Serie A Fantasy Previews – Round Five – Top Matches

ATALANTA-SAMPDORIA

Atalanta: the Bergamaschi looked unprepared to match Napoli’s aggressiveness in the last fixture and the much-anticipated bout ended with a shocking beating. They will look to return to form in Serie A as well after pummelling Midtjylland. Alejandro Gomez has been the tip of the spear so far and straight-up one of the best players in the League. Luis Muriel has put his name in the stat-sheet twice, like Sam Lemmers, who has made the most of his limited opportunities. Duvan Zapata has been more up-and-down. Josip Ilicic looked rusty in his first game back, but that is understandable: the good news is that he indeed came back and the coach will likely give him regular minutes to get him into shape. Ruslan Malinovskyi is questionable due to an injury, which may lead to some playing time for the intriguing Aleksey Miranchuk. Their stud wing-backs Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens have scored one goal each, with the German international adding two assists.

Suggested picks: Gomez, Muriel, Zapata. Continue reading

The reinvigoration of Hirving Lozano

Not many sides have taken Atalanta apart quite like Napoli did last weekend. At this stage it’s no secret how much Gian Piero Gasperini has changed the entire fabric of the club since his arrival four years ago. La Dea are usually the ones handing out a 4-1 mauling, they don’t tend to be on the receiving end.

But on Saturday they were. Napoli simply blew their top-four rivals away in the opening 45 minutes with an intensity and attacking verve that’s usually Atalanta’s calling card. Gasperini’s men were thoroughly given a dose of their own medicine. Pivotal to their success in that opening period was Hirving Lozano, who scored twice in four minutes.

Lozano’s second, a wonderfully executed curling effort just inside the penalty box, was indicative of the confidence the Mexico international is now showing at the club. With four goals already this season, Lozano has equalled the tally of goals he scored in Serie A last season. Continue reading

Serie A Best Fantasy Team – Round Four

Mattia Perin (7 points): just three goalies managed to keep a clean sheet in this round, two actually in the Monday match. Perin was by far the busiest of the lot and had to intervene on several attempts by Verona, mostly from outside the box, and had his best save on a header by Marco Davide Faraoni.

Tommaso Augello (11 points): every defender for the Blucerchiati could have a place in the top XI, but the nod for everybody else naturally goes to the hard-working left-back, who assisted Fabio Quagliarella with a gorgeous cross and then hit the net with a precise little volley from outside the box. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Four

Standings implications: Milan is atop of the table after convincingly besting Inter in the Derby della Madonnina. They are followed by Sassuolo, who staged an furious comeback against Bologna. Napoli made a statement by trouncing Atalanta, while Juventus could not get past Crotone. Lazio got stunned by Sampdoria on the road. Fiorentina wasted an early two-notching lead versus Spezia, while Cagliari outlasted Torino. Udinese nabbed their first points in dramatic fashion and Roma outgunned a fiery Benevento.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Four – Top Matches

NAPOLI-ATALANTA

Napoli: they did not get to play the third game because of well-known reasons, but the first two were pretty indicative. Victor Osimhen has yet to score, but he has had a major impact anyway and he is bound to break through soon. In the meantime, Dries Mertens has led the charge (two goals, two assists), helped by the resurgent Hirving Lozano, who has kept up the momentum from the restart. The injury to Lorenzo Insigne and Piotr Zielinski and Elijf Elmas getting COVID might slow down the deployment 4-2-3-1 in full force, but that should be the way forward and the arrival of Tiemoué Bakayoko cements it. The absences could give Matteo Politano and/or Stanislav Lobotka a bigger role than usual and the former scored in the Genoa romp. If Atalanta do not adjust the way they defend, they could make some sweet music on counters.

Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Three – Top Matches

ATALANTA-CAGLIARI

Atalanta: the Bergamaschi took it to Lazio as well, making the second game in a row with four goals scored, as the machine is still working like a charm. Alejandro Gomez not only pulled the strings, but also scored twice and was joined in the stat-sheet by Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens. Hateboer has already matched his entire production for the 2019/2020 campaign, while Gosens opened his tally. Ruslan Malinovskyi got the start this time and dished an assist, while Luis Muriel almost hit the net off the bench. The only negative aspect of the young season is that Duvan Zapata has not really looked dominant and might need some time to be in peak shape, but they surely have the manpower to work around that. The flank game has been particularly terrific so far. Mario Pasalic might feature in a less offensive position going forward since they are stacked with attackers but short on midfielders and his output could suffer.

Suggested picks: Gomez, Muriel, Gosens. Continue reading

Napoli make statement in Serie A title race

Napoli have made an excellent start to the 2020-21 Serie A campaign, with victories against Parma and Genoa.

Gino Gattuso’s side hammered Genoa 6-0 at the Stadio San Paolo on Sunday with five different goalscorers. This fixture last season ended 0-0. This weekend’s game itself was delayed for three hours after it had been revealed opposition goalkeeper Mattia Perin had tested positive for Covid.

In this season’s opener, Napoli were 2-0 winners away to Parma. Although the opponents are much changed from last season and potentially in for a relegation battle this time around, Parma did the double over Gattuso’s side last campaign.

Napoli have therefore taken six points from fixtures they only took one from last campaign, when they finished seventh, having previously finished in the top three for four consecutive seasons.

Gli Azzurri have already had six different goalscorers in two games – Dries Mertens, Hirving Lozano, Piotr Zielinski, Eljif Elmas, Lorenzo Insigne and Matteo Politano.

They could do with all the goalscorers they can get this weekend as Napoli travel to Turin to take on the defending champions, Juventus. The Old Lady have started the season with four points from their two games – drawing 2-2 away to AS Roma this past weekend.

Juventus have taken a big gamble with the appointment of rookie head coach Andrea Pirlo. Although they have the strongest squad in the league and have won the Scudetto for the past nine consecutive seasons, the competition is getting closer.

AC Milan and Internazionale continue to strengthen their squads with a number of signings this summer, although Napoli have not been as active so far, with less than a week of the window to go.

Victor Osimhen is the only new arrival in Naples so far, and has made an impressive start to life in Serie A. However, both Jose Callejon and Allan have departed.

Keeping hold of Kalidou Koulibaly may be the best business Napoli could do this summer, with interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Manchester United.

The rest of the first team remains strong, especially with Lozano starting to settle in now. Piotr Zielinski is one of the stars in Italy and , Arkadiusz Miluk, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens are reliable for goals in attack.

However, Gattuso himself doesn’t have the best of records as a head coach. He lasted just eight games in charge of Palermo, and his season-and-a-half in charge of AC Milan saw the Italian giants finish 6th and 5th before he was dismissed.

This weekend’s trip to Juventus will give us a better idea where both Napoli and the reigning champions are. Can Gattuso get an impressive result at the Allianz Stadium, even maintain their 100% winning start, and had Juventus a big title blow in the process?

Rivals Inter have already made their statement of intent this season, with the arrivals of Alexis Sanchez, Achraf Hakimi, Nicolo Barella and Arturo Vidal, among others. Meanwhile, AC Milan have acquired Sandro Tonali, Simon Kjaer, Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz.

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Serie Best Fantasy XI – Round Two

Thomas Strakosha (7 points): among the four goalkeepers that managed to keep a clean sheet in this round, he was the one that was called into action the most and had a key save on a long-range effort by Marko Rog.

Adam Marusic (7 points): the Serbian fullback took over the left flank against Cagliari since Jony was recently sold and Mohamed Fares has yet to be announced. He was actually a force to be reckoned as he dished Manuel Lazzari a ball that just needed to be nudge in few minutes into the contest and linked up with Ciro Immobile to ice it in the second half. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Two

Results: Roma and Juventus shared the spoils in an entertaining fixture to cap off the Sunday slateNapoli demolished Genoa, Milan easily got past Crotone, while Verona nipped Udinese to stay perfect in the season. Inter furiously rallied back late against Fiorentina, while Lazio breezed past Cagliari and Atalanta toyed with Torino, so the three ‘top four’ teams that had their opener delayed were all successful. Among the newly promoted teams, Benevento got off to a brilliant start as they mounted a glorious comeback against Sampdoria, tough sledding instead for Spezia, which run into an in-form Sassuolo. Bologna trounced Parma on Monday night.  Continue reading

Serie A Best Fantasy XI – Round 31

Alessio Cragno (7 points): offenses generally bested defenses in the last matchday, so the clean sheets were numbered. It took him a minute, but the Cagliari goalie is finally looking like his old self and saved the day late with a great leap on a Christian Kouame header that was destined to the top corner.

Rafael Toloi (9 points): he often picked up assists this season and he has become an integral part of the Atalanta offense, but he had to go the extra mile against Sampdoria, as he bagged a perfectly executed thumping header to finally make the opponents late. Continue reading