Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri have not been very spectacular in the last two matches against minnows, but they got the job done with the contribution of few different players. Cristiano Ronaldo has shaken off his injury and will be back in this one, Paulo Dybala has outperformed Gonzalo Higuain in the last couple of outings, but the latter is usually closer to the goal. Aaron Ramsey has been pretty good and they could carry on with the tactics where he is heavily featured, but it remains to be seen whether he can play thrice in a row, otherwise Adrien Rabiot or Federico Bernardeschi could get the nod there and reap the benefits of a very offensive role. They have gotten goals from Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi, even though Sami Khedira is generally the midfielder who is most involved in the offense. Juan Cuadrado loses some steam because he is forced to play as right back for the time being. Continue reading
Samir Handanovic: Inter have given up just one goal so far and he has been a fabulous final bulwark, pulling off amazing saves as per usual. They will square off against Sampdoria on Saturday, which have managed to score only three times so far.
Takehiro Tomiyasu: Bologna will travel to Udine in this round and, while a road game is inherently tricky, the Bianconeri have been unable to find the target in the past three matches and have done it just two times so far, which is the worst clip in the League. They will not get Rodrigo De Paul back either, so it could make sense to pick from the Felsinei back-line and the Japanese fullback has the most upside. Continue reading
Brescia-Juventus: two questions loom large on the game, one for each side. Mario Balotelli is eligible to return after the suspension, but his conditioning might be a problem after skipping the summer preparation, so he might be initially be kept on the bench. Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out due to muscle fatigue and it is new situation under Maurizio Sarri; they also do not have Douglas Costa, so they lack a pure left-wing player. Federico Bernardeschi could certainly be adapted there, but he has struggled so far, so the coach might try new solutions, like for instance fielding Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain together. Whoever ends up starting up front will have to shoulder a bigger load sans Ronaldo. Continue reading
Standings implications: Inter stay on top of the table after besting Milan in the Derby, but Juventus and Napoli keep up as the Bianconeri squeaked by Verona and the Partenopei instead deep-sixed Lecce. Roma peeped out in the higher districts with a dramatic victory over Bologna and Lazio are right behind them after breezing past Parma. As they are ones to do, Atalanta clawed back against Fiorentina. Sassuolo handled SPAL at home, while Cagliari soundly defeated Genoa on Friday. Brescia stunned Udinese on the road while Sampdoria are finally on the board after their W over Torino. Continue reading
Fiorentina-Juventus: despite the two tough losses, la Viola showed some intriguing stuff up front against both Napoli and Genoa. The potential is there, but the whole team needs to tighten up and build up some chemistry. Franck Ribery is primed to get more minutes after the break and they should finally counter-balance a line-up that is always too reliant on Federico Chiesa. The ones that will benefit the most are the centre-forwards and for the time being Kevin-Prince Boateng will likely be the top option until Dusan Vlahovic and Pedro find their footing. Gaetano Castrovilli has already shown that he can be dangerous with his cuts, while Erick Pulgar hit the net twice on penalties and will have more opportunities to put his shooting prowess to good use in a slightly modified role. Continue reading
Milan-Brescia: the first game under Marco Giampaolo presented the same issues the Rossoneri suffered from last season, primarily keeping the ball up front and feeding their main striker. They managed to get only some limited offensive forays without never building a constant assasult. A faux pas that could lead to some tactical and personnel change, with Suso possibly returning to the flank and Ismael Bennacer and Rafael Leao getting the nod from start. If they can turn it around, it could be a decent spot for Krzysztof Piatek, but it is tough to trust them right now. The Rondinelle showed to be solid right away in a fairly tough road game in Cagliari: last year’s design worked and the defense held up. If that continues to be the case, Alfredo Donnarumma will be one to watch, he scored 26 goals in Serie B, same as Dimistri Bisoli, who is their most dangerous midfielder, while Sandro Tonali’s fantasy production is a little shakier because it hinges on set pieces. Continue reading
Gianluigi Donnarumma (7 points): the starlet saved Milan once again in the Frosinone game, preventing the opponents from going up in the score by brilliantly parrying away a Camillo Ciano penalty.
Riccardo Gagliolo (5 points): Parma defended very diligently against Fiorentina, holding La Viola scoreless once more. With Bruno Alves on the sidelines, it was up to Gagliolo to lead the back-line and he did not disappoint.
Napoli continue to gallop despite being already certain of their final position and victimized Inter on Sunday, which still had and has a lot to play for, putting together the most dominant performance of the week despite giving up a late consolation goal.
Carlo Ancelotti could count on the returns of Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne, who sat out last week, and picked the Belgian to partner Arkadiusz Milik up front. He opted for his more offensive-minded fullback duo, Kevin Malcuit and Faouzi Ghoulam, while Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz switched positions, the Polish starlet playing centrally and the Spaniard on the left wing. Orestis Karnezis drew a rare start between sticks. Continue reading
Juventus: Cristiano Ronaldo picked up a thigh strain while playing with Portugal and is unlikely to play in the next three games. Sami Khedira has been cleared to practice after a heart problem, but it will take him a little longer before playing. Douglas Costa (quad, calf), Juan Cuadrado (knee) and Andrea Barzagli (calf) remain sidelined, while Mattia De Sciglio has recovered from a thigh pull.
Napoli: Fabian Ruiz will be available after a tough flu. Lorenzo Insigne was on track to play but suffered a relapse of a thigh contracture. Continue reading
Juventus-Empoli: the Bianconeri are coming off their first Serie A loss this season, against Genoa, while they dropped points just twice at home thus far. The Azzurri defeated Frosinone in Aurelio Andreazzoli’s return match, nabbing the second win in the last 13 rounds. They have lost in five of the last six away games. The Old Lady will be without Cristiano Ronaldo, who got hurt while playing with Portugal, and Douglas Costa, who remains sidelined. Therefore, Federico Bernardeschi, Moise Kean, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic will lead the charge and try to alleviate the absence of the Portuguese star. They could be helped by the fact that the Tuscans have one of the leakiest defenses in the League. Continue reading