Lazio-Sampdoria: despite a fairly muted performance, the Biancocelesti came out on top versus Napoli last week, for the second week in a row propelled by a late Ciro Immobile goal. The capocannoniere keeps producing and has already reached the 20-goal threshold. He has scored their last three goals. Joaquin Correa will be limited, so Felipe Caicedo might get another chance to start and he has posted three goals and two assists in limited action in the last five appearances. Luis Alberto will be looking to pad his assist numbers (12), while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has reverted back to his less efficient self after a hot stretch. Senad Lulic will be suspended, so Jony is set to play on the left wing and he is a willing crosser. The Eagles have been airtight at home. Continue reading
Fiorentina announced Saturday morning that they have relieved Vincenzo Montella from his duties as head coach following the Friday night’s 1-4 romp against Roma. La Viola have not won since October 30th and have accumulated five losses and two draws in the past seven rounds. They are currently 14th in the standings, four points above the last three places and 11 away from the Europa League zone. On Monday, the club announced to have reached agreement with Giuseppe Iachini on a 18-month contract, which reportedly includes an out clause at the end of the season.
A reduced pool this week with Juventus-Sampdoria taking place on Wednesday and Lazio and Verona not playing due to Sunday’s Supercoppa Italiana.
Salvatore Sirigu: SPAL broke out of their road drought and have found the target in the past three matches, but they remain one of the most anaemic offenses in Europe, with only Watford having scored less than them in the top five leagues. The veteran goalie has been as reliable as they come despite being behind an imperfect back-line.
Stefan De Vrij: Inter have re-started keeping clean sheets, two in the past four games, and the Dutch defender offers the most upside on the other end. Genoa have failed to hit the net in three of their past five matches. Continue reading
Fiorentina-Roma: with Federico Chiesa and Gaetano Castrovilli at half service due to physical problems, Dusan Vlahovic stepped up and saved the day against Inter. The Serbian prospect had gotten some decent run before but without doing much with it and instead delivered off the bench. Chiesa and Castrovilli are considered day-to-day and they are their two most best contributors, so their level of competitiveness will hinge on their recoveries. Kevin-Prince Boateng got the start after a while and had only minor chances, but they might have to rely him a lot in this one and he is listed as a midfielder, which makes him a bit intriguing depending on their injury situation. The other okay elements like Marco Benassi and Erick Pulgar have been silent for a long while. Dalbert has outplayed Pol Lirola as far as fullbacks are concerned. Continue reading
Gianluca Pegolo (7 points): the 38-year-old unseated the youngster Stefano Turati throughout the week and frustrated Milan time and time again with great saves on clear-cut attempts.
Jhon Chancellor (8 points): his goal could not have been any easier as he tucked it home with his knee from basically the goal-line and he was pretty good in the back as well against Lecce. Continue reading
Standings implications: Inter and Juventus are now tied atop of the table as the Nerazzurri suffered a late equalizer at the hands of Fiorentina, while the Old Lady breezed past Udinese. Lazio stay in the close proximity as they did to Cagliari what the Sardinians had done to other teams and mounted a late comeback. Roma got the job done at home over SPAL despite a poor first half. Napoli’s woes were not immediately solved by the coaching change since Parma toppled them late at home and the Ducali are right below the European zone, especially because an undermanned Atalanta team was torpedoed by Bologna away.
Torino and Verona shared the spoils in a super fun game, while Milan-Sassuolo ended in a nil-nil drew despite few chances for both sides. In the lower districts, second W in a row for Brescia, which creamed Lecce, while Sampdoria came out on top in the Derby della Lanterna.
Napoli-Parma: there is great curiosity to see what immediate changes Gennaro Gattuso will bring to the table. In his introductory presser, he hinted that he is going to use 4-3-3, which would lead to few duels up front. The first order of business will have to be reviving Lorenzo Insigne, who has not fared well in a long time, while Dries Mertens is in a domestic slump but has done some damage in Europe. Arkadiusz Milik came back midweek and he looked like a million bucks and he was en fuego before getting injured. He should be front and center in the new project. The new tactic would see José Callejon and Hirving Lozano alternate and the Mexican winger has abated after a decent stretch. It would give Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz more freedom and the Polish midfielder finally broke through last week. Giovanni Di Lorenzo is trending back up after a period of lull.
Juan Musso (7 points): very strong goalkeeper in this round, in particular by Andrei Radu and Wojciech Szczesny, and there were indeed a number of clean sheets, bucking the trend from previous weeks. No save was more important that Musso’s one on an extremely late penalty by Andrea Petagna that prevented Udinese from losing to SPAL.
Standings implications: the usual trend up top as Juventus and Inter did not look great but still found a way to sink the opponents, despite fiery efforts by Milan and Verona. Another shake-up in the Champions League zone as Roma’s run came to a stop in Parma, while Lazio and Cagliari kept it rolling, creaming Lecce and Fiorentina respectively, and they both surpassed La Lupa and gained some ground on Atalanta, which were held to a tie by Sampdoria. Napoli could not do much better at home against Genoa and thus remain seventh, one point over the Ducali. Torino returned to winning ways with an away drubbing of Brescia, while Sassuolo convincingly defeated Bologna. Udinese-SPAL ended in a nil-nil draw despite the late drama.
Inter-Verona: while Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku continue to be very reliable, the Beneamata are getting additional pieces back, as Matias Vecino scored in Champions League and Stefano Sensi looked pretty good in his stint off the bench. The two are certainly better fantasy options than Roberto Gagliardini, who filled in while they were sidelined, and the ex Sassuolo player, in particular, was fantastic at the beginning of the season. Valentino Lazaro was okay against Brescia and his skill-set is interesting, especially against the minnows where he would not need to defend a lot. Matteo Politano got hurt in Dortmund, so the first man up off the bench in the attack would be Salvatore Esposito. Verona have scored just nine times so far, so their back-line is certainly in play despite the ongoing clean sheet-less run. Continue reading