Europa League Race: Contenders, Pretenders and Dark-Horses

As the season draws to a close, the race for European places intensifies. If the season were to end today, Juventus, Inter, Lazio, and Atalanta would represent Italy in the Champions League while Roma and Napoli would have to content themselves with Europa League football.

Currently, the table could not be tighter as just four points separate sixth-place from eleventh. Let’s now take a look at the main contenders, pretenders and dark-horses for the Europa League.

Contenders: 

Roma and Atalanta: As it stands right now, one of Atalanta and Roma are pretty much guaranteed to occupy one of Italy’s two Europa League spots. Gasperini’s men are six-points ahead of the giallorossi in the fourth and final Champions League place and will be eager to maintain their advantage to qualify for Europe’s elite competition. Given Roma’s recent form, they may slide further down the table, but it’s difficult to see them finish outside the top six. As a result, expect Roma to make the Europa league leaving one last spot for the rest of the pack.

Napoli and Milan: After rough starts to the season, Napoli and Milan sacked their managers and almost immediately witnessed an upturn in their fortunes. Napoli have now won four of their last five and seem primed for a strong finish while Milan are finally playing with an identity. With Roma almost surely occupying the first Europa League spot, Napoli and Milan will likely duke it out for the remaining place. Napoli, however, will need to be better against sides under them as they have demonstrated complacency in those clashes. Milan, on the other hand, have taken care of Italy’s provinciali, but struggle against Italy’s elite.

Pretenders: 

Parma and Cagliari: Both sides got off to the season in fine form, but have recently struggled for results. Rolando Maran’s Cagliari haven’t won any of their last five clashes while Parma have proven to be far too inconsistent. In addition to their goal-scoring woes, Parma lack creative depth across the midfield, which will come back to haunt them in their hunt for European football. Cagliari, by contrast, benefitted by some incredible finishing earlier in the year; exploits that cannot be sustained throughout a full season. Expect both sides to slide further down the table as the season wears on.

Dark-Horses: 

Bologna-Hellas Verona: These two are here for vastly different reasons. On one hand, Hellas Verona have one of the league’s best defences propelling them into the race for European football while Bologna have scored freely all season and have shown no signs of slowing down. While Mihajlovic’s men have struggled in their last two games, they possess more quality in the final third than their counterparts and could go toe-to-toe with anyone in Italy. The same applies to Verona, who recently overcame Juventus in a game where they largely dominated. Milan and Napoli may be favourites for the last European spot, but Verona and Bologna will make it interesting over the next 12 match-days.

How well do you know Italian football? Do you want to battle the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

 

Denis Vavro earns his chance to end difficult debut season at Lazio on a high

IMG_1556

It wasn’t the day anyone expected Denis Vavro to make his first Serie A start for Lazio; not least the man himself.

Last Sunday’s lunchtime kick-off away to Genoa always threatened to be a difficult task for the Biancoceleste given the improved form of the Rossoblu, who have a well-earned status as a bogey team for the capital club.

But the challenge facing Simone Inzaghi’s side appeared all the more daunting when the news arrived in the hour before kick-off that Francesco Acerbi had pulled out through injury in the warm-up, after originally being named in the starting XI. Continue reading

What to Watch for in Serie A: Round 24

Can you believe we are headed into round 24 of the 2019/20 Serie A season? Neither can we.

For this set of fixtures, there is no shortage of action coming our way. Here, we provide you with what you should be watching for in this weekend of calcio.  Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Lecce vs Bologna

There were limited hard-fought contests in the last round of 2020, which comprised mostly one-sided affairs. Lecce made it interesting late against Bologna and, even if their push come up short, it allowed the game to earn the honours of best of the weekend.

The Salentini eked out few points here and there in the past two months, mostly through draws, but have yet to prevail at home, while the Felsinei had done so in two of the past three fixtures, over Napoli and Atalanta. Continue reading

Bologna 2-3 AC Milan: Tops and flops for the Rossoneri

AC Milan claimed all three points away at Bologna on Sunday evening, building on the important win against Parma. For the Rossoneri, it was only the second time this season that they have won two consecutive games, which certainly says a lot about their season so far. 

Finally, Stefano Pioli’s men converted their chances, showing great improvement from the clash against Parma. However, there was still a bit of drama as Bologna somehow managed to score two goals, both of which were very silly from Milan’s point of view. As many would agree, the scoreline didn’t do the Rossoneri’s performance justice. Continue reading

Bologna 2-3 AC Milan: Another three points in the bag after strong Rossoneri performance

Following the win against Parma last weekend, AC Milan continued on the same path this evening as they managed to beat Bologna away from home. Despite the scoreline, the San Siro side had control over the game, looking more confident than ever. 

The Rossoneri didn’t do much in the first ten minutes of the game, allowing Bologna to own most of the possession. Pioli’s men defended well and gradually saw more and more of the ball, although it seemed neither side managed to cement their play in the early stages of the game. Continue reading

Bologna vs. AC Milan: Team news, stats and prediction

Following the confident, albeit narrow, win against Parma, AC Milan are gearing up to take on Bologna away from home on Sunday evening. For the Rossoneri, three points is more or less a must, considering where they currently sit in the league standings. 

Stefano Pioli’s men did very well last time out, dominating the game from start to finish. However, they lacked composure in the final third and as a result of this, they won by just 1-0. Hopefully, they have practised their shooting, heading into the 15th round of Serie A action.

TEAM NEWS

Don’t fix what isn’t broken. This seems to be the thought in Pioli’s head, as he won’t make any changes to the starting eleven, at least according to the latest reports. Given how well they performed against Parma, you can certainly understand the manager, as consistency also is important for the players.

Milan conceded an impressive zero shots on target against the Gialloblu, which the defence deserves praise for. Hopefully, they can build on the strong display, preventing the opponents from finding the back of the net once again. Theo Hernandez will start on the left, of course, having scored the winner last time out.

Despite rumours of Rade Krunic replacing Franck Kessie in the midfield, the latter will keep his spot in the starting eleven. After a slow start with the red and black shirt, Bennacer has certainly picked himself out, cementing his spot in the holding midfield role. Italian veteran Bonaventura will complete the trio.

In attack, Kris Piatek will get yet another chance to break his goal drought. Of course, this decision hasn’t been received too well among the Rossoneri faithful, who would like to see Rafael Leao instead. However, Pioli defended the Polish international during today’s press conference, which indicates that he will start.

Likely Milan XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Conti, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer, Bonaventura; Suso, Piatek, Calhanoglu.

STATS

As you would expect, Milan are the favourites in this fixture. In fact, the Rossoneri have been very successful against the Renato Dall’Ara side in recent history. Take a look at the top five facts and stats down below.

  • AC Milan have only lost one of their last 19 Serie A meetings against Bologna (W13 D5), a 0-1 defeat in January 2016 under Sinisa Mihajlovic (with Roberto Donadoni in charge of the Rossoblu).
  • Bologna’s last Serie A victory against AC Milan was back in March 2002; since then, nine wins for the Rossoneri and four draws.
  • AC Milan, who won their last league game against Parma, are looking to win back-to-back Serie A games for only the second time this season (between August and September against Brescia and Verona)
  • AC Milan have gained just 17 points this term, no side has ended the season in the top-4 of the table with 17 points or less at this stage of the Italian top-flight (three points for a win era).
  • Bologna have lost the highest points from leading situations in Serie A this season (10) – indeed, they only lost 13 such points through the whole of the 2018/19 campaign.

 

PREDICTION

Milan seem to be on the up. In recent weeks, they have performed well, showing all the right signs. Against Parma, they finally got paid for all of their hard work. Therefore, their confidence will be pretty good ahead of this game, which should be relatively easy for Pioli’s men. Even if it turns out to be very tough, they should manage to grab the three points.

Bologna 0-2 AC Milan 

Serie A Match of the Round – Bologna vs Parma

The Emilian Derby was quite riveting in terms of action and was drama-filled until the very end, so it easily takes home the shout-out in this round despite its modest magnitude in the grand schemes of the League.

Bologna were coming off three straight losses, against Cagliari, Inter and Sassuolo and have won just once in the previous ten rounds. Parma instead dropped only one of the last four matches and gathered four points in the two most recent ones versus Fiorentina and Roma. Continue reading

Serie A Round 9 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Down

After a hotly-contested match-day eight and mid-week European clashes, Serie A returns to action tomorrow when Verona take on Sassuolo. The following day Juve and Inter will be in action against Lecce and Parma respectively, while Roma will take on Milan in this weekend’s marquee match-up. Otherwise, Lazio will look to overcome Fiorentina in what promises to be an enthralling affair.

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

Sami Khedira (MID, Juventus, Value 21.2) – After being surprisingly reinstated in the starting eleven by Maurizio Sarri at the start of the season, Khedira has slowed down and has shown signs of fatigue. Most recently, the German looked out of sorts in Juventus’ Champions League game against Lokomotiv Moscow and was subbed out for Gonzalo Higuain, much to his dismay. These substitutions at the hour-mark have typified Khedira’s season and will arguably continue moving forward. After all, Sarri is a creature of habit as demonstrated throughout his Chelsea stint.

As his minutes get further reduced and Adrien Rabiot’s influence in the side grows, expect Khedira to be rotated out of the lineup. At 21.2 million, you can do better.

Alessio Romagnoli (DEF, Milan, Value 25.9) -The Milan defender has been the only bright spot in the rossoneri’s defence, however, that doesn’t change the fact that his side have struggled in their own third. Most recently, Milan conceded two goals against a newly-promoted Lecce side and looked vulnerable throughout the ninety minutes. With the pressure increasing in Casa Milan, it doesn’t look likely that they’ll resolve their issues anytime soon.

As they are set to take on Roma, expect Milan’s defensive woes to continue, especially considering Edin Dzeko’s return from injury. Until Pioli figures out his best shape and best eleven, it might be best to swap out Romagnoli temporarily from your elevens for a low-cost option.

Gervinho (ATT, Parma, Value 25.9) – The former Arsenal man is in relatively decent form to start the season but has since slowed down for Parma in recent weeks with his last goal coming at the beginning of September. Currently, his teammate and assist leader, Dejan Kulusevski, is Parma’s main creator in the final third and has assumed much of the ball possession in the final third.

Considering Gervinho’s dwindling influence in the final third in addition to his hefty price tag, it’s time to swap the Ivorian out of your fantacalcio side immediately. With Inter coming up, it doesn’t look likely that the winger will get on the score-sheet regardless.

Bryan Cristante (MID, Roma, Value 25.7) – Since Paulo Fonseca has assumed the reigns at Trigoria, Cristante has established himself as a set starter and a crucial figure in the double pivot. Unfortunately, the Italian international recently suffered an injury and could miss a couple of months of action for the giallorossi. Given the uncertainty surrounding his fitness and injury concerns, Cristante should be the first player on your chopping block this week.

Despite the injuries, there is no shortage of options for Fonseca in the middle of the park. As a result, expect the veteran tactician to take his time re-integrating Cristante back into his side.

Nicola Sansone (MID, Napoli, Value 21.3) – Eight appearances, zero goals, one assist – 21.3 million. The numbers aren’t great for Sansone and suggest it may be time to transfer him out of your eleven once you’re finished reading this. Initially seen as a low-cost midfield option, Sansone has since failed to deliver on his fantacalcio hype and has been usurped by Bologna teammate Riccardo Orsolini.

The 22-year-old is quite clearly Bologna’s catalyst in the final third and has shown no signs of slowing down. As a result, Sansone has seen less of the ball and will arguably benefit from a spell on the bench. Buyers beware!

Are you a Serie A expert? Can you defeat the top Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you’re up for it play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

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