Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 36


Here’s the first edition of the Serie A recap, which will provide some quick thoughts on the round that just ended.

Standings implications. Juventus are de facto champions since Napoli dropped two more points and the gap in the goal difference is too wide. It is not officially official, but it is as close as it gets. Inter earned two points to Lazio for the fourth spot and the showdown in the final matchday will likely decide the final team qualifying to Champions League. Sampdoria are virtually eliminated from the Europa League race since they are five points behind the seventh-placed Atalanta, which were leapfrogged by Milan despite a great performance against Lazio.

At the bottom of the table, Verona are mathematically relegated, while Sassuolo are safe. Chievo and Spal nabbed monumental wins, putting Cagliari in real troubles. There are now five teams within two points, with one going down.

Confirmations. Mauro Icardi, Matteo Politano and Hakan Calhanoglu extended their hot streaks. Paulo Dybala did not have a great game but still hit the target, Simone Verdi converted a penalty in an unfavourable match-up. Patrick Cutrone has the biggest nose for the goal among Milan’s centre-forwards. Cengiz Under, Sami Khedira and Musa Barrow continue to produce, same for Mariusz Stepinski. Both Spal strikers took advantage of Benevento’s lousy defence. Giacomo Bonaventura, Douglas Costa and Marcelo Brozovic shined and notched a pair of assist each, Josip Ilicic could have had a similar haul if it was not for Thomas Strakosha and the rest of Lazio’s defenders. Alisson had a couple of tremendous saves.

Guess who is back. It did not propel Napoli to victory, but Dries Mertens and Marek Hamsik snapped their scoring slump. Valter Birsa scored a crucial goal, his first since October.

Surprise scorers. The first three are not that astonishing since they are attackers, but it was their first this season, or in Serie A in general: Rafinha finally coronated a string of good performances with a goal, Giuseppe Rossi found the net after over a year and Seung-Wong Lee had the consolation goal against Milan. Ignazio Abate and Andrea Ranocchia have not started much this year and it was certainly a surprise to see them in the scoresheets: the Milan right back even scored a pretty goal on an open play.

Flops of the round. The defences of Bologna, Torino, Udinese and Verona were already headed for tough games, but the blunders of Sebastien De Maio and Nicolas Burdisso did not help. Napoli’s Mario Rui and Pepe Reina had a miscommunication on Lorenzo De Silvestri’s score, which was probably more on the fullback. Gianluigi Buffon sent an errant pass towards Daniele Rugani, who caused a penalty. Sampdoria did not show up in Sassuolo. Not exactly flops, but Gonzalo Higuain and Ivan Perisic did not join the goal fest thrown by their teammates and Edin Dzeko had a quiet outing.

Clutch goal of the day. Not a ton of late-game heroics in this one, the shut-out goes to Fiorentina’s Bryan Dabo timely trail on a feed by Diego Falcinelli to complete the comeback and defeat Genoa.

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Frenetic second half sees Fiorentina take a 3-2 win at Genoa

Fiorentina continued their hunt for a place in the Europa League with a hard-earned and frenetic 3-2 away win over Genoa on Sunday afternoon. Just under 1,000 Viola supporters packed in the away section in the top tier of the side stand inside the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, and the squad celebrated the victory together with them at the end of the match.

It had been a relatively uneventful first half, Fiorentina dominating the play and finally taking the lead through midfielder Marco Benassi. Yet the curse of the ex would rear its head once again when former Viola striker Giuseppe Rossi levelled the scores on 64 minutes.

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Serie A Fantasy Game Predictions – Round 29


The most balanced match-up of the next round is Sampdoria-Inter, but trap games are always around the corner in Serie A.

Spal-Juventus: the Bianconeri continue to rack up wins, they are now up to 12th in a row, and clean sheets as they got the job done against both Udinese and Atalanta and have created a four-point cushion over Napoli. However, the Estensi have been feisty lately, collecting seven points in their last three outings and sparking up the relegation race. Despite losing, they put up a great fight against Napoli at home back in Autumn. The return of Paulo Dybala has unlocked a new dimension in the Old Lady’s front-line, with Gonzalo Higuain and Douglas Costa both benefitting from it. Mirco Antenucci has been the most consistent contributor so far for the Biancazzurri, even though it is very tough to score on Juventus these days.

Sampdoria-Inter: the Blucerchiati laid a stinker in Crotone, but this season they have continuously been much better at home. They are now chasing Milan for sixth spot after occupying it for quite some time. The Nerazzurri have held in check Napoli in the last game, at San Siro, but they have not prevailed in the last five away matches. Duvan Zapata is in good form in the last month or so, Fabio Quagliarella has slowed down a little but his numbers remain great. Mauro Icardi has not found the bottom of the net in quite some time, also due to injury, and he is facing his former team. Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva’s play remains paltry, perhaps Luciano Spalletti should give more minutes to the slippery Yann Karamoh.

Crotone-Roma: the Sharks got back on track with a great win over Sampdoria after fumbling the matches with the rivals Benevento and Spal. Roma have won in five or their last six Serie A games, including the plunder of San Paolo, and they advanced in Champions League as well. It looks like Marcello Trotta just needed some job security to start delivering steadily, and the injury to Ante Budimir gives him just that, also Federico Ricci and Andrea Nalini could be dangerous should they have room to counter. The Wolf has an elite road record: Edin Dzeko is in incredible shape, Cengiz Under has carried them for quite some time and also Radja Nainggolan’s form is improving dramatically in the hottest time of the year.

Lazio-Bologna: the Biancocelesti did not perform up to their level in Cagliari, perhaps they were tired after the Europa League clash. The situation is not much diverse this weekend, but this time they play at home against the seesawing Bologna, which are roaming around with no clear objective due to their position in the standings. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is a little hurt and Luis Alberto might play in the midfield rather than as no.10: Felipe Anderson and the usual suspect Ciro Immobile are the best picks as far as the Eagles go. The fantasy stud Simone Verdi has not been the same since returning for injury and Mattia Destro has always been up-and-down and he was benched last week. Perhaps Rodrigo Palacio will inject some energy into the Rossoblù.

Napoli-Genoa: the Partenopei will try to get back on track after two unsatisfactory results, which cleared the way for Juventus to go top of the league. The two slipups came in big matches, but they have been a machine against the minnows. Genoa are a solid team, but they are in good enough position to not be too worried about getting points in every game. Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne continue to carry the biggest load offensively for the Azzurri, with José Callejon and Marek Hamsik chipping in from time to time. Their back-line could be worthy of consideration because the Griffon is not an explosive side, but they are getting a lot out of Goran Pandev. Giuseppe Rossi might be a surprise pick.

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Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 28


The injury bug is running through few teams, also most of last week’s suspensions have carried over to this round. Here are the updates.

Napoli:  Vlad Chiriches could return from a hamstring strain, while Faouzi Ghoulam is in the rehab phase of a fractured fibula. Arek Milik played few minutes against Roma.

Juventus: Alex Sandro and Stephan Lichtsteiner are suspended. Mario Mandzukic missed the last game due to some adductor pain, but he might recover in time for Sunday. Gonzalo Higuain played at Wembley, so he got past an ankle sprain. Mattia De Sciglio is expected back from a hamstring strain. Medhi Benatia rolled an ankle against Tottenham and is questionable. Juan Cuadrado should resumed practicing fully next week after undergoing sports hernia surgery, while in the coming days Federico Bernardeschi will take the tests on his knee to determine his rest-of-the-season outlook.

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Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 27

<> at Appiano Gentile on February 27, 2018 in Como, Italy.

Once again some key players risk missing the next Serie A round due to injuries. Here are the latest news: you can find the updates compared to the original version in italic.

Napoli:  Marek Hamsik was under the weather late in the week, but he will try to shake it off by Saturday night. Elseid Hysaj was subbed off on Monday, but it was only precautionary. Vlad Chiriches is out with a hamstring strain, Faouzi Ghoulam with a fractured fibula. Arek Milik should make the squad list this time.

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Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 26


Few top players are in danger of missing the next Serie A weekend, let’s take a look at the status updates.

Napoli:  Dries Mertens rolled an ankle in practice, but he played against Leipzig, so it was nothing severe. Arek Milik could be inserted the squad list this weekend or the next, but he will be obviously brought along slowly, while Faouzi Ghoulam’s return is up in the air, but it will not be before 30 days from now. Vlad Chiriches is out with a hamstring issue. Mario Rui was subbed off midweek for some plantar fascia pain and he is questionable.

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Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 25


There are a pair of key injured players to keep an eye on ahead of the next Serie A round.

Napoli:  Marek Hamsik was subbed off at halftime last week because of some back pain, but he played in Europa League. Raul Albiol missed the last three games because of muscle fatigue, but he could return on Sunday. On the other hand, Vlad Chiriches will be sidelined for a couple of weeks by a pulled hamstring. Arek Milik is progressing in his rehab protocol, but Faouzi Ghoulam had a big setback, even though unrelated to the previous ACL tear: he fractured his patella and had to undergo surgery; per the club statement, he will resume practicing in a month and it will be awhile before he plays in an official game. Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 24


Some of the top players are at risk of missing the next Serie A round. Here are the updates.

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