Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 31

LECCE-LAZIO

Lecce: another losing effort caused by the nth defensive collapse, but the Giallorossi looked a tiny bit better offensively versus Sassuolo, as Diego Farias returned to the XI and was livelier than Filippo Falco and Riccardo Saponara and Khouma Babacar did a little bit more than usual. The goals came on corner kick and then through the usual penalty kick by Marco Mancosu and it is pretty crazy how many fouls they manage to draw in the box. Antonin Barak has yet to recapture is best form after an injury, but he remains their most appealing non-Mancosu midfielder.

Suggested picks: Mancosu, Farias, Babacar. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 30

JUVENTUS-TORINO

Juventus: the Bianconeri are thriving offensively thanks to the great form of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, who scored in three consecutive matches. Douglas Costa contributed off the bench versus Genoa and he can be a factor even if he rarely plays full matches because of his injury history. Juan Cuadrado picked up an assist in the past match and he has been effective despite the more defensive role. Rodrigo Bentancur is in outstanding form but is not very prone to picking up bonuses. Their run of clean sheets was interrupted by a consolation goal, but they will be facing a sputtering attack in this one. Continue reading

Serie A Fantay Preview – Round 29

TORINO-LAZIO

Torino: the Granata had a nice reaction after falling in an early hole versus Cagliari, but an untimely penalty did them in. Andrea Belotti has found the target for two straight matches and has been excellent missed penalty aside. Simone Zaza is unlikely to be present, but Simone Verdi and especially Cristian Ansaldi, two of their most talented players, saw minutes in the past match and could be ready to start, unlocking few options up front, first of all the advancement of Alex Berenguer. Ansaldi had a positive impact after he subbed on, Verdi might need more time and had been struggling prior to the lockdown. Continue reading

Depleted Lazio need fringe players to step up in season finale

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Lazio were late to the party. By the time they stepped onto the pitch in Bergamo on Wednesday evening, every Serie A side bar the two Roman clubs had experienced their first taste of post-lockdown football. 

Nervous biancocelesti fans were aware that a win was required to maintain a one-point gap to leaders Juventus, and that victory wouldn’t be easily obtained against a free-scoring Atalanta side that battered Sassuolo 4-1 on their return. Continue reading

Serie A Injuries and Suspension Report – Round 28

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic returned from an ankle problem in the last game, thus they have nothing else to worry about.

Bologna: Federico Santander and Andreas Skov Olsen will be out for a while due to thigh strains.

Brescia: Jhon Chancellor (thigh) will miss another one. Andrea Cistana is not close after repairing his peroneal tendon during the lockdown. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 27

Fiorentina-Brescia: the Viola will welcome back Franck Ribery, at least in limited fashion at first, and the coach is ready to tweak is system to accommodate him either in the hole or on the left wing, joining Dusan Vlahovic/Patrick Cutrone and obviously Federico Chiesa up front. In the meantime, it could be Gaetano Castrovilli taking on a bigger role. Alfred Duncan and Marco Benassi have some decent potential.  It is an extremely appealing match-up considering Brescia’s defensive woes and absences: Vlahovic and Castrovilli in the particular were in great form before the lockdown. Continue reading

Fiorentina 1-1 AC Milan: Rossoneri fail to secure win despite being one man up

Stefano Pioli’s men failed to grab all three points away at Fiorentina this evening, conceding a late equaliser despite being one man up. Although the referee made many controversial calls, it must be said that Milan should have done a lot better to kill the game. 

Fiorentina got the first real chance of the game as Gigio Donnarumma took way too much time on the ball, eventually losing it to Federico Chiesa. The latter managed to pick out Gaetano Castrovilli in the box, but the midfielder failed to hit the target with his effort. Lucky escape for the big man in goal. Continue reading

Fiorentina vs. AC Milan: Team news, stats and prediction

Following the narrow win against Torino, AC Milan will be looking to build on their good form with yet another three points this evening, taking on Fiorentina away from home. However, the Rossoneri can’t afford to get overconfident, given the importance of their remaining games this season. 

The battle for a top-four finish remains near impossible, especially since Atalanta have been in red-hot form as of late. However, Stefano Pioli’s side are still in the race and won’t give up until it’s done. Currently in eight place, they need to close a gap of ten points with 14 games left of the season.  Continue reading

Cristiano Ronaldo showing no let up at Juventus and he is still after breaking records

Cristiano Ronaldo just looks as good as new, forget that he is 35 this year. The Portuguese star has been a huge hit with Juventus and at the weekend he scored again making it 9 consecutive games, that hasn’t been done in Serie A for 15 years.

Ronaldo scored another two goals both were penalties as Juve beat Fiorentina 3-0. That tally raised his total for the season to 19 goals, and he is second to Ciro Immobile who has 25. Though 7 of Ronaldo’s goals have come from the penalty spot the player is proving to be a hit in Italy.

Ronaldo has already won the league title last season and Juventus are top again in this one and looking for their 8th straight title. Juve manager Maurizio Sarri was very happy for Ronaldo, expressing how the player needs to keep on scoring goals to feel psychologically happy.

At this moment he has now scored 40 goals in the league from just 50 games and in total he has 50 goals from 70 games including cups and European games. It might just be Europe that will ultimately matter for Ronaldo. The former Real Madrid player was brought into Juventus to help them win their first European Cup since 1996, and whilst domestic trophies are welcoming and his goals great, Juventus really want the Champions League trophy. If Ronaldo can help them win it it could be one of his career crowning moments, up there with Portugal winning Euro 2020.

Juventus have been paired with Lyon in the round of 16 and they will start as the favourites. Lyon have had a slow start to the league season but they are finding form and can hurt Juve, but one would believe that Juve over 2 legs and with the second one being at home will simply be too strong for the French team.

Ronaldo’s move was maybe being questioned by some, as he could well have seen out his remaining days at Madrid. However a falling out with club president Florentino Perez didn’t help. But it was perhaps a risky move for Ronaldo to play in Italy so famed for its defensive football, as someone who craves goals he was asking for trouble, and yet he has had little problems in getting goals.

As a side note he would surely love to cap off a successful season by topping the goalscoring charts in Italy, Immobile right now looks like he will get it though, but Ronaldo who is six goals behind him will not give up.

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Winners of the January Window in Serie A

The January transfer window in Serie A saw clubs make significant additions for the short term, while others used these four weeks to get a jump start on a much needed rebuild. Let’s take a look at the winners of the just concluded month:

Winners

 

Rocco Commisso and Fiorentina- the Tuscan club’s new owner was very active in the final stretch of the summer window by bringing in Ribery and Pulgar and continued the positive momentum with a memorable winter session. Patrick Cutrone has made an immediate impact after his brief exile in the Premier League, while Igor was brought in from SPAL to play as either a center back in the three man back line or alternate with Dalbert as the left winger. 

Iachini will be reunited with Alfred Duncan after their previous experience together at Sassuolo, the former Inter youth team product will bring a needed dynamic presence to the midfield and has the added bonus of being left footed unlike the other members of the unit. 

But while it’s helpful to have brought in an immediate reinforcement for all the sectors on the pitch, where Fiorentina outdid themselves was by signing both Sofyane Amrabat and Christian Kouame’ for next season. The fact that the Verona midfielder was a target for both Inter and Napoli underlines what an impressive addition he’ll be while Kouame’ has already proven himself in his brief time in Serie A at Genoa- he can compliment Cutrone very well and the two of them can grow together.

 

Inter’s project- this time last year, the idea that Christian Eriksen would sign with Inter would have sounded preposterous to most fans. Granted the Danish midfielder has had an uneven season so far, but Inter getting him to agree to a multi year deal on essentially a Bosman signing when he had been previously linked to Real Madrid and Paris St Germain is very impressive.

When you consider that Eriksen could start for the current Juventus, it’s hard to argue that he can‘t be a difference maker in this scudetto race on top of being a long term starter. After Diego Godin last summer, Inter have convinced another big name to join them.

 

Maldini, Boban and Massara- on top of landing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has made as much of an impact as the most optimistic fan could have expected, Milan’s trio of directors were able to get rid of a lot of dead weight on a very bloated payroll with Pepe Reina, Fabio Borini, Ricardo Rodriguez and Suso’s departures- players who were either expensive backups or who had fallen out of favor with new manager Stefano Pioli.

 

Genoa’s Back to the Future approach- the rossoblu’ went into the January window in last place and decided to go with players who had previously succeeded at the club. In addition to Mattia Perin, Valon Behrami, Masiello, Destro and Iago Falque’, president Preziosi also hired one of his former players in Davide Nicola to manage the team. Masiello and Iago Falque’ have the ability to be real difference makers in the race to avoid relegation while Behrami should bring the intensity the team lacked in first half of season. Captain Mimmo Criscito was inspired by the club’s efforts to avoid relegation and decided to stay despite an intriguing offer from Fiorentina.

Napoli turns the page- in retrospect this should have happened probably a year and a half ago, but De Laurentiis and sporting director Giuntoli started a serious rebuild of the squad by bringing in Lobotka and Demme to help go back to the club’s classic 4 3 3, Politano to be Callejon’s eventual replacement and the staunch Rrahmani to be part of their defense next season. Napoli are also close to acquiring Rrahmani’s teammate, the very impressive Kumbulla. For the attack the partenopei have also secured Andrea Petagna, who will however finish the season at SPAL- the former Milan prospect should be a great alternative to Milik and someone who can open space for Napoli’s wingers.

 

Atalanta goes with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it approach”- the Bergamaschi cashed in on Kulusevski and used the proceeds to add significant depth to Gasperini’s squad. Atalanta have been known for finding great value with players in the mid tier leagues and continued this trend by signing Czyborra, Sutalo, Bellanova and Tameze for less than 20 million combined. In addition, they also brought back a familiar face in Mattia Caldara to be a long term part of their defense.

 

Hellas Verona cash in- few expected the gialloblu’ to avoid relegation this season, but they instead find themselves in the upper half of the table while putting manager Ivan Juric once again on the map. The former Crotone and Genoa manager deserves a lot of credit for launching Rrahmani and Kumbulla who are leading one of the best defenses in Serie A while making Amrabat into a star. Rrahmani and Amrabat have already been sold to Napoli and Fiorentina respectively for 35 million, while Kumbulla is being pursued by Inter, Juventus and especially Napoli- on the bright side for Verona, they get to keep all three players until the end of the season.