Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 15

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The next round features one of the games of the season, Juventus-Inter, and few other juicy match-ups.

Juventus-Inter: the Bianconeri got the better of Fiorentina, extending their winning streak to five fixtures, but in that occasion they were not as dominant as the final score showed. Against Roma, Inter dropped points for the second time in a row on the road and, despite scoring twice, they never looked in control. The same thing happened in Bergamo, but they are extremely opportunistic, so they can never be counted out. Cristiano Ronaldo added one to his tally with a penalty in Florence, while Rodrigo Bentancur continues to impress. Mario Mandzukic is generally money in big matches, while Douglas Costa has the potential to be a factor off the bench. Despite being useful in other areas, Paulo Dybala’s offensive stats in Serie A have been subpar. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 14

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Standings implications: Juventus continue to roll and toppled Fiorentina, but Napoli outlasted Atalanta away. Roma showed great character against and the big match of the round ended in a 2-2 draw. Milan put together a gritty comeback against Parma: a valuable result that allowed them to leapfrog Lazio, which got halted by Chievo. Sampdoria finally got a win trouncing Bologna, which are officially in trouble. SPAL and Empoli shared the spoils in a very well played game, similarly to Frosinone and Cagliari. Torino downed Genoa with two quick goals at the end of the first half, while Sassuolo-Udinese was scoreless. Continue reading

Serie A Player Status and Injury Updates – Round 4

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The international break has been pretty rough this time around.

Juventus: Miralem Pjanic was stomped on with Bosnia, but he is fine. Andrea Barzagli had a calf problem in practice.

Napoli: Piotr Zielinski (ankle) and Dries Mertens (shoulder) suffered small injuries, but they are fine and could both start. Vlad Chiriches tore his ACL with Romania and will be out for five-to-six month. Faouzi Ghoulam was cleared to practice after a long rehab following a kneecap fracture and might be able to play in a month. Alex Meret is a couple of weeks away from a full recovery from an arm fracture. Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 3

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Juventus:  Miralem Pjanic is fine after subbing off in the second half last week, Mattia De Sciglio might be able to make the squad list.

Napoli: Mario Rui is expected to recover from the little muscular problem he had against Milan, while Fabian Ruiz remains questionable due to muscle fatigue. Alex Meret (arm) is unlikely to play, but he is close to returning.

Roma:  Alessandro Florenzi suffered a knee trauma, but it is nothing major. He, Diego Perotti, still dealing with an ankle sprain, and Antonio Mirante, for some neck pain, have been ruled out for the Milan game. Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 2

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Juventus: Mattia De Sciglio is out again with a hamstring ailment.

Napoli: Alex Meret remains out for arm fracture, he should miss the next one as well. No issue for Lorenzo Insigne after last week’s blow to the knee. Fabian Ruis is out with muscle fatigue.

Roma: Diego Perotti is nursing a bruised ankle, but he might be in the squad.

Inter: Milan Skriniar is available, Radja Nainggolan should be as well, but he is more likely to feature off the bench. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 2

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After some flashes in the first match day, the second one is more intriguing on paper.

Juventus-Lazio: the Old Lady had to toil to defeat Chievo, but the attack confirmed to be deep and hard to contain, even though few players had an off game, while the defence needs some fine-tuning. Cristiano Ronaldo was electric, but teammates had troubles finding him and Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa suffered from the fact that the spaces were all clogged up. Among the forwards, Federico Bernardeschi certainly looked the most in-form. Perhaps things will be a little more open against better competition. The Portuguese was devastating on the wing, which is good news for Mario Mandzukic, his ideal partner in crime, and for Alex Sandro as well because he had much more room to operate. Continue reading

Serie A’s Breakout Players

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A few years ago, Juventus president Andrea Agnelli described Serie A as a “transient league” where players came to develop before going abroad for huge fees. We have seen this trend change recently with more Italian teams holding on to their best players, and in some cases sell them to another Serie A team.

I was thinking about this trend as I was putting together my list of players to watch this season, rather than this being a shopping list for fans of other leagues, there’s now hope the below players won’t be destined to leave for greener pastures if they take their game to the next level.

But enough foreplay, here are some players poised to break out in the coming season:

 

Arkadiusz Milik

The former Ajax striker was poised to be Gonzalo Higuain’s replacement prior to his first knee injury and Dries Mertens excelling in the false 9 role. At this point the only thing holding Milik back is his health, he sadly suffered two anterior cruciate ligament injuries in the span of 12 months but now finds himself set up to succeed after Napoli failed to sign a big name striker like Benzema or Cavani.

Milik is much more suited to play as a center forward in Ancelotti’s formation than Sarri’s- he’s more similar to the main strikers featured on Carletto’s previous squads than Mertens and he could benefit by playing alongside Insigne/Callejon and in front of a combination of Zielinski, Fabian Ruiz, Diawara, Hamsik and Allan.

 

Rodrigo Bentancur

 

Juventus’ decision to let go of Claudio Marchisio following the deal with Sporting for Stefano Sturaro could give the Uruguyan international more opportunities this season. Bentancur’s performances with the bianconeri have radically changed the way the Carlos Tevez deal is now perceived, what looked like a heist for Boca Juniors could end up being another homerun for Paratici and Marotta.

Despite only being 21 years old, Bentancur has experience on the biggest stages after appearing in multiple Champions League matches last season and representing his country at the recent World Cup. Bentancur’s versatility will allow him to be a valuable backup for Allegri and he could establish himself as a starter by season’s end.

 

 

Nicolo’ Barella

It’s rather surprising to see him still representing his hometown team Cagliari this season considering that he’s been linked to Juventus, Inter and Napoli for the past few months, but another season as a guaranteed starter will likely benefit him long term. Barella has been featured on Italy’s Under 21 team and has won the award for best Italian midfielder born in ’97 twice.

Like Bentancur, Barella is a modern player who can cover pretty much any role in the midfield, and while he maybe small in stature, he packs a big punch with his shot from the outside and tenacity on the ball. Barella is also a dead ball specialist and it’s only a matter of time until we see him on a big club and playing for Mancini’s Azzurri.

 

Dennis Praet

The former winner of the Belgian league player of the year award has further honed his skills playing for Giampaolo at the Marassi stadium, so much so that Juventus saw him as a better fit for their club than his former teammate Lucas Torreira, who is now playing for Arsenal.

Praet is an offensive midfielder known for his passing ability and fact he’s equally comfortable with his right and left foot. While he did start the season with an injury, he’s expected to use the coming months as a spring board for a move to a bigger club in the upcoming transfer windows.

 

Mattia Caldara 

The former Atalanta center back will certainly have more immediate opportunities at Milan rather than Juventus, the club he left as part of the deal involving Bonucci and Higuain. Caldara will join a defense that could become the backline of the Azzurri in the near future since he’ll play alongside Donnarumma, Caldara and his former teammate Conti.

Considering that Gattuso is starting the season with a classic four man defense, Caldara will have to adjust a bit since he’s coming off back to back seasons playing in Gasperini’s 3 center back formation. But considering that Caldara combines strong physical tools with above average technique for a defender, on top of a penchant for scoring goals, he should get up to speed rather quickly. Caldara has excelled on the biggest stages at Atalanta, some of his best performances came in the Europa League against Borussia Dortmund and Everton as well as versus Napoli in Serie A.

 

Rick Karsdorp 

If Adriano Galliani was running Roma he would be bragging about fact the Dutch international is like a new purchase for Di Francesco’s squad. Karsdorp suffered multiple knee injuries last season after becoming the most expensive player ever sold by Feyenoord (19 million including bonuses)- he ended up only playing 80 minutes, but now a lot is expected from him. Considering his speed and crossing ability, he should be able to form a dynamic partnership with Edin Dzeko- during the 2015-16 season he ended up with ten assists, and now he’ll have a massive target to set up. Should Karsdorp establish himself as the starting right back, Roma would be able to move Florenzi to a more advanced role therefore upgrading at two positions.

Serie A Fantasy Game Predictions – Round 38

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Let’s take a look at the most interesting games of the conclusive round.

Cagliari-Atalanta: the Sardinians are one point above Spal and Crotone and would be safe with a win, however Orobici are on the hunt for points that could allow them to leapfrog Milan and avoid the long Europa League playoff next summer. After some disappointing performances, Cagliari came to life in Florence with a key victory. The Goddess have not lost in their last seven matches. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Game Predictions – Round 37

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The title race has ended, but there is still a lot to play for in the final two rounds of Serie A. Here is the preview of the penultima one.

Inter-Sassuolo: both teams have won three out of their last four games. As a result, the Beneamata are now just two points behind Lazio and the head-to-head clash is coming next week, while the Neroverdi have secured a Serie A stay. Luciano Spalletti is getting excellent contributions from Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic, as usual, while Rafinha has finally notched his first Serie A and Marcelo Brozovic has emerged as their best central midfielder. Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 26

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Few top players are in danger of missing the next Serie A weekend, let’s take a look at the status updates.

Napoli:  Dries Mertens rolled an ankle in practice, but he played against Leipzig, so it was nothing severe. Arek Milik could be inserted the squad list this weekend or the next, but he will be obviously brought along slowly, while Faouzi Ghoulam’s return is up in the air, but it will not be before 30 days from now. Vlad Chiriches is out with a hamstring issue. Mario Rui was subbed off midweek for some plantar fascia pain and he is questionable.

Continue reading