Fiorentina was the most active team over the last few days and signed a quality fivesome: Alfred Duncan from Sassuolo, Igor from SPAL, Christian Kouame and Kevin Agudelo from Genoa and Sofyan Amrabat from Verona. Duncan, purchased for €15M, has been pretty steady over the last four years at Sassuolo, but his playing time has been limited recently due to a tactical switch that did not suit his traits. He is known commodity and can contribute at both ends. Agudelo had a hot stretch under Thiago Motta, flashing very intriguing playmaking and potential, but fell on the wayside with Davide Nicola. He can play all over the formation offensively and probably projects as very offensive box-to-box. He joined on an 18-month loan with conditioned obligation to buy. They will add some much-needed dynamism to the Viola’s midfield, who had nobody behind Gaetano Castrovilli and Marco Benassi. Igor has been a day-one starter with the Estensi after coming over RB Salzburg in the summer, has had some ups-and-down but is still young. The Gigliati lacked a left-footed centre-back for their three-man line, so Igor could challenge Martin Caceres to play there. Continue reading
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.
Atalanta-Sassuolo: the Goddess survived Juventus’ second half push last week and returned from Turin with a precious point that allowed them to catch Inter and maintain a narrow lead over Milan. They have not lost since February 23rd and triumphed in eight of the following 12 rounds. Sassuolo are right in the middle of the pack but played spoiler last week by drawing with Roma. They have been defeated just once in the last eight matches, tying in five occasions. Josip Ilicic scored at the Stadium after being shut out for few weeks and also their rock Duvan Zapata and Alejandro Gomez will be popular picks since the Neroverdi are not the stingiest bunch. Neither are the Bergamaschi to be honest: the locals have spread the wealth in terms of scoring, but in general Domenico Berardi, Jeremie Boga and Stefano Sensi have been their best contributors in the final months. Hans Hateboer’s suspension makes it clear that Timothy Castagne and Robin Gosens will man the flanks: the former is more interesting since he is listed as a defender and in the midst of a prolific run. Continue reading
Marco Sportiello (7 points): few unexpected clean sheets in this round, which had some extraordinary saves, but not by goalkeeper that managed to keep the goal locked up. Among them, Pierluigi Gollini had probably the best performance, but he was docked one point because he was booked. So the shout-out goes the Frosinone player for his alert work in Florence against a pretty good offence.
Juventus: Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have been called up, while Douglas Costa remains out with a quad problem. Daniele Rugani has a sore thigh, but he is in the squad list. Alex Sandro is suspended.
Napoli: Dries Mertens and Simone Verdi missed the midweek Europa League clash due to a contracture and a bruised knee respectively, but they have been able to recover. Raul Albiol underwent a clean-up surgery on the patellar tendon of the left knee and will miss six-to-eight weeks. Mario Rui suffered a thigh pull and will be sidelined this week.
Inter: Sime Vrsaljko had season-ending knee surgery. Balde Keita’s recovery from a thigh strain has had a hiccup and he will not be available this week. Mauro Icardi has a sore knee and will not be called up this week. Continue reading
Juventus: Miralem Pjanic is suspended, while Douglas Costa (calf) and Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh) are banged up after the Supercoppa, but they could recover by Monday. Mario Mandzukic will be on the mend for a couple more weeks and Medhi Benatia remains iffy with a sore groin.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne, Allan and Kalidou Koulibaly are disqualified. Dries Mertens is trying to shake off an ankle sprain and his presence is not 100 percent certain. Marek Hamsik is not expected to come back from his thigh strain. Raul Albiol is fatigued, but available. Continue reading
Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi has a thigh ailment and he is likely to miss the next two games. Juan Cuadrado will not undergo knee surgery, but his timetable is uncertain. Blaise Matuidi is under the weather and out for the Bergamo trip. Moise Kean has a hamstring ailment.
Napoli: Allan is set to return after missing one due to back pain. Mario Rui is back to the squad list.
Inter: Radja Nainggolan has been suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons. Joao Miranda is out again due to muscle fatigue.
Lazio: Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are fatigued and might sit initially. Luis Alberto subbed off against Cagliari, but just for cramps. Milan Badelj is iffy with a muscular problem. Valon Berisha and Riza Durmisi will not be available. Continue reading
Juventus: Paulo Dybala had a little scare with Argentina, but his knee is fine. Daniele Rugani nursed a rib fracture during the break. The only injured player is Sami Khedira, who is dealing with a hamstring strain. Leonardo Spinazzola is close, but he has not been called up for this weekend.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne has picked up a minor injury and will not be available. Kalidou Koulibaly returned early from international duties because of muscle fatigue and he is likely to rest. Faouzi Ghoulam (kneecap fracture), Amin Younes (torn Achilles) and Alex Meret (arm fracture) are inching closer to a return but the could be held out for another week. Sebastiano Luperto is fatigued. Continue reading
Some of the biggest names finally delivered in the last weekend: here are the best players for round 4.
Thomas Strakosha (7 points): five teams managed to keep a clean sheet, so few goalies are together atop of the positional rankings. The Albanian had easily the best save of the week, which might easily go down as one of the finest in the year, as he thwarted a point-blank attempt by Francesco Caputo at the last second by sticking his foot out with perfect timing. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus racked up their fourth win against Sassuolo, while Napoli bounced back versus Fiorentina. As a consequence of these two results, the Bianconeri are the only undefeated team in Serie A. Inter, Roma and Milan were unable to keep up as the Nerazzuri’s attack sputtered again in the Parma game and they ended up being defeated by a wondergoal, while La Lupa frittered away a two-nothing lead at home against Chievo. The Rossoneri came back in Sardinia but were unable to prevail. Lazio grabbed their second win a row despite an underwhelming performance. Sampdoria brought home another resounding W, Genoa narrowly prevailed again at home, leaving Frosinone and Bologna at the bottom of the table. Continue reading