Recall the scene: Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne would receive the ball down on the left hand channel of the opponent’s half. Insigne would take several touches, cut inside and delicately float a beautifully weighted diagonal pass behind the opposition defence and into the stride of Jose Callejon on the right hand side, who’d timed his run impeccably.
Callejon would either take one of two options: he’d instantly kill the ball with his first touch and shoot at goal, or roll it across for Napoli’s central striker to tap it in. Throughout the Maurizio Sarri era, this scenario played out seemingly two or three times a game, with a goal usually the end result. Continue reading →
Brescia: they actually played better than expected versus Lazio, where they had some opportunities to score, in particular with Ernesto Torregrossa, but were unable to cash in. Several injuries left them with a skeleton crew as Torregrossa, Florian Aye, Nikolas Spalek and Jaromir Zmrhal are the only attackers available. All of them, excluding Aye, have been able to hit the net recently, while Sandro Tonali and Bruno Martella have been pretty good in the less offensive roles.
Parma: Dejan Kulusevski willed them to victory, again, versus the lowly Brescia with an assist and a scorcher and he is finishing his stay in style, while Gervinho has been pretty paltry in recent matches, scoring just once in the last seven. Gianluca Caprari took advantage of his increased minutes and converted a PK, while among the other back-ups Luca Siligardi has been the liveliest. Roberto Inglese is tough to trust since his minutes are still spotty. Juraj Kucka returned from a short absence and he and Jasmin Kurtic are surely capable of doing damage offensively. Matteo Darmian is coming off his first goal of the season and also Riccardo Gagliolo notched one lately but their fullbacks will have their hands full defensively in this one.
Milan: the Rossoneri came out on top again versus Sassuolo, exploiting the one-man advantage like the veteran team they are. Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted a brace to snap out of a short slump and Hakan Calhanoglu continued to do his thing with two more assists. The Turk has been raining hellfire for a while now, while Ante Rebic’s scoring binge has abated a little bit, but he obviously remains a strong option. They will not have two key men in Ismael Bennacer and Theo Hernandez and their replacements are not on the fantasy radar. Alexis Saelemaekers and Franck Kessie also found the target recently, but in easier match-ups. Giacomo Bonaventura has picked up few bonuses but he is a risky play because of his sporadic minutes.
Atalanta: they were stymied a bit by their mini clones of Verona, but Duvan Zapata still came through, scoring for the third game in a row, and they had few chances to win it especially with Mario Pasalic, who was coming off a hat-trick. Ruslan Malinovskyi was not as effective in the Josip Ilicic’s role, while he had shined as pure no.10, in lieu of Alejandro Gomez, and that is something to monitor because El Papu does not rest often, while Ilicic is in poor conditions and will be managed cautiously. Luis Muriel might be a better candidate for that spot, while Pasalic is always very involved offensively whenever he is fielded. No doubts on the flanks this round around since Hans Hateboer is suspended and both Robin Gosens and Timothy Castagne are strong options.
Verona: after a consistent stretch with a pure striker up front, Ivan Juric went back to a false-nine, Valerio Verre in this case, against Roma, but the results were not that great, with the second half push coming on the heels of the subs. The returns from injury of Fabio Borini, Eddie Salcedo and Valentin Eysseric will allow the coach to go that route more often, especially against top teams, although Samuel Di Carmine has been decently effective (three goals in the last six games). Mattia Pessina scored again and he has separated himself from their slew of attacking midfielders, while Mattia Zaccagni picked up the assist. Darko Lazovic has been their most consistent player.
Atalanta: their supersonic offense spiked Juventus, with Duvan Zapata returning to the stat-sheet after three games, Ruslan Malinovskyi smashing one home in brilliant fashion and Alejandro Gomez and Luis Muriel setting up their teammates. Josip Ilicic is not all the way back but looked a bit better. It is an embarrassment of riches and, in a pristine match-up, a lot could come down on who rests and who gets to start, but Muriel being out all but assures Zapata will be in the XI. Robin Gosens quickly recovered from a thigh injury but might still be spared, however Timothy Castagne and Hans Hateboer are as big fantasy weapons as the Dutchman. Mario Pasalic would be palatable if starting.
Lazio: the Biancocelesti had scrapped their way into two wins after the resumption, but they had generally looked off and everything came crashing down in Lecce. Ciro Immobile, other than drilling a penalty kick, has not been the same player he was prior to the stoppage and he has not been in synch with Luis Alberto. The issues were then exacerbated by key injuries, the latest one to Joaquin Correa. Sergej Milikovic-Savic, like Alberto, bagged one recently but has not been as dominating as in the past. Felipe Caicedo returned to the box score after a while in Lecce and he is poised to take on a massive role. The form is lacking, the talent is not, so they can snap out of it in any given moment. Manuel Lazzari has arguably been their most consistent player recently.
Torino: the Granata had a nice reaction after falling in an early hole versus Cagliari, but an untimely penalty did them in. Andrea Belotti has found the target for two straight matches and has been excellent missed penalty aside. Simone Zaza is unlikely to be present, but Simone Verdi and especially Cristian Ansaldi, two of their most talented players, saw minutes in the past match and could be ready to start, unlocking few options up front, first of all the advancement of Alex Berenguer. Ansaldi had a positive impact after he subbed on, Verdi might need more time and had been struggling prior to the lockdown. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Juventus took care of business against Lecce, but Lazio came back late against Fiorentina, so the gap between the title contenders stays at four points. Inter came back to life late and rallied against Parma, so the top four teams were all successful. Atalanta needed an extra effort to down Udinese but kept cruising, enlarging the cushion over Roma, which were defeated by Roma, and staving off Napoli’s push. The Partenopei breezed past SPAL. A quality W for Milan, which built a little lead over Verona in Europa League race, as the Scaligeri were pipped at the post by Sassuolo. Two consecutive wins for Cagliari, which toppled Torino and are looking to re-join the rest of the bunch fighting for a continental berth. Bologna returned to winning ways by outlasting Sampdoria. Down low, Genoa could not fully expolit a favorable round and gained just a bit of separation over Lecce by tying with Brescia, but they are now on a par with Sampdoria, which lost again.