The last week prior to the official start of the transfer market was understandably quiet: Sampdoria pulled off the most interesting move by adding another talented youngster, Gonzalo Maroni from Boca Juniors, who can feature in few positions up front and has the potential to be electric. Genoa made a sizeable investment to have Andrea Pinamonti from Inter, who had a very promising rookie season in Frosinone and is set to be their featured guy up front moving forward. Fiorentina are giving the keys to their goal to Barlomiej Dragowki, who blossomed in Empoli last season, and thus sent Alban Lafont to Nantes on a two-year loan. Sassuolo permanently signed left back Rogerio from Juventus after the 18-month loan, Brescia did the same with Ales Mateju, who belonged to Brighton.
Emiliano Viviano (7 points): he contributed to SPAL’s impressive victory with a solid save on a Ciro Immobile’s shot and a rather lucky rejection with the help of the post on Lucas Leiva point-blank attempt.
Merih Demiral (13 points): he almost ruined a perfect night with a silly penalty foul late, but Emanuele Giaccherini missed and so his fantasy haul remains the best of the season for a defenders thanks to two outstanding headers.
Leonardo Bonucci (9 points): a commanding performance by the Juventus defense in Cagliari and the veteran centre-back embellished it with a great header on a corner kick.
Pol Lirola (7 points): a dominating performance for the energetic fullback, who was no match for the opponents on the right flank and set up two goals for Sassuolo
Josip Ilicic (10 points): he single-handedly knocked out Bologna in the span of ten minutes, punishing them with two venomous lefty strikes and then teeing up Hans Hateboer three-nothing goal. Continue reading
Juventus: Cristiano Ronaldo had a little scare midweek due to an ankle bruise, but he should be able to feature against Napoli. Douglas Costa (quad) is still out of commission, while Sami Khedira is trying to return earlier than expected from his heart problem.
Napoli: Mario Rui will be back in the squad list after missing time with a thigh sprain and Amin Younes could be called up as well after nursing his surgically repaired Achilles tendon away from the team for a while. Arkadiusz Milik was a little fatigued this week, but he should be fine. Continue reading
The transfer market is not exactly raging in the first couple of weeks of January, but there were still some noteworthy transfers. The biggest one was completed by Sampdoria, which brought back Manolo Gabbiadini, who will likely replace Dawid Kownacki up front. Gabbiadini has never been a particularly prolific scorer, but he has an intriguing skillset that could mesh well with any of his new teammates. The Blucerchiati have also secured the signing of the 22-year-old midfielder Morten Thorsby, who will join for free from Heerenveen in the summer. Continue reading
The Serie A roster got completed last Sunday as Frosinone beat Palermo in the playoff final. The Rosanero lost their first appeal against the validation of the result as they believe there were some irregularities and promised to keep fighting. The Ciociari, whose promotion does not seem in danger, will play two games with closed doors because some objects were thrown onto the pitch and for time wasting by the ball boys.
There could be trouble in Parma, as the club has been deferred to the sports justice for attempted offence due to some text Emanuele Calaiò sent to some Spezia players ahead of the final and decisive game, inviting them not to play too hard. Continue reading
No shortage of injuries and suspensions heading into the final game.
Juventus: Sami Khedira got pulled last minute against Roma due to a muscular issue and he should not be available, same for Giorgio Chiellini and Benedikt Howedes, who have been on the shelf for a while now. Massimiliano Allegri has ruled out also Juan Cuadrado. Despite what the coach said, Federico Bernardeschi is the only one not in the squad list.
Napoli: Vlad Chiriches has undergone surgery to stabilize the shoulder that has given him a lot of problems in the past few years.
Roma: Radja Nainggolan in disqualified, while Cengiz Under got a knock on the ribs and he is very questionable. Gregoire Defrel and Rick Karsdorp are out with severe injuries, Bruno Peres is doubtful with a muscular one. Alisson has some soreness in his hip flexor and will not play. Continue reading
Here are the updates on few players’ conditions ahead of the upcoming Serie A round.
Juventus: Medhi Benatia is suspended. Stephan Lichtsteiner was subbed off midweek due to some back pain and Benedikt Howedes missed the last game due to muscle fatigue, but they are both available this week. Sami Khedira is not because of the flu. Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi continue to rehab their tough injuries: it is not a given that they will be able to return this season.
Napoli: Vlad Chiriches appeared ready last week after a hamstring (biceps femoris) pull, but it looks like he will need a little more time. Faouzi Ghoulam is recovering from a patella fracture.
The second international break, the first real one to be honest, arrives a month a half deep into the season and it usually allows some players to fully heal from early injuries, or even last year’s ones, giving the teams a small boost ahead of another busy stretch.
The most particular situation is Armando Izzo’s one: he was suspended for 18 months in April for match-fixing related charges from his time in Avellino, then the ban was cut short to 6 months because the allegations were substantially less severe. It looked like he could be pardoned with a month in advance, but he served the full sentence. Genoa’s defence has been shaky and could obviously use the help of a player who was on the edge of earning a call-up by Italy.
Juventus will have Claudio Marchisio back after a month-long specific program to strengthen the muscles around the knee he tore in April 2016: he has played only 62 minutes this season. Sami Khedira has featured a little more, but has been absent since late August: his status is a little murkier, but he is not that far from a full recovery. Their returns will give Massimiliano Allegri the option to use a three-man midfield. The Bianconeri will also soon welcome back Marko Pjaca from the ACL tear he suffered in late March: the attack is more crowded this season, but he will still be another weapon at their disposal.
Speaking of knee injuries, Inter’s Joao Cancelo sprained his MCL in late August: Danilo D’Ambrosio has been passable as right back, but the plan is to have two dynamic fullbacks like the former Valencia and Dalbert together to spice things up. Cancelo can also play as right winger, giving Luciano Spalletti more flexibility upfront. Emiliano Viviano is expected to be in full form pretty soon after a knee surgery in May: like most backup goalkeepers, Christian Puggioni is only reliable for short stints. Roma’s newcomer Rick Karsdorp went under the knife immediately after joining his new club to fix a meniscus injury and had some muscular setbacks afterwards: his availability will allow Eusebio Di Francesco to move Alessandro Florenzi around rather than using him only as a right back as Giallorossi are dealing with several absences in other areas. Bologna’s Cesar Falletti suffered a MCL and ankle sprain at the start of August: when he comes back, Roberto Donadoni could resume deploying the 4-2-3-1 he quickly abandoned because of lack of alternatives in the attacking midfielder position.
Roma are also awaiting the return of their prized summer acquisition: Patrick Schick, who has been on the shelf with hamstring problems. There is a lot of curiosity to see how the coach will integrate him in a tactic that has started to work very well, but does not include the striker’s natural role. Benevento anticipate having Amato Ciriretti back for the all-important game against Hellas Verona: he was their main creator last season and they have not got much from the right wingers they have used in his absence. They were able to use Marco D’Alessandro and Pietro Iemmello together for the first time against Inter and they showed some signs of life: they might actually be able to earn some points with the full frontline on the pitch.