AC Milan 1-0 Brescia: Rossoneri get the job done despite flat performance

AC Milan clinched their first three points of the season, beating Brescia by one goal to nil in front of the home crowd at San Siro. However, the victory was far from convincing, although one can hope that they are on the right track. 

Giampaolo’s men took the lead early through Calhanoglu, who after 12 minutes of play headed it in at the back post. Suso was responsible for the assist as he made his way past the opponent before sending in a beautiful cross with his right foot. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Two

Milan-Brescia: the first game under Marco Giampaolo presented the same issues the Rossoneri suffered from last season, primarily keeping the ball up front and feeding their main striker. They managed to get only some limited offensive forays without never building a constant assasult. A faux pas that could lead to some tactical and personnel change, with Suso possibly returning to the flank and Ismael Bennacer and Rafael Leao getting the nod from start. If they can turn it around, it could be a decent spot for Krzysztof Piatek, but it is tough to trust them right now. The Rondinelle showed to be solid right away in a fairly tough road game in Cagliari: last year’s design worked and the defense held up. If that continues to be the case, Alfredo Donnarumma will be one to watch, he scored 26 goals in Serie B, same as Dimistri Bisoli, who is their most dangerous midfielder, while Sandro Tonali’s fantasy production is a little shakier because it hinges on set pieces. Continue reading

Brescia bring Balotelli back home

After three years, Mario Balotelli has returned in Serie A, as his hometown team Brescia managed to reach agreement with him after he left Olympique Marseille as a free agent, pipping Flamengo at the post. The 29-year-old striker reportedly agreed to a two-year contract, with an out-clause in case they get relegated, but also bonuses and an automatic extension if they do not. As a kid, Balotelli was adopted by a family from Palermo, which then quickly transferred near Brescia and played in the Lumezzane youth system before being noticed by Inter.

He is coming off three good years in Ligue 1, where he posted 43 goals in 76 games with Nice and then eight in 15 appearances with OM. As far as Serie A is concerned, he had his season in 2013/2014 at Milan, where he notched 13 goals in the domestic league alone. Continue reading

Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap

After two sleepy weeks, Serie A teams have resumed dealing and wheeling with some very interesting purchases over the last few days. Inter finally landed Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United, while Juventus cashed in on Joao Cancelo in a swap with Manchester City, getting back Danilo in the deal. Cagliari pulled off an unexpected one by adding Radja Nainggolan from Inter, then successfully completed the chase for touted prospect Nahitan Nandez from Boca Juniors and, all of a sudden, they have a very crowded and well-assorted midfield despite losing Nicolò Barella.

Milan continue to work on the roster and acquired young centre-back Leo Duarte from Flamengo. He emerged over the last year and a half in Brazil and will contribute to holding down the fort until Mattia Caldara returns later in the year. He will compete with solid but unspectacular Mateo Musacchio to play next to Alessio Romagnoli to open the season.

The week was pretty much dominated by midfielders: a year after letting him go for free, the new Fiorentina management brought back Milan Badelj on loan with option to buy from Lazio, then they snatched Erick Pulgar away from Bologna by exercising the relatively low release clause. The Chilean international was a standout last season and was deadly on penalty, which will come in handy considering the departure of Jordan Veretout. Despite the age difference, the two are pretty similar, so it will be interesting to see whether Vincenzo Montella will tweak his system to accommodate both and perhaps deploy one more attacker.

Genoa have found their new technical leader in Lasse Schone from Ajax who, despite the rather defensive position as pivot, put up great numbers thanks to his ability on set pieces and therefore will be one to look out for in the fantasy game. The Griffon also signed Riccardo Saponara on loan from Fiorentina, whom coach Aurelio Andreazzoli will try to turn into an offensive box-to-box in the Rade Krunic mold, and Colombian youngster Kevin Agudelo from Atletico Huila.

For one brilliant midfielder joining Serie A, another one left as Sampdoria agreed to sell Dennis Praet to Leicester City, who has been a linchpin of their squad over the last three seasons and grew constantly year after year. They acquired Morten Thorsby from Heerenveen and could gamble on a Jakub Jankto resurgence on top of obviously reinvesting the funds on a newcomer.

For once, Atalanta decided to go with an experienced guy rather than bet on potential and brought in Martin Skrtel from Fenerbahce to fill in the gap after Gianluca Mancini left. Gian Piero Gasperini is now back to having five reliable centre-backs to rotate.

A decent coup for Verona, as they won the race for free agent Darko Lazovic, who was pretty good last year at Genoa, where he notched three goals and four assists. He reunites with coach Milan Juric and will be able to play in a number of positions on both flanks. They also grabbed two of the best Serie B players from last season: Gennaro Tutino, on loan from Napoli, who had a terrific year in Cosenza, and Valerio Verre from Sampdoria, who shined in Perugia. They both reached the double-digit threshold and could be significant parts of the 3-4-2-1 tactic Milan Juric is currently using.

Brescia got busy too and signed two presumptive starters in Jaromir Zmhral from Slavia Prague and Giangiacomo Magnani from Sassuolo. The midfielder could be a sneaky fantasy asset, while the centre-back started last season very well but was eventually overshadowed by more talented teammates. Lecce instead added Cristian Dell’Orco, who was serviceable as left centre-back at Empoli in 2018/2019 and will probably end up playing left back for them, alternating with other buzzed about newcomer Brayan Vera.

A pair of players departed from Serie A: Roma sent Rick Karsdorp back to Feyenoord on loan, while Bologna shipped Adam Nagy to Bristol City. The Dutch right back had some okay stretches and at times challenged Alessandro Florenzi, but ultimately he could not stay healthy, while Nagy had become merely a back-up. The Felsinei will have to address the midfield in a meaningful manner.

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Juventus Need To Splash For Sandro Tonali

Six years ago, a 20-year-old Marco Verratti was on the market after a stellar first season with high-flying Pescara in Serie B. After what seemed like an eternity of negotiations, Juventus eventually deemed their 12 million euros price-tag too high, and pulled out of the deal, allowing Paris Saint-Germain to snap up the diminutive playmaker. Today, Verratti is still dominating the middle of the park in Ligue Un, and is easily worth four times the price. Juventus have since signed Miralem Pjanic, but missing out on Verratti is a decision the bianconeri still rue today.

The Juventus brass may still be licking their wounds, but they now have the opportunity to learn from their past lapse in judgement and make things right by splashing on Brescia midfielder and Italy international Sandro Tonali. Similar to Verratti, Tonali has had a phenomenal season in Italy’s second division and is attracting interest from all over. As a result, Brescia have slapped a 20 million euro price tag on their prized possession and are unwilling to budge on their valuation. While it may be a bit steep for an unproven midfielder, it’s time for Juventus to stop fretting over the price and secure Tonali before other suitors join the race. After all, they know all too well how quickly others will pull the trigger and bank on potential.

Tonali, while likened to Andrea Pirlo due to his position and silky hair, is more of a modern regista himself. Equally capable of splitting open a defence as he is at making a tackle, the 18-year-old makes for a long-term solution to Juventus’ ongoing midfield conundrum.

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