Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 9

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Serie A returns with a pretty decent slate capped off by the mouth-watering Milan derby on Sunday night.

Roma-Spal: the Giallorossi have solved some of their initial problems and have put together a three-game winning streak, defeating Frosinone, Lazio and Empoli. The Estensi are going in opposite direction, since have suffered four straight losses, to Fiorentina, Sassuolo, Sampdoria and Inter, after a hot start. Eusebio Di Francesco seems to have found the right scheme for his men, a 4-2-3-1 with Lorenzo Pellegrini in the hole. The youngster has been remarkable filling in for the injured Javier Pastore, to the point that there is a real competition here. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 8

AC Milan v AS Roma - Serie A

Alessio Cragno: the upstart goalie has had a decent season so far and saved a penalty in the stoppage time in the last home game against Sampdoria. More importantly, Cagliari will host Bologna, which have yet to find the target on the road.

Romulo: Genoa have won all three of their home matches, conceding just once. On Sunday, they will square off against Parma, who was shut out in two of their three away fixtures and will be without Gervinho and perhaps Roberto Inglese as well.

Ola Aina: the newcomer was immediately thrusted into a big role because of the injuries of his teammates and he has held his own, bringing a lot of energy on the flanks. Frosinone has scored just once so far, on a penalty. Torino are coming off two straight clean sheets.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 8

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It will be inevitably a quieter round compared to the previous ginormous one, but Serie A never lacks reasons to tune in.

Udinese-Juventus: the Zebrette have certainly been more interesting this season, but after losing just once in the first five games, they have been defeated two times in a row, against Lazio and Bologna, so their point total is not that conspicuous. The Bianconeri from Piedmont, on the other hand, are coming off a seminal win over the main title contenders, Napoli, and have prevailed in the first nine games of the season. They will eventually come a cropper, but they have had a lot of success in the past in this stadium. Rodrigo De Paul has been leading the charge for the home team, but very little help scoring-wise from his teammates: Kevin Lasagna notched just one, Lukasz Teodorczyk and Darwin Machis are still scoreless, Ignacio Pussetto found his first last week. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 6

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Inter-Fiorentina: the Beneamata is coming off a rewarding result against Sampdoria, their second win in Serie A. They have showed some improvements between the last game and the one versus Tottenham, but they have not turned the corner yet. For instance, they have not found a way to constantly feed Mauro Icardi in the box, and he is still scoreless in the domestic league. Ivan Perisic and Radja Nainggolan have compensated on that front, then their dangerousness on set pieces has helped. Antonio Candreva has surprisingly looked better than the newcomers Matteo Politano and Balde Keita. Continue reading

Luciano Spalletti should shoulder blame for Inter’s earlier wobbles.

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If you cast your mind back to how Luciano Spalletti’s team started last season, you realize that Inter Milan have been less productive this season. Before their one zero win over Sampdoria last Saturday, the Nerazzurri had amassed just four points from four games and sat 15th position on the league rung. That is nine points short of what they achieved after match day four in the previous campaign.

There are a couple of factors that have accounted for this bad start, and one of them could be laid right at the doorstep of the manager Luciano Spalletti. Spalletti has been doing a lot of tinkering with his team selection and system, which hasn’t helped them much. It’s quite understandable that the Italian tactician wants to his new recruits to bed into his method and assimilate his ideas very early in the season, but the lack of consistency in his approach has been problematic.

Now let’s photograph some of Luciano Spalletti’s confusion with clear illustrations.

In Inter’s opening fixture against Sassuolo at the MAPEI Stadium, the manger played a back four which comprised of João Miranda and Stefan de Vrij as center back pair, whiles Dalbert Chagas and Danilo D’Ambrosio played as laterals. In the midfield, Luciano Spalletti opted for Matías Vecino  alongside Marcelo Brozović with new signing Lautaro Martínez playing behind Mauro Icardi. The captain had Kwadwo Asamoah supporting him from the left wing and Matteo Politano on the other side. Inter dominated possession but was on par with Sassuolo on the number of shots on targets and corners. In the end, the home side held onto Domenico Berardi’s 27th minute penalty kick.

At home to Torino at San Siro, Luciano Spalletti altered his starting line-up and changed the system to a back three. Miranda was pulled out for M. Škriniar alongside S. De Vrij and Danilo D’Ambrosio to form a trio at the back. Š. Vrsaljko and Asamoah played as wing backs whiles Perisic and Politano attacked the flanks with Icardi as the target man. He maintained the midfield duo of Brozovic and Vecino.  Inter squandered their two goal lead before the interval as Torino rallied in the second half to level the score.

Against Bologna, Spalletti returned to a back to four and made three chances to the previous line- up. M. Škriniar and S. de Vrij continued their centreback partnership. D. D’Ambrosio and Asamoah played as lateral defenders. Roberto Gagliardini took the place of Vecino with Radja Nianggolan playing behind Keita Balde Diao. Inter produced an assured performance in the second period of that game, scoring three goals through Nainggolan, Perisic and substitute Antonio Candreva.

It’s normal for coaches to rest players in a league game ahead of a Champions League fixture, and given Inter’s absence in the European Competition for the past seven years, it was imperative that they started with a win on home soil. And before that, was a home game against promoted side Parma who are proving to be tough customers for the established teams in the league. Spalletti maintained a chunk  of the players in the previous game but still made two changes with Dalbert Henrique taking the place of Asamoah and Candreva coming in for Politano.

The change of players and systems means the manager is not wedded to one particular approach, but it sends the message that Luciano Spalletti is yet to find the right permutation for the team. Nainngolan is a huge character in midfield, dominant and very demanding. The Belgian is all about strength, passion, technique and athleticism. Playing him behind Icardi or Keita doesn’t seem to be the ideal fit. Nainggolan has proven to be a threat from A distance with his long range shots, but he is not a reliable creative player. He can function better in tandem with Brozovic in the middle of the pitch.

In Kwadwo Asamoah, Spelletti has got a versatile player capable of operating both as a left back and a winger, but Asamoah’s favorite position, the role he revels in, is playing behind the attack. Inter’s midfield is currently oversubscribed with the manager having to rotate between Borja Valero, Vecino and Gagliardini. However, the Ghanaian will be a vital component in the Nerrazurris charge for a successful league campaign.

It would have been ideal for inter to have approached the Tuesday’s Champion league game against Totteham Hotspurs in a much healthier position. The Nerazzurri didn’t look like a team prior to the 2-1 win over the English side. They looked disjointed and uninspiring, with their defending a bit abject this season. Luciano Spalletti’s comments after overcoming Spurs was quite significant about his team’s performance “We weren’t at the level, in a couple of areas, which we had prepared to be. Some phases of the game could have been managed better. “A victory like this, after having come from behind, gives us a lot of enthusiasm and allows us to believe more about the future’’

We can’t say how far Inter will go into the Champions League, but after showing determined spirit to come from behind to secure a very important victory they could go far. The win over Spurs proved to be a shot in the arm for Spalletti’s men as they continued with another victory away to Sampdoria on Saturday. Hopefully Inter will make up for their early stutters to close the gap on their opponents in the league.

Support for the manager was beginning to sag after a year, but winning two games on the trot should blow the doubt and lift confidence around the team. Talent wise, Inter are the best of the chasing pack, but Spalletti’s team need to be a real title threat by churning out consistent performances. The manager’s lack of clarity of how to deploy his players in the right system is what contributed to their poor start.

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Serie A Fantasy Game Predictions – Round 5

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There are not any mammoth clash this week, but a pair of match-up could turn to be very succulent.

Sampdoria-Inter: if it was not for the tumble they took in Udine in their season opener, the Blucerchiati would be regarded as one of the most impressive squads in Serie A, considering they how they dusted Napoli and Frosinone and came back against Fiorentina. Their attack is humming: Gregoire Defrel, Fabio Quagliarella, Gianluca Caprari and Dawid Kownacki have all already found the target at least once and the former Roma and Sassuolo striker is raining fire.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 4

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Serie A is back after the annoying international break: here are the suggested players to select.

Alfred Gomis: SPAL so far have had the best defence in the league, allowing just one goal in three matches. Only Fiorentina matched them, but in one fewer fixture. It will not be easy against Atalanta on Monday night, but they have been so stingy so far.

Bartosz Bereszynski: Frosinone are one of the two teams which have yet to score a single goal in Serie A and they looked so toothless, with Federico Dionisi, Joel Campbell and Daniel Ciofani all injured. The Pole also delivered the assist for Fabio Quagliarella’s wondergoal two weeks ago. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Game Predictions – Round 4

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Inter-Parma: the Beneamata grabbed their first win of the season in Bologna, where they were shorthanded and were led by Radja Nainggolan and Ivan Perisic. Mauro Icardi should be back this week. Luciano Spalletti is still figuring out how the best way to incorporate the newcomers and is looking for the best solution in the midfield, which lacks in creativity. The performances in the three matches have been wildly inconsistent, both on the bright side and on the more negative one. Anyway, the two goal scorers from the past game are good picks in this round and will likely be for the rest of the season. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 3

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Few top players flopped again in this round, here’s the list of the best performers from the last weekend.

Samir Handanovic (7 points): few teams managed to keep a clean sheet in this round, Fiorentina even did it with two different goalies. The Inter veteran had the best save of the week on a point-blank header by Filip Helander that would have changed the course of the game. He certainly needed that after the gaffe against Torino.

Nicolas Nkoulou (9 points): Torino-SPAL seemingly lasted forever after being stopped for heavy raining. When it resumed, it was solved by a thumping header on a corner kick by the Cameroonian, who, as always, was very reliable in the back as well. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 3

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There will be a lot to mull about in the international week after a very meaningful Serie A round.

Standings implications: Juventus scooped up another win and are now alone on top since Napoli did not pull off the comeback this time versus Sampdoria, Milan won this week’s big match against Roma, Inter got back on track with a large result against, Lazio had more troubles but the same results. Sassuolo again excelled at home with Genoa as their victim this time, while Cagliari exploited Atalanta’s tiredness to bring home a precious win. Chievo and Empoli were content sharing the spoils. Torino prevailed in a very wet encounter with SPAL that was suspended and resumed late. Continue reading