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 Fantay Preview – Round 29

TORINO-LAZIO

Torino: the Granata had a nice reaction after falling in an early hole versus Cagliari, but an untimely penalty did them in. Andrea Belotti has found the target for two straight matches and has been excellent missed penalty aside. Simone Zaza is unlikely to be present, but Simone Verdi and especially Cristian Ansaldi, two of their most talented players, saw minutes in the past match and could be ready to start, unlocking few options up front, first of all the advancement of Alex Berenguer. Ansaldi had a positive impact after he subbed on, Verdi might need more time and had been struggling prior to the lockdown. Continue reading

Serie A Injuries and Suspension Report – Round 28

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic returned from an ankle problem in the last game, thus they have nothing else to worry about.

Bologna: Federico Santander and Andreas Skov Olsen will be out for a while due to thigh strains.

Brescia: Jhon Chancellor (thigh) will miss another one. Andrea Cistana is not close after repairing his peroneal tendon during the lockdown. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 28 – Early Games

Juventus-Lecce: the Bianconeri are a very top-heavy team and further reaffirmed it against Bologna, where their two starts Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala both found the target. The surprise was Federico Bernardeschi showing signs of life after a long while and he will probably get the call again as Douglas Costa needs to work on his fitness. Aaron Ramsey could also see his minutes increase and he remains a wild factor fantasy-wise. Juan Cuadrado and Rodrigo Bentancur are okay choices out of their midfield given the inevitable workload. Lecce have the worst defence in the League, so it is a plum match-up.

Suggested picks: Ronaldo, Dybala, Bernardeschi.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 27

Fiorentina-Brescia: the Viola will welcome back Franck Ribery, at least in limited fashion at first, and the coach is ready to tweak is system to accommodate him either in the hole or on the left wing, joining Dusan Vlahovic/Patrick Cutrone and obviously Federico Chiesa up front. In the meantime, it could be Gaetano Castrovilli taking on a bigger role. Alfred Duncan and Marco Benassi have some decent potential.  It is an extremely appealing match-up considering Brescia’s defensive woes and absences: Vlahovic and Castrovilli in the particular were in great form before the lockdown. Continue reading

Brescia’s Massimo Cellino wants Serie A null and void, he has a point but is he right?

Brescia  president Massimo Cellino has spoken out and wants the current Serie A season declared null and void but is he thinking of his clubs own interests or the interests of the league?

Brescia surprise surprise are bottom of Serie A and aren’t just last but rock bottom in the fact that they are 9 points from safety and with 12 games to go only a miracle really would have seen them stay up.

However Cellino believes that Coronavirus goes beyond football and his statement about ending the league which would save Brescia has nothing to do with his team being relegated. Cellino said: “I don’t care at all about relegation so far we have deserved it and I have my blame in that, too.”

Cellino went on to say that the season could descend into chaos and that Brescia may just forfeit games if the season did go ahead in respect of the towns in Italy that have been hit the hardest over the virus which includes the region of Brescia.

Cellino said: “This season doesn’t make sense any more. We’ve stopped no team will return as before, the matches will be behind closed doors, plus there’s a risk to the health of the athletes. For me to go back to business is pure madness. If they force us to play, I’d be willing to not field the team and lose the matches 3-0 out of respect for the citizens of Brescia and their loved ones who are no longer there.”

Cellino continued: “We need to change all the national and international rules players’ contracts, balance sheets, deadlines with the banks, the transfer market, preparation, start of the new season. It will be absolute chaos and for what?”.

At first glance it is easy to dismiss Cellino’s claims that the league season should be cut short and end now. His team are bottom of the league and sure to be relegated. At the same time would he be speaking out if Brescia had stunned Italian football and were in first place or challenging for first or a Champions League finish? Only people very close to him could tell you that answer and because of Brescia’s position, Cellino could talk about ending the season all day long, not many would listen. Now if Maurizio Sarri the Juventus coach asked for the season to end that would be different as they are leading and would be giving up the league title.

But Cellino does raise good and valid points about how football simply isn’t as important as some people may make out when a virus is killing thousands in Europe. Also players contracts, health insurance etc, all come into play. Cellino isn’t completely talking nonsense and making isn’t completely only thinking of self interests, and it wouldn’t be  a surprise if Serie A were to look into his views.

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Balotelli Hits out at league: “They Waited for Juventus to Go First.”

Mario Balotelli has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind and most recently, lambasted the league’s indecision regarding the ongoing outbreak of the Coronavirus. Since the outbreak, Supermario was very vocal and wanted the league to suspend the games with immediate effect. Serie A, however, allowed for the Derby d’Italia to be played before eventually suspending the games until April 3; a decision Balotelli rejected wholeheartedly.

In typical fashion, the enigmatic striker took to Instagram live to blast the league claiming they favored Juventus. “They had to wait until Juventus went back on top before stopping the league,” said Balotelli. “In all honesty, I hope Serie A doesn’t start up again until there are no more cases. I got so angry at the start when I urged everyone to stop and people insulted me for it. Maybe now they’ve finally realised the situation,” stated Supermario. 

Before the Derby d’Italia, Juventus found themselves two points behind Lazio in second-place with a game in hand. With their win, Maurizio Sarri’s men leapfrogged Lazio, pulling themselves temporarily in first with twelve games to play. However, one head-to-head clash between the two sides remains before the season comes to a close.

One option that FIGC President Gabriele Gravina put forward to decide key positions if the games couldn’t be played was to go off the current table to discern a winner. In this case, Juventus would be crowned champions with Lazio, Inter, and Atalanta rounding off the remaining Champions League spots.

Otherwise, the other two options would be to assign no winner and void the season or make Italy’s top four compete in playoffs. Simply put, any of the three options have their respective short-comings, leaving someone dissatisfied. In any case, a decision will need to be made sooner rather than later.

Shortly after Balotelli’s controversial comments, Brescia distanced themselves from their striker’s claims, stating his comments do not reflect the club’s position in any way. In an official press release, they said:

“Brescia officially distances themselves from Mario Balotelli and his hypothesis about the league’s potential favoritism. Specifically, on his Instagram live later disseminated on Youtube, Balotelli alluded to the league favoring Juventus for the title. Brescia would like to underline that this opinion is strictly personal and does not in any way reflect the club’s views.” 

In any case, clarity will be provided shortly as a number of factors remain. For one, what will happen to Euro 2020? If the tournament is postponed, there may be a chance that the remaining Serie A fixtures could be played.

As Italy looks to curtail the outbreak of the Coronavirus, let’s make one thing clear – at a time like this, football is secondary. In this sense, Balotelli is not wrong. Whether they void the season or not, it simply doesn’t matter at this delicate time. With the number of reported cases rising every day within Italy, what’s important is curbing the outbreak and then depending on where we are, figure out the rest of the season.

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Sarri set to shake things up once more

Going into a crucial stretch in the season, Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is weighing his options and is reportedly considering shaking things up in the final third. In an attempt to introduce more dynamism into the side, the former Napoli tactician will deploy Paulo Dybala as a false nine and will shift Juan Cuadrado from defence into the attack. We saw glimpses of this setup this past weekend against Brescia and according to Gazzetta dello Sport, is something Sarri will persist with this match-day against cellar-dwellers SPAL.

With an important game against Lyon coming up, the pressure is on Sarri to get Juve into the quarter-finals comfortably and look to make a deep European run. The veteran tactician previously had success with a false-nine setup at Napoli when he deployed Dries Mertens there.

While Dybala and Mertens are different players in their own way, both are extremely technical and do a good job at linking the midfield to attack. More importantly, they’ve both proven to be deadly finishers. As la Joya is set to play closer to goal, expect more involvement from Dybala. If anything, a central role suits the former Palermo man better and will undoubtedly help Juve create more chances in the final third.

When Sarri was initially hired, many expected Dybala to occupy this role, but it has since taken 24 match-days to get there. In recent times, Juventus have struggled in the final third and have typically relied on individual brilliance to see them through. Recognizing this, Sarri is keen on making changes.

Beyond shifting Dybala into a central position, Sarri is reportedly moving Cuadrado out of defence and into the attack. After the side failed to adequately replace Joao Cancelo, Sarri used the Colombian international at right-back. Initially, the position switch worked wonderfully, but injuries to key men in the attack mean Sarri’s forced to shuffle the deck once more.

Cuadrado has played in Juve’s front-three in their last two games and has added some much-needed unpredictability and speed up top. Other than his ability to beat his man, the former Fiorentina winger stretches opposition defences regularly and is a counter-attacking threat. Until this switch, Sarri fielded his typical 4-3-1-2 formation, which sorely lacked width and pace.

The formation switch also suits Juve’s current attacking options better than Sarri’s narrow ‘Christmas Tree’. While Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa are still out injured, a 4-3-3 gives them the opportunity to play out wide in their natural roles, rather than being pigeon-holed into a central position. With Ronaldo drifting in from the left-wing and Dybala interchanging, Cuadrado, Douglas Costa or Bernardeschi will all have a chance to stake a claim for the final place in the front-three. The increased competition will likely help the wingers hit new heights.

As Juventus look to compete on three fronts, simply put, they will need to create more chances. Sarri’s latest shuffle may not work, but it’s definitely worth a shot, and if anything, suits Juventus’ attacking options way better than their current setup.

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Brescia appoint Diego Lopez after firing Corini again

Despite an official confirmation of Eugenio Corini earlier in the immediate aftermath of the last game against Bologna, Brescia have indeed made their fourth coaching change of the season and are onto their third different gaffer, as the Corini was sacked again and Diego Lopez was hired as his replacement.

Corini won the first two matches, versus SPAL and Lecce, when he was re-called after his substitute Fabio Grosso got the axe, but then went on to lose five of the following seven bouts, equalizing twice, with Parma and Cagliari. Continue reading

Brescia 0-1 AC Milan: Fourth consecutive win for Pioli’s men as Rebic saves the day again

AC Milan managed to secure their fourth consecutive win in all competitions this evening, beating Brescia away from home. However, the game was far from easy for the Rossoneri as the home side controlled the play, creating several chances to really threaten their opponents. 

Brescia completely owned the first 15 minutes of the game, managing to play out of Milan’s pressure and thus gaining even more confidence as the minute passed. After just two minutes, Simon Kjaer was booked for the Rossoneri as he brought down Torregrossa, which meant he had to be careful the entire game.  Continue reading