Roma go 4 games unbeaten as they prepare for the derby against Lazio

Such is the latest standard in Serie A that even though Roma have won 10 points from their last four games they would only be sixth based on form. But the Giallorossi have bigger fish to fry than just statistics as they aim to win the title for the first time in 2 decades.

A Serie A title is on the cards for Paulo Fonseca’s team who enter match day 18 in third place and just six points behind league leaders Milan.

Recent results have been brilliant and their 3 game winning run was only stopped by Inter at the weekend as the two clubs drew 2-2. However it would be Roma leaving the Stadio Olimpico as the happier side given that they were losing the game with just four minutes to go.

Gianluca Manciniian who had been booked earlier in the game for using his elbow went from villain to hero as he scored a lovely headed goal which reminded any football fan of Italian football of how Paolo Rossi used to score. Mancini scored in the 86th minute to save a defeat and it’s now been almost a month since Roma lost a game in the league.

In the midweek game before the Inter match Roma played Crotone away from home and eased to a 3-1 victory. The Giallorossi had taken a 2-0 lead through a brace by Borja Mayoral and Henrikh Mkhitaryan who had lost his touch in goal in the last few weeks scored the third.

Can Roma win the league title for the first time since 2001?

Roma have only won the Scudetto 3 times in their history and whilst they won’t be the favourites to win this season the clubs consistency has got fans talking and getting excited. Presently they just need to get past both Milan teams who are in 1st and 2nd place. But there is the looming threat of the sleeping giant, Juventus who have started the season slow but are now gaining momentum and they are only a point behind Roma. The bookmakers have Roma at odds of 17.00 (16/1) to win the league. The current favourites are Inter at 2.50 (6/4) and they are followed by the 9 time in a row champions Juventus who are 3.00 (2/1).

Lazio v Roma

The Derby della Capitale will take place on Friday evening when Roma meet Lazio and it will be a significant one. If Roma win they will stay in 3rd place but will have the same points as Inter with 37 and will have moved 4 points clear of Juventus. It might not look like giant steps but it will be positive.

Lazio are in 8th place and a win would take them just 3 points shy of Roma and dent their fierce rivals title hopes and European ones. Here is how the last 5 matches when Lazio have been at home have ended in the derby.

September 1st, 2019-    Lazio 1-1 Roma

March 2nd, 2019 -         Lazio 3-0 Roma

April 15th, 2018-            Lazio 0-0 Roma

December 4th, 2016-     Lazio 0-2 Roma

April 3rd, 2016-              Lazio 1-4 Roma

Lazio wins: 1, Roma wins: 2, Draws: 2

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 18 – Remaining Games

BOLOGNA-VERONA

Bologna: they could not find a way around the not-so-vaunted Genoa rearguard in the past match, with their attack failing to deliver for the fourth game in a row, given that their recent goals have come from Takehiro Tomiyasu (two), Nehuen Paz and Matthias Svanberg. Roberto Soriano, one of the early fantasy leaders, has found the target just once in the seven matches and has not been able to dish helpers either in that stretch, however he remains the top players in both categories (six/four). The other attackers have instead been able to take part in the teammate’s goals, Riccardo Orsolini in particular with two recent assists, but also Musa Barrow and Rodrigo Palacio, but they obviously need to start scoring to become real fantasy assets. As always, Barrow is the biggest threat, but they will face a really stifling defense in this one. Emanuel Vignato and Andreas Skov Olsen have not exploited their recent minutes. Continue reading

Martinez the hat trick hero as Inter hit Crotone for 6

Inter beat Crotone 6-2 to march on in Serie A and they are just a point behind Milan in what is looking like a two horse race now for the league title.

Inter have not lost in 10 games and they have earned 26 points from their last 30 as they continue their relentless route chasing Milan. It was a fantastic performance from Antonio Conte’s team although what was incredible is that they actually went behind in the game.

Crotone took a surprise lead as early as the 12th minute from a headed cross but less than 20 minutes later Inter were leading the game. First through Lautaro Martinez who hadn’t stopped scoring goals up until now but had gone a little goal shy for his standard. Martinez smashed home superbly from a Romelu Lukaku assist and even though it was only 1-1 you got the feeling at that moment that there would only be one winner. Soon it was 2-1 due to an own goal, though it appeared that Martinez had scored his second but replays showed he clearly hadn’t.

But the excitement was not over yet when just a few minutes later Crotone were awarded a penalty and converted for 2-2, the teams went in at half time with this score. Whilst Inter had been technically the much better side there was no denying that the visitors had played a good first half and had many threats on goal themselves.

Martinez made it 3-2 just before the hour mark from a tight angle- he was so full of confidence in this game. A few minutes later the power and strength of Lukaku shrugged off a few defenders to make it 4-2 and now the game looked like Inter would collect all three points.

A 5th goal came and it was Martinez’s hat trick after he was in the right place when a shot was saved but he pounced on the re bound with his head from just a few yards out. Achraf Hakimi who has been in brilliant form for Conte’s team rounded off the game by making it 6-2. Matteo Darmian assisted Hakimi who scored from a thundering shot and the defender ironically probably scored the best goal of the game.

Inter’s 3 best performing players so far this season:

1. Romelu Lukaku 52pts

Lukaku has scored 12 goals and assisted in a further 3 and is having arguably his best season in his career to date and has the most points of any player at Inter.

2. Lautaro Martinez 42pts

Martinez recently picked up 14 points in one game v Crotone and looks like being one of the really special forwards in this new era of football. He has scored 9 goals and made another three.

3. Achraf Hakimi 32pts

Hakimi looks like he is everywhere on the pitch and has so much passion and desire. For a defender his stats are fantastic and he has scored 5 goals and assisted in another three. He has also helped to keep 3 clean sheets.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 16 – Top Matches

CROTONE-ROMA

Crotone: they tried to keep up with Inter on Sunday thanks to the first goals in Serie A of Niccolò Zanellato and Vladimir Golemic, but they ultimately ended up being overwhelmed. Junior Messias showed up with an assist, his first one, while he has found the target five times. Emmanuel Riviere is taking playing time away from Simy, but neither has been very prolific or really dangerous. Given the role, it is unlikely that Zanellato will turn into a fantasy weapon: in the midfield Salvatore Molina (one goal, four assists) and Milos Vulic surely have more value, while left-back Arkadiusz Reca (one goal and five helpers) has been a valuable reference point on the flank. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 15 – Top Matches

INTER-CROTONE

Inter: Lautaro Martinez snapped out of his scoring slump against Verona, bagging a lovely volley and moving to six goals in Serie A in the season. He has been streaky one way or the other. It was a rare game where Romelu Lukaku (11 goals) did not find the target, while Achraf Hakimi dished his fourth assist and he has been en fuego in the recent matches. Marcelo Brozovic picked up a helper as well on the Milan Skriniar goal, while Ivan Perisic did not a whole lot despite playing in a more offensive role than usual. With Arturo Vidal now fully healthy, that tactical solution probably will not be presented again and in any case the Croatian international has not showed well enough to be an option. Nicolò Barella has been pretty quiet recently but he too has four assists in the season, but his activity in the final third depends on how the midfield is composed. Stefano Sensi and Ashley Young are secondary options.

Recommended picks: Lukaku, Martinez, Hakimi. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 13 – Remaining Games

FIORENTINA-VERONA

Fiorentina: finally some signs of life for the Viola attack as Dusan Vlahovic snapped out of his scoring slump thanks to a penalty kick and Franck Ribery looked lively against Sassuolo, producing a pair of his vintage slaloming runs. Cesare Prandelli is trying various configurations to get his guys going: it seems like José Callejon is losing some momentum, but he has mostly been replaced by fullbacks, Giacomo Bonaventura is on the rise, while Gaetano Castrovilli has been in a funk for a while, even though he remains their leading scorer with four early goals. Cristiano Biraghi quickly shook off a physical problem and he has three assists and one goal in the season. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 12

Atalanta: Aleksey Miranchuk has cleared the COVID protocol and has been called up. Mario Pasalic will undergo sport-hernia surgery and return in January. Matteo Ruggeri (fatigue) and Josip Ilicic (strep throat) are questionable.

Benevento: Nicolas Viola has returned after some physical problems, while Gabriele Moncini (ankle), Christian Maggio (calf) and Luca Caldirola (knee) remain sidelined. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 12 – Remaining Games

UDINESE-CROTONE

Udinese: the Argentinian trio led the charge again for the Bianconeri, as both Ignacio Pussetto and Rodrigo De Paul hit the net against Torino, Roberto Pereyra dished two assists and Ilija Nestorovski chipped in late with his first goal of the season. Some improvements also out of Gerard Deulofeu, who set up a teammate. Nestorovski and Deulofeu will remain relevant until Stefano Okaka and Kevin Lasagna fully return, while Pussetto has played himself into a starter’s role, especially given Lasagna’s struggles thus far. He and De Paul have both scored three times so far. Pereyra moved to five helpers thanks to the recent showing. The two wingbacks Jens Larsen and Marvin Zeegelaar are only midrange options. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 11 – Remaining Games

SASSUOLO-BENEVENTO

Sassuolo: the machine is clearly glitching without Francesco Caputo, even though Roberto De Zerbi tried a new solution with Filip Djuric as false-nine and Maxime Lopez as no.10 instead of Giacomo Raspadori. The move did not fully pay off as they could not take advantage of the situation against Roma. Jeremie Boga has not fully turned the corner despite the recent goal and Djuricic is noticeably impaired. Their only weapon at full strength is Domenico Berardi, who has notched three goals and one assist in the season but has hit the net in just one of the past six rounds. Djuricic and Boga are obviously worth waiting for given their explosive potential. They have collectively failed to hit the net in two straight matches. They have always been carried by their attackers, therefore players like Manuel Locatelli and Rogerio, who are okay contributors, remain on the fantasy fringes. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Ten – Remaining Games

VERONA-CAGLIARI

Verona: as usual, a date with a top team brought the best out of the Scaligeri, who withstood Atalanta for an hour and then got the W thanks to a PK by Miguel Veloso and an outstanding goal by Mattia Zaccagni, his first of the year after he had dished four assists. Samuel Di Carmine did not exploit his chance to lead the front-line and Andrea Favilli was more dangerous when he subbed in, so he will probably get the nod relieving the injured Nikola Kalinic is this one. Antonin Barak is in great form and he is their leading scorer with three goals. Darko Lazovic is most likely going to be sidelined again, but Marco Faraoni returned and Federico Dimarco has been a weapon on the left flank. Despite some absences, their pecking order has become pretty clear and Ebrima Colley and Eddie Salcedo have not shown well enough to be promoted from their bench role.

Recommended picks: Barak, Favilli, Zaccagni.

Cagliari: after a rough start, they looked like their normal selves versus Spezia, actually throwing away a win they had in hand despite the major voids left by that Diego Godin, Nahitan Nandez, Gaston Pereiro and Giovanni Simeone contracting COVID and Adam Ounas joined the list late. That leaves them with very limited options on the wings behind Riccardo Sottil, who has pretty lively, and it is possible Gabriele Zappa moves up from full-back, as he has done in Serie B but also in some previous games: he has set up three teammates thus far. The good news is that Leonardo Pavoletti bagged a great goal in his first start in forever and is going to be able to hold down the fort while Simeone goes to through the protocol. Joao Pedro delivered again, scoring his sixth goal in nine matches, on top of two assists. On the other flank Alessandro Tripaldelli and Andrea Carboni do not provide the same punch as Charalampos Lykogiannis, who is nursing a calf injury. Marko Rog and Razvan Marin have very limited opportunities to attack in their role as pivots.

Recommended picks: Pedro, Pavoletti, Sottil. 

 

PARMA-BENEVENTO

Parma: coach Fabio Liverani did switch to a more offensive scheme after a suggestion from above, but not to the diamond formation they used to open the season, but to a 4-3-3 with Gervinho and Yann Karamoh together, which worked out pretty well as the former scored his second brace of the season and the latter was pretty exuberant, but that has often been the case this season. Andreas Cornelius returned to the XI but he did not do much and neither him or Roberto Inglese have been effective so far, as both are still looking for the best form after some injuries. In theory, Cornelius should be the more prolific of the two. Juraj Kucka served a great assist and both him and Jasmin Kurtic are secondary weapons as box-to-box. Hernani returned from a rib injury and he has been surprisingly involved in the final third as he has notched two goals and one assist, but his role is TBD. Maxime Busi looked overwhelmed in his first start and they have lost both Riccardo Gagliolo and Giuseppe Pezzella on the left, so Vincent Laurini should be the next man up.

Recommended picks: Gervinho, Karamoh, Cornelius/Inglese.

Benevento: they came away with a great point versus Juventus thanks to a smasher by right-back Gaetano Letizia, who found the target for the second time in the campaign. Gianluca Caprari was held in check in his first game back from a suspension, like Gianluca Lapadula, but that was to be expected in a tough match-up and they will be in a better spot this week. They both have three goals and two assists to their names. Riccardo Improta has been the surprise of the last couple of matches, he decided the Fiorentina one, and it looks like he is here to stay, either as offensive-minded box-to-box or supporting the strikers. Roberto Insigne has notched one goal and one assist but he has been hurt a little by Improta’s rise. They have started to move Artur Ionita around the formation more, but he has remained pretty underwhelming. Marco Sau has registered two assists off the bench.

Recommended picks: Lapadula, Caprari, Improta.

 

UDINESE-ATALANTA

Udinese: a late COVID outbreak forced them to field an experimental lineup against Lazio and it worked wonders as the light front-line feasted on open spaces, with both Ignacio Pussetto and Fernando Forestieri finding the target. They will be in the same position this week and the only available alternative up front is Gerard Deulofeu as Kevin Lasagna, Stefano Okaka and Ilija Nestorovski and are unlikely to be cleared in time. They will face a side with comparable characteristics as well. Their leader Rodrigo De Paul has notched two goals and one assist in the past four matches, while Roberto Pereyra is finally turning it up with two straight helpers after a so-so start of the season. Wing-backs Jens Larsen and Marvin Zeegelaar are decent parts of the offense but that yet to yield a bonus.

Recommended picks: Pussetto, De Paul, Forestieri.

Atalanta: the Orobici’s offense continued to sputter in the past two matches and so many of their linchpins are not in great form. Duvan Zapata has looked the worst with multiple misses and also Alejandro Gomez’s stocks are plummeting. Josip Ilicic and Luis Muriel have been a little better eye test-wise, but neither has been a consistent scorer. The coach has decided for an ample rotation so Gomez and Ilicic will be outright rested and Zapata might get the day off as well. Robin Gosens contracted COVID, while Ruslan Malinovskyi is back from it and could have an immediate role. Among the replacements, Matteo Pessina has the potential to do some damage if he plays in the Papu role given his success at Verona and Sam Lammers has been pretty good in his short cameo as he has already scored twice.

Recommended picks: Muriel, Lammers/Zapata, Pessina. 

 

CROTONE-NAPOLI

Crotone: another futile effort for the Squali’s attack last Sunday in Bologna, a team that had always conceded in the previous 41 fixtures. They have collectively struck out in three matches in a row and they will now run into a buzzsaw. Their target man Simy has three goals in the season, but he has not been fed regularly over the last few matches. Their secondary weapons Junior Messias and Ahmad Benali are banged up, Emmanuel Riviere, who had scored in the opener is hurt, so the lineup is pretty much up in the air. At least Salvatore Molina returned pretty decently from COVID and Milos Vulic continues to progress in his role as playmaker, but the lack of end product makes them a team to avoid. Arkadiusz Reca has provided two assists.

Recommended picks: Simy, Molina, Vulic.

Napoli: they had their best display of the season versus Roma, which was accompanied by the return of a scheme utilizing three central midfielders, although it was not a straight 4-3-3. Piotr Zielinski featuring freed up Fabian Ruiz, who not coincidentally scored his first goal of the season with a superb daisy-cutter, then the Giallorossi’s defensive woes did the rest. Dries Mertens is back after a little lull as he has found the target in two consecutive matches, Lorenzo Insigne made the stat-sheet after a five-game absence, although he had an assist in the previous round, while Matteo Politano continues to be pretty consistent even though he has to split time with Hirving Lozano, who has slowed down significantly. Therefore, all their weapons are humming even though they are likely going to miss the biggest of ‘em all, Victor Osimhen.

Reccomended picks: Mertens, Insigne, Politano.

 

FIORENTINA-GENOA

Fiorentina: the turnaround has yet to arrive despite the coaching change and they have failed to score in the past four matches. They have one of the easiest match-ups on the docket, so it would be very troublesome if their struggles continued this week as well. The situation has brought everybody down, including Gaetano Castrovilli (four goals, one assist), their lone productive player up to this point. Cesare Prandelli is tinkering with the tactics and gave José Callejon the start against Milan but neither him or Franck Ribery appear to be in acceptable shape and Dusan Vlahovic is engulfed by defenses way too easily, but Patrick Cutrone has not done much better in his cameos. Giacomo Bonaventura might get a shot this week to have more zing, either as winger or as box-to-box. Even though he has not look great, most of their offense is engineered by Ribery.

Recommended picks: Castrovilli, Ribery, Bonaventura.

Genoa: Gianluca Scamacca had a big chance versus Parma but did not deliver this time, while Eldor Shomurodov got the start, fared well and found the target on a good-looking play. However, the coach has gone back to 3-5-2, so there is room for just one between the Uzbek, Goran Pandev and Marko Pjaca (two goals). He has also decided to rely on a grittier midfield, sidelining Nicolò Rovella and Miha Zajc for Stefano Sturaro and Lukas Lerager. Hierarchies obviously are not set in stone and he will be scrambling for every possible solution since he is on the hot seat and Rovella has been one of their top performances up to this point, while the ex-Empoli man has been unimpressive this season. The scheme surely boosts wing-backs Luca Pellegrini and Paolo Ghiglione (two assists), who have a high ceiling in the offensive phase.

Recommended picks: Scamacca, Shomurodov, Ghiglione.

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