Serie A Match of the Round – Milan Derby

The most anticipated match of the round had a clear winner, as Inter came out on top with a two-nil result, but it was still pretty intense and entertaining.

The Nerazzurri came into the game having won the three previous matches against Lecce, Cagliari and Udinese, but had to bounce back from lackadaisical and costly performance in Champions League against Slavia Prague. Milan had scraped by Verona and Brescia in the last two. Antonio Conte kept Antonio Candreva on the bench since he suffered a knock in the most recent fixture, picking Danilo D’Ambrosio to man right flank, while the rest of the XI was the standard one, with Lautaro Martinez partnering Romelu Lukaku up front and Nicolò Barella in the midfield. Marco Giampaolo changed his selection again as he fielded Rafael Leao up front, next to Krzysztof Piatek and Suso, while Andrea Conti filled in for the suspended Davide Calabria at right back. Lucas Paqueta and Ismael Bennacer were again left on the bench. Continue reading

Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap

There were barely any deal in the first few sleepy days of August, where Fiorentina and Milan were the main protagonists. La Viola signed Kevin-Prince Boateng and Pol Lirola from Sassuolo and sold Vitor Hugo to Palmeiras, hinting a switch to their defensive philosophy since they used to deploy Nikola Milenkovic at right back, but will no go with a more normal and aggressive look. The Rossoneri instead cashed in on Patrick Cutrone, who joined Wolverhampton, and substituted him with Rafael Leao from Lille, who projects to be a better fit next to Krzysztof Piatek, and then announced Ismael Bennacer from Empoli on Sunday. Juventus completed the sale of Moise Kean to EvertonContinue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 37

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Gianluigi Donnarumma (7 points): the starlet saved Milan once again in the Frosinone game, preventing the opponents from going up in the score by brilliantly parrying away a Camillo Ciano penalty.

Riccardo Gagliolo (5 points): Parma defended very diligently against Fiorentina, holding La Viola scoreless once more. With Bruno Alves on the sidelines, it was up to Gagliolo to lead the back-line and he did not disappoint.

Mattia Bani (5 points): Chievo finally managed to stop and he and his teammate Bostjan Cesar did a fine job in stymieing Fabio Quagliarella and company in Sunday’s lunch match.   Continue reading

Assessing the goal keeper market in Serie A

Gianluigi-Donnarumma

 

With just three games left in the season, we can start looking to the summer transfer window. To get ready, let’s assess the market at each major position and the needs for the top teams in Serie A:

 

Juventus- all set with Szczesny at the starter position after he made the post Buffon season uneventful, Mattia Perin is recovering from an injury but expected back as backup

Napoli- Alex Meret has the potential to be the best keeper in club history, Ospina’s rights expected to be redeemed

Inter- Handanovic is still one of the elite keepers in the league but since he’s 34 time to look for a successor. Ionut Radu could be the heir apparent or a chip to make a plusvalenza, Brazao is expected to be at the summer retreat after finishing the season at Parma

Atalanta- Gollini replaced Berisha as the starter but the club could look for an upgrade especially if they qualify to Champions League

Milan- Donnarumma had a strong comeback season, Reina is the highest paid backup keeper in Serie A, Plizzari recently signed an extension

Roma- you have to wonder how many more points they would have had Mirante replaced Olsen sooner. But Mirante is also 35…

 

 

Alessio Cragno

 

The Cagliari keeper had a breakout season and you can make a case he was the best keeper in the league along with Sirigu in 2018-19. But unlike the Torino keeper, Cragno is just about to enter his prime since he’ll turn 25 and will have a significant market moving forward. Cragno could be a great fit at Roma as an immediate starter or he could be the long term replacement for Handanovic at Inter should they decide to cash on Radu. If Atalanta wanted to make a bold move, especially if they qualify for the Champions League, Cragno would be a wise investment since he would also have future resale value.

 

Ionut Radu

 

The Romanian keeper replaced Marchetti as the starter at Genoa last fall and quickly established himself as one of the best young keepers in the league. It will be interesting to see if Inter, who ultimately own his rights with a counter buy back option, decide to use him as a financial asset and turn him into a plusvalenza, or if they will be more gun shy after Zaniolo’s explosion at Roma. 

 

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Mattia Perin

 

Could the former Genoa keeper follow in Neto’s foot steps and decide to leave Juventus because the backup role isn’t fulfilling enough? Prior to his injury, Perin did little to show he was a serious threat to replace Szczesny as the starter, but because of his reputation he still has a significant market and could net Juventus a fairly significant plusvalenza since they acquired him for 12 million euro. Perin could be an enticing option for Atalanta and Fiorentina should they decide to cash in on Lafont.

 

Alban Lafont 

 

The FIFA superstar had an up and down debut season in Serie A. Not surprisingly he had his fair share of great saves, but he also cost his club numerous points with some significant blunders and poor ball distribution skills. But considering the dumpster fire season Fiorentina is about to complete and the excellent performances by Bartomiej Dragowski at Empoli while on loan, we could see a changing of the guard at the keeper position.

Lafont could still fetch a good profit for Fiorentina because of his reputation and the low price it took to acquire (around 8 million). He could be a fit at Roma or more likely at a club outside of Italy.

 

Juan Musso

 

The former Racing club keeper turned heads in his debut season in Serie A. His performances for Udinese earned him a selection to Argentina’s national team, assuming the Friulani don’t get relegated, it’s likely they’ll hold on to him at least another season to further increase his value (and lower his amortization cost).

Emil Audero

 

After the success of the Lucas Torreira deal, it’s not surprising to see Arsenal once again looking at Sampdoria. The Gunners have scouted the Indonesian born keeper multiple times this season, but in order to tempt Ferrero’s club, they must offer considerably more than the 20 million euro paid in January to redeem his rights from Juventus. 

Gigio Donnarumma

 

 Considering how long he has been in our lives, it’s hard to believe the Milan keeper is just twenty years old. Donnarumma has fully established himself as Buffon’s heir on the Azzurri and for a long stretch of the season, he was right there with Cragno and Sirigu as the best keeper in the league. 

Donnarumma also fixed his relationship with the club’s fan base, but his humongous salary and fact he would represent a massive plusvalenza at a time that Milan faces significant Financial Fair Play restraints (especially if they don’t qualify for the Champions League)

 

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 33

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Juventus: Mattia Perin and Sami Khedira will undergo season-ending surgeries for shoulder and knee problems respectively. Paulo Dybala sustained a quad strain against Ajax and will miss at least a couple of weeks. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) might be back next week, while Mario Mandzukic might not be back at all due to patellar tendon issues. Douglas Costa (calf) and Martin Caceres (thigh) will skip the next two matches.

Napoli: Raul Albiol (knee surgery) has resumed practicing and might be called up this week, leaving Amadou Diawara as the only injured player. Nikola Maksimovic will be on the mend for a while due to a foot infraction.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 32

ROVETTA 08-07 -2018- ATALANTA  CAMPIONATO SERIE A TIN 2018-19  .Alberto mariani - silpress

Juventus: Blaise Matuidi subbed off against Ajax due to a calf problem, but the injury is not believed to be severe. Emre Can (ankle) and Giorgio Chiellini (calf) will sit Saturday’s game too but they are not distant from returning. Juan Cuadrado is back after knee surgery, while Douglas Costa suffered a new calf problem. Miralem Pjanic, Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo have not been called up for rest purposes.

Napoli: Simone Verdi was scatched late for the previous match due to muscle fatigue, but he was called up for the London trip. Raul Albiol (knee) and Amadou Diawara will miss another one, but at least of them could be back next week.

Inter: Marcelo Brozovic suffered a pull of the semitendinosus muscle in the right pull and will miss the Frosinone game and perhaps one more after that. Lautaro Martinez and Stefan De Vrij are set to be called up after being sidelined by thigh ailments. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 31

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Juventus: Mario Mandzukic (flu), Paulo Dybala (calf) and Leonardo Spinazzola (knee) have recovered from their problems, while Cristiano is sitll out. Sami Khedira, Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado have ramped up their activity and are close to returning, but they will not be called up in this round. Martin Caceres will miss three weeks with a thigh strain.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne is said to have almost recuperated from his thigh contracture and could be in the squad list in this round. David Ospina (head), Faouzi Ghoulam and Vlad Chiriches (thigh) should be in the squad in list, while Raul Albiol is not far away.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 29

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Standings implications: they did it in opposite fashion, but Juventus and Napoli both took home the full spoils in this round. Inter were bested by Lazio, Milan by Sampdoria and therefore the Biancocelesti and Atalanta moved closer to the fourth spot. The Orobici leapfrogged Roma, while Sampdoria now share the eight spot with Torino, which tied in Florence. Cagliari prevailed for the third time in the last four fixtures, this time versus Chievo, and are eight point clear of the 18th spot, which is now occupied by Empoli that have been overtaken by Bologna as result of a dramatic victory. Udinese and SPAL kept their slim lead with Ws against Genoa and Frosinone.

Confirmations: Duvan Zapata took advantage of few elite strikers being shut out to pull closer to the top of the scorers’ chart thanks to a brace.  Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Milan vs Inter

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Goals galore in few matches in a very exciting Serie A weekend, which culminated in a riveting Derby della Madonnina that easily took home the coveted shout-out.

Milan approached the game looking to carry on the momentum that led them to snatching the third position away from the crosstown rivals with five straight wins. Inter prevailed in the last two Serie A matches, but just endured a bitter elimination from Europa League by the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt.

Gennaro Gattuso confirmed his go-to XI, with Davide Calabria, Tiemoué Bakayoko and Hakan Calhanoglu returning to the lineup after being rested last week. Continue reading

Ranking the ten best keepers in Serie A this season

 

Here‘s a ranking of the ten best keepers in Serie A this season- the criteria is strictly performances in league play, not reputation nor ability

 

Gianluigi-Donnarumma

Gigio Donnarumma

When you consider how long he has been in our lives, it’s hard to believe that Milan’s keeper is just twenty years old. After a very tumultuous season following a very acrimonious negotiation for his contract extension. Donnarumma has fully rebounded and is now the gold standard at the position in Serie A especially when you consider his improvements with ball distribution.

Along with Romagnoli, Donnarumma is the main reason Milan’s defense has been the best in Serie A in 2019. In addition to his performances for the rossoneri, Donnarumma has fully established himself as the heir to Gigi Buffon on the Azzurri- no easy feat.

ACF Fiorentina v Torino FC - Serie A

 

Salvatore Sirigu

The former Paris St Germain keeper broke Torino’s record for longest streak without conceding a goal, a very impressive achievement if you know about Torino’s history. While it’s easier to get excited for younger keepers and Sirigu doesn’t get much attention because Torino isn’t a sexy team like Atalanta or even Sampdoria, he has consistently been in conversation for best keeper in Serie A performance wise even before his impressive recent streak.

 

Alessio Cragno

Cagliari’s keeper has been a staple of the Italian national’s team youth teams in recent years despite facing significant competition at his position and in his second season as a full time starter in Serie A, he has more than lived up to the hype.

What Cragno may lack in height (at least compared to the other top keepers in the league) he more than makes up with his reflexes and positioning- because of his body type and ability, he has been compared to former Juventus keeper Angelo Peruzzi. Cragno is ready to take the next step at a big club and could be a target for both Roma where he could be an immediate starter next season and Inter where he could be more of a long term replacement for Handanovic.

 

Emil Audero 

After making name for himself at Venezia in Serie B last season, the former Juventus youth team product has excelled at Sampdoria after replacing veteran Emiliano Viviano. Audero’s performances for Marco Giampaolo’s side have already caught the eye of Arsenal, who have scouted him multiple times after hitting a homerun with Lucas Torreira who arrived to London from Sampdoria.

While a lot was made about Ferrero’s club spending twenty million euro to acquire him on a permanent basis from Juventus last week, anyone who watched him regularly is much less outraged than say the fees paid for Sturaro and Cerri- considering Audero’s age and ability, he could be sold for a considerably amount in the near future.

 

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Woj Szczesny

It might surprise those who mainly know him from his time at Arsensal, but there’s no doubt the Polish international has been one of the best keepers in Italy the past four years. The main reason he isn’t higher in this ranking is that this specific season his best performances have come in the Champions League, but he has erased any doubt he’s a worthy heir to Buffon at Juventus and he has decisively won his current competition with newly acquired Mattia Perin.

 

Luigi Sepe

 

After appearing in just one Serie A match the past three seasons, the former Napoli keeper has exceled at Parma. Sepe is a bit of a late bloomer since he’ll turn 28 at the beginning of May, but his performances for D’Aversa’s side have been as impactful of Gervinho and as a result he’s ready to be a starter for years to come.

 

Samir Handanovic 

 

After years of being underrated (at least outside of Serie A) mainly because he had never played in the Champions League or the starter on a high profile national team, maybe I’m taking Inter’s new captain for granted with this rating. But Handanovic has continued to be the definition of a feast or famine keeper, he can make saves that maybe no one else on the list can get to but is also the leader of mistakes that are reminiscent of when the battery of the controller on your PS4 runs out of juice mid game.

 

Alex Meret 

Napoli’s keeper would certainly be either third or fourth on this list had he not missed so many games to start the season because of a shoulder injury. Ancelotti has rightfully been cautious since he returned by rotating him with Ospina, but despite not playing in every match, the former Udinese keeper has shown why Italy’s Under 19 goalkeeper coach Ferron once said he considers Meret just as good a prospect as Donnarumma. Meret was  picked to replace Pepe Reina at Napoli also because of his ball distribution skills and so far has shown he’ll be a much better shot stopper than his predecessor in the near future (if he isn’t already).

Stefano Sorrentino

Chievo maybe dead last in the standings but that is certainly not because of the performances of their soon to be 40 year old keeper. Sorrentino was the first keeper to stop one of Ronaldo’s penalties and will certainly be able to find a job in Serie A next season should he decide to keep playing.

 

Alban Lafont

Those who only know the French keeper from FIFA must be surprised to see him ranked this low, but while Lafont has certainly made many numerous spectacular saves since arriving in Tuscany, he has also shown some significant limitations in every aspect of his role outside of shot stopping (he’s essentially the French Mattia Perin). But considering his young age and physical tools we can expect him to improve significantly next season.