Fantacalcio Watch: Joao Pedro

Every season, Serie A springs new surprises on its faithful and this year has been no different. Whether it’s Atalanta’s continued rise, Cagliari’s astonishing run of results or the newly-promoted Hellas Verona’s solidity, this season has seen no shortage of head-scratchers. Cagliari’s Joao Pedro falls under this list.

Before this season, the Brazilian forward was a relatively unknown name to most Serie A fans, but has since established himself as one of the league’s deadliest forwards in front of goal. Averaging a goal every 139 minutes this season, the 27-year-old has eclipsed his past exploits with his 11 goals on the year.

In fact, he’s currently third in the capoconniere race, only behind the in-form Ciro Immobile and Serie A newcomer Romelu Lukaku. While his goal-scoring exploits may not last the entire season, he’s currently ahead of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. What’s important to note from the scorer’s table, however, is not only their tallies but shots taken. Immobile, for example, has 51. Lukaku, the other striker ahead of Joao Pedro, has 40 while Ronaldo has a league-leading 58.

Unlike his competitors, the Cagliari man does not need too many opportunities to score and has 11 goals from 29 shots, for an impressive 38 percent conversion rate. No striker in Italy has a better rate currently and only Immobile comes close at the moment with 33 percent. Joao Pedro’s run of form has Cagliari dreaming of European football and rightfully so. The Sardinian club currently sit comfortably in sixth place, four points ahead of Parma, having beaten the likes of Napoli and Atalanta among others.

Before the year came to a close, Joao Pedro was arguably the league’s most in-form forward, scoring six goals and registering one assist in his last six games in league play. With a clash against Juventus on the cards, expect the Brazilian to be raring to go. After all, the bianconeri haven’t exactly looked solid at the back and have already conceded 17 goals on the season.

While Joao Pedro wasn’t the first name in your fantasy teams ahead of the new season, he is surely on everyone’s radar now. He may not have the name appeal of a Ronaldo or a Mertens in the final third, but he has proven to be more effective than both thus far.

In fact, the Brazilian has earned the second-most fantasy points on the season with 102, only behind the dazzling Immobile. His price-tag of 24 million euros may prove to be too steep, but given his recent run of form, he’s definitely worth considering.

Currently, Cagliari’s 33 goals are joint for fourth-best in the league for now and don’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. In Rolando Maran’s set-up, Radja Nainggolan plays behind the Brazilian and Giovanni Simeone and have established themselves as one of the league’s most in-sync trios.

Given their technical midfield and bombing fullbacks, chances are never hard to come by in Sardinia. And Joao Pedro has proven he doesn’t need too many of them to be effective either. For this reason, the Cagliari man features on this edition of fantacalcio watch and is arguably worthy of further consideration in your teams. With a game against Juventus on deck, keep your eyes peeled for Cagliari’s number ten. He may just impress you enough for you to add him on your team.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 16

Napoli-Parma: there is great curiosity to see what immediate changes Gennaro Gattuso will bring to the table. In his introductory presser, he hinted that he is going to use 4-3-3, which would lead to few duels up front. The first order of business will have to be reviving Lorenzo Insigne, who has not fared well in a long time, while Dries Mertens is in a domestic slump but has done some damage in Europe. Arkadiusz Milik came back midweek and he looked like a million bucks and he was en fuego before getting injured. He should be front and center in the new project. The new tactic would see José Callejon and Hirving Lozano alternate and the Mexican winger has abated after a decent stretch. It would give Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz more freedom and the Polish midfielder finally broke through last week. Giovanni Di Lorenzo is trending back up after a period of lull.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 15

Inter-Roma: the Nerazzurri keep riding their elite striking duo and Lautaro Martinez has been balling out over the last few matches, as he is coming off two braces in a row. Romelu Lukaku did not score last week, but he has already reached the double-digit threshold in the domestic league. Antonio Candreva and Marcelo Brozovic both dished an assist in the last game and they are the two members of the supporting cast who are more likely to pick up bonus points. Matias Vecino has an history of scoring in big games and he has done some damage recently. Their back-line, instead, has not been airtight in the past couple of months, but Stefan De Vrij showed up big on the other end. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 12

Standings implications: the usual trend up top as Juventus and Inter did not look great but still found a way to sink the opponents, despite fiery efforts by Milan and Verona. Another shake-up in the Champions League zone as Roma’s run came to a stop in Parma, while Lazio and Cagliari kept it rolling, creaming Lecce and Fiorentina respectively, and they both surpassed La Lupa and gained some ground on Atalanta, which were held to a tie by Sampdoria. Napoli could not do much better at home against Genoa and thus remain seventh, one point over the Ducali. Torino returned to winning ways with an away drubbing of Brescia, while Sassuolo convincingly defeated Bologna. Udinese-SPAL ended in a nil-nil draw despite the late drama.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 12

Inter-Verona: while Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku continue to be very reliable, the Beneamata are getting additional pieces back, as Matias Vecino scored in Champions League and Stefano Sensi looked pretty good in his stint off the bench. The two are certainly better fantasy options than Roberto Gagliardini, who filled in while they were sidelined, and the ex Sassuolo player, in particular, was fantastic at the beginning of the season. Valentino Lazaro was okay against Brescia and his skill-set is interesting, especially against the minnows where he would not need to defend a lot. Matteo Politano got hurt in Dortmund, so the first man up off the bench in the attack would be Salvatore Esposito. Verona have scored just nine times so far, so their back-line is certainly in play despite the ongoing clean sheet-less run. Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Week – Round 11

Cagliari snatched by far the best win over the weekend, toppling Atalanta away while keeping a clean sheet and therefore they easily take home in this matchday.

They came into the match riding an eight-game undefeated streak, but they had equalized three times in the last five fixtures. Rolando Maran gave a day off to Luca Cigarini and Nahitan Nandez in the midfield and started Christian Oliva and Lucas Castro, while Ragnar Klavan and Charalampos Lykogiannis filled in for the absent Luca Ceppitelli and Luca Pellegrini in the back. Fabrizio Cacciatore returned to the XI over Paolo Faragò. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 11

Roma-Napoli: the Giallorossi have reached a pretty strong level of consistency and they are starting to recovering pieces, which will further add to their arsenal. Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov have been terrific all year long, Nicolò Zaniolo has started scoring, Justin Kluivert did damage in Udine and even Javier Pastore is starting to look good playing with continuity. Gianluca Mancini has been a stabilyzing presence, allowing the other contributors to focus more on the offense, primarly Jordan Veretout has begun to be more impactful as a playmaker after a slow start at his new club. Diego Perotti and Cengiz Under will likely need some time before being fit enough to receiving considerable playing time.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Seven

Genoa-Milan: both offenses have looked very anaemic in recent matches, as the coaches, who are well-known for their proactive mentality, seem to have struggled to convey their ideas to the players. The Griffon have failed to score in the past two matches. Christian Kouame has led them with three goals so far and has been the only consistent contributor, while Andrea Pinamonti has been struck out since week one and ceded minutes to Antonio Sanabria and Andrea Favilli, who have not fared much better. They have yet to find a midfielder that can do some damage in the final third: Lasse Schone is too far away from the goal, but his aim on free kick is getting better, Ivan Radovanovic is shooting a lot but without precision and, like Lukas Lerager, he is more of a substance player than a quality one. Riccardo Saponara has not cracked the XI with enough continuity to be a fantasy factor. There is some appeal on the flanks, where Paolo Ghiglione and Marko Pajac have been serviceable. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 5

Brescia-Juventus: two questions loom large on the game, one for each side. Mario Balotelli is eligible to return after the suspension, but his conditioning might be a problem after skipping the summer preparation, so he might be initially be kept on the bench. Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out due to muscle fatigue and it is new situation under Maurizio Sarri; they also do not have Douglas Costa, so they lack a pure left-wing player. Federico Bernardeschi could certainly be adapted there, but he has struggled so far, so the coach might try new solutions, like for instance fielding Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain together. Whoever ends up starting up front will have to shoulder a bigger load sans Ronaldo. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Four

Standings implications: Inter stay on top of the table after besting Milan in the Derby, but Juventus and Napoli keep up as the Bianconeri squeaked by Verona and the Partenopei instead deep-sixed Lecce. Roma peeped out in the higher districts with a dramatic victory over Bologna and Lazio are right behind them after breezing past Parma. As they are ones to do, Atalanta clawed back against Fiorentina. Sassuolo handled SPAL at home, while Cagliari soundly defeated Genoa on Friday. Brescia stunned Udinese on the road while Sampdoria are finally on the board after their W over Torino. Continue reading