again and their offense left a lot to be desired. The midfielder has tallied their last three goals. Yann Karamoh looked decently spry in his return to the XI, while Gervinho and Andreas Cornelius are stuck in an endless slump and the former is in pretty lackluster form. Joshua Zirkzee had a pair of chances after subbing in but did not exploit them. Valentin Mihaila was the liveliest out of their youngsters, but so far the coach has been very conservative in giving minutes to them. Jasmin Kurtic has hit the net a couple of times in the season and he is not shy when it comes to bomb away from distance. If they somehow managed to play more proactively, their fullbacks Andrea Conti and Giuseppe Pezzella would have some interest. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 22 – Remaining Games


Bologna: the time and effort put into turning Musa Barrow into a striker is starting to pay off as the youngster resurfaced after some quiet rounds with a clinical brace versus Parma. He now has five goals in the season. The move is working out also because Nicola Sansone has been very solid out on the left wing after shaking off an injury and he is coming off his best outing of the season as he dished two assist last week. Roberto Soriano (six goals, five helpers) also picked up offensive bonuses after a while as he set up Riccardo Orsolini, who came off the bench but still delivered. He is clearly on the rise as he has hit the net twice in the last four matches, on top of furnishing strong performances. Nicolas Dominguez should have an increased role with Mattias Svanberg suspended and Takehiro Tomiyasu is worth a flier now that it looks like he is going to stay at right-back. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 21 – Sunday Matches


Benevento: they struggled mightily against Inter and their weapons were hurt by the fact that they could not generate any offense. Two linchpins had broken out in the previous game against Torino, Gianluca Lapadula and Nicolas Viola who had not contributed concretely in a long time, for different reasons. They will welcome back Marco Sau from a two-game suspension and he has been their most prolific striker as of late since Gianluca Caprari has not scored in five matches. Roberto Insigne should be in better shape as well, but he too has struck out in few tilts in a row. Their attack sputtering partly explains their poor results in January. Newcomer Adolfo Gaich will likely need some time to be integrated and was not very effective in Russia. The possible return of Pasquale Schiattarella (one goal, one assist) to the XI could move Viola to a role where he has more freedom and he has a ton of upside thanks to his shooting prowess.

Recommended picks: Lapadula, Sau, Viola.

Sampdoria: they too had troubles creating chances against a top team, Juventus in their case, and they were held scoreless for the first time in four matches. Keita is always at risk of running into some duds, but he has been their most consistent forward in the past month, as Fabio Quagliarella has yet to produce in 2021. Antonio Candreva (three goals, four assists) is a close second, while Jakub Jankto is weirdly losing playing time, but that has not directly benefitted Mikkel Damsgaard since Claudio Ranieri is tinkering with the formation to adapt it to the opponents. Gaston Ramirez has recently reappeared with a sweet assist and Ernesto Torregrossa, who delivered on his debut, is likely going to see his playing time gradually increase.

Recommended picks: Keita, Candreva, Quagliarella.



Milan: Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed another PK against Bologna, which is pretty much the only thing holding him back in the fantasy realm, but Ante Rebic cleaned up the rebound, bagging his first goal since late December, as he was forced to miss time, and Frank Kessie made no mistake in the second half, registering his seventh goal. Rebic has proven to be extremely streaky in the past. Hakan Calhanoglu has shaken off the virus, but it remains to be seen whether he will start right away: he is a massive hub for their offense and has notched six assists already. They have had trouble replacing him, especially with Brahim Diaz missing. Rafael Leao (five goals, four helpers) is one of the ultimate feast-or-famine players in the League and he is coming off two quiet outings. Theo Hernandez has not done a ton of damage lately either but he benefits from the robustness of the whole back-line.

Recommended picks: Ibrahimovic, Rebic, Kessie.

Crotone: the Squali will not have their top guy Junior Messias in this one and that is major blow, even though they added two more offensive pieces late in Samuel Di Carmine and Adam Ounas, who however was not healthy in his final days in Cagliari. Di Carmine, who had not scored in his few appearances with Verona, started immediately and that should continue to be the case. Simy (seven goals) has found the target in two of the last three contests, while their other cornerstone Ahmad Benali is looking increasingly spry after a long time on the shelf. Without Messias, they will have to lean more on their creative midfielders, Benali and Milos Vulic. Arkadiusz Reca has been their top assist-man thus far (5).

Recommended picks: Simy, Di Carmine, Benali.



Udinese: they eked it out in veteran fashion against Spezia, with Rodrigo De Paul nailing a PK, however the Argentinian maestro is suspended for this one and they do not really have an alternative to him in the roster. The solution could be similar to last week, with Walace and Tolgay Arslan featuring together in the midfield and either Fernando Llorente or Ilija Nestorovski starting up front, next to Gerard Deulofeu that played as false nine. Neither of the two strikers has done, or played, much thus far, but the former figures to be a better option than the latter. Deulofeu is instead turning the corner now that he has his legs fully underneath him. They will inevitably rely more on Roberto Pereyra (two goals, four assists), while Arslan has more fantasy potential in the duo of gritty midfielders as he is an okay shooter.

Recommended picks: Pereyra, Deulofeu, Llorente/Nestorovski.

Verona: They surprisingly crumbled against Roma, where an ugly start did them in, leaving them little room to react. The only positive news was Ebrima Colley scoring his first career goal in Serie A and he has been constantly pretty good when his number was called, but he has not been elevated from his bench role. Daniel Bessa has sneaky potential too but is in a similar spot. It looks like they are going to alternate Nikola Kalinic and Kevin Lasagna for the time being, and neither has been particularly good in recent games. Mattia Zaccagni (six goals, five assists) and Antonin Barak (four goals) have instead been much more solid. Their wing-backs Federico Dimarco, Darko Lazovic and Marco Davide Faraoni are always threats to pick up points in multiple ways.

Recommended picks: Zaccagni, Barak, Kalinic/Lasagna.



Parma: no end product again for the Ducali offense, who will be hoping newcomers Graziano Pellè, Joshua Zirkzee and Dennis Man will be able to provide an immediate turnaround despite the fact that they will inevitably need some time to adjust to the new surroundings. Juraj Kucka remains their lone scorer in the past two months, while Andreas Cornelius and Gervinho, who have been constantly leaned upon as Roberto Inglese has missed time and Yann Karamoh has been hurt, have continued to fire blanks. Jasmin Kurtic ended up staying and he is their busiest midfielder in the final third after Kucka, especially because Hernani, who had some success under the previous regime, is being used as deep-lying playmaker now. Alberto Grassi, Andrea Conti and Giuseppe Pezzella could have some minor appeal if the team collectively manages to snap out of their funk.

Recommended picks: Kucka, Kurtic, Gervinho.

Bologna: they produced a pretty convincing late push versus Milan, although they did not manage to equalize. The goal came from two players that generally are not regulars, Andreas Skov Olsen and Andrea Poli, we will see whether it will help their stocks. Sinisa Mihajlovic played some misdirection in the presser and kept Musa Barrow as center-forward, however the experiment is not paying off and he had a terrible game, so there might be a change there that would go in Rodrigo Palacio’s favor. Nicola Sansone has seen some decent minutes after an injury and he has been pretty lively, however it came at the expense of Emmanuel Vignato, who has a higher ceiling. Riccardo Orsolini (three goals, three assists) has been the most convincing out of their linchpins in recent games, however he is fatigued, while Roberto Soriano and Barrow have been pretty quiet in few matches in a row. Takehiro Tomiyasu will likely head back to the middle of the defense in this one, which hurts his value.

Recommended picks: Barrow, Sansone/Orsolini, Soriano. 



Lazio: another strong performance for the Biancocelesti, who are taking advantage of all the weapons at their disposal as Joaquin Correa is finally finding some continuity and Adam Marusic netted his first goal of the season, while had set up three teammates before. Ciro Immobile was limited to an assist versus Atalanta: he has not hauled in points just once in the last nine matches, scoring in the large majority of the them. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic did not make the stat-sheet but he had a huge performance: he has posted four goals and five assists in the campaign. Luis Alberto looked pretty good for somebody who recently underwent surgery for appendicitis and he should soon recapture his form, as he had been going like gangbusters prior to the hiccup. Manuel Lazzari (one goal, four assists) is always pretty decent.

Recommended picks: Immobile, Correa, Alberto.

Cagliari: Joao Pedro unsurprisingly did it again versus Sassuolo, registering his 11th goal, however he is getting very little help from his teammates and they were pipped at the post. Radja Nainggolan has been a little underwhelming since returning as he is still rounding up into shape, while Giovanni Simone is stuck in a slump and the limited playing time is doing Leonardo Pavoletti no favor. Therefore, their second best guy as of late has been Razvan Marin, who is coming off an assist and has had more chances than usual. They will welcome back the energetic Nahitan Nandez, whose appeal depends on the role as he is very versatile, but they might be without Alfred Duncan and Alessandro Deiola due to injuries, which could give the Gaston Pereiro or Riccardo Sottil an opportunity to win back the trust of the coach.

Recommended picks: Pedro, Marin, Nandez.

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Cristiano Ronaldo double hurts Inter in Coppa Italia as league chase remains on

Inter were the odds on favourites to beat Benevento this past weekend and they made no mistakes in winning the game 4-0 at San Siro.

Lautaro Martinez was among the scorers and Romelu Lukaku grabbed a brace in an easy win. The opening goal of the game came from an own goal though as Ivan Perisic’s free kick in swinging cross was met by Benevento’s Riccardo Improta who prodded home quite superbly to give Inter the lead. It was unfortunate but the early goal set the game up for Inter.

Inter played with a high intensity in the first half but some how managed just 1 shot on target the whole half as Benevento were happy to defend and created no chances themselves. Indeed it would be a game where the away side would not have a shot on target. The first half ended 1-0 to the home side.

Inter came out for the 2nd half even more fired up and it was little surprise that they doubled their lead in the 57th minute through Martinez who had been lively the whole game and saw an earlier effort ruled out for offside. This time his shot was precise and placed and at 2-0 the game was effectively over before the hour mark.

Ten minutes later a terrible mix up in defence for Benevento saw the ball fall for Lukaku who made no mistakes in scoring, it was such an easy goal that the Belgian didn’t even feel the need to celebrate. And soon after it was 4-0 and again it was Lukaku latching onto a ball in the area and scoring a very similar goal to his first. Lukaku now has 14 goals in the league and is only one behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

Christian Stellini in charge of Inter

Following Inter coach Antonio Conte’s sending off in the Udinese match which ended in a 0-0 draw assistant coach Christian Stellini was in the dug out and on press duties for this game and he will also be in charge when Inter face Fiorentina away from home in their next game.

Eriksen and Sanchez stay at Inter

A U-turn has been made by Inter and they have decided to keep both Christian Eriksen and Alexis Sanchez at the club for now. Eriksen was said to not fit into Conte’s plans but since December Conte has found a role for Eriksen and the player has responded and is in good form. As for Sanchez he seemed he was off to Roma in a swap deal for Edin Dzeko but at the eleventh hour that was called off. Indeed Sanchez played in the win over Benevento and even assisted in a goal.

Ronaldo scores a brace to give advantage to Juventus in the Coppa Italia

Inter are in trouble after losing the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Juventus at home. Inter took the lead in the game but eventually lost 2-1 thanks to two goals from that man Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lautaro Martinez who is in form opened the scoring when he got in front of his marker but Ronaldo converted a penalty and scored the winner when he pounced on a defensive mistake.

It was a game full of intensity and a special atmosphere even if the fans were not allowed to attend the game. There were plenty of chances for both sides, each having 5 shots on target in an absorbing game of football. It was no surprise that in the end 9 yellow cards were shown. It is advantage Juventus going into the 2nd leg.

Inter were missing Lukaku because he had gained too many yellow cards in the competition and was suspended for the game. Afterwards coach Conte said: “Juventus made the most of two naïve errors to score their goals. We need to be more clinical and ruthless, as we created so much and you have to finish those chances against a side like Juventus. The performance was excellent, it was just the result that was negative. We had Juve on the ropes, it’s really disappointing, because we deserved much, much, more than the final result.”

The 2nd leg match will take place on February 9th.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 19 – Remaining Games


Benevento: they surely had a weird faux pas versus Crotone for a team that had been mostly steady so far. Moreover, their most prolific guy as of late, Marco Sau, got sent off from the bench and the always lively Roberto Insigne hurt his ankle, which makes him very questionable for this match. The only positive note was that Iago Falque managed to return after a long time on the shelf and bagged a lovely goal, the first of his campaign, but he has generally fared well whenever available to play. He remains an option even though the coach stated that he is not ready to start. The injuries could thrust him into a major role this one, while Gianluca Caprari, who was banged up going into the previous contest, will surely return to the XI: he is their leading scorer with four goal. Gianluca Lapadula is their tip of the spear but has not hit the net since early November. With Pasquale Schiattarella and Gaetano Letizia missing, Riccardo Improta and Artur Ionita are set to be their secondary playmakers, but they have not picked up many bonuses so far. Aggressive midfielder Andres Tello could have a big role as well. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 18 – Remaining Games


Bologna: they could not find a way around the not-so-vaunted Genoa rearguard in the past match, with their attack failing to deliver for the fourth game in a row, given that their recent goals have come from Takehiro Tomiyasu (two), Nehuen Paz and Matthias Svanberg. Roberto Soriano, one of the early fantasy leaders, has found the target just once in the seven matches and has not been able to dish helpers either in that stretch, however he remains the top players in both categories (six/four). The other attackers have instead been able to take part in the teammate’s goals, Riccardo Orsolini in particular with two recent assists, but also Musa Barrow and Rodrigo Palacio, but they obviously need to start scoring to become real fantasy assets. As always, Barrow is the biggest threat, but they will face a really stifling defense in this one. Emanuel Vignato and Andreas Skov Olsen have not exploited their recent minutes. Continue reading