Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Six

Standings implications: the top three teams in the standings were all successful on Saturday. The one that had to combat the most was Inter, which run into some trouble against Sampdoria but still prevailed, while Juventus and Atalanta easily disposed of SPAL and Sassuolo. The Roman sides kept up as La Lupa nipped Lecce on the road, while Lazio trucked Genoa. Fiorentina earned their second W in a row with a splendid display against a dwindling Milan. Cagliari came back to earth with a draw versus Verona. Udinese returned to winning days after four rounds by defeating Bologna. Parma outlasted Torino on Monday night.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspensions Report – Round Four

Atalanta: Luis Muriel tweaked his knee against Genoa but he was available versus Dinamo Zagreb, so he avoided significant problems.

Bologna: Blerin Dzemaili picked up a calf ailment but he made the squad list. Danilo remains out with a thigh strain.

Brescia: Daniele Dessena is suspended and Mario Balotelli will serve the final game of his disqualification. Bruno Martella (calf) and Giangiacomo Magnani, Ernesto Torregrossa (quad) and Emanuele Ndoj (ankle shelf) stay on the shelf. Continue reading

Serie A Round 3 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Down

Now that the international break has come and gone, it’s time to get back to the football that matters. This match-day, Juventus and Inter will look to maintain their perfect record against Fiorentina and Udinese respectively while Napoli take on Sampdoria. Otherwise, Roma host Roberto De Zerbi’s high-flying Sassuolo in what promises to be a top clash.

With match-day three upon us, here are FIVE players you should consider dropping from your fantacalcio side. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Bartosz Bereszyński (DEF, Sampdoria, Value 6.3) - The Sampdoria defender has endured a torrid start to the season as the blucerchiati have struggled immensely defensively. After conceding seven goals in their first two games against Lazio and Sassuolo, it won’t get any easier for Bereszyński and co. as they travel to the San Paolo to take on Napoli. With Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon and Hirving Lozano all expected to feature at one point or another, expect another goal-fest.

While the Pole was initially seen as a decent, low-cost option due to his offensive thrust, now may be a good time to get him off your fantacalcio side.

Pau Lopez (GK, Roma, Value 6.3) - Let’s get something straight – Pau Lopez has not been at fault for Roma’s porous defence and has played a minimal role in the goals conceded thus far. In the first two games of the season, it’s clear he’s a notable improvement on the departed Robin Olsen. That being said, the Spaniard could only do so much on his own and currently, the Roma rearguard is struggling. 

With a clash set against De Zerbi’s Sassuolo, it would be wise to shift the goalkeeper out of your side, even temporarily, until the giallorossi fix their issues at the back. After all, Domenico Berardi is in fine form and will be looking to hurt Roma’s suspect back four.

Kostas Manolas (DEF, Napoli, Value 13.8) - When the Greek international joined Napoli, he was expected to form a brilliant partnership alongside Senegalese stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly. Two games into the season, it’s been nothing of the sort and the partenopei have already conceded seven goals. While they have played Fiorentina and Juventus, two opponents who find the back of the net with ease, Napoli’s defensive concerns remain a cause for concern.

At 13.8 million euros, you would be wise the drop the former Roma man and replace him with another defender. For example, Inter’s Diego Godin is available for a mere 9 million euros and will be slotting in the nerazzurri’s defence regularly from this point forward.

Krzysztof Piątek (ATT, Milan, Value 12.9) - While it’s the second week in a row the Milan man features in this series, his quality is not in question. However, with rossoneri boss Marco Giampaolo still experimenting with his best eleven, it will take some time before we see the best from Piątek. Until now, the Polish international has started alongside Samu Castillejo in the first game and came off the bench in the second game.

Before joining Milan, Castillejo was primarily a winger and has struggled to adapt to Giampaolo’s narrow system. As a result, he makes for an awkward fit alongside Piątek. Until Giampaolo establishes his best eleven and the new signings are fully integrated into the team, I would keep the former Genoa man out of my fantacalcio side.

Nicolo Barella (MID, Inter, Value 12.3) - Another player of great quality features in this week’s piece. Again, his inclusion can be attributed to the competition for places at Inter, rather than his own form. Last match-day, Inter boss Antonio Conte went with Matias Vecino in his place, as Barella came off the bench with just over twenty minutes to play.

While the former Cagliari captain will surely become a starter for Inter in the long-run, Conte will arguably take time before giving him a starting position. After all, he did the same thing with a certain Paul Pogba. As a result, your 12.3 million could be better spent.

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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

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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Napoli sign Kostas Manolas from Roma

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Napoli have acquired Kostas Manolas from Roma by activating his €36M release clause. He will replace the staple Raul Albiol, who will move to Villarreal for €6M, as already confirmed by president Aurelio De Laurentiis. The 27-year-old defender has reportedly agreed to a four-year contract. La Lupa needed to complete the sale by today for financial reasons. Amadou Diawara will later join the Giallorossi as part of the deal and will be valued at around €20M.  

While the two centre-backs are quite different, Napoli will now be able to rely on one of the best and most explosive pairs in Serie A by putting the Greek international next to Kalidou Koulibaly. Like most of Roma, Manolas is coming off a pretty inconsistent campaign, but he has squarely been in the top echelon of League’s defenders in the last few years. 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 Injury and Suspension Report – Round 38

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Juventus: Blaise Matuidi and Federico Bernardeschi are suspended, while Joao Cancelo and Mario Mandzukic both fractured their nose in the same week and are unavailable for Sunday. Alex Sandro is dealing with a rib contusion. Douglas Costa (calf), Mattia Perin (shoulder) and Sami Khedira (knee) remain sidelined as expected. Cristiano Ronaldo will be rested, while Wojciech Szczesny has suffered a knee injury.

Napoli: Allan and Kalidou Koulibaly are disqualified. Amadou Diawara looked close to returning from a foot fracture for a pair of weeks, but he was again unable to make the squad list, like Adam Ounas that is banged up and David Ospina, who is still in Colombia. Mario Rui is out with an undisclosed injury.  Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 36

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Antonio Mirante (7 points): he prevented Roma from going down in the score time and time again in the Juventus clash, superbly rejecting Juan Cuadrado and Paulo Dybala’s point-blank finishes.

Alessio Romagnoli (5 points): just three clean sheets in this round, so all the top point-getters among defenders come from Roma and Milan. The Rossoneri captain did not necessarily have the most imposing outing, but led the back-line in Florence, contributing to holding La Viola scoreless.

Cedric Soares (5 points): Inter easily stopped Chievo on Sunday night, allowing their defenders to haul in five points, which are enough to make the TOTW in this round. The right back contributed to the second goal by hitting the post, then Ivan Perisic cashed in on the rebound.

Continue reading