Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 26

Marco Silvestri: Verona and their stifling defence will visit an undermanned Sampdoria squad on Monday. The Scaligeri have not given up more than one goal in the past eight rounds.

Kostas Manolas: Napoli can be very stingy when they want to be, as evidenced by the Barcelona clash, and Torino have been incredibly subpar offensively over the last two months. Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Mario Rui have more upside than the Greek centre-back, but it is possible that the coach rotates the squad a bit. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 25

Atalanta: Berat Djimsiti was a late scratch for the Champions League game but he is simply dealing with a bruised quad and so he could be available on Sunday. Tomas Sutalo continues nursing a foot edema.

Bologna: Stefano Denswil and Jerdy Schouten were red carded last week. Gary Medel (hamstring) and Roberto Soriano (thigh bruise) are the closest to recovering, but this week is too early for them. Mitchell Dijks (foot) and Ladislav Krejci (knee) will not be back before the end of the month, same for Federico Santander (hip) and Nicola Sansone (hamstring). Mattias Svanberg picked up a thigh strain and will miss three-to-four weeks. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 24

Atalanta: newcomer Tomas Sutalo is the only sidelined player, due to an edema in his right foot.

Bologna: Musa Barrow sprained his ankle and Riccardo Orsolini picked up a cut on the knee last week, but they both practiced fully in the last couple of days and should be a full go. Roberto Soriano instead is out due to a bruised thigh. No returns among their previously injured players: Nicola Sansone, Gary Medel, Federico Santander (thigh), Ladislav Krejci (knee) and Mitchell Dijks (foot). Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 23

Roma-Bologna: the Giallorossi are in a funk and have played just one convincing game out of the last five. They will be without Lorenzo Pellegrini due to suspension and it is a massive loss considering that he is the mastermind of their offense. They should get Henrikh Mkhitaryan back from injury and perhaps even starting considering the hole at no.10. The other option is likely Diego Perotti and they seem to always be awarded a penalty when he is out there. Edin Dzeko has scored in three straight games and they will face a pretty suspect back-line. Cengiz Under took a step back versus Sassuolo, but he is always pretty assertive when he decides to play, while Justin Kluivert has not done much since coming back from injury, but should improve over time. Paulo Fonseca has elected to keep Aleksandar Kolarov on the bench in the last two matches for tactical reasons, but the decision has not really moved the needle so the stud left-back should soon be back in the XI. Continue reading

Serie A’s Top Three Breakout Stars

Over the years, Serie A has acted as a home to some of the world’s best up and coming players. Whether it’s established talents like Matthijs de Ligt and Gigio Donnarumma or relatively new ones like Lautaro Martinez, Italy has proven to be a great platform for young players to earn their stripes. This season has been no different and a number of players have made the most of their opportunities and have taken their games to the next level.

Here are the Serie A’s three breakout stars from the 2019-2020 season.

Dejan Kulusevski – Parma: On loan from Atalanta, Kulusevski made the most of his temporary spell at Parma and was undoubtedly one of this season’s breakout stars. The Swedish international is capable of playing on the wing or centrally and has established himself as an elite creator with Parma. Playing in a counter-attacking system, Kulusevski’s pace, and spatial awareness have set him apart from the rest. His five goals and seven assists on the season indicate he’s been able to add end-product to his game, something his new employers, Juventus, will be hoping for. It will be interesting to see where Sarri sees the Atalanta youth product in his setup. Is it in the front three or in the midfield?

Whether he’s breaking the lines with an incisive pass or taking on his marker with speed, Kulusevski is one of the league’s trickiest customers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Juventus dropped nearly 45 million euros for the 19-year-old. If he’s able to maintain his current form, there’s no reason why the Parma man won’t be able to make the transition to the big stage.

Jeremie Boga – Sassuolo: After countless loan spells, Boga made the move to Sassuolo from Chelsea and got the consistency he so desperately craved. With the neroverdi, Boga has been afforded freedom in the final third and often drifts centrally from a left-wing position. Much like Kulusevski, the former Chelsea youth product thrives in a free-roam role and has done so in De Zerbi’s free-flowing system. Many clubs are actively looking for a winger who can beat his man and Boga fits the bill perfectly.

Currently, Boga is averaging the most successful dribbles per game (4.3) in the league and represents a constant menace in the final third. While end-product was previously a concern, it seems Boga has put his finishing woes behind him, having scored five goals already on the season. If you needed any more proof of this, take a look at his curler against Torino from 25 yards out or his chip over Gianluigi Buffon. With many clubs after him, it’s time Boga seriously considers his future and continues his progression into an elite attacking midfielder.

Gaetano Castrovilli – Fiorentina: Moving away from the final third, Fiorentina’s Gaetano Castrovilli is one to watch and is arguably the biggest talent on this list. A natural mezz’ala by trade, Castrovilli combines an impressive range of passing with an uncanny ability to beat his man. Much like Boga, Castrovilli thrives with the ball at his feet and successfully completes 3.2 dribbles per game. In many ways, Castrovilli’s play is eerily reminiscent to that of a young Marchisio, albeit one that’s more comfortable taking on his man. Moving forward, he will need to add more end-product to his game, but his three goals and two assists on the season are a good start.

With a number of Italy’s clubs lining up for the young man, it seems Castrovilli’s days with Fiorentina are numbered. Simply put, Castrovilli has a lot to ponder going into the summer.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 22

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic is dealing with some thigh soreness but there is optimism it is nothing serious. Timothy Castagne resumed practicing after some knee pain and Lennart Czyborra is available as well following a contracture. Tomas Sutalo will miss time with a navicular bone edema. 

Bologna: Takehiro Tomiyasu is suspended. Nicola Sansone should be fine after some muscle fatigue and Stefano Denswil is on track to return from a thigh problem. Gary Medel (thigh) and Ladislav Krejci (knee) are poised to remain on the shelf.

Brescia: Mario Balotelli will finish serving his two-game suspension. Continue reading

Serie A Best Fantasy XI – Round 21

Bartlomiej Dragowski (7 points): eight teams managed to keep a clean sheet in this round, which might be a League high this year, but no goalie fared better than Fiorentina’s youngster, who guessed right on a penalty by the previously perfect Domenico Criscito and stopped the opponents multiple times, in particular coming out beautifully in a one-on-one with Andrea Pinamonti late in the game.

Pawel Dawidowicz (9 points): Verona easily handled the pesky Lecce and Dawidowicz, who got a surprise start over Koray Gunter, literally soared in the air on a corner kick for his first goal of the season, paving the way to the W. Continue reading

Atalanta’s Progress: By the numbers

Last season, Atalanta sent shock-waves throughout Italian football and qualified for the Champions League, finishing ahead of Italy’s traditional giants Inter, Roma, and Milan among others. Along with European football comes the luxury of a pitfall of cash and unique opportunities for growth that Atalanta have taken full advantage of.

Beyond their Champions League cash, Gian Piero Gasperini’s men have been extremely proactive on the transfer market, selling their players for incredible profits. Dejan Kulusevki, for example. The Swedish international has only played three times for them in his entire career and was sold for nearly forty-five million euros. Let’s take a deeper look at the numbers.

According to Calcio e Finanza, Atalanta have already cashed forty million euros from the Champions League and could make more depending on their two-legged affair with Valencia. Given recent form, it’s not entirely improbable they progress to the final eight.

While Champions League money is always welcomed, it’s not as sustainable as other sources of revenue for the club. After all, will they qualify for Europe’s elite competition every season? They’re hoping so, but probably not.

As a result, Atalanta have enacted a model wherein they sell their top-performing young players to Italy’s big clubs after breakout seasons. Kulusevski to Juve, Gagliardini to Inter, Cristante and Mancini to Roma, Conti and Kessie to Milan, and the list goes on. In this sense, they maximize their profits. While certain cases will have them thinking they moved on their players a season too early, that’s always better than feeling they sold a player a season too late.

Just ask Torino’s Urbano Cairo. After Andrea Belotti’s breakout season, Torino reportedly got offers ranging between 50 to 75 million euros for their hitman. Cairo played hard-ball, kept Belotti and has since missed out on a unique rebuilding opportunity by turning down those offers. Today, Belotti won’t fetch anywhere near the previously reported price-tags. Atalanta, on the other hand, have a knack for selling players at the right time. In fact, their track record speaks for itself.  Most of their departed players, bar a few, have struggled to recreate their past form at their new clubs.

According to Transfermarkt’s numbers, the Bergamo-based club are set to cash in a further 110 million euros this season, in addition to Musa Barrow’s reported sale of 20M. That’s 130M on players that have either already been replaced or have never featured regularly for them.

With their squad lacking a few additions to take the next step, it will be interesting to see what Atalanta does with that money. Will they abandon their current philosophy and go for more-experienced players in hopes of making the leap alongside Italy’s elite or will they continue with their own model that has worked wonders for them?

If last transfer window was anything to go by, it will arguably be a mix of both, with a particular focus on experienced players. See: Luis Muriel and Ruslan Malinovskyi. As another transfer window beckons, Atalanta’s activity will be worth monitoring. They have the money and a vision: but can they deliver on it?

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Sarri assesses few players in pre-game presser

Maurizio Sarri began the presser before the Cagliari tilt by detailing what they did during the break: “We worked on several mistakes we made. We focused on ourselves before studying the Sardinians late in the week. We need to improve our mentality, because in most game we made more error there than tactical or technical ones.”

On Matthijs De Ligt: “He had a complicate period because of a shoulder and adductor issues. He played a lot, he is super young, while Merih Demiral was in optimal shape, so we were in position to rest him. De Ligt is improving, we will see tomorrow.” Continue reading

Juventus acquire Kulusevski for next season

On the first official day of the Winter transfer market, Juventus have completed their first purchase of 2020, acquiring Dejan Kulusevki from Atalanta, who will finish the campaign at Parma as previously stipulated. The Bianconeri paid €35M for the 19-year-old standout, with €9M potential add-ons, tied to his appearances and the team’s achievements over the next few seasons. The attacker agreed to a four-and-a-half-year contract, with a reported starting salary of €2.5M, bound to incrementally increase during its duration. Continue reading