Serie A Injury Report – Round 18

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Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi has a thigh ailment and he is likely to miss the next two games. Juan Cuadrado will not undergo knee surgery, but his timetable is uncertain. Blaise Matuidi is under the weather and out for the Bergamo trip. Moise Kean has a hamstring ailment. 

Napoli:  Allan is set to return after missing one due to back pain. Mario Rui is back to the squad list.

Inter: Radja Nainggolan has been suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons. Joao Miranda is out again due to muscle fatigue.

Lazio: Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are fatigued and might sit initially. Luis Alberto subbed off against Cagliari, but just for cramps. Milan Badelj is iffy with a muscular problem. Valon Berisha and Riza Durmisi will not be available.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury Report – Round 9

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Juventus: Paulo Dybala had a little scare with Argentina, but his knee is fine. Daniele Rugani nursed a rib fracture during the break. The only injured player is Sami Khedira, who is dealing with a hamstring strain. Leonardo Spinazzola is close, but he has not been called up for this weekend.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne has picked up a minor injury and will not be available. Kalidou Koulibaly returned early from international duties because of muscle fatigue and he is likely to rest. Faouzi Ghoulam (kneecap fracture), Amin Younes (torn Achilles) and Alex Meret (arm fracture) are inching closer to a return but the could be held out for another week. Sebastiano Luperto is fatigued. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Game Predictions – Round 5

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There are not any mammoth clash this week, but a pair of match-up could turn to be very succulent.

Sampdoria-Inter: if it was not for the tumble they took in Udine in their season opener, the Blucerchiati would be regarded as one of the most impressive squads in Serie A, considering they how they dusted Napoli and Frosinone and came back against Fiorentina. Their attack is humming: Gregoire Defrel, Fabio Quagliarella, Gianluca Caprari and Dawid Kownacki have all already found the target at least once and the former Roma and Sassuolo striker is raining fire.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 3

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The next round presents a couple of interesting matches.

Milan-Roma: the Rossoneri looked decent in their debut in Naples, but lasted only about an hour, up until their second goal, then showed the defensive deficiencies that held them back last season. While they work on how to feed Gonzalo Higuain properly, the usual fantasy studs shined as Giacomo Bonaventura scored and Suso provided an assist. The return of Hakan Calhanoglu will give them a boost. The Wolf is even more a work in progress after the departure of Kevin Strootman and brand-new hierarchies in the midfield and in the attack. Continue reading

Serie A Weekly News Recap

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The transfer market formally opened this week and so a flurry of moves were made official. Gianluigi Buffon joined PSG; Inter signed Stefan De Vrij and Kwadwo Asamoah on free transfers and acquired Lautaro Martinez from Racing; Milan brought in Pepe Reina, Ivan Strinic and Alen Halilovic without paying anything.

Napoli announced the arrivals of Alex Meret and Orestis Karnezis from Udinese and Fabian Ruiz from Real Betis, for whom they paid around €30M. Sampdoria have bought Jakub Jankto from Udinese, who totalled nine goals and 12 assists over the last two seasons with the Zebrette. Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 27

<> at Appiano Gentile on February 27, 2018 in Como, Italy.

Once again some key players risk missing the next Serie A round due to injuries. Here are the latest news: you can find the updates compared to the original version in italic.

Napoli:  Marek Hamsik was under the weather late in the week, but he will try to shake it off by Saturday night. Elseid Hysaj was subbed off on Monday, but it was only precautionary. Vlad Chiriches is out with a hamstring strain, Faouzi Ghoulam with a fractured fibula. Arek Milik should make the squad list this time.

Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Striker Picks for Week 13

Icardi has bagged two braces in two appearances so far this season

Week 13 of Italy’s Serie A will be featuring some very interesting match-ups: in particular Roma-Lazio, Napoli-Milan and Sampdoria-Juventus. Continue reading

Crotone slightly above the competition

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The relegation race in Serie A is mostly going as planned: the freshly promoted teams, Benevento, Hellas Verona and Spal, are knee-deep into it, alongside a couple of sides that have gravitated in those positions in the past, such as Cagliari and Genoa. The only mild surprises are Udinese and especially Sassuolo, which were expected to be a tad better and avoid troubles. The season is long and they will probably pull away in the upcoming months, leaving the battle to the first five.

There have already been a couple of head-to-head matches down there and Crotone showed they have a little advantage over the other contenders. In the last two games, the Sharks easily defeated Benevento at the Scida stadium and then came away from Ferrara with a tie. Two massive results. Spal built last season’s promotion on their home performances and they will struggle mightily if they do not rack up points at the Mazza stadium: they still looked better than a couple of competitors, but their road map is clear and the opportunities are slim. Hellas Verona and Benevento have looked very disorganized and have been heavily hit by the injury bug.

Crotone lost a good amount talent in the summer, because their best players were either on loan, such as Diego Falcinelli and Lorenzo Crisetig, or because they sold them before or during the season and then temporarily took them back, like Gianmarco Ferrari and Leonardo Capezzi. However, they have worked well in the summer and managed to replace almost all of them.

Crotone confirmed Davide Nicola on the bench, and they could not have done otherwise after the incredible late comeback last season. As a result, they have a clear idea of who they are and what they need to do. They have a basic tactic and a straightforward game plan: they will be end up being outplayed by better teams more often than not, but they always put up a fight and have more experience in these situations. They are scrappy.

In the summer, they brought in several players, almost in a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” type of mentality. Arlind Ajeti seems to have overtaken Leandro Cabrera as starting centre-back: he does not have Ferrari’s upside, but he is a gritty defender. Marco Davide Faraoni is more solid than Mario Sampirisi. Rolando Mandragora has been as good as anticipated: a highly touted prospect at Genoa, he suffered a couple of big injuries, but now that he is being given consistent playing time he is back on track. The midfield duo with Andrea Barberis is sneaky interesting. They could find at least one more solid contributor in the crop of remaining newcomers: Daniel Pavlovic, Oliver Kragl, Stefan Simic, Giovanni Crociata and Aristoteles Romero.

The one area they definitely need to improve is in the attack: they scored only four goals, all in the last three games. The coach is still searching for the right combination, but it has been difficult to replace Diego Falcinelli. The returning Ante Budimir has not been as efficient as in Serie B, Marcello Trotta has surprisingly been given little playing time, and Simy is mostly an off-the-bench, late game weapon, but he does have intriguing skills given his size. The coach seems to prefer having a pure centre-forward and a second-striker, but Aleksandar Tonev and Andrea Nalini have both spent time on the shelf and have not find the right condition yet. If Budimir does not work, Nalini-Trotta could be the most explosive couple or they could try Adrian Stoian there as well. Unfortunately, Marco Tumminello suffered an ACL tear: they desperately wanted a youngster who could provide a spark and maybe play more carefreely, without being burdened by the standings. They missed out on Patrick Cutrone, but the Roma striker looked promising and already scored: he could be helpful down the stretch.

 

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Sassuolo struggling to find a new identity

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Since they were promoted in Serie A in 2013, Sassuolo have always been a very interesting team to watch because of the tantalizing talent of Domenico Berardi and the tactical brilliancy of Eusebio Di Francesco. The coach was deservedly hired by Roma this summer, while the forward has struggled to come back to full form after a knee sprain last season and spent time on the shelf this year as well.

Under Di Francesco, the Neroverdi have always had a big-team flair: their playing style was proactive, a little daring, with a high defensive line and and an emphasis on quick passing and ball possession. It did not immediately work, and the coach was briefly fired in the first season in Serie A, but once they avoided relegation, they managed to assert themselves in the top half of the table, even earning a Europa League spot two seasons ago, always staying true to their identity.

They have hired Cristian Bucchi this summer, who was coming off an excellent stint at Perugia. At first, the new manager maintained Di Francesco’s typical 4-3-3: they drew with Genoa and lost three-nothing against Torino. It turns out that such scheme is highly automated and it is tough to make it work without its creator at the helm. Roma had a little trouble incorporating it, but then things clicked.

Without Berardi, Bucchi moved on to a 3-5-2, which is more natural to him. They had a good outing against Atalanta and Juventus, but were defeated both times because right now those teams are clearly above Sassuolo’s level. They collected three precious points in Cagliari, but then lost to Bologna at home due to a late goal, but the performance was uninspiring, and then they were battered by Lazio despite finding the opening score: it ended with a 6-1 at Olimpico.

No tactic guarantees you success: the players and the attitude play the biggest part in succeeding in football. But with the three-man defence, Bucchi not only moved away from Di Francesco’s formation, but also from the whole mentality his squad had. Right now, the Emiliani are no different from other low-table teams, who rely heavily on defending and counter-attacks. It might be enough to avoid relegation because they have some above average players, but it certainly takes away the shine they had in previous seasons. The most noble part of the table is a mirage at this point.

Misfortunes always pile up in rough times, so they have lost Timo Letschert for a good chunck of the season due to a torn ACL and they will have to hope Edoardo Goldaniga manages to come back quickly from a sports hernia surgery, otherwise they do not have three natural centre-backs in the roster. Other than some decent showings by Stefano Sensi, Pol Lirola and Claud Adjapong, most players have underperformed. Domenico Berardi has scored only once in five games and does not look at ease in his new position as second-striker, while Diego Falcinelli is in a slump. Alessandro Matri can not be the one carrying them. Some of the leaders of the locker room spoke very highly of Bucchi and his coaching acumen, but now they need to help him on the pitch because he is walking on thin ice: the next three fixtures against Chievo, Spal and Udinese will decide his future.

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