Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Eight

Lazio-Atalanta: the formula for the Biancocelesti never really changes, as Ciro Immobile is going like gangbusters this year, while Luis Alberto has been their second-best player, especially thanks to his playmaking, as he has already provided five assists. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa have both broken the ice, but they have yet to turn into consistent scorers. The ancillary contributors like Manuel Lazzari and Adam Marusic have been stuck in a timeshare, while Senad Lulic’s fantasy appeal is limited.

The Goddess lost Duvan Zapata for some time due to a muscular injury, so it now will have to be Luis Muriel’s time to shine as the primary go-to-guy. He has scored three times in five appearances despite the irregular playing time and, despite the different skillset, they might not take a big hit there. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Seven

Genoa-Milan: both offenses have looked very anaemic in recent matches, as the coaches, who are well-known for their proactive mentality, seem to have struggled to convey their ideas to the players. The Griffon have failed to score in the past two matches. Christian Kouame has led them with three goals so far and has been the only consistent contributor, while Andrea Pinamonti has been struck out since week one and ceded minutes to Antonio Sanabria and Andrea Favilli, who have not fared much better. They have yet to find a midfielder that can do some damage in the final third: Lasse Schone is too far away from the goal, but his aim on free kick is getting better, Ivan Radovanovic is shooting a lot but without precision and, like Lukas Lerager, he is more of a substance player than a quality one. Riccardo Saponara has not cracked the XI with enough continuity to be a fantasy factor. There is some appeal on the flanks, where Paolo Ghiglione and Marko Pajac have been serviceable. Continue reading

Lorenzo Pellegrini: Fonseca’s Mister X

Since Paulo Fonseca has taken over in the nation’s capitalit’s been clear he’s actively trying to implement his possession-based football from day one. In many ways, the former Shakhtar Donetsk man has succeeded as Roma are among the highest-scoring sides in the league and have looked lethal in the final third. While their defence has left a lot to be desired, their offensive impetus is a good starting point for the giallorossi. Fonseca’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation has since given Roma’s forwards newfound freedom in the final third.

Lorenzo Pellegrini is but one of many benefactors of the managerial change in Trigoria and has seen his importance grow within the side. Initially used on the left of Fonseca’s double pivot, the former Sassuolo man has since been shifted further forward as the side’s number ten. After all, his creativity and vision were wasted deep in midfield.

From the trequartista position, Pellegrini is able to make the most of his range of passing and intelligent movement to hurt the opposition. In his side’s most recent game, the 23-year-old put on a passing clinic against his former side, registering three assists in Roma’s 4-2 win over Sassuolo.

While he begins games centrally, the midfielder has no issues interchanging positions with Nicolo Zaniolo in wide areas, giving the opposition no reference point. From wide positions, defences often forget about him until he makes a late, darting run. In Italy’s most recent qualifier against Finland, Pellegrini started the game at left-wing and simply put, did a job, highlighting his versatility.

Moving forward, expect Fonseca to continue deploying Pellegrini higher up the pitch, especially considering he has no shortage of options for his double pivot. With the 23-year-old’s mobility, Roma are able to overload the opposition in the final third and make the most of these numerical advantages.

Equally capable of picking apart the opposition with a pass or firing one himself, Pellegrini is the ideal trequartista for Fonseca’s system. As Cengiz Under is out indefinitely, Roma are lacking invention in front of packed defences, something Pellegrini could definitely help out with.

With Zaniolo and Justin Kluivert among others flanking him, it makes for a truly versatile front-line behind the towering Edin Dzeko. Factor in Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s arrival – a player comfortable with playing anywhere across the front-line – and it makes for a truly diverse attacking corps in the nation’s capital. Moreover, given their ability to interchange positions at will, Roma’s attack in full flow will be difficult to stop.

As the giallorossi are set to begin their European campaign against Istanbul Basaksehir and will travel to the in-form Bologna on the weekend, expect Fonseca to keep experimenting with Pellegrini in the final third. Considering he can play just about anywhere, the former Sassuolo man will undoubtedly be a key player for the Portuguese tactician and will be looking to take the next step in his career. If his performance against Sassuolo is anything to go by, Pellegrini is in for a big season with Fonseca at the helm.

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Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Three

Standings implications: the table is starting to take shape and it has a new leader compared to the past few seasons as, for now, Inter is the only club with nine points after downing Udinese, since Juventus were halted by Fiorentina. Napoli returned to winning ways in convincing fashion against Sampdoria, who instead stay at zero points. Roma allowed Sassuolo to re-open the game but still won by two goals. Lazio dropped an ugly one versus SPAL, but it was not the only surprise win as Lecce shocked Torino on Monday night. It was harder than expected but Milan did best Verona away. Atalanta outlasted Genoa in a thriller, while Bologna mounted a glorious comeback against Brescia. Cagliari surprised Parma on the road.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Two

Milan-Brescia: the first game under Marco Giampaolo presented the same issues the Rossoneri suffered from last season, primarily keeping the ball up front and feeding their main striker. They managed to get only some limited offensive forays without never building a constant assasult. A faux pas that could lead to some tactical and personnel change, with Suso possibly returning to the flank and Ismael Bennacer and Rafael Leao getting the nod from start. If they can turn it around, it could be a decent spot for Krzysztof Piatek, but it is tough to trust them right now. The Rondinelle showed to be solid right away in a fairly tough road game in Cagliari: last year’s design worked and the defense held up. If that continues to be the case, Alfredo Donnarumma will be one to watch, he scored 26 goals in Serie B, same as Dimistri Bisoli, who is their most dangerous midfielder, while Sandro Tonali’s fantasy production is a little shakier because it hinges on set pieces. Continue reading

Underestimate Roma at your own risk

Over the years, Roma have consistently sold the side’s best performers due to constraints imposed by Financial Fair Play. This past summer has been no different in the nation’s capital. Kostas Manolas is already on his way to Napoli, while Edin Dzeko to Inter seems to be a mere formality. Despite the need to balance the books, the giallorossi have still managed to put together an impressive team, and frankly, are a few additions away from being a bonafide top four side next season.

After hiring Paulo Fonseca, a young and progressive tactician, Roma wasted no time and secured Napoli regista Amadou Diawara in the Manolas deal. For just under 20 million euros, the giallorossi signed one of Italy’s most promising young midfielders, and an ideal talent to play at the base of Fonseca’s 4-3-3. Diawara struggled for consistent playing time at Napoli, but will use this move as an opportunity to recreate his past form.

Alongside Diawara, two of Lorenzo Pellegrini, Nicolo Zaniolo and Bryan Cristante will likely feature. After an initial rough patch, Pellegrini has demonstrated he has what it takes to play for a top club, and has developed into a real menace between the lines in the final third. It also remains to be seen how Fonseca will fit Zaniolo in his setup, but he would compliment Diawara and Pellegrini nicely in a midfield three.

With newcomer Leonardo Spinazzola and club bandiera Alessandro Florenzi getting forward with regularity, expect free-flowing football at the Stadio Olimpico next season. However, for this to happen, Spinazzola will need to stay fit while Florenzi will need to up his game after a sub-par season.

In addition, young players like Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert will be given a new lease on life under Fonseca and will be encouraged to express themselves to the fullest. Under has displayed his talent in glimpses, but needs to maintain his form over the course of an entire season if he’s to be relied upon. Kluivert, by contrast, had an indifferent first season with Roma and will be looking to redeem himself, especially if Stephan El Shaarawy leaves for China as it’s being reported.

Patrik Schick is another player who could benefit from Fonseca’s appointment. Since arriving at the club, the Czech international has looked devoid of any confidence, and has struggled to impose himself. In his breakout season with Sampdoria, the striker netted 11 goals in just 14 starts; a pattern of form Roma will be eager for the 23-year-old to recreate.

While Roma fans will be feeling hard done by their recent sales, at the very least the club is moving forward with a clear direction in mind. At the moment, their squad is young, vibrant and full of Italian talents on the upswing. Given Fonseca’s past experience with Shakhtar, he seems to be the ideal candidate to lead the giallorossi in the next phase of their rebuild. If recent reports are to be believed and Roma add a quality centre-back, don’t be surprised to see the giallorossi high up the table challenging Italy’s elite. Underestimate them at your own peril.

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Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 37

torinoempoli

Sassuolo-Roma: the Neroverdi were handed their first loss since April last week by Torino, even though they certainly put up a fight, despite not being in need of points. The Giallorossi defeated Juventus with a late surge, garnering their fourth win in the last six rounds, tying in the other two and staying close to the fourth spot. Sassuolo have found the target in five of the last six rounds and La Lupa have not been great defensively on the road: they have spread the wealth around since Domenico Berardi was the only one to bag one in multiple matches. Jeremie Boga, Stefano Sensi, Manuel Locatelli and all the defenders contributed scoring-wise: Boga and Sensi have been their most lively contributors in the last few fixtures. The Giallorossi are getting a lot from Stephan El Shaarawy and Edin Dzeko, while the latest tactical change, if confirmed, would help the likes of Nicolò Zaniolo, Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert, as the last two would see more minutes. Lorenzo Pellegrini is iffy due to a thigh ailment and his absence could allow Bryan Cristante to have a big role.

Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Round – Roma

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In a round that included just two shutout wins, by Roma and Milan, the Giallorossi got the best result of the week, even though they did not exactly dominate the clash with Juventus and were lucky not to go down in the score. Bologna had the most convincing display, but Parma’s consolation goal and the fact that they were gifted two own hauls did not make for a rich fantasy haul.

They had tied in Genoa the week before, letting Atalanta slip away in the standings. They have not lost since March 31st, winning four out of seven games.

Claudio Ranieri tilted his approach and went with an interesting tactic that saw Steven N’Zonzi as the lone pivot, sandwiched between Nicolò Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, while Justin Kluivert started on the right wing, completing the trident that comprised Edin Dzeko and Stephan El Shaarawy as per usual. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 36

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Atalanta-Genoa: the Bergamaschi keep soaring and bested Lazio in a seminal clash last week, garnering their third win a row and building a little lead over Roma in the race to get the fourth position. They have not been defeated since the beginning of March. The Griffon is coming off two 1-1 ties in a row, versus SPAL and Roma, squandering a massive late opportunity on Sunday. They are four points above the third-to-last position. Suspensions are piling up for Gian Piero Gasperini and he will not be able to count on two defensive centre-pieces, Gianluca Mancini and Andrea Masiello, and more importantly on Alejandro Gomez, which will also not allow him to rotate the squad much ahead of next week’s cup final. Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata will take on an even larger load than usual: the Slovenian genius has been slowed down by some nagging injuries, while the Colombian powerhouse continues to lay hurt on opponents. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Genoa vs Roma

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Some other games were more high scoring, but Genoa-Roma carried some meaning for both teams, was end-to-end stuff for ninety plus minutes and also featured an insane ending.

The Rossoblù came into the match trying to nab their first W in six rounds, where they had lost four times, and thus avoid sliding too close to the fire, while Roma, who had prevailed in three of their previous four fixtures, were gunning for heavy points in the Champions League race. Continue reading