Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 26

Marco Silvestri: Verona and their stifling defence will visit an undermanned Sampdoria squad on Monday. The Scaligeri have not given up more than one goal in the past eight rounds.

Kostas Manolas: Napoli can be very stingy when they want to be, as evidenced by the Barcelona clash, and Torino have been incredibly subpar offensively over the last two months. Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Mario Rui have more upside than the Greek centre-back, but it is possible that the coach rotates the squad a bit. Continue reading

Three Reasons Behind Roma’s Slump

After a relatively decent first-half to the season, Roma have hit a rough patch and now find themselves six points adrift Atalanta for the fourth and final Champions League spot. Earlier in the year, it appeared the giallorossi were establishing a clear identity under Paulo Fonseca and were building a solid foundation for years to come. However, in recent times, Roma have struggled for results, losing three of their last four clashes and are in free-fall mode.

But how exactly did we get here? Here are three reasons behind Roma’s slump.

1) No Diawara, no party. 

After a great start to the season, Amadou Diawara went down injured at the end of January and is now out for an undisclosed period of time. Alongside Jordan Veretout, the former Napoli man established himself as one of Fonseca’s key players and typically played in the role of regista dictating play from deep. Without him in the lineup, Roma have struggled to build out of the back and have looked defensively suspect. Diawara was central to Fonseca’s system and essentially acted as the lynchpin that tied it all together in the middle.

His replacement, Bryan Cristante, hasn’t exactly performed when called upon and is currently struggling for form. Whether it’s his imprecision on the ball or his inefficiency in front of goal, the downgrade from Diawara to Cristante is hurting Roma.

While Diawara’s return is unknown for now, Fonseca is going to need to find a solution quickly. If not, Roma risk falling out of contention for a Champions League place and could be eliminated from the Europa League.

2) Centre-backs are making routine errors. 

Following Kostas Manolas’ departure to Napoli, many expected the giallorossi to spend big to replace the Greek international. Rather than splashing the cash on a new defender, Roma opted for a low-cost option and loaned Manchester United defender Chris Smalling. The Englishman started the season in phenomenal form and for the first half of the season looked like the signing of the summer. However, in the new year, his good performances quickly faded and began making routine mistakes at the back.

His partner, Gianluca Mancini, has endured a very similar start to 2020. The former Atalanta defender has looked increasingly shaky at the back and devoid of any confidence. In Roma’s most recent games, Mancini has been regularly beaten by his man and hasn’t exactly exhibited confidence. In fact, in the giallorossi’s last three games, they’ve conceded nine goals, losing to Bologna, Sassuolo and direct Champions League rivals Atalanta.

While Mancini and Smalling had great starts to the season and looked more than ready to assume bigger roles, their respective shortcomings have now caught up to them. Much like it was the case in midfield, Roma will regret not reinforcing further this past January.

3) Roma’s attack is filled with “nearly-men” 

While Roma are having no trouble finding the back of the net in this negative run, their front-line remains an inconsistent bunch. This leads to regular rotation and overall incoherence in the final third. On some nights, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Cengiz Under look like world-beaters while other games, they can barely string two passes together. See: Most recent defeat vs. Atalanta.

Nicolo Zaniolo’s injury significantly hampered Roma in this respect, but it’s time one of their youngsters on the cusp steps up and builds a partnership with club veteran Edin Dzeko. Whether it’s Kluivert, Pellegrini or Under, one of them needs to assume more responsibility in the final third. If they are unable to do so, it may be time for the giallorossi to reconsider and in some cases move on from them completely because right now their “nearly-men” are killing them.

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Serie A Match of the Round – Napoli vs Inter

Napoli-Inter was a bit one-sided, but it had enough action to justify its selection as game of the week considering its magnitude.

The Azzurri were looking to build on their first win in two months before the break, versus Sassuolo in pretty fortunate manner, while the Beneamata had crushed Genoa and were looking to confirm their success on the road and answer to Juventus, which had defeated Cagliari earlier on Monday. Continue reading

Serie A Round 15 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Down

League leaders Inter will be looking to extend the gap at the top when they take on Roma in a few hour’s time. Juventus, on the other hand, will be traveling to Roma’s cross-town rivals Lazio and are eager to return to winning ways. However, Ciro Immobile and co. are in sensational form and will arguably have something to say about that. Otherwise, Napoli take on Udinese and Atalanta host Hellas Verona.

With match-day 15 upon us, here are FIVE players you should consider dropping from your elevens. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Matthijs de Ligt (CB, Juventus, Value 14.21) – After a phenomenal performance against Atletico Madrid, the Dutchman got the nod against Sassuolo and put in a display to forget. Turkish international Merih Demiral will be wondering what he has to do to get into the side. While the former Ajax man is still young and growing pains are a part of the process, he’s proven to be error-prone this season, costing Juventus both goals and penalties.

With the Dutchman struggling for form and a high-powered Lazio coming up, I would temporarily swap de Ligt out of my fantacalcio side.

Krzysztof Piatek (FWD, Milan, Value 12.00) - When the side’s left-back is the joint top goalscorer on a whopping three goals, you know Milan currently have a striking problem. Since his breakthrough year, the Polish international has looked a shade of his former self and hasn’t found the back of the net since his strike against Lecce back in October. That’s six games without a goal.

At 12 million euros, you can do better and select a player who’s actually in-form. Whether it’s the number nine curse at Milan, a complete lack of service, or his own wastefulness, Piatek is not someone you want in your sides moving forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo (FWD, Juventus, Value 17.36) - Speaking on misfiring forwards, Ronaldo is yet another player who hasn’t exactly played his best football this season and has struggled to attain his typically lofty heights. While there are reports that the former Real Madrid man is nursing a knee injury, Ronaldo has looked a step behind the pace and often finds himself firing shots from unlikely ranges. As of right now, it’s Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain scoring the important goals for Juve and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.

His star-name and past experience may attract you but based on current form, there are better options for his 17.36 million euro price-tag. It may be difficult, but you probably need to drop Ronaldo.

Kostas Manolas (DEF, Napoli, Value 10.73) - When the Greek international joined Napoli, he was supposed to add defensive solidity and form a fearsome partnership with Kalidou Koulibaly. Fifteen match-days into the season and nothing of the sort has taken place. In fact, Napoli’s defence has taken a step-back if anything this season, conceding 18 goals already and only have one clean sheet in their last nine games in all competitions.

While Manolas is not the only one to blame, the former Roma man’s elevated price-tag means he’s a luxury not worth purchasing. Consider replacing him with high-flying fullbacks or the man who took his place in the nation’s capital, Chris Smalling.

Sandro Tonali (MID, Brescia, Value 12.00) - While the midfield maestro has been Brescia’s only bright-spot this season, he has struggled in recent weeks. Since Fabio Grosso’s appointment, Brescia have conceded ten goals, scoring none, and lost all three games. Grosso has since been replaced with the man he took over from, however, that arguably won’t change Brescia’s fortunes.

As a result, you would be wise to temporarily use the 12 million elsewhere and wait until Corini steadies the ship once more.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic lost the appeal so he will serve the second game of his suspension. Ruslan Malinovskyi is disqualified as well. Duvan Zapata is not ready after missing time with a thigh strain despite the early optimism, while Luis Muriel and Remo Freuler, who picked up some muscular ailments with their national teams, should be fine. 

Bologna: Mattia Bani and Danilo are banned. Takehiro Tomiyasu is poised to come back from a thigh strain, while Federico Santander suffered the same injury few days ago and will miss three weeks. Roberto Soriano and Mitchell Dijks will miss another one due to a knee and toe edema respectively, also Mattia Destro remains on the shelf due to knee soreness. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 12

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic was handed a two-game suspension for kicking an opponent from behind. Duvan Zapata is not ready to come back from his thigh strain. Robin Gosens is dealing with sciatica. Ruslan Malinovskyi has a sore glute. Remo Freuler is bang up as well and the trio is legitimately questionable. 

Bologna: Roberto Soriano has been ruled out due to a knee bruise, Federico Santander because of a calf one. Takehiro Tomiyasu (thigh), Mitchell Dijks (toe contusion) and Mattia Destro (knee soreness) stay on the shelf. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 11

Atalanta: Marten De Roon is suspended. Andrea Masiello and José-Luis Palomino were available for the midweek round, so the only injured player is Duvan Zapata.

Bologna: Mitchell Dijks will remain sidelined for what is now billed more as a foot sprain than a contusion. Gary Medel is back in the squad list, while Mattia Destro and Takehiro Tomiyasu remain sidelined. Federico Santander was hit on the calf but he is available.

Brescia: Jesse Joronen is questionable due to the bruise that forced him to miss the last game. It is unlikely that there will any return among their injured players, with Giangiacomo Magnani being the closest. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Ten

Juventus: Miralem Pjanic (thigh) and Gonzalo Higuain (head) were ruled out. while Rodrigo Bentancur, who hurt his ribs, is good to go. Douglas Costa has resumed practicing fully and might return to the squad either here or on Sunday, while Aaron Ramsey is still limited, but he is the squad list. 

Inter: Stefano Sensi is progressing but will not come back here. The reports about Matias Vecino’s thigh injury have been scarce, but he was not dealing with a major problem. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Nine

Juventus: Aaron Ramsey and Douglas Costa are set to miss another one as they continue working their way back from thigh injuries. Mattia De Sciglio, instead, could make the squad list.

Inter: Stefano Sensi is likely to miss another two matches due to a psoas muscle problem. Matias Vecino was held out midweek due to muscle fatigue and he is questionable. Continue reading

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