Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round One

FIORENTINA-TORINO

Fiorentina: despite not changing all that much, the Viola have brought in some new interesting pieces during the transfer market window, such as Sofyan Amrabat, who is suspended in this one, Giacomo Bonaventura and Cristiano Biraghi, who seems poised to stay after a solid season at Inter. However, their coach and attack are the same, which means we can expect something akin to what happened in the restart, where Franck Ribery and Gaetano Castrovilli served as the main playmakers, Federico Chiesa was the most consistent scorer, while Christian Kouame, Dusan Vlahovic and Patrick Cutrone, all capable but otherworldly strikers, fight for one spot. The ex-Genoa forward seems to have separated himself from the pack a little during the summer. Bonaventura is supremely sneaky.

Suggested picks: Chiesa, Ribery, Kouame. Continue reading

Three Players to look out for in the new season

With the new season fast approaching in under a month’s time, it’s as good a time as any to look forward and prepare ourselves for another rollercoaster. Last season, the calcio faithful witnessed the rise of many unfamiliar faces, including the likes of Gaetano Castrovilli and Sandro Tonali among others.

As it is the case every season, there’s always a few talents that break through and take the next step in their careers. Without further ado, here are three players – all of whom you may be familiar with – that are primed for a breakout year.

Musa Barrow (Bologna): 

The Bologna striker moved to Emilia-Romagna in the January transfer window and has had an immediate impact for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men, netting nine goals in 14 starts. After using the second half of the season to acclimate himself to his new surroundings, expect Barrow to hit the ground running and could potentially fire a young Bologna side into an unlikely race for European football.

The former Atalanta striker is as dynamic as they come in the final third and has demonstrated a keen eye for goal over the course of his short career. Capable of finishing with both feet, Barrow is definitely one to watch next year. With Orsolini and Rodrigo Palacio playing off him, Mihajlovic’s men possess one of the league’s most intriguing frontlines.

Christian Kouame, Fiorentina:

The Fiorentina forward returned to action at the tail end of last season, after being sidelined for a significant part of the year recovering from an ACL tear. Prior to his injury, Kouame broke onto the scene as a relatively unknown youngster and took the Serie A by storm. Fiorentina is coming off a disappointing season, but with Kouame back to full fitness and with a full preseason in his legs, the Ivorian is ready to lead the line for La Viola.

Kouame is at his best when acting in a tandem with another striker, opening the possibility for a potential partnership with Dusan Vlahovic or Patrick Cutrone. The former Genoa man will be raring to go when the season starts and will be hoping to lead Fiorentina back into the upper echelon of Italian football.

Victor Osimhen, Napoli: 

The Nigerian international has already won over the Napoli faithful, scoring a hat-trick seven minutes and 33 seconds into his debut in a friendly on Friday. In many ways, he has picked up from where exactly he left off before his big-money move which bodes well for Gennaro Gattuso’s men. Osimhen is coming off an incredible season with Lille, where he scored 18 goals in all competitions, and he will be eager to translate that form to Napoli.

At Napoli, Osimhen will have the opportunity to form a truly deadly front three with Lorenzo Insigne and Hirving Lozano and will have the possibility to learn from the experienced Dries Mertens. He may have cost nearly 50 million euros, but Osimhen is the real deal and will undoubtedly show that with the Partenopei next season.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 38 – Sunday Games

SPAL-FIORENTINA

SPAL: they were thumped early against Verona and failed to generate any semblance of offense, interrupting a mini-streak of consecutive matches where they had managed to score. Their agony will finally end here after a terrible season. Marco D’Alessandro has been their best player in the resumption, while Andrea Petagna and Gabriel Strefezza were the most reliable ones in the first part of the season. Mattia Valoti and Federico Di Francesco came back from their injuries and they could be worth a flier-

Suggested picks: D’Alessandro, Petagna, Valoti. Continue reading

Fiorentina Take Step Back After Confirming Beppe Iachini

Fiorentina confirmed Beppe Iachini would be returning as their coach going into the new season, after replacing Vincenzo Montella on an interim basis in December. La Viola has struggled for consistency all season, hovering just over the relegation zone. While Iachini steadied the ship upon his arrival, this appointment does not exactly fall in line with Fiorentina’s ambition. The Tuscan based outfit has secured a number of promising young talents in recent times and could regularly be challenging for European places.

A mid-table to lower-tier specialist, Iachini isn’t exactly the ideal profile to lead the charge and usher in progressive football. Fiorentina currently possesses an impressive young core, boasting the likes of Nikola Milenkovic, Federico Chiesa, Gaetano Castrovilli, and Christian Kouame among others. Considering the wealth of talent of Iachini’s disposal, much was expected from La Viola this season. Fiorentina, however, disappointed and only recently hit form, propelling themselves into a comfortable mid-table finish.

The main question mark going into the new season for Fiorentina is the futures of their star men. Chiesa has been linked with a big-money move to both Juventus and Inter over the past few weeks and looks intent on leaving Tuscany when the mercato opens. Another player who seems to be on everyone’s radar is la Viola’s towering defender Milenkovic. Capable of playing anywhere across the back four, the Serbian international has since emerged as a hot transfer target both in Italy and abroad. Manchester United was reportedly interested in the Fiorentina man as they look to bolster their defense.

In this sense, much of la Viola’s success next season will depend on them retaining their star players. If they are unable to do so, Iachini’s men may just be gearing up for yet another season filled with relegation scares. Should Fiorentina hold on to their star men, they will be in a great position to take the next step and qualify for the Europa League for the first time in four years.

That being said, Iachini’s confirmation will only hold Fiorentina back moving forward. When Rocco Commisso initially purchased the club, the expectations in Tuscany were high. The American businessman quickly invested in the side and has since built a young and vibrant roster. The play on the field, however, has left a lot to be desired with la Viola struggling for results and battling relegation.

As the side looks to take the next step and return to the upper echelon of Italian football once and for all, Fiorentina will need to bring in a more progressive manager. Managers like Gian Piero Gasperini and Roberto De Zerbi have taken Italy by storm this season and Fiorentina would benefit immensely from having a progressive thinker at the helm.

Eusebio Di Francesco was briefly linked to the Fiorentina job over the last few days, but la Viola decided against hiring the former Sassuolo tactician. In many ways, Di Francesco’s 4-3-3 would have suited Fiorentina’s roster and young core better, but the upper brass opted to confirm Iachini. With the new season kicking off in just under two months’ time, Fiorentina will be hoping they don’t regret their decision to do so – even if all the signs are pointing to it.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 37

PARMA-ATALANTA

Parma: Dejan Kulusevski willed them to victory, again, versus the lowly Brescia with an assist and a scorcher and he is finishing his stay in style, while Gervinho has been pretty paltry in recent matches, scoring just once in the last seven. Gianluca Caprari took advantage of his increased minutes and converted a PK, while among the other back-ups Luca Siligardi has been the liveliest. Roberto Inglese is tough to trust since his minutes are still spotty. Juraj Kucka returned from a short absence and he and Jasmin Kurtic are surely capable of doing damage offensively. Matteo Darmian is coming off his first goal of the season and also Riccardo Gagliolo notched one lately but their fullbacks will have their hands full defensively in this one.

Suggested picks: Kulusevski, Kucka, Caprari. Continue reading

Serie A Final Weekly Transfer Market Recap

Fiorentina was the most active team over the last few days and signed a quality fivesome: Alfred Duncan from Sassuolo, Igor from SPAL, Christian Kouame and Kevin Agudelo from Genoa and Sofyan Amrabat from Verona. Duncan, purchased for €15M, has been pretty steady over the last four years at Sassuolo, but his playing time has been limited recently due to a tactical switch that did not suit his traits. He is known commodity and can contribute at both ends. Agudelo had a hot stretch under Thiago Motta, flashing very intriguing playmaking and potential, but fell on the wayside with Davide Nicola. He can play all over the formation offensively and probably projects as very offensive box-to-box. He joined on an 18-month loan with conditioned obligation to buy. They will add some much-needed dynamism to the Viola’s midfield, who had nobody behind Gaetano Castrovilli and Marco Benassi. Igor has been a day-one starter with the Estensi after coming over RB Salzburg in the summer, has had some ups-and-down but is still young. The Gigliati lacked a left-footed centre-back for their three-man line, so Igor could challenge Martin Caceres to play there. Continue reading

Top Three Winter Mercato Moves

While a few days remain before the transfer window is shut, there has been no shortage of activity within Italy throughout the winter mercato. Napoli have completely retooled their side while Milan are making the most of the window to off-load deadwood and reduce their wage bill. Inter, on the other hand, are actively looking for the final pieces of the puzzle to topple Juventus.

Here are the top three moves of the winter mercato until now.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Milan: When it was announced Ibrahimovic would be joining MIlan, many scoffed at the idea initially. After all, he had just finished playing in MLS and was nearing 40 years old. Despite his relatively high wages, the Swedish international is exactly what the doctor ordered in Casa Milan and his arrival has coincided with the rossoneri’s best form of the season.

Since returning to Milan, Pioli’s men have won five in a row and booked their ticket to the Coppa Italia semi-finals against Juventus. Some players are simply synonymous with winning and Ibra is one of them. The former PSG man has lead a quiet revolution and has introduced a winning mentality to the club. For this alone, he’s arguably the signing of the winter mercato. 

Christian Eriksen – Inter: It may have well taken them all month, but Inter finally got their guy. Giuseppe Marotta had been in negotiations with Tottenham for the better part of the month and finally decided to pay the price for the Danish international. Considering Conte’s men are lacking experience in the midfield, Eriksen’s arrival is a no-brainer.

A natural number ten, Eriksen will look forward to linking up with Lukaku and Martinez and form one of Italy’s most fearsome trios in the final third. With Sensi, Barella, and Brozovic pulling the strings behind them, Marotta has arguably built the best midfield in the league. Eriksen is merely the cherry on top of the cake and could prove to be the difference-maker in the title race.

Diego Demme – Napoli: This signing is one that has flown under-the-radar in Italy, but is one of the shrewdest deals of the winter mercato. The partenopei have looked extremely vulnerable throughout the season as their midfield has oftentimes left their defence exposed. Whether it was Fabian Ruiz, Elmas or Allan playing as the side’s deepest midfielder, Napoli always looked suspect defensively. Demme’s arrival adds some much-needed steel in the middle of the park at a particularly low-price and already looks to be paying off.

The veteran midfielder looked extremely at home in front of Napoli’s back four in their most recent win against Juventus. The 28-year-old regularly broke up play and shielded Napoli’s rearguard brilliantly. If he maintains this, Demme will go down as the signing of the winter.

Honourable mentions:

- Christian Koume to Fiorentina (Question marks remain over his ACL recovery)

- Duncan to Fiorentina. (Sassuolo man is slowly becoming a consistent creative outlet.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic lost the appeal so he will serve the second game of his suspension. Ruslan Malinovskyi is disqualified as well. Duvan Zapata is not ready after missing time with a thigh strain despite the early optimism, while Luis Muriel and Remo Freuler, who picked up some muscular ailments with their national teams, should be fine. 

Bologna: Mattia Bani and Danilo are banned. Takehiro Tomiyasu is poised to come back from a thigh strain, while Federico Santander suffered the same injury few days ago and will miss three weeks. Roberto Soriano and Mitchell Dijks will miss another one due to a knee and toe edema respectively, also Mattia Destro remains on the shelf due to knee soreness. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 12

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic was handed a two-game suspension for kicking an opponent from behind. Duvan Zapata is not ready to come back from his thigh strain. Robin Gosens is dealing with sciatica. Ruslan Malinovskyi has a sore glute. Remo Freuler is bang up as well and the trio is legitimately questionable. 

Bologna: Roberto Soriano has been ruled out due to a knee bruise, Federico Santander because of a calf one. Takehiro Tomiyasu (thigh), Mitchell Dijks (toe contusion) and Mattia Destro (knee soreness) stay on the shelf. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 11

Wojciech Szczesny: the Juventus back-line has given up few cheap goals, but never more than once since the last round , which at least does hurt fantasy owners, and, statistically, it is still the second-best in the Peninsula. Torino have failed to hit the net in three of the last four games.

Marash Kumbulla: the young defender has been a revelation so far and he has been the leader of what has been quite surprisingly Serie A’s stoutest defence so far, allowing just eight goals so far. Brescia have not scored more than once since the third round. Continue reading