Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Seven

Atalanta: Luis Muriel returned in Champions League from his tonsillitis and thus they have no injuries to worry about.

Bologna: Roberto Soriano is suspended, while Mitchell Dijks is trying to come back from a ribs contusion, but he has yet to resume practicing fully.

Cagliari: Charalampos Lykogiannis is dealing with some Achilles soreness, while Ragnar Klavan has some thigh muscle fatigue. They are iffy for the weekend. Christian Oliva and Simone Pinna are under the weather. Among these, only Oliva has been able to recover enough to be called up.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspensions Report – Round Six

Atalanta: Luis Muriel is dealing with tonsillitis and his recovery for the weekend is uncertain.

Bologna: Danilo could be back from his thigh strain in this round, while Mitchell Dijks is very likely to miss another one due to a rib injury.

Brescia: Giangiacomo Magnani, Emanuele Ndoj (ankle) and Ernesto Torregrossa (quad) are expected to stay on the mend. Mario Balotelli has a minor neck problem. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Five

Standings implications: Inter and Juventus gained some ground in the standings thanks to their wins over Lazio and Brescia, as Napoli were stunned at home by Cagliari. Atalanta are now in third after an excellent victory over Roma. The Sardinians are right there in fifth. Parma took advantage of Sassuolo’s road woes, while Genoa and Bologna and Verona and Udinese shared the spoils in goalless matches. In the lower zones, Fiorentina finally prevailed, over the reeling Sampdoria, while Lecce sunk SPAL away. Torino mounted an improbable comeback against Milan, considering how the game was going up to that point and moved to the 4th spot.  Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Juventus vs Napoli

Juventus-Napoli fitted right into the high scoring nature of the first two Serie A rounds, as the whole leagues seems to have forgotten his defensive pedigree, much to the delight of the audience. A bizarre game, as the Bianconeri utterly dominated for an hour, but then gave the lead away in a 15-minute black-out. In an incredible twist though, Kalidou Koulibaly scored an own goal in the stoppage time. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Two

Results: Juventus emerged victorious in a wild bout with Napoli with a big assist from the opponents, while Roma and Lazio shared the spoils in an equally hard-fought Derby. Inter and Torino are the only two other teams at six points, as the Nerazzurri squeezed past Cagliari, while the Granata grabbed a quality victory against Atalanta. Milan found their first W scraping by Brescia. Genoa defeated Fiorentina, Sassuolo ragdolled Sampdoria, Bologna downed SPAL in the final minutes and Verona escaped Lecce with three valuable points.   Continue reading

Opinion: Juventus can reload with Serie A players alone

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No matter what coach will be chosen, Juventus will have to address some glaring needs in the upcoming transfer market session, but they might be able to fill them with the usual modus operandi: plucking players from other Serie A teams. Here are some of the three biggest holes.

A heir to Giorgio Chiellini: the Old Lady had a good thing going in the first half of last season, where for a while they were able to rotate two well-assorted duos, Leonardo Bonucci-Medhi Benatia and Daniele Rugani-Chiellini, and go with Bonucci-Chiellini in the most demanding fixtures. Eventually, the Moroccan centre-back grew tired for the lack of consistent playing times and asked to leave and Martin Caceres was a temporary cheap patch. Continue reading

Serie A Top Six Fantasy Defenders in 2018/2019

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Serie A always excels when it comes to defending and the most glaring takeaway from the list is that Torino had a great year on that front, as they managed to put to three names in the chart, besting Juventus, which had two.

Armando Izzo (75 points): he has been a solid for few years now, first at Genoa and recently the Granata, but he took it up a notch, becoming one of the finest specialists in his position as right centre-back in a three-man line, whose tasks are not merely defensive. He set the tone with his intensity, physicality and never-say-die attitude and showed a lot of leadership, even in a department that featured an established guy on an international level like Nicolas N’Koulou. He amassed 15 clean sheets and put the cherry on top by scoring four goals and providing an assist attacking on set pieces  Continue reading

Assessing the Center Back Market in Serie A

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After looking at the goalkeeper position earlier this week, let’s review the market for center backs in Serie A. Let’s start with which top teams could use an addition or two

 

 

Juventus- Chiellini proved to be Juventus’ most important player this season and the fact that he’ll be 35 this year should give the team urgency to bolster this position especially since Bonucci was often a liability defensively while Rugani showed he’s not ready to be a starter at a club of this caliber. Emre Can could be used a center back more frequently but that would further weaken a midfield that isn’t great to begin with.

Napoli- there will be a lot of suitors for Koulibaly, and even though he’s expected to stay at the club, Albiol’s age and recent injuries, make the center back position a key need moving forward regardless of what Koulibaly does.

Inter- the nerazzurri are loaded at the position with Diego Godin joining Skriniar and De Vrij. Should Conte replace Spalletti, he’ll have a new version of the BBC waiting for him at la Pinetina.

Atalanta- the Bergamaschi could use an upgrade at the position especially since there’s a lot of suitors for Gianluca Mancini.

Roma- not upgrading this position in January is one of the many significant mistakes Monchi made at the club. The situation could get even more dire when you consider Kostas Manolas has a 36 million euro exit clause which is also valid in Italy.

Milan- Romagnoli took another step forward this season while Musacchio was considerably better than in his first campaign in Serie A. If Caldara can fully recover from his recent ACL injury, this will be one position where Milan can stay put with on the market.

Lazio- while Acerbi proved to be a more than adequate relacement for De Vrij, the rest of the biancocelesti’s center backs aren’t good enough to start for a team that wants to consistently compete for a Champions League spot. Should Inzaghi leave this summer, Lazio could also move away from a 3 center back defense which would have an impact on their summer plans- but regardless sporting director Tare’ needs to find at least one above average center back.

 

Now let’s look at the center backs in Serie A who will almost certainly be in the transfer news headlines

 

Koulibaly, Skriniar, Romagnoli- all three are expected to stay at their respective teams, but because of their impressive ability, they will certainly be targets for rich clubs abroad.

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Kostas Manolas- while De Ligt and Varane are Juventus’ top targets to build their defense around in the post Chiellini era, the Greek defender could be a very good stop gap. His speed would be an asset on a team that got run over by Atalanta and Ajax this season and the bianconeri have a great relationship with his agent Mino Raiola. Manolas’ profile was raised internationally last season thanks to Roma’s deep Champions League run, so he could also receive offers from outside of Serie A.

Nikola Milenkovic- the versatile Bosnian defender has been previously linked to Manchester United but Fiorentina’s very disappointing season has taken away some of his luster. But considering his ability to play as both a center back and right wing back, despite his considerable height, he will still be attractive to many teams.

Fiorentina spent just 5 million for him, so they can easily turn him into a massive profit. It will be interesting to see if Napoli or Roma get in the mix, considering he’ll turn 22 in October, MIlenkovic would still have considerable resale value down the line.

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Gianluca Mancini- between Atalanta’s magical run and making his debut for the Azzurri senior squad, this has been a magical season for the 23 year old defender from Pontendera. Roma has been targeting him for quite some time to either be Manolas’ partner or replacement and despite Monchi’s departure, a move to Italy’s capital still makes the most sense.

 

Nicholas NKolou & Armando Izzo- assuming he lands the Roma job, Petrachi would love nothing more than to bolster his new defense with one or two of Torino’s current key players. But the expected divorce from president Cairo looks to be quite acrimonious so it’s unlikely the granata would let either be reunited with Petrachi. Keeping both would be quite the statement from Torino especially when you consider their performances this season have elevated their profiles on the market.

Merih Demiral & Cristian Romero- while Juventus is expected to sign at least one big name at the center back position, their sporting director Paratici will also look to add a young player or two for the future. Juventus worked in synergy with Sassuolo to bring Demiral to Serie A from Turkey and he has more than distinguished himself since arriving, he’s very tall and has significant margins for improvement when you consider he’s only 21 years old.

Juventus is also expected to acquire Romero from Genoa, don’t be surprised if the transfer fee is rather substantial in light of the fact the amount of the Sturaro signing raised eye brows (remember that it’s very flawed to look at deals in a vacuum when clubs do a lot of business with one another). Both Romero and Demiral could however stay at their current clubs for another year.

 

Bruno Alves & Nicola Bastoni- Parma’s two stand out center backs could be on the move this summer. The veteran Portuguese international was linked to Juventus and Inter in January as a potential replacement for Benatia and Miranda respectively but ended up staying put. Bastoni on the other hand is on loan from Inter but would likely be better off staying on D’Aversa’s squad one more season so he can play regularly.

Joachim Andersen & Omar Colley- while Quagliarella has rightfully dominated the story lines surrounding Sampdoria, sporting director Osti has continued his streak of discovering intriguing center backs following Skriniar’s explosion. Considering that Colley is four years older than Andersen, he could be sold first.

 

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 32

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The round was rather meager in terms of scoring, but prolific for defenders.

Andrea Consigli (7 points): Sassuolo pulled the strings for most of the clash with Parma, but it was not for his save on Fabio Ceravolo’s penalty in the first half they could have found themselves in a very eerie situation.

Frank Kessié (9 points): the Milan powerhouse decided the seminal bout with Lazio with a penalty, which perhaps he should not have even taken, and went mano-a-mano with the talented opponents all night long. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 32

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Standings implications: Juventus did not bother showing up in Ferrara and allowed SPAL to take home a precious W that gives them a nice cushion. Napoli returned to winning ways after three rounds, mathematically condemning Chievo to Serie B after a very tough season. Inter prevailed in Frosinone, dealing a big blow to the Ciociari’s remaining hopes. Milan and Roma were both successful in the Champions League race and put three more points between themselves and Lazio. Empoli resisted against Atalanta. Torino did not find a way to down Cagliari, while Sampdoria bested Genoa after two losses, timidly re-entering the fray for Europa League. Another home draw for Fiorentina in Vincenzo Montella’s debut, as the match with Bologna ended with no goals, allowing the Felsinei, alongside Empoli, to get a little closer to Udinese and Genoa. Sassuolo and Parma shared the spoils. Continue reading