Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 26

Atalanta: Rafael Toloi will miss the next game due to a hamstring strain, while Berat Djimsiti with a bruised quad.

Bologna: Ibrahima Mbaye is suspended. The infirmary is emptying out since Nicola Sansone, Gary Medel and Federico Santander are poised to be available following thigh strains, Roberto Soriano after a bruise, leaving only Mitchell Dijks (foot), Ladislav Krejci (knee) and Mattias Svanberg (thigh) on the shelf. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 26

Lazio-Bologna: the only game between two teams that actually played last week. The Biancocelesti extended their superb run by grinding out a W versus Genoa, thanks to the usual Ciro Immobile goal and two unlikely heroes coming through, Adam Marusic, who has started over Manuel Lazzari in two matches in a row, and Danilo Cataldi. While Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored against Inter, the bonuses for their other two fantasy stars, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa, have not been there in recent rounds, leaving Felipe Caicedo as the only serviceable option besides the capocannoniere. Jony has taken over for the injured Senad Lulic and, while he is a high-volume crosser, he has come up with just one assist so far. It could be another ripe day for their offense considering that the Felsinei have a soft defence. Continue reading

Sarri set to shake things up once more

Going into a crucial stretch in the season, Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is weighing his options and is reportedly considering shaking things up in the final third. In an attempt to introduce more dynamism into the side, the former Napoli tactician will deploy Paulo Dybala as a false nine and will shift Juan Cuadrado from defence into the attack. We saw glimpses of this setup this past weekend against Brescia and according to Gazzetta dello Sport, is something Sarri will persist with this match-day against cellar-dwellers SPAL.

With an important game against Lyon coming up, the pressure is on Sarri to get Juve into the quarter-finals comfortably and look to make a deep European run. The veteran tactician previously had success with a false-nine setup at Napoli when he deployed Dries Mertens there.

While Dybala and Mertens are different players in their own way, both are extremely technical and do a good job at linking the midfield to attack. More importantly, they’ve both proven to be deadly finishers. As la Joya is set to play closer to goal, expect more involvement from Dybala. If anything, a central role suits the former Palermo man better and will undoubtedly help Juve create more chances in the final third.

When Sarri was initially hired, many expected Dybala to occupy this role, but it has since taken 24 match-days to get there. In recent times, Juventus have struggled in the final third and have typically relied on individual brilliance to see them through. Recognizing this, Sarri is keen on making changes.

Beyond shifting Dybala into a central position, Sarri is reportedly moving Cuadrado out of defence and into the attack. After the side failed to adequately replace Joao Cancelo, Sarri used the Colombian international at right-back. Initially, the position switch worked wonderfully, but injuries to key men in the attack mean Sarri’s forced to shuffle the deck once more.

Cuadrado has played in Juve’s front-three in their last two games and has added some much-needed unpredictability and speed up top. Other than his ability to beat his man, the former Fiorentina winger stretches opposition defences regularly and is a counter-attacking threat. Until this switch, Sarri fielded his typical 4-3-1-2 formation, which sorely lacked width and pace.

The formation switch also suits Juve’s current attacking options better than Sarri’s narrow ‘Christmas Tree’. While Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa are still out injured, a 4-3-3 gives them the opportunity to play out wide in their natural roles, rather than being pigeon-holed into a central position. With Ronaldo drifting in from the left-wing and Dybala interchanging, Cuadrado, Douglas Costa or Bernardeschi will all have a chance to stake a claim for the final place in the front-three. The increased competition will likely help the wingers hit new heights.

As Juventus look to compete on three fronts, simply put, they will need to create more chances. Sarri’s latest shuffle may not work, but it’s definitely worth a shot, and if anything, suits Juventus’ attacking options way better than their current setup.

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Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 25

Thomas Strakosha: since they scored twice against Inter, Lazio now boast the best statistical defence in the League with their 21 conceded goal. Genoa are improving, but the Biancocelesti back-line is a good bet for this round.

Milan Skriniar: Inter instead have not looked the same defensively sans Samir Handanovic between the sticks. Perhaps the captain will be back on Sunday, in any case the Sampdoria clash could be the right one for them to bounce back and Skriniar is an ex-Blucerchiato.   Continue reading

Serie A Best Fantasy XI – Round 24

Juan Musso (7 points): a pretty good number of clean sheets in this round as seven defences managed to stymie the opponents. Udinese’s Argentinian goalie had the best save of the weekend, actually a double one as he parried away a point-blank header going to the ground with cat-like agility and then had the alertness of slapping away the ball before a tap-in. Parma’s Simone Colombi had a sensational save as well on an attempted chip shot.

Adama Soumaoro (8 points): on top of stopping an in-form Bologna team, three Genoa defenders picked up bonus point for their contribution on the other end. The spot on behalf of the trio goes to the newcomer Soumaoro, who has taken full advantage of Cristiano Romero’s absence to show his worth and scored with a clinical sliding finish, on feed by Andrea Masiello (7 points) no less. Domenico Criscito (9) instead canned another penalty late to round up the score. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 24

Standings implications: Lazio emerged victorious in the crunch game with Inter, thus surpassing the Nerazzurri in second position and staying one point behind Juventus, which did their job versus Brescia. Roma put up a fight in Bergamo, but Atalanta still rallied back and took home a monumental victory in the Champions League race as they have built a six-point lead over the direct rival.

Parma re-entered the conversation for the sixth spot by railroading Sassuolo and caught Verona in the standings, then Milan answered on Monday night. The Scaligeri and Udinese did not get in the way of the respective targets with a nil-nil tie, but it will not be long before the Zebrette will have to resume watching underneath them. Genoa and Lecce continue streaking by toppling Bologna and SPAL, putting all the other relegation zone competitors in high alert, especially Sampdoria, which were trounced by Fiorentina and are now in 17th position, so sandwiched between the two.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 23

Atalanta-Roma: the Goddess continue to add to their offensive arsenal, as Duvan Zapata is returning two his usual pre-injury numbers (two goals and three assists in the last four games) and Ruslan Malinovskyi came through last week. The Ukrainian attacker seems to have surpassed Luis Muriel as first option off the bench. Josip Ilicic did not score against Fiorentina, but still had a great performance and he has been en fuego for a while. The one small negative is that, with their front-line now featuring two quality scorers, Alejandro Gomez is back at looking more to feed them rather than finishing on his own: as a matter of fact he set up two goals last week and has not hit the net since in six weeks. Timothy Castagne came back and he is a bigger offensive weapon than the more diligent Hans Hateboer, but they will likely continue to alternate, while Robin Gosens on the opposite flank is slowing down a bit after a gorgeous January. Mario Pasalic fumbled away a pair of sitters in Florence. Rafael Toloi (one goal and six assists) has been their most intriguing defender. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 22

Standings implications: the top three teams were all successful in this round with multi-goals win, as Juventus and Inter tamed Fiorentina and Udinese, while Lazio annihilated SPAL. Atalanta only partially took advantage of Roma’s tumble in Sassuolo (2-4) as they could not get past Genoa at home (2-2), so they now share the fourth place. A slow round also in the race to an Europa League berth: Cagliari and Parma shared the spoils in a head-to-head match on Saturday and Milan and Verona did the same on Sunday. In this case there is a three-way tie, with the Scaligeri two points behind, alongside Bologna, which instead nipped Brescia. Lecce destroyed Torino and was the only team to prevail in the relegation zone: they are three points clear of the last three positions. It was not necessarily pretty, but Napoli followed up the Juventus win by defeating Sampdoria, closing in on European zone.

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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 Injury and Suspension Report – Round 21

Atalanta: Timothy Castagne is out with a sore knee for the second week in a row. 

Bologna: Mattia Bani and Nicola Sansone are suspended. Stefano Denswil and Gary Medel and Ladislav Krejci (knee) remain sidelined.

Brescia: Mario Balotelli was slapped with a two-game suspension. Continue reading