Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round Eight

Robin Olsen: he is putting together a nice bounce-back season after having a rough go with Roma in the previous campaign. He is not as good as Alessio Cragno, but he could take advantage of the fact that SPAL are still scoreless after three road games.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo: the move to a bigger club has not hurt him, on the contrary it has raised his profile and helped him earn an Azzurri call-up. He has scored once and provided one assist so far, entrenching himself as a valuable part of the offense. It does not hurt that Verona usually have trouble scoring. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round Seven

Alex Meret (7 points): pretty solid goalkeeping by those who earned a clean sheet, Bartlomiej Dragowski and Marco Silvestri in particular, but the nod goes to the Napoli youngster, who managed to parry away a cannon shot by Cristian Ansaldi and exuded confidence throughout the game.

Nikola Milenkovic (9 points): he decided the match against Udinese with a trademark header where he soared in the sky. The switch to a three-man defence has surely helped him. Continue reading

Serie A Best XI – Round Three

Alex Meret (7 points): Napoli breezed past Sampdoria, but their goalie saved them twice in the first half, with a great instinctive save on Alex Ferrari and then hypnotizing Emiliano Rigoni on a one-on-one.

Luca Ceppitelli (7 points): he exaggerated in the Parma game with a brace, finding the target first with his feet as he was left all alone in the box and then with a textbook and more traditional header. A rare appearance in the top XI for a defender that did not keep a clean sheet. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Round – Napoli

Just one shout-out win with multiple goals in this round and it belonged to Napoli, as Sampdoria find themselves again on the wrong end of the column despite showing some improvements compared to the first two outings.

The Partenopei wanted to put behind them a very bitter loss to Juventus considering the way it went down, while they had prevailed over Fiorentina in the opener. Carlo Ancelotti tweaked his system moving Fabian Ruiz back to pivot, Piotr Zielinski filled in for the banged up Lorenzo Insigne on the left flank and Hirving Lozano partnered Dries Mertens up front. Elijf Elmas and Nikola Maksimovic gave Allan and Kostas Manolas a breather ahead the mammoth Champions League clash with Liverpool. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Three

Fiorentina-Juventus: despite the two tough losses, la Viola showed some intriguing stuff up front against both Napoli and Genoa. The potential is there, but the whole team needs to tighten up and build up some chemistry. Franck Ribery is primed to get more minutes after the break and they should finally counter-balance a line-up that is always too reliant on Federico Chiesa. The ones that will benefit the most are the centre-forwards and for the time being Kevin-Prince Boateng will likely be the top option until Dusan Vlahovic and Pedro find their footing. Gaetano Castrovilli has already shown that he can be dangerous with his cuts, while Erick Pulgar hit the net twice on penalties and will have more opportunities to put his shooting prowess to good use in a slightly modified role. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Juventus vs Napoli

Juventus-Napoli fitted right into the high scoring nature of the first two Serie A rounds, as the whole leagues seems to have forgotten his defensive pedigree, much to the delight of the audience. A bizarre game, as the Bianconeri utterly dominated for an hour, but then gave the lead away in a 15-minute black-out. In an incredible twist though, Kalidou Koulibaly scored an own goal in the stoppage time. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Two

Results: Juventus emerged victorious in a wild bout with Napoli with a big assist from the opponents, while Roma and Lazio shared the spoils in an equally hard-fought Derby. Inter and Torino are the only two other teams at six points, as the Nerazzurri squeezed past Cagliari, while the Granata grabbed a quality victory against Atalanta. Milan found their first W scraping by Brescia. Genoa defeated Fiorentina, Sassuolo ragdolled Sampdoria, Bologna downed SPAL in the final minutes and Verona escaped Lecce with three valuable points.   Continue reading

Empoli Trio Set for Big Moves

empolispal

Despite being relegated to Serie B in heart-breaking fashion, Empoli’s roster contained many up and coming talents. Following their relegation many Serie A side are looking to claim their best players on the cheap.

Just last week, Napoli signed Giovanni Di Lorenzo – who had his best season yet, scoring five goals and registering three assists – while Empoli’s underrated midfield trio has since been dismantled.

Today, it was reported that Juventus signed Hamed Traore for 12 million euros and will loan him out immediately to Sassuolo. Fiorentina reportedly signed him in the January transfer window, but forgot to deposit his contract with the league. Juventus took full advantage of their mistake, and snapped up the midfielder immediately.

The 19-year-old had a phenomenal season under Aurelio Andreazzoli, and established himself as one of the league’s most enticing midfield prospects. Equally capable of defending as he is attacking, Traore looks to be a complete midfielder, and will undoubtedly make the move to Juventus in the near future if he keeps developing.

At Sassuolo, Traore finds himself in an ideal situation and will play under yet another progressive manager in Roberto De Zerbi. As a result, expect Traore to continue his progression next season.

Outside of Traore, Rade Krunic also made the move to one of Italy’s elite. Milan signed the Bosnian midfielder for 8 million euros, and will reunite with his former manager Marco Giampaolo. While Krunic isn’t exactly the big-money move Milan fans wanted in the midfield, he will offer some much needed depth and creativity to the side. Capable of playing as a mezz’ala or behind the striker, if need be, Krunic will get plenty of minutes to prove himself.

In his 33 appearances this season, the midfielder scored five goals – two of which were wonder-strikes against Sassuolo and SPAL. Other than his ability to find the back of the net, the former Empoli midfielder registered seven assists, highlighting his directness and ability to pick a defence apart at will. At just 25 years old, and given he’s already familiar with Giampaolo, expect Krunic to only improve from here, and make the most of his move to Milan.

Ismael Bennacer, on the other hand, is still at the club for the time being, but it’s only a matter of time before the midfielder leaves. Currently, Genoa are favourites for his signature, however, it’s important to note that Arsenal hold the right to match any accepted offer. In the past, a number of English and French clubs have been linked with the Algerian midfielder, therefore don’t rule out foreign interference yet.

Playing at the base of the midfield, Bennacer dictated tempo at will for Empoli. His five assists are but one indicator of his immense talent, and range of passing. While signing with Genoa would represent a lateral move, it’s only a matter of time before the 21-year-old makes the leap to a big club. In addition, reuniting with Andreazzoli, would give him a sense of familiarity he’ll need to keep developing.

With Krunic and Traore already gone, it hasn’t taken long for Empoli to cash in on their talents. As the summer transfer window rolls on, expect the Tuscan-based outfit to continue profiting on their scouting exploits.

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Serie A Transfer Market Weekly Recap

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The transfer market has yet to officially open, but the teams are free to announce the transfers if they reach agreement. Napoli made official the purchase of Giovanni Di Lorenzo from Empoli, who was a revelation in his rookie season in Serie A. The 25-year-old right back registered five goals and three assists, proving to have high motor and to be very capable on the offensive end. Carlo Ancelotti likes to rotate his fullbacks and he figures to fit in well tactically. Defensive staple Elseid Hysaj is likely to be on his way out as suggested by some of his recent words.

In the past few days, Fiorentina sold reserve midfielder Christian Norgaard to Brentford, while Sampdoria acquired the defensive prospect Julian Chabot from Groningen, whom is worth keeping an eye considering the centre-backs they launched in recent time. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Empoli vs Torino

Empoli v Torino FC - Serie A

Empoli vs Torino was one of the few tilts that had something on the line in both sides and, despite the lopsided result, it hung in the balance up until the 70th minute. In the end, the desire to avoid relegation proved to be more forceful than chasing the European dream.

The Azzurri entered the game having picked up six mammoth points in the last two games, putting pressure especially on Genoa among the teams in front of them. The Granata had not lost in eight rounds, winning three of the last four matches and staying close to Roma and Milan in the standings. Continue reading