Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 20

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Juventus: Miralem Pjanic is suspended, while Douglas Costa (calf) and Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh) are banged up after the Supercoppa, but they could recover by Monday. Mario Mandzukic will be on the mend for a couple more weeks and Medhi Benatia remains iffy with a sore groin.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne, Allan and Kalidou Koulibaly are disqualified. Dries Mertens is trying to shake off an ankle sprain and his presence is not 100 percent certain. Marek Hamsik is not expected to come back from his thigh strain. Raul Albiol is fatigued, but available.  Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 12

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There are plenty of surprise appearances in the latest edition of the team of the week.

Wojciech Szczesny (7 points): just to highlight how painful it is to pick goalies and defenders, there was only a clean sheet this week, which arrived in an unpredictable spot and only because the Pole parried away a penalty by Gonzalo Higuain.

Alex Sandro (7 points): the Brazilian fullback deservedly gets the token spot for the whole Juventus back-line, which could have crowded the XI since Giorgio Chiellini and Joao Cancelo hauled in five points. Sandro topped them because he sent in a pinpoint cross to assist the first goal. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 12

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There were certainly some surprising results in the last round before another international break.

Standings implications: Juventus bested Milan in the last Sunday game, while Napoli prevailed in the soggy battle in Genoa and have re-assumed sole control of the second place since Inter came crashing down hard in Bergamo. Roma finally put together a brilliant performance against the wheezing Sampdoria. Atalanta leapfrogged few teams in the Europa League race since Fiorentina conceded late and was held to yet another 1-1 tie in Frosinone and Parma snatched a quality road win versus Torino. Continue reading

Serie A Game of the Round – Roma vs Chievo

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There were not many intense games this week and the most anticipated one, Napoli-Fiorentina, was decided by a single goal. All things considered, Roma-Chievo had the most drama.

Eusebio Di Francesco returned to his basics and arrayed a 4-3-3 with Lorenzo Pellegrini, Steven Nzonzi and Bryan Cristante in the midfield, as Javier Pastore was sidelined by an injury, picked Juan Jesus over Federico Fazio in the back-line and Stephan El Shaarawy as left winger. Roberto D’Anna trotted out a pretty defensive lineup, with two centre-backs like Nenad Tomovic and Federico Barba manning the flanks, and Nicola Rigoni initially starting over the returning Perparim Hetemaj. Continue reading

How Ambitious are Roma this Season?

Roma have not really positioned themselves as a threat on the domestic front. However, victory against Torino over the weekend and their famous run to the semi-final of the Champions League last season, should remind them of their ability and provide some optimism as the season ages.

Prior to the commencement of the league, AS Roma Coach Francesco Eusebio stated that “This year I want to stay above the Milanese clubs, even though I know that Inter have had a very strong transfer market, we can be stronger than last season. We have no limits as to how well we could do and we will do our talking on the pitch. We will fight to go as far as we can possibly go.” It’s fair to say comments like this, inherently limits the aspirations of the club and the ambitions of the players.

However the sale of the Brazilian goalkeeper Alison Becker to Liverpool and midfield dynamo Radja Niangolan to Inter Milan suggest AS Roma are still in the business of wheeling out their most refined stars to the big sharks in Serie A and Europe for large sums to balance the books. It was so with Mo Salah last season. Perhaps Eusebio was looking at things from a realistic point of view. That they lack the financial muscle and confidence to leap over Napoli not alone topple Juventus at the top. That they’re not yet at the level of the some of the European heavyweights.

Despite losing the aforementioned, the Rome club look quite a different proposition this season. They’ve added to their creative options by signing Javier Pastora from PGS and Justin Kluivert from Ajax Amsterdam whiles the arrival of French World Cup winner Steven Nzonzi from Sevilla to fill the void left by the Nainggolan will win more admiration for transfer director Monchi as a great business. Nzonzi may not possess the warrior like character of the Belgian, but his calm imposing presence when in possession can ensure AS Roma do not easily concede play in midfield.

The Gialorossi should be confident in a midfield trio of Kevin Strootman, Steven Nzonzi and Javier Pastore to compete against any team in Serie A.

After losing out to Barcelona on the chase for Brazilian forward Malcom, Roma will once again rely heavily on their most dependable striker Edin Dzeko to provide goals this season. The Bosnian continued his knack for scoring spectacular goal over the weekend when he finished off a superb cross from Justin Kluivert with an exquisite left foot volley. Dzeko’s hold up play and the ability to strike with both feet is second to none in Serie A and it’s no surprise the club is offering him a raise to €5 million per season and an extra year of contract. The 32 year Old’s contract currently expires in June 2020.

Edin Dzeko celebrate one of his spectacular goals

Edin Dzeko celebrate one of his spectacular goals

Last year, we saw glimpses of what young Turkish right winger Cengiz Ünder could do in attack, but a lot is still expected from him if Roma will are going to be lethal up front. Stephan El Sharaawy

could be very important to what they do in attack as he can operate on both wings. There are many who still believe the young Pharaoh has only scratched a surface of his potential hence the need for more playing time to really bring out the best in him.

AS Roma’s Achilles heel could be in defense especially the man between the sticks. The fear is that, Robin Olsen, may not provide the reflexes that Allison provided last season. Coupled with that, the back four has a tendency to switch off so there must be evidence of improvement at the back. It is also a well-known fact that Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus are notoriously inconsistent.

There were times last season when AS Roma appeared too cagey, especially in games against the top teams. It was only when Eusebio men showed a sense of believing and took the game to their opponents that earned them victory. Their 4-2 win over Napoli at the San Paolo was testament of what this team is capable of.

Eusebio Di Francesco showed last season that he can map up a strategy to upstage some of Europe’s big guns at the Olympico, so a lot of Roma fans await what plan he has in his tactical tray this season.  Despite their fêted victory over Barcelona and securing Champions League qualification, few believe the former AS Roma midfielder is the right man to lead them.

For AS Roma to upset the current order in Serie A, it’s important for Eusebio to build a winning culture by instilling believe in his players to have confidence in themselves. The Gialorossi can use last season performances as a springboard to kick on this season.

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