Mkhitaryan the hat-trick hero as Roma climb into the top 4 but lose Verona appeal

Roma picked up their 4th win of the season as they beat Genoa 3-1 at the weekend and the hero who emerged from the game was Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The player scored a hat-trick to boost his club who left the Genoa came with back to back wins.

This was a game dominated by the visitors Roma who had 6 shots on target in the first half alone and it was a real surprise that the first half looked like it was going to end 0-0. But with 2 minutes of stoppage time to play Roma found their goal. Mkhitaryan the number 77 rose as if he was standing on a ladder such was his advantage for a final Roma first half corner and drove an unbeatable header into the net.

In football when one team scores just before half time it can have quite a psychological effect on the game. However Genoa came out fighting in the second half and just 5 minutes into the second period Genoa found themselves level. And what a brilliant one it was. Football is a team game after all and this felt like the ultimate one. Starting deep in their own half the club played one touch football, it took five passes to open up Roma and stun them and Marko Pjaca slotted away with ease. His reaction to the goal said it all, and it is goals like these that football is reminded of how much it is missing the fans.

Having said that with Genoa being at home their fans would be ultimately left disappointed as Roma struck back. It took until the 66th minute and was slightly scrappy but showed how the club do not give up loose balls, eventually the ball fell to Bruno Peres who simply had to tap a cross into the running Mkhitaryan to easily score his 2nd of the game.

Mkhitaryan’s third and Roma’s winner was sealed with five minutes to go, this time Pedro was the provider. And it was the best goal of the game. A neat cross on the edge of the area found Mkhitaryan just inside it who smashed the ball home in fantastic style. It was a game that Roma dominated from start to finish having 18 attempts on goal. Genoa of course did play their part but there was always likely only going to be one winner at the weekend. Roma are now in 4th place on 14 points and three points behind league leaders AC Milan.

Understandably Roma coach Paulo Fonseca was full of praise for his side. “We showed great personality and we deserved to win. We had four or five clear chances to score and we were always focused at the back. They scored on our only mistake. It’s important to feel this commitment. We conceded one goal but we scored three and we could have done more. After Genoa’s goal we had a great reaction, we scored two goals and it’s important to feel this ambition.”

Roma lose Verona appeal

In theory Roma haven’t lost this season although anyone can see by their league statistics that they have lost a game. This is because of their match v Verona earlier in the season where the club fielded an ineligible player by mistake in Amadou Diawara. The Italian FA voided the game at 0-0 and gave Verona a 3-0 default victory going by the rules. The appeal has been officially rejected though and Verona keep their win.

Mkhitaryan the hat-trick hero

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s hat trick were his first goals of the season and he revealed that injured striker Edin Dzeko spoke to him before the goal and said score a goal. Well he did better than that. Even though it was first goals of the season he has assisted in another 4 goals already and has been an important part of the clubs strengths.

Mkhitaryan earned 14 fantasy points at the weekend and he has 28 in total which means he is currently the most successful player at Roma to have in your team.

It’s the international break now and Roma’s next game isn’t until November 22nd where they will play Parma at home.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Seven – Other Games

CAGLIARI-SAMPDORIA

Cagliari: they were again productive on the offensive end as Giovanni Simeone and Joao Pedro both found the target, registering respectively the fifth and the fourth goal of their campaigns, but some defensive problems did them in versus Bologna. While Riccardo Sottil had scored in the previous game, Adam Ounas came off the bench really well and could get an opportunity to start in this one. Nahitan Nandez has enjoyed a more offensive role but has yet to post goal or an assist, while Marko Rog and Razvan Marin’s contribution in the final third is limited, even though the ex-Ajax could make up for it with his set piece prowess. Their fullbacks have both been very good, as Charalampos Lykogiannis has found the net once and Gabriele Zappa has provided two assists. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Six – Remaining Games

CROTONE-ATALANTA

Crotone: they had their best offensive game to date in the Cagliari trip, unfortunately their defence keeps letting them down and they do not have the horses to fully make up for it. Junior Messias and Salvatore Molina capitalized on their good run of form with their first goals of the season versus the Sardinians and they have welcomed back linchpin Ahmad Benali, who will be a weapon once he will have his legs underneath him. Simy has nailed two PKs so far and he always has a chance or two during matches. Arkadiusz Reca is coming off an assist and has squarely been their best wing-back. Jacopo Petriccione is likely to fill in for Luca Cigarini and he could be a cheap plug. The Goddess have been rather shoddy defensively so far.

Recommended picks: Simy, Messias, Molina. Continue reading

A win in Genoa and draw in Ukraine keep Inter on the right path after hectic week

What a week it has been for Inter. First the derby defeat which put the club into a reality check after the pre-season hype and then they jumped back on the winning trail to beat Genoa away from home 2-0.

The victory in Genoa was a professional and solid win for Inter who had to fight hard for every ball and no one was that surprised to see the score locked in at 0-0 at half time. Star striker Lautaro Martinez was denied and was then shown the yellow card and it just seemed like it could be one of those days for Antonio Conte’s men.

However on the 64th minute Nicolo Barella teed up Romelu Lukaku who made no mistake to open the scoring and score his 5th goal of the season. The game was wrapped up 12 minutes later when Danilo D’Ambrosio scored his first goal in a month for the club which sealed the win. At 2-0 the game was over and Genoa gave up the chase.

It was 3 points that Inter really deserved and in truth they dominated the game having 6 shots on target in total. It said everything about Genoa who are now in 15th position with just one win this season that they didn’t even have a shot on target. With those stats had Inter dropped 2 points at the weekend they would have regretted it.

Whilst Milan remain top of the league they dropped 2 points as they were held at home in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Roma. Inter are now in 4th place and are just 3 points behind Milan.

On Tuesday Inter played their 2nd game of the Champions League and drew 0-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk. This match followed their opening game where they also drew 2-2 that time against Borussia Monchengladbach and the next fixture in their group is against the mighty Real Madrid. With two draws so far this leaves Inter in 3rd place with 2 points and they are a further 2 points adrift of current group leaders Shakhtar.

Coach Antonio Conte was disappointed with the draw saying: “I think we have to be disappointed in the final result because we played well and created many chances. We played with the right intensity, with the right commitment, as a big team. We dominated and we were not lucky. We had some chances to score, we played a very good game in both phases. Don’t forget Shakhtar have important technical qualities, we are sorry because we would deserve to win the game. We are on the right way, the mentality is a good one.”

Inter have a busy time coming up which includes a home game with Parma then they play Real Madrid away a few days later on November 3rd and then they are away to Atalanta. There are no easy games in that pick.

Top 3 best performing players in the fantasy rankings

1. Romelu Lukaku 19pts

2. Lautaro Martinez 11pts

3. Danilo D’Ambrosio 10pts

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Serie A Fantasy Previews – Round Five – Top Matches

ATALANTA-SAMPDORIA

Atalanta: the Bergamaschi looked unprepared to match Napoli’s aggressiveness in the last fixture and the much-anticipated bout ended with a shocking beating. They will look to return to form in Serie A as well after pummelling Midtjylland. Alejandro Gomez has been the tip of the spear so far and straight-up one of the best players in the League. Luis Muriel has put his name in the stat-sheet twice, like Sam Lemmers, who has made the most of his limited opportunities. Duvan Zapata has been more up-and-down. Josip Ilicic looked rusty in his first game back, but that is understandable: the good news is that he indeed came back and the coach will likely give him regular minutes to get him into shape. Ruslan Malinovskyi is questionable due to an injury, which may lead to some playing time for the intriguing Aleksey Miranchuk. Their stud wing-backs Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens have scored one goal each, with the German international adding two assists.

Suggested picks: Gomez, Muriel, Zapata. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Four

Atalanta: Aleksey Miranchuk is set to be available after missing the first three matches with a thigh strain. Cristiano Piccini and Matteo Pessina have resumed practicing regularly following knee injuries and they too will return soon. Josip Ilicic is getting closer and closer, but the information on him is not always solid. Rafael Toloi is out of the quarantine after skipping the previous game, while Marco Carnesecchi has COVID. Mattia Caldara partially tore the patellar tendon in the left knee and will not be back before 2021.

Benevento: Andres Tello is be back after missing some time with ailments, but Federico Barba is still out. Gabriel Moncini will skip a game or two due to an adductor strain. Nicolas Viola needs more time to recover from a meniscus tear. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Four – Other Games

BOLOGNA-SASSUOLO

Bologna: the Felsinei have been unconvicing in their two road games, against Benevento and Milan, while they hanged four goals on Parma on their lone home one. They had their chances against the Sanniti but could not knock one through. They lost Andreas Skov Olsen for significant time during the break and so Riccardo Orsolini will recapture the starting job, but he will have to watch out for Emmanuel Vignato if he does not wake up. Musa Barrow has taken a bunch of shots but has yet to score, the leading man in that regard has been Roberto Soriano and also Rodrigo Palacio has notched one. The absences of Gary Medel and Andrea Poli will force them to field either Mattias Svanberg or Nicolas Dominguez, who carry more value because they participate more in the final third. Sassuolo tend to leave some room to counter and they have a pair of speedsters. Continue reading

Growing excitement over Gattuso’s Napoli

“Nobody gave me anything,” is reportedly the mantra Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso is trying to instil in his players.

The former Milan legend understands this better than most. As a player, Gattuso wasn’t blessed with the divine talents of his partner-in-crime, Andrea Pirlo, or even with the skillset of vastly underrated teammate Massimo Ambrosini. Gattuso was a fighter, someone who wasn’t going to pick out a rampaging right-back with a sumptuous 40-yard diagonal pass or produce an outrageous piece of skill, he was the player who did the grunt work, who took the ball from the opposition and gave it to his more talented colleagues. The Calabrian-native made a career out of it, and won a flurry of accolades as a result.

And in his short stint as Napoli coach, he’s succeeding in transferring his ethos to the players. Gattuso has brought a tighter cohesion to the team, installed a more diligent work ethic than had seemingly been evident during the final months of the Carlo Ancelotti era.

Gattuso guided the club to the Coppa Italia title in June, beating Juventus 4-2 on penalties. It was their first piece of major silverware since lifting the same trophy in 2014. It must also be remembered that Napoli beat Lazio, Inter and Juve en route – three of the top four sides last season – and conceded a single goal.

Going into this season, the club has almost gone under the radar. The €60m signing of Victor Osimhen hasn’t received the coverage that a signing of that expense should garner. Much of the focus surrounding the club has been on the potential departures of Kalidou Koulibaly and Arkadiusz Milik.

Eight goals in their first two Serie A games without reply suggests that Gattuso’s side mean business. They looked sluggish in the opening half against Parma on the opening day, and didn’t spring into life until the introduction of Osimhen in the second half, who caused havoc with his mere presence.

The Nigerian was granted his first start against Genoa at the San Paolo, and was instrumental in Napoli’s 6-0 demolition job, including a deft touch for Piotr Zielinski’s goal. Whilst Osimhen hasn’t got on the score sheet himself, it’s evident that he offers more to the Partenopei than Milik, who’s more static and less nimble than the 21-year-old.

Furthermore, Chucky Lozano has impressed Gattuso with his start to the season following a disappointing debut campaign in Italy. “I’m not giving anything to him,” said Gattuso following the 6-0 win. “He’s a different player now, he’s got great strength in his legs, and doesn’t fall to the ground like a kid when he gets kicked.” Lozano has inherited the departed Jose Callejon’s position on the right flank in Gattuso’s 4-2-3-1 system, and with the pressure of being the club’s most expensive signing lifted due to the arrival of Osimhen, the Mexican is beginning to look like the player Napoli shelled out €42m on a year ago.

During the Maurizio Sarri reign, the point was always argued that Napoli had a great starting XI, but little in the way of players that could’ve come off the bench and made a difference. However this is no longer the case. The January signings of Diego Demme, Stanislav Lobotka, Matteo Politano and the summers arrivals of Andrea Petagna, Amir Rrahmani and Osimhen have given Gattuso a far greater squad depth than either of his two predecessors were afforded.

In addition to having a bigger squad, with Serie A allowing five substitutions for this season only, Napoli could be one of the main beneficiaries of the rule, as Inter exemplified in their 4-3 win against Fiorentina last weekend.

Whilst yes, one could argue that their two wins were only against Parma and Genoa and that it’s very early in the season to be making grand proclamations, but, whisper it quietly – Napoli look a formidable opponent, and are in with a strong chance of securing Champions League football next season.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Two – Top Matches

TORINO-ATALANTA

Torino: the Granata did really not show anything new in the Fiorentina game even though Marco Giampaolo is supposedly going to bring a ton of changes, but that will take time and likely a couple of new players to come to fruition. They created just a pair of changes, with Andrea Belotti fully in the thick of it as per usual, while Simone Zaza rubbished a tasty one. They might be better off signing a new striker. The coach went with Alex Berenguer in the hole and then voiced doubts about Simone Verdi’s playing in that position, however there is not really any other place for him in the formation, so he will have to adapt. Soualiho Meite and Karol Linetty were not very involved offensively, mostly because the match-up was not easy, but this upcoming one is worse.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round One

Bologna: Gary Medel is suspended and is also recovering from a grade one strain in the semimembranosus muscle on the right thigh, therefore he could miss week two as well.

Cagliari: Luca Ceppitelli, Filip Bradaric and Kiril Despodov are quarantining after catching COVID-19 in late August. Gaston Pereiro suffered a fifth metatarsal fracture in the right foot about two weeks ago and he has a 45-day timetable. Alessandro Deiola is recovering from a clean-up surgery on the right knee he had during his time at Lecce. Continue reading