Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 24

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Juventus: Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have been called up, while Douglas Costa remains out with a quad problem. Daniele Rugani has a sore thigh, but he is in the squad list. Alex Sandro is suspended.

Napoli: Dries Mertens and Simone Verdi missed the midweek Europa League clash due to a contracture and a bruised knee respectively, but they might be able to recover in time. Raul Albiol underwent a clean-up surgery on the patellar tendon of the left knee and will miss six-to-eight weeks. Mario Rui suffered a thigh pull and will be sidelined this week.

Inter: Sime Vrsaljko had season-ending knee surgery. Balde Keita’s recovery from a thigh strain has had a hiccup and he might not be available this week. Mauro Icardi has a sore knee.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 23

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Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi will be good to go after leaving the last game with a chest injury. On the other hand, Douglas Costa is iffy due to a bruised quad and Leonardo Spinazzola has a sore ankle. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) will be out again, while Leonardo Bonucci (ankle) is making a late push to be in the squad list.

Napoli: Amin Younes is having troubles with the surgically repaired Achilles tendon. Raul Albiol is reportedly dealing with a patellar tendon issue that could turn out to be a very serious one.

Inter: Matteo Politano will serve the final game of his suspension. Balde Keita has been called up despite the coach saying that he is not ready. Borja Valero is out with knee soreness.

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Three Positives From Lazio’s Win Against Frosinone

With a number of teams vying for top four, Lazio desperately needed to claim the three points against Frosinone to maintain pace. While the biancocelesti weren’t at their best, Simone Inzaghi’s men did just enough to get the victory and remain in the race for top four alongside Milan, Atalanta, and fierce rivals Roma. As a whole, Inzaghi will be pleased with his side’s recent form, given their indifferent end to 2018. Here are three positives from Lazio’s win against Frosinone.

Opting to give Lucas Leiva a rest, Inzaghi fielded Milan Badelj  at the heart of midfield and tasked him with shielding the defence. Until now, the Croatian hasn’t lived up to expectations and has largely disappointed when given a chance. Against Frosinone, however, Badelj was at this best and demonstrated exactly why Lazio were so eager to snap him up this past summer.

The former Fiorentina man finished the game with the most aerial duels won, the most tackles, and the most ball recoveries. When Frosinone looked dangerous, Badelj was typically there to clear; something Inzaghi will be hoping continues, especially considering the biancocelesti are competing on three fronts.

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Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 22

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Napoli-Sampdoria: the Partenopei had a disappointing two-game meeting with Milan, as they did not manage to beat them in the weekend and then got got in Coppa Italia. They are undefeated at home, where they have won four games in a row, often scoring multiple goals. The Blucerchiati are coming off a thumping against Udinese, their fourth W in the last six fixtures and they lost only to Juventus since the beginning of December. While Lorenzo Insigne is stuck in a prolonged drought, Arek Milik has done most of the damage for the Azzurri up front, with Dries Mertens chipping in from time to time and some contribution from José Callejon, Marek Hamsik and Piotr Zielinski, but not in a consistent way. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 21

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Sampdoria-Udinese: the Blucerchiati were pipped at the post in Florence last week, in a game that turned on its head a thousand times. They have won three straight at home. After three positive, or semi-positives, results Udinese took a tumble at home against Parma. They have managed to prevail just once on the road thus far. Fabio Quagliarella has found the target in ten straight appearances and is one shy of tying the record, so he is obviously a must-start, considering that the match-up is not that hard. Gaston Ramirez is suspended, so Riccardo Saponara will draw the start and could be worth a look. Even Jakub Jankto showed some life in the last game, but Karol Linetty might be able to return in the midfield. Continue reading

Napoli Loss Highlights Lazio’s Woes Once More

Despite a relatively good start to the game, Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio still fell short against Napoli and eventually lost 2-1 to the hosts, relinquishing fourth place to Milan and fierce rivals Roma. The biancocelesti started the game nicely pressuring Ancelotti’s men high, and tested Napoli keeper Alex Meret early. The young shot-stopper proved to be up to the challenge and kept Lazio at bay until Jose Callejon found the back of the net.

Minutes later, Arek Milik would double the partenopei’s lead, rendering Ciro Immobile’s second half goal a mere consolation strike. Francesco Acerbi would also get sent off with twenty to play, compounding Lazio’s issues further. While Inzaghi won’t be too displeased with the performance as a whole, the loss highlighted Lazio’s woes once more. Incapable of generating much offence, a large part of the offensive burden falls on the welcoming shoulders of Ciro Immobile.

The Italian international has done well when called upon, scoring 11 goals in league play thus far, yet can’t be tasked with carrying Lazio week in, week out. Yesterday, it was Luis Alberto who got the start behind the talisman, but the Spaniard failed to impress. Out of his 13 crosses on the night, only one found its intended target. His dribbles completed percentage wasn’t much better, beating his man a mere three out of 13 times. Moreover, Luis Alberto often found himself drifting wide to create space for himself, a position in which he doesn’t exactly thrive from.

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Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 20

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Roma-Torino: the Giallorossi are on the up and up with three wins in the last four games, over Genoa, Sassuolo and Parma and have re-entered the Champions League fray. The Granata continue to be a little uninspiring, they have prevailed just twice in their last seven games, but they are still undefeated on the road and have shared the spoils in the majority of away matches. Patrick Schick has had a resurgence is the last month and the duel with Edin Dzeko is legitimate now. They have also recovered Lorenzo Pellegrini, who was having a great season before getting hurt and makes them very menacing up front, since Cengiz Under, Bryan Cristante, Nicolò Zaniolo and Justin Kluivert have all been productive before the break and even Javier Pastore showed some life in Coppa Italia. Continue reading

Five New Year’s resolutions for Lazio in 2019

Lazio v Salzburg - UEFA Europa League - Quarter Final - First Leg - Stadio Olimpico

Lazio enter the new year with a spring in their step, having rediscovered a winning formula and returned to the top four in time for bells.

But before they return to competitive action with the visit of Novara in the Coppa Italia on Saturday, here are some suggested resolutions that would make the year ahead a memorable one for Simone Inzaghi and his players.

Reach the Champions League

The undisputed No.1 target for the club is to achieve the goal that so agonisingly eluded them on the final day of the 2017/18 season: qualify for the Champions League. It has been 11 years now since the club’s fans have been able to hear the famous anthem ring around the Stadio Olimpico in the group stage, with some near misses coming in the interim period. Continue reading

Luis Alberto opens magic box to spark Lazio recovery

Italy: SS Lazio v Cagliari - Serie A

What a difference a week makes.

Seven short days ago, Lazio were limping towards Christmas on a seven-match winless run, the worst of Simone Inzaghi’s spell as coach, with frustration growing in the stands and key players misfiring on the pitch.

The Roman club’s inventive Spanish midfielder Luis Alberto came in for more criticism than most, having lit up Serie A with a string of superb, game-changing performances that lived up to his nickname ‘Il Mago’ (‘The Magician’) last season, before struggling to deliver a fraction of the same impact once the current campaign kicked off.

Alberto was almost a walking embodiment of Lazio’s season so far; a second-hand version of last year’s model. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 19

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Juventus-Sampdoria: after a string of close wins over fierce enemies, the Bianconeri draw against Atalanta, in a game where they came back in ten men. It is just their second tie in Serie A. The Blucerchiati are in a marvelous moment, as they have not lost in the last six games and have won in four of their last five. The offensive production remained the same for Juventus in the last four matches, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic were the only one to hit the net. Paulo Dybala is stuck in a playmaking role, while Douglas Costa has always been more of an assist man. They are awaiting for some goals out of the midfield and Emre Can and Sami Khedira have some potential there, while Rodrigo Bentancur will be suspended in this one. On the other hand, Sampdoria’s attack is humming as Fabio Quagliarella has scored for eight matches in a row and Gaston Ramirez, Gianluca Caprari and Riccardo Saponara have all found the target recently and even Karol Linetty and Dennis Praet have done some damage. The only one not playing well is Gregoire Defrel, but this could be a decent match-up for his skillset, should he be given the start. Continue reading