Roma-Bologna: the Giallorossi are in a funk and have played just one convincing game out of the last five. They will be without Lorenzo Pellegrini due to suspension and it is a massive loss considering that he is the mastermind of their offense. They should get Henrikh Mkhitaryan back from injury and perhaps even starting considering the hole at no.10. The other option is likely Diego Perotti and they seem to always be awarded a penalty when he is out there. Edin Dzeko has scored in three straight games and they will face a pretty suspect back-line. Cengiz Under took a step back versus Sassuolo, but he is always pretty assertive when he decides to play, while Justin Kluivert has not done much since coming back from injury, but should improve over time. Paulo Fonseca has elected to keep Aleksandar Kolarov on the bench in the last two matches for tactical reasons, but the decision has not really moved the needle so the stud left-back should soon be back in the XI. Continue reading
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
Lazio-Sampdoria: despite a fairly muted performance, the Biancocelesti came out on top versus Napoli last week, for the second week in a row propelled by a late Ciro Immobile goal. The capocannoniere keeps producing and has already reached the 20-goal threshold. He has scored their last three goals. Joaquin Correa will be limited, so Felipe Caicedo might get another chance to start and he has posted three goals and two assists in limited action in the last five appearances. Luis Alberto will be looking to pad his assist numbers (12), while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has reverted back to his less efficient self after a hot stretch. Senad Lulic will be suspended, so Jony is set to play on the left wing and he is a willing crosser. The Eagles have been airtight at home. Continue reading
Sampdoria did not get a shut-out win but still had the most commanding win of the weekend, bagging five goals against Brescia and putting few contributors in the team of the week.
The Blucerchiati needed to right the ship as they had won just once in the past five games, dropping three and tying nil-nil with Milan in the most recent one. Claudio Ranieri could not count on the disqualified Omar Colley and chose Vasco Regini over Jeison Murillo to replace him in the heart of the defence. Morten Thorsby got the nod over Albin Ekdal in the midfield, joining Karol Linetty and Jakub Jankto and the regular Ronaldo Vieira, while Fabio Quagliarella partnered with Manolo Gabbiadini up front. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus leapfrogged Inter atop of the table as the Bianconeri squeezed past Roma, while the Beneamata equalized with Atalanta. Lazio keep finding ways to prevail and got their tenth win a row, downing Napoli. Cagliari continue to spiral and they were handed their fourth straight loss by a surprisingly convincing Milan. Torino held on despite Bologna’s game-long assault, bringing home three quality points and closing in on the sixth spot. Udinese keep surging and rattled off the third W in a row against Sassuolo. Fiorentina finally returned to winning ways by nipping SPAL. Sampdoria distanced themselves from the danger zone with a dominating display against Brescia. The rough day for the bottom three clubs was capped by Genoa suffering a comeback at the hands of Verona.
Atalanta: Duvan Zapata has resumed practicing fully after his complicate thigh injury and he is fully expected to be available against Parma, but the capacity remains to be determined. Pierluigi Gollini is dealing with the flu.
Bologna: Blerin Dzemaili is under the weather and is out, Federico Santander has recovered from a tibia bruise, while Ladislav Krejci will likely miss another one with a sore knee.
Standings implications: Inter and Juventus prevailed in their matches against the Genoa-based teams and so continue to go hand-in-hand, while Lazio will have to wait till February to know the results of the Verona game. Roma handled Fiorentina, while Cagliari suffered the second loss in a row at the hands of Udinese and were leapfrogged by Atalanta, which dismantled Lecce. Torino found a way to lose at home against SPAL. Bologna are surging with their third W in the past four rounds, this time over Lecce, while Parma and Brescia shared the spoils. Napoli finally returned to winning ways with a little luck against Sassuolo, as the final goal at the buzzer was probably an own goal. Continue reading
Lazio-Atalanta: the formula for the Biancocelesti never really changes, as Ciro Immobile is going like gangbusters this year, while Luis Alberto has been their second-best player, especially thanks to his playmaking, as he has already provided five assists. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa have both broken the ice, but they have yet to turn into consistent scorers. The ancillary contributors like Manuel Lazzari and Adam Marusic have been stuck in a timeshare, while Senad Lulic’s fantasy appeal is limited.
The Goddess lost Duvan Zapata for some time due to a muscular injury, so it now will have to be Luis Muriel’s time to shine as the primary go-to-guy. He has scored three times in five appearances despite the irregular playing time and, despite the different skillset, they might not take a big hit there. Continue reading
Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri have not been very spectacular in the last two matches against minnows, but they got the job done with the contribution of few different players. Cristiano Ronaldo has shaken off his injury and will be back in this one, Paulo Dybala has outperformed Gonzalo Higuain in the last couple of outings, but the latter is usually closer to the goal. Aaron Ramsey has been pretty good and they could carry on with the tactics where he is heavily featured, but it remains to be seen whether he can play thrice in a row, otherwise Adrien Rabiot or Federico Bernardeschi could get the nod there and reap the benefits of a very offensive role. They have gotten goals from Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi, even though Sami Khedira is generally the midfielder who is most involved in the offense. Juan Cuadrado loses some steam because he is forced to play as right back for the time being. Continue reading
Ionut Radu (7 points): the best goalkeepers of the round all ended up conceding at least a goal, so the nod goes to the Genoa one for his ordinary but diligent work in the Fiorentina game, where the Griffon came away with the point they needed.
Franck Kessie (9 points): he was a beast in the SPAL match, as he set up Hakan Calhanoglu’s goal with a pinpoint square ball, found the target with a scorcher and ultimately buried a penalty. He concluded an up-and-down season with his finest performance. Continue reading