Serie A Round 1 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Down

The first round of Serie A action promised plenty of fireworks and did not disappoint. Whether it was Antonio Conte’s long-awaited return to Italian football, Lorenzo Insigne’s man-of-the-match performance or the countless goal fests, it’s safe to say calcio is officially back. While the likes of Ciro Immobile and Luis Muriel stole the show, there were some players who put in less-than-stellar shifts.

After match-day one, here are FIVE players you should consider dropping from your fantacalcio side. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Paulo Dybala (ATT, Juventus, Value 8.7) - Dybala has been at the heart of countless mercato talks this past summer but appears set to stay in Turin for one more season. Despite this, la Joya is second fiddle to Gonzalo Higuain and likely won’t feature regularly in Juventus’ attack. Against Parma, the former Palermo man was an unused substitute as newly appointed boss Maurizio Sarri opted for the trio of Gonzalo Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Douglas Costa. With games coming up against Napoli and Fiorentina, expect Dybala to begin games from a bench role and feature sporadically. At 8.7M, there are frankly better fantacalcio options.

Fabio Quagliarella (ATT, Sampdoria, Value 18.10) - Last season’s capocannoniere started the new year on the wrong foot, with his side succumbing to Lazio in convincing fashion. Having lost Marco Giampaolo at the helm, and Dennis Praet at the base of midfield, the blucerchiati look a side devoid of identity and struggled immensely in their first game. If it weren’t for Emil Audero’s heroics, Sampdoria could have well lost by five or six. At 18.10M, it’s hard to justify including an ageing Quagliarella in your team, especially after his two-point fantacalcio outing. After all, it will take time for Eusebio Di Francesco to instil his footballing philosophy and with games against Sassuolo, Napoli and Torino on deck, Quagliarella may struggle. 
Federico Fazio (DEF, Roma, Value 11.3) - Going into the first game of the season, question marks were raised about Roma’s rearguard. With Kostas Manolas moving to Napoli, the giallorossi lack a true leader at the heart of defence and it showed in their 3-3 draw against Genoa. Fazio and Juan Jesus regularly lost the mobile partnership of Christian Kouame and Andrea Pinamonti and barely got support from their fullbacks. As Gianluca Mancini is being eased into the side and one of Daniele Rugani or Dejan Lovren on the way, expect a struggling Fazio to feature less. At 11.3M, you’d be wise to drop the Argentine and the one fantasy point he earned in match-day one. 
Krzysztof Piątek (ATT, Milan, Value 14.9) - The Polish international had an outing to forget against Udinese and failed to impose himself in Milan’s season opener. With the rossoneri stuck between Giampaolo’s preferred 4-3-1-2 and 4-3-3, expect Piatek to be a victim of Milan’s ongoing identity crisis. Without the arrival of a true second striker alongside him, the former Genoa man will find chances hard to come by and will continue to struggle in front of goal. While Piatek will undoubtedly come good later in the season, his 14.9M price-tag is far too high right now for a player who isn’t producing. At that price, you can afford to swap him out of your side for the likes of Insigne or even Inter’s Romelu Lukaku. 
Allan (MID, Napoli, Value 11.0) - The Brazilian midfielder is one of the best in his position in the league but is the antithesis of the ideal fantacalcio player. Given his desire to dive into tackles, Allan will cost you fantasy points for yellow cards. Against Fiorentina, the midfielder gave Napoli’s midfield some much-needed steel, however, offered little invention in the final third. With Carlo Ancelotti experimenting with the 4-2-3-1, Allan’s deeper role and increased defensive duties will mean he won’t get too many opportunities in and around the danger area. While any team in Serie A would kill to add the 28-year-old to their ranks, this is one player fantasy manager should stay away from; especially with the Juventus clash on the horizon. 
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AC Milan vs. Inter: Previewing the Rossoneri’s big chance to cement third place


The long-awaited day has finally come. This evening, AC Milan will take on their city rivals Inter at the San Siro, looking to please their fans with a derby win for the first time 2016 (in Serie A). 

Gattuso’s men are enjoying a run of very good form, having won their last five Serie A games. However, tonight’s test will be one of the toughest of the season, given how much is at stake in a derby, especially in tonight’s edition.


The importance of this game certainly reflects Gattuso’s choices in the starting eleven. After the likes of Biglia, Castillejo, Conti and Laxalt got the chances from start against Chievo, Milan will now revert back to their usual line-up.

Rodriguez is back from suspension, which could prove to be key for the Rossoneri. Bakayoko was given some much-needed rest last time out, and thus he should perfectly ready for this clash.

Up front, Calhanoglu is back from start after attending the birth of his first child last week, although he did come on in the second half against Chievo, making a great impression. Hopefully, we can see more like that from the Turk, who along with Paqueta will be decisive on the left flank.

Likely AC Milan XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Bakayoko, Paqueta; Suso, Piatek, Calhanoglu.


Inter, on the other hand, haven’t been as good lately. A draw against Fiorentina and a loss against Cagliari cost them dearly, as Milan were able to pounce on the opportunity, overtaking the third place. Just this week, the Nerazzurri were also eliminated from the Europa League, losing to Eintracht Frankfurt at home.

Their former captain, Icardi, won’t feature in tonight’s clash as his row with the club continues. Certainly a boost for Milan, though Lautaro Martinez has proven to be a capable replacement. However, in the derbies, Icardi has always been lethal, as displayed last time out.

Likely Inter XI (4-3-3): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Skriniar, Asamoah; Gagliardini, Brozovic, Vecino; Politano, L.Martinez, Perisic.


Looking at the stats, it’s safe to say that Inter are narrow favourites to win tonight’s encounter. However, trends don’t last forever, and Gattuso’s men will be hoping to capitalize on the opportunity. Take a look at the top five stats below.

1. This will be the 170th Milan derby in Serie A; the Nerazzurri have won twice and drawn three of the meetings since the Rossoneri last won, back in January 2016 (3-0).
2. AC Milan have failed to score in their last two Milan derbies in Serie A: only twice in the history of the competition have the Rossoneri failed to find the net in three consecutive games against Inter (the last time was between 1979 and 1981).
3. In all competitions, AC Milan are unbeaten in their last six Milan derbies as host team (W3, D3); the last time they lost was back in October 2012 (0-1).
4. In 2019, Inter have picked up just 11 points in eight games in Serie A (W3 D2 L3), nine less than AC Milan have managed (20: W6, D2); only Juventus have picked up more points than the Rossoneri this calendar year (22)
5. AC Milan have won their last five Serie A games – they have not won six consecutive matches in the competition since 2006 (9).


As most of us know, it’s always tough to predict a derby, simply because form never seems to matter when the two sides face-off. However, ahead of this one, most Milan fans will feel confident enough to predict a win, and I’m one of those. With that said, it certainly won’t be easy for the Rossoneri, and we can expect them to concede at least a goal, despite their defensive form.

AC Milan 2-1 Inter 

Chievo 1-2 AC Milan: Rossoneri grab fifth consecutive win ahead of the derby

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AC Milan did what they had to do against Chievo, although there’s a lot to ask for still. In any case, the Rossoneri grabbed three important points ahead of the Milan derby next weekend, as they will head into the clash ahead of Inter in the standings.

As expected, Gattuso’s men saw most of the possession throughout the game, but were troubled on more than one occasion by Chievo’s high pressing. Rodriguez’ absence was notable, as he’s usually very good at playing out from the back, an aspect in which Laxalt needs a bit more work. Luckily, however, Biglia was there to rescue the build-up phase when Chievo were knocking on the door.

Even though Milan didn’t really test the host’s goalkeeper in the first half, they still managed to grab the opener. Paqueta won a free-kick on the edge of the box after a nice move, and Biglia converted it brilliantly with a curling effort. Sorrentino could do nothing about the strike as it ended up in the top left bin.

However, just ten minutes later, Chievo equalised through their captain Hetemaj, who was left unmarked in the box after Conti lost track of the player. Sloppy goal to concede for the Rossoneri, who hadn’t let one in since the game against Atalanta.

Gattuso’s men were unable to respond in the little that remained of the first half, but showed great desire at the beginning of the last 45 minutes. This paid off as Milan re-took the lead through Piatek, who capitalized on Castillejo’s flick: a true striker’s goal. After the goal, the Rossoneri focused on the defending, seeing out the win.

The home side failed to get back into the game, allowing Milan to claim three important points ahead of next weekend’s clash with Inter. Just like against Sassuolo, the performance wasn’t fantastic by any means, but they got the job done. Compared to the Sassuolo game, there were certainly improvements tonight, which hopefully can benefit them well against Inter.

Looking at individual performances, Biglia was the man of the match. Returning from injury, the Argentinian put in a great shift in the midfield, dictating the play from start to finish. This is something we’ve gotten used to with the no.21, but his free-kick goal certainly sweetens the pot.

The fan favourite, Conti, was without a doubt the flop of the match. Tonight’s performance didn’t live up to his usual standard, both in the defensive and attacking phase. Since his return, he’s only performed well, so the poor performance was eventually going to come. On the whole, it will only help him in his recovery phase.

Some Milan fans will feel that the performance could’ve been better. On the other hand, Gattuso’s men have been performing on a consistent level for the last weeks, and the results just go to show for it. Of course, the performance will eventually have to pick up even more, though three points is an important testament to the progress.

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AC Milan 3-0 Empoli: Highlighting the positives for Gattuso’s men

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Despite a lacklustre first-half performance, AC Milan managed to get themselves together during the break, eventually scoring three goals to seal a comfortable win against Empoli. 

However, as said, it didn’t look all too well in the first half. After Paqueta had a goal disallowed correctly by VAR, the Rossoneri seeminly lost energy to find new solutions, almost looking like they were in the lead already. Fortunately, they were able to turn this around in the second half, perhaps thanks to a successful speech by Gattuso during the break.

In fact, in a matter of minutes, AC Milan secured the win by putting two goals past the away side’s goalkeeper. Piatek got on the scoresheet first, as Calhanoglu picked him out brilliantly in the box. Thanks to this goal, the Polish striker has equalled Oliver Bierhoff’s record from 1998, having scored in his first four consecutive league starts.

Just two minutes later, Kessie added to the lead as Castillejo managed to get past two defenders, before freeing the Ivorian in the middle. The tirelessly working midfielder chipped the goalkeeper and so Gattuso’s men had completed a misery compiler. The fun didn’t end there as Castillejo extended the lead 15 minutes later, capitalizing on a brilliant cross from Conti.

All in all, a very convincing victory by Milan, who are now just one point behind Inter in third place. However, the Nerazzurri of course have a game in hand: facing Fiorentina on Sunday evening. In any case, the three points are absolutely crucial as the Rossoneri look to distance themselves from Atalanta, Lazio and Roma.

So, what positives can we take from the game? Based on the second half, there are many moments to choose from. The centreback duo, consisting of Musacchio and Romagnoli, did really well to close down the opponents, who only had one shot on target all game. In addition to this, Biglia made his return coming back from injury, and performed quite well even though the game was done by then.

More importantly, Castillejo proved that he’s certainly worthy of replacing Suso on the right flank. In the first half, he seemed to be the only real threat, and performed to the best of his abilities in the last 45 minutes. One goal and one assist to his name, does it get much better than that? Even though Suso remains the favourite for the RW position, Samu has without a doubt given Gattuso something to think about.

Having scored three+ goals in three consecutive league games (for the first time since December 2012), the Rossoneri have subsequently improved their goal difference, which was pretty boring a few weeks ago. If this will prove decisive at the end of the season remains to be seen, but it’s certainly refreshing to see a Milan side scoring many goals (while also conceding little).

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Romagnoli’s injury forces Gattuso to a defensive experiment against Lazio

AC Milan are certainly experiencing a defensive crisis, as three out of five centre-backs are injured. This has forced Gattuso to re-think his tactics, and against Lazio next weekend we can be sure to see an untrained defensive backline in action. 

Even though the International break is currently underway, it hasn’t been of much help for the Rossoneri as none of the injured players will recover in time for the Lazio clash. With that said, Gattuso will have to experiment in the defence, as Zapata is the only centre-back available, excluding the inexperienced Simic (hasn’t played since February).

The line-up

Initially, one would think that the obvious choice is a four-man backline, given that only one centre-back is available. However, due to previous experiences and problems further up the pitch, it seems that Gattuso will opt for a three-man backline. I myself predicted that he would use a 4-4-2, which the team is used to, replacing the injured Romagnoli with left-back Rodriguez, while Laxalt would move down to the left-back spot.

However, Calhanoglu is still struggling with an ankle injury, experiencing a lot of pain. This has affected his end-product, and it remains to be seen if he will be available on Sunday afternoon. Nonetheless, La Gazzetta Dello Sport predicts that instead of the Turk, Laxalt will start on the left flank. This could explain why Gattuso doesn’t want a four-man backline, since there would be no left-backs available. Then again, we will have to wait and see how Calhanoglu feels.

In Milan’s case, though, this brings yet another question to the table: who will start as the right centre-back? According to Gazzetta, Abate will be given the chance, providing experience to the team at the back. In other words, on paper it will probably be the weakest defence Gattuso has set out all season.

However, it should be noted that Laxalt could be given a more defensive role, helping Rodriguez out on the left. Abate, on the other hand, most likely won’t get as much help on the right side, considering that Suso prefers to attack rather than defend.

Likely AC Milan XI (3-5-2): Donnarumma; Abate, Zapata, Rodriguez; Suso, Kessie, Bakayoko, Calhanoglu (?), Laxalt; Cutrone, Castillejo.

Make or break

As the subheading suggests, this is very much an experimental line-up, and heading into the game Rossoneri fans really shouldn’t expect too much. With roughly six starters out injured, anything else than a loss against an attacking-minded Lazio would be an overachievement. Despite this, should Milan lose, then Gattuso will surely receive a lot of criticism, even though it would be totally unjustified.

What’s certain, however, is that Gattuso and his staff need to look over the training methods, as simply too many players are picking up injuries. For a club of the size of Milan, this situation certainly isn’t common, and something is obviously wrong.

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Top Five Fantasy Football Midfielders – Serie A – Round 21

Results of last week have surely breathed a new life into the title race in Serie A. Juventus’ lead at the top, following their defeat at Fiorentina, has been cut short to one point. However, they do have a game in hand. Continue reading