Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 33

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Juventus: Mattia Perin and Sami Khedira will undergo season-ending surgeries for shoulder and knee problems respectively. Paulo Dybala sustained a quad strain against Ajax and will miss at least a couple of weeks. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) might be back next week, while Mario Mandzukic might not be back at all due to patellar tendon issues. Douglas Costa (calf) and Martin Caceres (thigh) will skip the next two matches.

Napoli: Raul Albiol (knee surgery) has resumed practicing and might be called up this week, leaving Amadou Diawara as the only injured player. Nikola Maksimovic will be on the mend for a while due to a foot infraction.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 27

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Juventus-Udinese: despite being under siege for the whole second half, the Bianconeri survived in Napoli and further broaden their lead atop of the standings. Despite the results in the domestic league, where they have won four in a row and seven in the last eight and are still undefeated, the squad seems to be trending down in the last couple of weeks. The Zebrette are coming off two massive wins over Chievo and Bologna, which allowed them to jump to the 15th position and move seven points clear of the final three spots. Miralem Pjanic and Joao Cancelo are suspended and coach Massimiliano Allegri is expected to heavily rotate the squad ahead of the second leg with Atletico Madrid, but they are not particularly deep. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 23

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Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi will be good to go after leaving the last game with a chest injury. On the other hand, Douglas Costa is iffy due to a bruised quad and Leonardo Spinazzola has a sore ankle. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) will be out again, while Leonardo Bonucci (ankle) is making a late push to be in the squad list.

Napoli: Amin Younes is having troubles with the surgically repaired Achilles tendon. Raul Albiol is reportedly dealing with a patellar tendon issue that could turn out to be a very serious one.

Inter: Matteo Politano will serve the final game of his suspension. Balde Keita has been called up despite the coach saying that he is not ready. Borja Valero is out with knee soreness.

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Borja Valero: “We’re putting a lot into training to get back on track”

Borja Valero

Borja Valero spoke to Inter TV ahead of the Nerazzurri’s vitally important Serie A match against Torino on Sunday evening. Here is what he had to say: “We’ve been putting a lot into training this week to get back on track following our draw against Sassuolo. It’s always tough to play Torino – they are a side that have played very well over the past few years. It’ll be a difficult match in Turin.” Continue reading

Spalletti deserves criticism for handing initiative to Juventus in Derby d’Italia

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“It’s unfortunate that we lost, but we were the team that had the bigger chances during the game. But this is Juventus’s strength: we more than matched them, but they know how to fully capitalise on their opportunities. We didn’t manage to find the back of the net, however. We could have got a better result tonight, but we’ll try to take good heart from the good things we did tonight: on Tuesday evening, we have to win at San Siro in front of our fans, who are always fantastic.” Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Round – Inter

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Two of the top three teams got the job done in favorable match-ups: Inter bagged one more goal than Juventus, so the get the nod as club of the week. The Nerazzurri came into the game looking to atone for the brutal showing in Bergamo, where they conceded four goals.

As the seminal Champions League bout with Tottenham is coming up on Wednesday, Luciano Spalletti rotated his squad a lot, trusting Balde Keita and Lautaro Martinez up front and Borja Valero and Roberto Gagliardini in the midfield. Danilo D’Ambrosio filled in for the injured Sime Vrsaljko, while Radja Nainggolan was able to return to the XI after an ankle sprain. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 11

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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 Club of the Week – Inter

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Frosinone were pipped at the post as far as the award goes: their showing in Ferrara was as impressive as surprising, even though there were some positive signs lately and the pesky trident composed by Joel Campbell, Daniele Ciofani and Camillo Ciano gives them a puncher’s chance in the relegation race. However, Inter beat Lazio three-nothing at the Olimpico and therefore they deservedly get the shout-out.

The game was in doubt until the late afternoon because of inclement weather, but, aside for a quick downpour, it was generally not ruined by the rain. 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 Club of the Week – Round 36: Inter

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Inter had an impressive showing in the drubbing of Udinese and was also just one of the two teams who scored multiple goals while also maintaining a clean sheet. As a result, they deservedly get the Club of the Week shut-out regarding the last round.

Inter approached the game fuming for the result in the Derby d’Italia, but had won in the previous two fixtures. Luciano Spalletti opted for Dalbert to substitute the suspended Danilo D’Ambrosio and picked Antonio Candreva over Yann Karamoh on the right wing. He had to put in Andrea Ranocchia due to a last-minute injury to Joao Miranda.  Continue reading