SERIE A ROUND 1 MATCH PREVIEW: Fiorentina vs Napoli

The players returned from summer holiday with their families, have been training regularly and are now ready to hit the pitch once again for their respective clubs as the 2019/20 Serie A season commences this weekend in Italy.

For Round 1 of action, our attention turns to one of the opening weekend’s main events on the peninsula as Fiorentina play host to Napoli at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Firenze.

Here is everything you need to know ahead of the clash. Continue reading

Which Serie A players can increase their appeal on transfer market in stretch run of the season?

With six matches to go this season, plenty of teams have a lot at stake between the races for the remaining Champions League spots and the one to avoid relegation in Serie A. The stretch run of the 2018/19 season is also a great opportunity for some players to increase their appeal on the transfer market as they seek new opportunities, let’s take a look at those who can move the needle with some strong performances

dzeko 

Edin Dzeko

 

The Bosnian striker came close to leaving Roma during the January window in 2018 but ultimately ended up staying because Chelsea never met the giallorossi’s asking price and he never really pushed for the move since he loves living in Italy’s capital. But now financial reasons are bringing to a fork in the road- he has just one year left on his contract and Roma can’t afford to lose him for nothing- he’ll either sign an extension or be sold during the summer.

Regardless of if they qualify for the Champions League or not, Roma are also eager to lower their wage and Dzeko so happens to be their highest paid player. The Bosnian striker has struggled this season as demonstrated by the fact that he just ended an almost 12 month long goalless streak at the Olimpico- with a strong finish to the season he can increase his options. 

Being able to count on the Champions League revenue would make it easier for Roma to offer him close to his current wages and more goals in the last six matches could make Dzeko even more appealing to West Ham (who have already made him a susbstantial offer) or to Inter who see him as a potential replacement for Mauro Icardi, especially should Antonio Conte take over in the summer.

lazzari 

Manuel Lazzari

 

If you watch SPAL you may start to think their entire offensive game is to give the ball to Lazzari and see if he can create something from the right flank. The 25 year old has had a break out season, he even made his debut for the Italian national team and has drawn comparisons to the first version of Florenzi we saw at Roma.

Lazzari is almost guaranteed to move to a bigger club this summer especially when you consider the lack of quality options at the wing back position. It however remains to be seen if sporting directors and managers see him as someone who can only succeed as wing back in a three man defense, which would limit him to a team like Lazio (assuming they keep Simone Inzaghi) or Inter should Conte arrive. Napoli have also been previously linked to him and considering Ancelotti’s tactical flexibility and Hisaj’s struggles, it’s not out of the question they pursue him once again.

 

keita 

Keita Balde’/Rodrigo De Paul

 

Last year Inter weren’t able to retain Joao Cancelo because of Financial Fair Play despite having an option to buy him. While the nerazzurri’s financial situation has improved, it will still be significantly expensive to retain both Keita Balde’ and Politano despite their positive seasons. 

Keita Balde recently hired agent Federico Pastorello, who is very close to both Inter and Monaco since he works with a few of their players- it will be interesting to see if he can broker a deal that works for all involved, which certainly would be easier to do if Balde’ finishes the season on a high note. 

Inter have also been heavily linked to De Paul, who this summer will be coming off his best season at Udinese which also featured his debut with the Argentine national team. De Paul does have the tactical flexibility to play along side Balde’ but he also could be his replacement since it’s not out of the question Inter could negotiate a deal with Udinese involving some of their own young players which would be more in line with their FFP restrictions.

 

Allan/Nicolo’ Barella

 

Allan’s outstanding performance at the Parc des Prince substantially increased Paris St Germain’s interest in the Brazilian midfielder so much so that they come close to acquiring him in the January window. Since then Allan’s performances dipped a bit, don’t get me wrong he still was very effective but he also no longer was in the conversation for the best midfielder of the season in Serie A.

A strong end to the season, especially should Napoli be able to come back against Arsenal, could bring him closer to the exorbitant price (over 70 million) De Laurentiis is looking for as a return- it certainly doesn’t hurt that he has a great relationship with PSG after the Cavani and Lavezzi sales. 

Should Napoli decide to cash in on Allan, especially considering that because he’s 28 his value won’t increase, they could go all out for Barella who has similar characteristics to the Brazilian and would cost substantially less wages wise.

 

Alessio Cragno

 

Certainly Alex Meret deserves all the praise he’s received this season- his performances have made me wonder if he’s the best Napoli goalkeeper of my lifetime (which is saying a lot since I go back to the Maradona days) but I feel he’s overshadowed who I consider to be the best goal keeper in Serie A this season- Cagliari’s back stop Alessio Cragno.

Cragno has drawn comparisons to Angelo Peruzzi and is more than ready to take the next step at a bigger club- he would be a massive upgrade for Roma or could be Handanovic’s long term replacement at Inter. With a strong end to the season, Cragno could also start drawing interest from clubs outside of Italy.

 chiesa

Federico Chiesa

 

Fiorentina’s recent struggles which resulted in Stefano Pioli being replaced by Vincenzo Montella could make their star player more eager to leave in the summer. While Chiesa’s talent is indisputable, he has also been known just as much for his diving than his goals this season, in addition Montella has publicly stated that he plans on having him play as a winger in a 3 man defensive formation.

As all of you know Chiesa comes with a  great pedigree and there is no shortage of suitors for him both in Italy and abroad- but he’ll need a strong finish to garner an offer that will make the Della Valle brothers budge.

 

Farcical refereeing decision costs Inter victory in Florence

spalletti

As is the case in Italy all too often, the reaction to tonight’s encounter between Fiorentina and Inter will be dominated by a hugely controversial decision by the match officials. Indeed, it was a busy evening for Sicilian referee Rosario Abisso, who was at the centre of no less than three major incidents involving VAR. There is no doubt he was 100% correct to award the Nerazzurri a penalty shortly after half-time, and disallow Cristiano Biraghi’s strike shortly afterwards which would have halved the Viola’s two-goal deficit. On the contrary, standing by his decision to give the home side a penalty deep into stoppage time, even after consulting VAR, is nothing short of disgraceful. Continue reading

Four Takeaways from Fiorentina’s Scoreless Draw with Napoli

fiorentinanapoli

By no means was it a simple task, nor the ideal route to a result Stefano Pioli drew up, but Fiorentina managed to snag a hard-earned point at the Franchi from Saturday’s encounter with Napoli.

The Partenopei were perhaps the better side on the evening, winning the possession battle (60% to 40%) and showing a bit more going forward that led many to believe they’d leave Florence victorious. But the lack of an end product and clinical touch to finish off counter attacks were ultimately the difference between a road victory and having to settle for the point.

Here are four takeaways from Fiorentina vs Napoli. Continue reading

Blue Wave: Mancini Calling Up Sensi and Tonali Signals Azzurri Shift

sandro-tonali-italy_1tkhm7m5tt22z1a7dcl66nl4fc

It has been nearly a year to date since the Azzurri’s full-blown capitulation and failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup shook the country to its core, and only up until recently have the Italians shown a glimmer of hope in lifting themselves back to the summit of international football.

Much has been made about the fitness of acting coach Roberto Mancini to lead the Italian National Team back to prominence they are historically known for, but unlike his failed predecessor and universally loathed coach Gian Piero Ventura, the 53-year old CT is signaling a shift towards success through the regular integration of future stars. Continue reading

Serie A: Top Young Italians In 17/18 Season

Another Serie A season has come to a close, and the 38 rounds showcased great talent to calcio fans all around the world. With that, many young Italian players bursted their way on to the scene this season, and made their names known to Serie A and Azzurri fans quickly. In no specific order, this piece will list five of the top Italian starlets in the Serie A for 2017-2018, and will provide an explanation and analysis of their season.

CAMPIONATO ITALIANO DI CALCIO SERIE A 2017/2018 - A.C.F. FIORENT

Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina):

Son of popular footballer Enrico Chiesa, the quick and agile winger had a great full season for La Viola under Stefano Pioli, tallying 6 goals and adding 5 assists. Looking further upon the stats, Chiesa is a player that excites every time he gets a touch on the ball. Continue reading