Serie A Match of the Round – Udinese vs Milan

romagnoli

Most of the fixtures were lopsided in the weekend, but Udinese-Milan, albeit decided by a single goal, was intense and certainly a ton of fun. The Bianconeri were coming off a 2-2 tie against Genoa on the road, which gave Julio Velazquez some breathing room after four losses in a row. The Devil prevailed in the midweek make-up game against the Griffon and therefore racked up four wins in the past five games.

The Argentinian coach tinkered with his system, using Ignacio Pussetto as trequartista, giving Hidde Ter Avest his first start on the flank and deploying Rodrigo De Paul in the midfield over a more defensive option. Continue reading

Serie A Game of the Round – Milan vs Atalanta

milanatalanta2

The most enthralling game of the weekend was certainly Milan-Atalanta, which was hard fought until the final whistle. The Devil came into the game after a disappointing draw in Cagliari, where they did not play well and were lucky to come away with a point. Atalanta were eager to bounce back as well, since they were coming off two bitter losses to SPAL and Cagliari.

Gennaro Gattuso deployed his usual line-up, with Mateo Musacchio retaining his starting job because Mattia Caldara got hurt. Gian Piero Gasperini instead continued to tinker with his formation, sending out Mario Pasalic in the hole and Musa Barrow as centre-forward. Continue reading

Is Lucas Biglia really irreplaceable for AC Milan?

“Biglia? It may seem like Lucas is my son, but these are players with precise characteristics. When I say that he is irreplaceable, I say it strongly. I’m not biased, he has the specific qualities I need. He is a fundamental player on a tactical level: he filters, he gives compactness and closes many lines of passing. He can make a few mistakes, but he has characteristics that few in this team have.’’ Those were views of Gennaro Gattuso when quizzed about the performance of Lucas Biglia after the 2-1 defeat of AS Roma.

Not a lot of Rossoneri fans will be enthused by Gattus’s remarks about Lucas Biglia been irreplaceable, because more is expected from the Argentine. Biglia endured a challenging first year at Milan last season as he struggled to influence games from his position. Instead, he was guilty of costly errors either from a back pass or an inability to shield the ball when press by two opposing attackers. Mistakes that opponents used to punish Milan. These miscalculations was once again witnessed when Milan played Napoli at the San Paolo as Piotr Zieliński  pulled one back after Biglia lost control of the ball in front of the 18yard box.

Truth be told the 32 year-old Argentine did creditably well in the first half of that game, it was actually his pass that found Suso on the right before the Spaniards cross was headed down for Bonaventura to volleyed home. But it is worth noting that, Biglia was substituted for Tiémoué Bakayoko in the 58th minute in the second period of the Napoli game.

So has Lucas Biglia suddenly find form, and if so, what does Gattuso’s irreplaceable comment mean?

Certainly, Gattuso has shown Biglia is replaceable if he fails to perform to his expectation and he proved it when he hurled him out of the first game in Naples. Meaning the Argentine must continue to produce a higher consistent performance to enjoy the current found love of his coach. Rino did also issue a warning thatWhen I see players who don’t believe in what I say then I’ll go home.”

Biglia has not failed to show his quality as a player and what he can offer Milan on a good day, but his lack of consistency has become a source of frustration for many Milanisti. The Argentine does not affect games quite like Miralem Pjanić does for Juventus or Jorginho previously for SSC Napoli. At least not with his passes. There is considerable concern about his sideways balls to colleagues, his lack of competence to thread balls through the middle to find a player in open space and his timing to pick a pass.

The position of a deeper lying player maker has been clearly defined by Italian Legend and Midfield Maestro Andrea Pirlo since his days at San Siro, and he has become the paragon by which others are judged. In recent times Jorginho who just joined Chelsea from Napoli has performed in somewhat equal measure, but perhaps, no one may exhibit the class and vision of Andrea Pirlo on the ball, someone who controls the game from behind. And Milan is yet to find someone who would produce anything close to what their former midfielder yielded during his 10years stint with the Diavolo. It never happened with former Captain Riccardo Montolivo.

These days, defenders such as Leonardo Bonucci, Jerome Boateng, Segio Ramos, Kalidou Kolibaly Giorgio Chiellini are showing the quality of driving forward and providing passes from deep to create scoring opportunities in attack. AC Milan is missing that from Biglia. Another downside to his game is the obvious lack of pace he shows when Milan is under siege. He is easily bypassed by attacking opponents, maybe needs more protection from Franck Kessie because he is not a ball winner.

Gattuso remark about Biglia been indispensable could also be looked at from another perspective which could be justified. And that is there is a lack of quality replacement for the Argentine. In the absence of Biglia, the only player capable of playing satisfactorily in that role is Riccardo Montolivo. A player whose name sparks derision from a lot of Rossoneri fans, and that’s partly because just like the current occupant of that position, he failed to meet the demands of that role. Manual Locatteli deputised for Biglia last season, but has been sent on loan to Sassuolo to gather more experience and Andrea Bertolacci will require a leap of faith from Gennaro Gattuso to have a look into the starting eleven.

Despite the visible potential of Tiémoué Bakayoko, the Frenchman is currently finding it difficult to convince fans outside France that his outstanding performance for AS Monaco in the 2016/17 title winning season wasn’t deceptive. Last night, at the Sardegna Arena against Cagliari, Bakayoko came on for Giacomo Bonaventurar, and once again failed to have a telling effect from midfield. The on loan Chelsea midfielder may thrive as the season grows, but he needs a bit of Serie A education during training sessions.

Lucas Biglia may be irreplaceable for Gattuso, but that’s because there is no quality substitute on the bench.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Fantasy Football Managers? If you’re up to challenging the best then play www.seriea-fantasy.com now!

Serie A Match of the Week – Milan vs Roma

milan

Milan-Roma had the most buzz approaching the round and ended up being a pretty entertaining game. Another candidate could have been Sassuolo-Genoa, but, even though it was extremely high scoring, it was one-sided after the Rossoblù first goal. On the other hand, the San Siro clash was up for grabs until literally the final second.

Milan approached the fixture trying to shake off a disappointing final half an hour in Naples, where they squandered a two-nothing lead. La Lupa garnered four points so far, thanks to a clutch Edin Dzeko goal against Torino and then a spirited comeback versus Atalanta, where they had allowed three goals. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 2

juventuslazio

After some flashes in the first match day, the second one is more intriguing on paper.

Juventus-Lazio: the Old Lady had to toil to defeat Chievo, but the attack confirmed to be deep and hard to contain, even though few players had an off game, while the defence needs some fine-tuning. Cristiano Ronaldo was electric, but teammates had troubles finding him and Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa suffered from the fact that the spaces were all clogged up. Among the forwards, Federico Bernardeschi certainly looked the most in-form. Perhaps things will be a little more open against better competition. The Portuguese was devastating on the wing, which is good news for Mario Mandzukic, his ideal partner in crime, and for Alex Sandro as well because he had much more room to operate. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 37

milinkovic4

Welcome to the second edition of the Serie A recap.

Standings implications. Juventus are now mathematically champions, but there was no doubt about that following the previous weekend’s results. Roma had already locked up a Champions League berth before even playing thanks to Inter’s loss. The undermanned Lazio salvaged a point in Crotone and have now a three-point margin heading into next week’s showdown with the Nerazzurri. Milan qualified to Europa League, Atalanta almost certainly because they hold a three point and seven-score advantage in the goal difference over Fiorentina. Sampdoria are out of the running. Next week’s games will determine who will have to go through the exhausting playoffs starting in July. Continue reading

Serie A Best Team to Pick – Round 35

lasagna

Another pivotal Serie A round is approaching, here are the recommendable players to pick.

Alisson: Roma have kept three clean sheets in the last four games and they have a decent chance to do it again against Chievo, which have been sprightlier than usual lately, but have been extremely poor on the road this season.

Bartosz Bereszynski: the reliable Polish right back could take advantage of a cozy match-up for Sampdoria, as they will host a Cagliari team that has been defeated in three of their last four road games, failing to score in the last two.

Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 25

dybala2

There are a pair of key injured players to keep an eye on ahead of the next Serie A round.

Napoli:  Marek Hamsik was subbed off at halftime last week because of some back pain, but he played in Europa League. Raul Albiol missed the last three games because of muscle fatigue, but he could return on Sunday. On the other hand, Vlad Chiriches will be sidelined for a couple of weeks by a pulled hamstring. Arek Milik is progressing in his rehab protocol, but Faouzi Ghoulam had a big setback, even though unrelated to the previous ACL tear: he fractured his patella and had to undergo surgery; per the club statement, he will resume practicing in a month and it will be awhile before he plays in an official game. Continue reading

VIDEO: New beginnings for Mkhitaryan and Sanchez

The FA Cup has pushed back the Premier League this weekend as Manchester United and Arsenal welcome their new star signings.

To cover some of the most intriguing clashes across Europe, Nicholas Carroll provides this week’s Euro Fantasy League preview.

Arsenal have enjoyed a positive week of results and now have Henrikh Mkhitaryan at their disposal for their trip away to Swansea. Likewise, Manchester United are set to unleash Alexis Sanchez as they look to ignite their attack for a tough clash on the road with Tottenham. Continue reading

Milan finished only once piece shy from a complete summer

bonucci.milan.2017.18.capitano.750x450

After a long wait, the much anticipated Chinese era at Milan started in full effect this summer and Li Yonghong delivered what he promised. The reinforcement campaign was glorious and the sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli was one of the stars of the summer, closing deals left and right and pouncing very quickly on some bargains. Rossoneri signed eleven new players for the first team, investing a grand total of around €240M, without considering the various formulas used for the transfers and the money they got back in some sales. Continue reading