Milan sack Giampaolo and hire Pioli

Despite Saturday’s chaotic win over Genoa, the Milan officials have elected to axe Marco Giampaolo and appoint Stefano Pioli after an underwhelming start of the season, which saw them collect three wins and four losses, against Udinese, Inter, Torino and Fiorentina. They are currently 13th in the table. The new boss has agreed to a two-year contract.

Pioli most recently coached Fiorentina for almost two seasons, as he resigned last April and then the team went into a downward spiral under Vincenzo Montella. He had led them to an eight-placed finish the year before. 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

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Six

Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri have not been very spectacular in the last two matches against minnows, but they got the job done with the contribution of few different players. Cristiano Ronaldo has shaken off his injury and will be back in this one, Paulo Dybala has outperformed Gonzalo Higuain in the last couple of outings, but the latter is usually closer to the goal. Aaron Ramsey has been pretty good and they could carry on with the tactics where he is heavily featured, but it remains to be seen whether he can play thrice in a row, otherwise Adrien Rabiot or Federico Bernardeschi could get the nod there and reap the benefits of a very offensive role. They have gotten goals from Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi, even though Sami Khedira is generally the midfielder who is most involved in the offense. Juan Cuadrado loses some steam because he is forced to play as right back for the time being. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 5

Brescia-Juventus: two questions loom large on the game, one for each side. Mario Balotelli is eligible to return after the suspension, but his conditioning might be a problem after skipping the summer preparation, so he might be initially be kept on the bench. Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out due to muscle fatigue and it is new situation under Maurizio Sarri; they also do not have Douglas Costa, so they lack a pure left-wing player. Federico Bernardeschi could certainly be adapted there, but he has struggled so far, so the coach might try new solutions, like for instance fielding Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain together. Whoever ends up starting up front will have to shoulder a bigger load sans Ronaldo. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Four

Juventus-Verona: the Old Lady had a subpar performance in Florence but obviously will be in a much better spot this week at home against a relegation struggler. Cristiano Ronaldo usually does not go scoreless for long and Gonzalo Higuain is not a bad pick either, as for now the coach has refrained from using Paulo Dybala there. Douglas Costa, who was their go-to-guy so far, will miss time, so Federico Bernardeschi and Juan Cuadrado will return to prominence. Until the coach entrusts one of the newcomers, Aaron Ramsey in particular, Sami Khedira remains the most appealing midfielder for his offensive dexterity. Their defenders are surely worth consideration. Continue reading

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 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 Fantasy Picks – Round Three

Salvatore Sirigu: Lecce have yet to score in this campaign and therefore Torino are in prime position to keep the clean sheet that has eluded them thus far, primarily due to the good level of the opponent they have faced thus far.

Francesco Acerbi: Lazio have conceded just one goal so far and SPAL are certainly not the most explosive side, so their defensive leader might be able to pick up some points during the weekend. Continue reading

Serie A Round 1 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Down

The first round of Serie A action promised plenty of fireworks and did not disappoint. Whether it was Antonio Conte’s long-awaited return to Italian football, Lorenzo Insigne’s man-of-the-match performance or the countless goal fests, it’s safe to say calcio is officially back. While the likes of Ciro Immobile and Luis Muriel stole the show, there were some players who put in less-than-stellar shifts.

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

Paulo Dybala (ATT, Juventus, Value 8.7) - Dybala has been at the heart of countless mercato talks this past summer but appears set to stay in Turin for one more season. Despite this, la Joya is second fiddle to Gonzalo Higuain and likely won’t feature regularly in Juventus’ attack. Against Parma, the former Palermo man was an unused substitute as newly appointed boss Maurizio Sarri opted for the trio of Gonzalo Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Douglas Costa. With games coming up against Napoli and Fiorentina, expect Dybala to begin games from a bench role and feature sporadically. At 8.7M, there are frankly better fantacalcio options.

Fabio Quagliarella (ATT, Sampdoria, Value 18.10) - Last season’s capocannoniere started the new year on the wrong foot, with his side succumbing to Lazio in convincing fashion. Having lost Marco Giampaolo at the helm, and Dennis Praet at the base of midfield, the blucerchiati look a side devoid of identity and struggled immensely in their first game. If it weren’t for Emil Audero’s heroics, Sampdoria could have well lost by five or six. At 18.10M, it’s hard to justify including an ageing Quagliarella in your team, especially after his two-point fantacalcio outing. After all, it will take time for Eusebio Di Francesco to instil his footballing philosophy and with games against Sassuolo, Napoli and Torino on deck, Quagliarella may struggle. 
Federico Fazio (DEF, Roma, Value 11.3) - Going into the first game of the season, question marks were raised about Roma’s rearguard. With Kostas Manolas moving to Napoli, the giallorossi lack a true leader at the heart of defence and it showed in their 3-3 draw against Genoa. Fazio and Juan Jesus regularly lost the mobile partnership of Christian Kouame and Andrea Pinamonti and barely got support from their fullbacks. As Gianluca Mancini is being eased into the side and one of Daniele Rugani or Dejan Lovren on the way, expect a struggling Fazio to feature less. At 11.3M, you’d be wise to drop the Argentine and the one fantasy point he earned in match-day one. 
Krzysztof Piątek (ATT, Milan, Value 14.9) - The Polish international had an outing to forget against Udinese and failed to impose himself in Milan’s season opener. With the rossoneri stuck between Giampaolo’s preferred 4-3-1-2 and 4-3-3, expect Piatek to be a victim of Milan’s ongoing identity crisis. Without the arrival of a true second striker alongside him, the former Genoa man will find chances hard to come by and will continue to struggle in front of goal. While Piatek will undoubtedly come good later in the season, his 14.9M price-tag is far too high right now for a player who isn’t producing. At that price, you can afford to swap him out of your side for the likes of Insigne or even Inter’s Romelu Lukaku. 
Allan (MID, Napoli, Value 11.0) - The Brazilian midfielder is one of the best in his position in the league but is the antithesis of the ideal fantacalcio player. Given his desire to dive into tackles, Allan will cost you fantasy points for yellow cards. Against Fiorentina, the midfielder gave Napoli’s midfield some much-needed steel, however, offered little invention in the final third. With Carlo Ancelotti experimenting with the 4-2-3-1, Allan’s deeper role and increased defensive duties will mean he won’t get too many opportunities in and around the danger area. While any team in Serie A would kill to add the 28-year-old to their ranks, this is one player fantasy manager should stay away from; especially with the Juventus clash on the horizon. 
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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