Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 15

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The next round features one of the games of the season, Juventus-Inter, and few other juicy match-ups.

Juventus-Inter: the Bianconeri got the better of Fiorentina, extending their winning streak to five fixtures, but in that occasion they were not as dominant as the final score showed. Against Roma, Inter dropped points for the second time in a row on the road and, despite scoring twice, they never looked in control. The same thing happened in Bergamo, but they are extremely opportunistic, so they can never be counted out. Cristiano Ronaldo added one to his tally with a penalty in Florence, while Rodrigo Bentancur continues to impress. Mario Mandzukic is generally money in big matches, while Douglas Costa has the potential to be a factor off the bench. Despite being useful in other areas, Paulo Dybala’s offensive stats in Serie A have been subpar. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 13

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The next round could be a little one-sided for the top clubs, but surprises are always around the corner in Serie A and there still a couple of juicy games on deck.

Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri prevailed in the always tense match-up with Milan, surviving a penalty but appearing pretty dominant overall. They have won in 11 of the first 12 games, setting a new Serie A-point record to start the season. SPAL looked a little better against Cagliari, but squandered a two-zip lead and had to settle for a tie. They had lost in six of the previous seven fixtures. Mario Mandzukic returned to the starting XI with an immediate goal, then Cristiano Ronaldo bagged another one. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Frosinone vs Empoli

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The Derby della Madonnina was balanced, hard-fought and intense, but, albeit in dramatic fashion, it was decided by a single goal in the stoppage time. So the weekly shout-out goes to high-scoring affair between Frosinone and Empoli, which had a lot at stake for an early season game and was brilliantly played by both sides.

The Ciociari have yet to win this season and garnered only a point so far, against Bologna at home. The Azzurri prevailed just in the season opener and suffered five losses after that, managing to tie twice. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Torino vs Frosinone

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The last round had a pair of really intriguing and well-balanced match-ups, Lazio-Fiorentina and Atalanta-Sampdoria, but those were decided by a single goal. The most entertaining game was surprisingly the Friday one between Torino and Frosinone.

The Granata were coming off a late win against Chievo, while Frosinone picked up just one point so far. Walter Mazzarri gave Simone Zaza the start after the deciding goal in the previous contest, picking Daniele Baselli over Roberto Soriano as attacking midfielder and Ola Aina and Alex Berenguer as wing backs since Lorenzo De Silvestri was out. Moreno Longo, former coach of Torino’s youth team, stuck with a 3-4-3 featuring Joel Campbell, Daniele Ciofani and Camillo Ciano up front. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Player Status Updates – Round 5

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Juventus: Sami Khedira and Mattia De Sciglio both pulled their hamstrings and are unlikely to be available for the upcoming three games. Douglas Costa was handed a four-game suspension in Serie A and got hurt in Valencia as well, but the test results have yet to be announced. Andrea Barzagli remains out with a calf problem.

Napoli: no significant updates on their long-term injured players, since Alex Meret and Faouzi Ghoulam are still working their way back from an arm and a kneecap fracture. Amin Younes could return sooner rather than later from an Achilles tear. Adam Ounas is out with muscle fatigue. Continue reading

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 Player Status and Injury Updates – Round 4

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The international break has been pretty rough this time around.

Juventus: Miralem Pjanic was stomped on with Bosnia, but he is fine. Andrea Barzagli had a calf problem in practice.

Napoli: Piotr Zielinski (ankle) and Dries Mertens (shoulder) suffered small injuries, but they are fine and could both start. Vlad Chiriches tore his ACL with Romania and will be out for five-to-six month. Faouzi Ghoulam was cleared to practice after a long rehab following a kneecap fracture and might be able to play in a month. Alex Meret is a couple of weeks away from a full recovery from an arm fracture. Continue reading

Serie A Weekly News Recap

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Most of the big stuff was done prior to deadline day in Serie A, but it still had a little bit of drama with Simone Zaza picking Torino over Sampdoria after the Blucerchiati had sealed the deal with Valencia. He will now form an interesting couple with Andrea Belotti and the Granata also brought in another familiar face: Roberto Soriano from Villarreal. Two valuable additions that might allow them to seriously challenge for a Europa League spot this year. They also obtained on loan the right back Ola Aina from Chelsea and the centre-back Koffi Djidji from Nantes to complete the defence. Continue reading

Will Brazil Find Form Versus Costa Rica?

Like many of the heavily favoured nations at this summer’s World Cup, Brazil’s campaign got off to a poor start, held to a frustrating draw with a Switzerland side who scratched and clawed their way to a point. That, along with Serbia’s victory, makes this clash with Costa Rica a must-win game for the Selecao and their Coach understands that his side must recover their concentration if they hope to enjoy tangible success in Russia.

“If we were more focused, we could have made the goalkeeper work more,” Tite said after their first game. “After the equaliser you could feel something emotionally. There was a feeling. We had to be cooler, more precise. My expectation was for a victory and, of course, I’m not happy with the result.”

He will undoubtedly be aware of Brazil’s excellent record against Costa Rica, a team they have lost to only once in ten previous meetings, their sole defeat coming way back in 1960. However, Tite may well have to go into this clash without Neymar, the PSG star struggling with an injury that may rule him out of the match at St Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium.

Fernandinho and Renato Augusto – both of whom came off the bench against Switzerland – could start in Neymar’s place with Philippe Coutinho pushed into a more advanced role, meaning that the Coach could retain his favoured 4-3-3 system. Paulinho and Thiago Silva have also missed training sessions this week, but both are expected to recover in time to take their places in the starting XI on Friday evening.

For Costa Rica – who currently sit bottom of the group as the only side with zero points – this match presents an extremely difficult challenge. Los Ticos were largely unthreatening against Serbia, Aleksandar Kolarov superb free kick continuing their dismal recent form. They have lost seven of their last nine matches and that last defeat was their third on the spin, a run which includes England’s 2-0 win in Leeds and a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Belgium.

“Whenever you play Brazil, in any circumstance, it’s always something special, it’s always something different,” Costa Rica midfielder Celso Borges told Reuters in an interview this week. “It’s the country with the most World Cups, so it’s very different, but it’s still the game, it’s still enjoyable and it’s still fun.”

Having only been fit enough for a place on the bench against Serbia, Joel Campbell appears to have shaken off his injury and is fighting for a starting berth against Brazil, with Johan Venegas widely tipped as the man to miss out. At the same time, Johnny Acosta and Francisco Calvo are likely to retain their places, with Kendall Waston and Sunderland’s Bryan Oviedo unlikely to earn a recall.

Brazil (4-3-3): Alisson; Danilo, Thiago Silva, Joao Miranda, Marcelo; Renato Augusto, Fernandinho, Paulinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Coutinho

Costa Rica (3-4-3): Keylor Navas; Johnny Acosta, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Oscar Duarte; Cristian Gamboa, Celso Borges, David Guzman, Francisco Calvo; Bryan Ruiz, Marco Urena, Joel Campbell

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Why Joel Campbell should seek a January exit from Arsenal

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gave an ultimatum to Costa Rican forward Joel Campbell this season, suggesting this was the youngster’s last chance to impress before his future will be up for consideration. Currently in the starting eleven following an injury crisis in the Arsenal squad, Campbell has been given a rare opportunity to prove his worth in the Premier League, and has managed to score his first goal for the Gunners.

The 23-year-old has one goal from his two league appearances, and recently made his intentions clear to prolong his stay at the Emirates due to his love for the London club. But given the players set to come back into the side in the coming weeks, Campbell’s place in the starting eleven is far from guaranteed, and he could even find himself out of the match day squad entirely with so many injured stars likely to replace him.

Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck are regular first-team players in the Arsenal side when fit, and five players Campbell will be competing with this season when they return from their respective injuries. As a result, it would take something special for the South American forward to remain in the side when Wenger has a clean bill of health in the squad, which is why Campbell needs to be realistic and make a move to a club willing to give him regular game time.

Signed back in 2011, 17 appearances for Arsenal in four years is a poor return for the 23-year-old, and some indifferent loan spells have done little to boost Campbell’s development. His contract with the Londoners is reportedly up in the summer, and there’s been little talk of a renewal as things stand. The club don’t hold him in as high regard as the regular performers, and why should they? Campbell has done very little of note in an Arsenal shirt, and is only playing for the side as a last resort.

It’s hard to see the Costa Rican international being a regular in the Arsenal attack in the second half of the season, and if he wants a move to a good European club, he should be putting the word out in January. There’s sure to be plenty of interest given he will be a free agent in the summer, and regular game time is likely to be the deciding factor in negotiations.

Should Joel Campbell call time at Arsenal and seek a move for more game time?