Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Five

Atalanta: Matteo Pessina returned in Champions League from a late-season patellar dislocation. Ruslan Malinovskyi had an old scar in his adductor flare up and missed the previous game, but he is set to be available SaturdayCristiano Piccini (knee) could return sooner rather than later, while Pierluigi Gollini (knee) is at least two weeks away.

Benevento: Nicolas Viola has resumed practicing after his meniscus surgery and made the squad list. Gabriele Moncini and Federico Barba are out again to muscular problems and are joined in that regard by Iago Falque.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Four

Atalanta: Aleksey Miranchuk is set to be available after missing the first three matches with a thigh strain. Cristiano Piccini and Matteo Pessina have resumed practicing regularly following knee injuries and they too will return soon. Josip Ilicic is getting closer and closer, but the information on him is not always solid. Rafael Toloi is out of the quarantine after skipping the previous game, while Marco Carnesecchi has COVID. Mattia Caldara partially tore the patellar tendon in the left knee and will not be back before 2021.

Benevento: Andres Tello is be back after missing some time with ailments, but Federico Barba is still out. Gabriel Moncini will skip a game or two due to an adductor strain. Nicolas Viola needs more time to recover from a meniscus tear. Continue reading

Pedro helps Roma to their first win of the season but club post record debts

Roma’s new signing Pedro scored his 1st goal for the club as they beat Udinese away 1-0 and that resulted in their first win of the season.

It’s been a slow start for Roma who have won 1, drawn 1 and lost 1 but the victory at the weekend took the club up to 10th place and they are 5 points behind the current leaders Atalanta.

Pedro took his goal well and ran with the ball before unleashing a 25 yard screamer that was unstoppable. It was a magic moment in a game that lacked real quality from both sets of teams.

It was an important result for the Giallorossi as going to Udinese is never an easy task. After the game Roma coach Paulo Fonseca had this to say: “In the first half we continually played in Udinese’s final third, but they were dangerous when breaking on the counter. We weren’t aggressive enough when we lost possession, but still created good situations. After the break we managed to get the goal and the team remained united to bring home the result, which was the most important thing. Roma are a very attack-minded team, but Udinese’s style in the closing stages forced us to sit deeper. The team is playing well with Lorenzo Pellegrini in his current midfield position and we’ll see in future whether he remains there.”

El Shaarawy deals falls through but Smalling is back

Stephan El Shaarawy almost rejoined Roma on transfer deadline day but the move collapsed at the final hurdle with El Shaarawy claiming that the blame did not lie with him. The Italian left Roma to join Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua last season where he has scored just once in 16 games. With the Chinese league suspended until February it was thought that he could re join Roma up until then but that won’t happen now.

Still there was some good news as Chris Smalling completed a permanent transfer to the club after his successful loan period last season. Such was that news that fans even went to the airport to greet Smalling who has now officially left Manchester United.

New Balance and record losses

Roma reported the 2nd biggest lost in Italian football over a season as they came up short by 204m euros. Only Inter Milan a decade before reported higher losses. The club though have been busy looking for new sponsors and it appears that New Balance will take over from Nike, though this has yet to be confirmed.

When the league returns Roma will  be at home to Benevento where they will be the huge favourites to win that and hopefully move up the table and get their season fully on track.

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One Transfer Target For Italy’s Top Five

Italy’s top sides have been extremely active this transfer window as they look to significantly bolster their ranks. Inter have already signed Achraf Hakimi, Juve have secured Arthur and Dejan Kulusevski while Napoli brought in Victor Osimhen.

Regardless of their early activity, Italy’s giants are still in the market for unique opportunities. Without further ado, here’s one player each of Italy’s top five should sign before the mercato closes.

1) Juventus: Houssem Aouar. 

The Lyon midfielder showed the world why he’s one of football’s most highly-rated talents last month, propelling the Ligue 1 side into the Champions League semifinals. However, as Juninho, Lyon’s sporting director, highlighted in his post-game press conference, Aouar is available this transfer window and Juventus should do everything it takes to get the French international to Turin.

Lyon has set the asking price at 50 million euros for their star man, which represents fair market value in an inflated window. Given Juve’s midfield woes, Aouar should be their number one target – even after Weston McKennie’s arrival. It may not be feasible financially, but Aouar would finally allow the Turin-based giants to put their midfield problems once and for all.

2) Inter – Emerson

Inter have done extremely well in recent transfer windows, significantly improving their roster with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Nicolo Barella, and Christian Eriksen among others. Antonio Conte’s men competed on all fronts this season, reaching the Europa League final, but now need to take the next step.

The Nerazzurri’s midfield is arguably the best in Italy while their defense finished with the best record this season. Regardless, Inter could use a new left wingback and have since been linked with Chelsea’s Emerson. The former Roma man is already familiar with Italian football and would come at a relatively low cost. Reuniting with Conte could help Emerson get his career back on track and help Inter address a longstanding need.

3) Milan - Sandro Tonali

Milian could arguably use another center-back to add depth to their existing ranks, but should not pass up the chance to sign Sandro Tonali. Inter are reportedly in pole position for the Brescia midfielder, but Milan has recently emerged in the race, according to recent reports. The Nerazzurri need to sell some of their unwanted players before presenting Brescia with an offer while Milan should take the opportunity to pounce. Brescia, however, would prefer to include an obligation to buy in the deal, which Milan is currently considering.

Despite disagreements over the formula of the deal, Tonali should be Milan’s number one target. The Italian international has proven to be an incredible talent this season with Brescia and will compliment Ismael Bennacer and Franck Kessie in the midfield. Given his 35 million euros price tag, Tonali could just be the steal of the summer.

4) Napoli – Sergio Reguilon 

Napoli has been proactive this transfer window, already securing Andrea Petagna, Amir Rrahmani, and Victor Osimhen. Gennaro Gattuso’s men have since been linked with a plethora of leftbacks across the globe, including Sevilla’s Sergio Reguilon. The Spanish international has taken football by storm this season, bombing up and down the left flank at will.

If recent reports are to be believed, Napoli could get a deal done for Reguilon at a good price. With Faouzi Ghoulam slowing down, they can use depth out wide and the Sevilla man could offer just that.

5) Roma – Chris Smalling

This one’s a rather obvious one, but Roma must do what it takes to bring back Chris Smalling to the club. The Englishman was arguably the Giallorossi’s best centreback this season and formed an uncompromising partnership with Gianluca Mancini. As the season approaches, Roma should stop haggling over the final price and pay Manchester United’s valuation for the defender.

If they cannot agree to a price, they can then shift their attention to Hellas Verona’s Marash Kumbulla. Inter have been heavily linked with the defender, but given they have other priorities, Roma would be wise to insert themselves in a deal for him.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 34

Atalanta: Luis Muriel quickly resumed practicing after suffering a fortunately mild head injury in a domestic accident. Josip Ilicic will be held out as he keeps working on his fitness. 

Bologna: Andrea Poli and Federico Santander were available for the last game after some time on the shelf. Mattia Bani (calf) is done for the season, Jerdy Schouten (thigh) will try to return for the final couple of matches.

Brescia: goalie Jesse Joronen is back, unlike Enrico Alfonso (hip). Andrea Cistana is ramping up his activity in practice and might be back soon. Emanuele Ndoj is back on the shelf.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury Report – Round 33

Atalanta: Robin Gosens was a late scratch against Juventus, but he has been called up and therefore avoided serious problems. Luis Muriel suffered a head trauma in a domestic incident, but he is fine and will be back for the next match.

Bologna: Federico Santander and Andrea Poli have recovered from their thigh injuries. Mattia Bani is pretty much done for the season with a calf strain. Jerdy Schouten (thigh) will be back in a pair of weeks.

Brescia: Jesse Joronen is out with an undisclosed injury, joining Andrea Cistana (tibia), Enrico Alfonso and Dimitri Bisoli (patellar tendon) on the mend. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Supension Report – Round 31

Atalanta: José Palomino is suspended.

Bologna: Roberto Soriano was red-carded in the last game and has been suspended for two matches. Gary Medel was a late scratch for the last game due to back spasm, but he is in the squad list. Ibrahima Mbaye and Andreas Skov Olsen (thigh) recovered enough to be called up. Andrea Poli and Federico Santander are nursing thigh strains.

Brescia: Andrea Cistana (lower leg surgery), Jhon Chancellor (thigh) and Dimitri Bisoli (patellar tendon) remain sidelined, Emanuele Ndoj and Enrico Alfonso are questionable.  Continue reading

Serie A Best Fantasy XI – Round 25

Pau Lopez (5 points): the Spaniard did not have a particularly busy performance in the Lecce game, but he was the only goalie to keep a clean sheet over the week and therefore the lone point-getter at his position. Roma had not blanked an opponent since the beginning of December.

Aleksandar Kolarov (9 points): the Serbian fullback, who is usually a fantasy stud, had gone through a sticky patch where he even lost the starting job for a minute, but he roared back versus the Salentini with a strong display and a pretty strike to round up the score. He still has not patched things up with the fan base though. Continue reading

Three Reasons Behind Roma’s Slump

After a relatively decent first-half to the season, Roma have hit a rough patch and now find themselves six points adrift Atalanta for the fourth and final Champions League spot. Earlier in the year, it appeared the giallorossi were establishing a clear identity under Paulo Fonseca and were building a solid foundation for years to come. However, in recent times, Roma have struggled for results, losing three of their last four clashes and are in free-fall mode.

But how exactly did we get here? Here are three reasons behind Roma’s slump.

1) No Diawara, no party. 

After a great start to the season, Amadou Diawara went down injured at the end of January and is now out for an undisclosed period of time. Alongside Jordan Veretout, the former Napoli man established himself as one of Fonseca’s key players and typically played in the role of regista dictating play from deep. Without him in the lineup, Roma have struggled to build out of the back and have looked defensively suspect. Diawara was central to Fonseca’s system and essentially acted as the lynchpin that tied it all together in the middle.

His replacement, Bryan Cristante, hasn’t exactly performed when called upon and is currently struggling for form. Whether it’s his imprecision on the ball or his inefficiency in front of goal, the downgrade from Diawara to Cristante is hurting Roma.

While Diawara’s return is unknown for now, Fonseca is going to need to find a solution quickly. If not, Roma risk falling out of contention for a Champions League place and could be eliminated from the Europa League.

2) Centre-backs are making routine errors. 

Following Kostas Manolas’ departure to Napoli, many expected the giallorossi to spend big to replace the Greek international. Rather than splashing the cash on a new defender, Roma opted for a low-cost option and loaned Manchester United defender Chris Smalling. The Englishman started the season in phenomenal form and for the first half of the season looked like the signing of the summer. However, in the new year, his good performances quickly faded and began making routine mistakes at the back.

His partner, Gianluca Mancini, has endured a very similar start to 2020. The former Atalanta defender has looked increasingly shaky at the back and devoid of any confidence. In Roma’s most recent games, Mancini has been regularly beaten by his man and hasn’t exactly exhibited confidence. In fact, in the giallorossi’s last three games, they’ve conceded nine goals, losing to Bologna, Sassuolo and direct Champions League rivals Atalanta.

While Mancini and Smalling had great starts to the season and looked more than ready to assume bigger roles, their respective shortcomings have now caught up to them. Much like it was the case in midfield, Roma will regret not reinforcing further this past January.

3) Roma’s attack is filled with “nearly-men” 

While Roma are having no trouble finding the back of the net in this negative run, their front-line remains an inconsistent bunch. This leads to regular rotation and overall incoherence in the final third. On some nights, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Cengiz Under look like world-beaters while other games, they can barely string two passes together. See: Most recent defeat vs. Atalanta.

Nicolo Zaniolo’s injury significantly hampered Roma in this respect, but it’s time one of their youngsters on the cusp steps up and builds a partnership with club veteran Edin Dzeko. Whether it’s Kluivert, Pellegrini or Under, one of them needs to assume more responsibility in the final third. If they are unable to do so, it may be time for the giallorossi to reconsider and in some cases move on from them completely because right now their “nearly-men” are killing them.

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Serie A Match of the Round – Derby della Capitale

Napoli-Juventus was likely a little more intense and significant, but it already got extensive coverage in another column, so the nod for match of the round goes to the Derby between Roma and Lazio, which was not exactly one of the ages but always carries gargantuan magnitude.

La Lupa came into the match looking to build on last week’s easy win over Genoa, which had interrupted a two-game slump, while the Eagles were riding a 11-match winning streak that had commenced back in late October. They were coming off a rout against Sampdoria. Continue reading