Serie A Round 14 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Up

Last weekend saw Italian calcio resume for Serie A round 13 on the peninsula. With that, came plenty of noteworthy results and performances to support them.

Argentine duo Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain carried a lackluster Juventus to a 3-1 win over Atalanta in Bergamo, while Giacomo Bonaventura and Hirving Lozano arrived on the scoresheet in a 1-1 stalemate between AC Milan and Napoli at San Siro. Inter’s strike-force Lautaro Martínez and Romelu Lukaku lead the attacking assault as Antonio Conte’s side smooth sailed to a 3-0 win v Torino to keep pace with the Bianconeri at the top of the table.

For round 14, we take a look at who could be poised for a strong weekend and give you five players to consider adding to your fantacalcio roster. Here they are. Continue reading

Italy 2-0 Greece Euro 2020 Qualifying: The Azzurri player ratings

Italy have done it! After the 2018 World Cup qualifying disaster, Roberto Mancini and his reborn Azzurri have officially qualified for next summer’s Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win over Greece.

Jorginho and Federico Bernardeschi goals sealed a hard fought win over a compact, organized Greece side, making it a perfect 7 wins from 7 in Group J play.

Here are the player ratings for the Italians. Continue reading

Italy boss Roberto Mancini spoiled for choice in the midfield

The biggest talking point in Italy camp this international break is, ahead of two Euro 2020 qualifiers, how a berth can be achieved in this round, and with two matches to spare.

Since day 1 on the job for CT Roberto Mancini after the sacking of Gian Piero Ventura, clinching a spot in this tournament was deemed the first step in the Azzurri’s restoration project towards a revival to reclaim what was once theirs – a seat at the adult table with the world’s powers.

Sitting comfortable and cozy atop the Group J table with a perfect 6-0 record, the Italians have been elevated all over the pitch through some impressive performances, though it would be remiss to not hone in on the special happenings which lie in the midfield. Continue reading

Five takeaways from Italy’s latest Euro 2020 qualifiers

Italy wrapped up their latest set of Euro 2020 Group J qualifiers with a 2-1 victory Sunday evening over second-place Finland, with Ciro Immobile putting away his first goal for the Azzurri since September 2017 and Jorginho converting the decisive match-winner from the penalty spot.

With wins over Armenia and Finland, Roberto Mancini’s men maintained their perfect record in the qualifying phase with 6 victories and have moved closer to securing a spot in next summer’s competition.

Here are five takeaways from Italy’s latest matches. Continue reading

The Top Five Defenders From the 2018/19 Serie A Season


The 2018/19 Serie A season was chock full of surprises, from breakthrough attacking performances to unsung goalkeeping heroes aiding in the survival of a relegation battle. But, as far as defensive efforts go, it was business as usual for these top-rate guardians whose exploits were conducive to achieving their respective club’s objectives for the campaign.

Here are the top five ranked defenders from this past season. Continue reading

Italy 2-0 Finland: Player Ratings for the Azzurri


On Saturday at the Stadio Friuli in Udine, Italy managed to secure the 2-0 win over Finland in Group J of Euro 2020 Qualifying thanks to Nicolò Barella and Moise Kean opening up their accounts for the Azzurri.

Here are the player ratings from the victory. Continue reading

Stefano Sensi, Sassuolo’s midfield metronome manifesting his true potential

Sassuolo are one of Serie A’s biggest surprises thus far in the 2018-19 campaign, lurking unexpectedly amongst the pack for a top four spot in the table after 17 rounds. Roberto De Zerbi’s astute tactical approach and philosophy has been transmitted onto his fledging Neroverdi squad, yielding results from a system which has earned acclaim across the continent.

While De Zerbi’s significant impact since arriving at Mapei Stadium this past summer is palpable and largely to credit for Sassuolo’s emergence this season, few have thrived more under the tutelage of the ex-Foggia coach than young Italian midfielder, Stefano Sensi. Continue reading

Blue Wave: Mancini Calling Up Sensi and Tonali Signals Azzurri Shift


It has been nearly a year to date since the Azzurri’s full-blown capitulation and failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup shook the country to its core, and only up until recently have the Italians shown a glimmer of hope in lifting themselves back to the summit of international football.

Much has been made about the fitness of acting coach Roberto Mancini to lead the Italian National Team back to prominence they are historically known for, but unlike his failed predecessor and universally loathed coach Gian Piero Ventura, the 53-year old CT is signaling a shift towards success through the regular integration of future stars. Continue reading

Italy improving under Mancini, but supporters must pump the breaks


After banging in the stoppage-time goal at the back post thanks to substitute Kevin Lasagna’s initial glancing header from the corner, Fiorentina’s Cristiano Biraghi’s late-game heroics were enough to see Italy past Poland 1-0 on Sunday, escaping relegation from Group 3 in the UEFA Nations League.

The 26-year old celebrated his first international tally by throwing up a “13″ towards the heavens in honor of the late Viola captain Davide Astori. Surely, it was a unifying moment for Italy and Italians everywhere who swarmed the match-winner and finally had something to rally around after 12 months of heartbreak.

Continue reading

Nicolo Barella impressive on Italy debut vs Ukraine


Italy and Ukraine played to a 1-1 draw last night in Genoa at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris where recent struggles persisted yet again for the Azzurri.

The Italians controlled proceedings in the first half, pinning Andriy Shevchenko’s men back and stirring up several quality chances that unfortunately could not best keeper Andriy Pytatov. Early on in the second 45 minutes however, Roberto Mancini found his breakthrough via a Federico Bernardeschi strike that Pyatov fluffed and could not prevent from squeaking into the net. It would be a short lived lead as Ukraine leveled in the 62nd minute after a lapse of concentration in the back from the Italy defence.

Certainly, Mancini and the proud, yet distraught, Italian fanbase must feel disappointed in the result considering the polar opposite halves of play, not to mention the state of ‘La Nazionale’ at this time. However, one of the few positives to take from the tie was the shift Cagliari product Nicolo Barella turned in on his impressive Azzurri debut.

Boasting an array of raw technical ability and positional flexibility, Barella’s potential has been understood for a while now, with supporters campaigning for him to get into the senior team framework. The 21-year old had been called up roughly a year ago under Gian Piero Ventura for Italy’s World Cup qualifiers versus Macedonia and Albania, but did not feature. His usage, or lack thereof, was not a question of his quality or readiness for the responsibility. Rather, just a simple case of not having the proper manager or ideal opportunity. Last night, the youngster finally got his feet wet and left a lasting impression on the home crowd.

Mancini rolled out a 4-3-3, with a midfield trio consisting of Marco Verratti, Jorginho and Barella. The first two gelled well for the most part, stringing together some good passing sequences and dictating the tempo to assignment. Despite being orchestrators for their respective club teams, neither Verratti nor Jorginho seemed to step on each other’s toes and fulfilled their duties so that Barella could be the all-action midfielder tasked with freely getting up and down the pitch.

Barella, a robust but strong and agile midfielder, gave us an exhibition that demonstrated all that he offers even at a young age; technically sound, intelligent, understanding when to float into pockets of space for the ball and the high work-rate tying it all together to win over his coach.

Despite not picking up the desired results early in his tenure, Mancini must be given some credit for succeeding where others before him failed in handing important minutes to youth and attempting to usher younger players in each break. The manner in which Barella approached the match last night showed he was equally prepared for both the physical and mental test, with a little guidance from Jorginho and Verratti as lamented in his post-match interview.

Composed, and confidently navigating through tightly-marked situations with the ball, the former U-21 starlet passed the first challenge Ukraine presented – and performed well in Italy blue.

Barella’s exploits for his boyhood club in Sardegna over the past few years have not gone unnoticed around Italy and the rest of Europe as several major outfits lurk for his signature. Milan, Inter and Liverpool are among many top clubs courting the Italian, and the list is fully expected to grow with each passing performance for both club and country. While Barella probably could have moved on last summer to a bigger stage, the decision to stay put an additional year at Cagliari for further seasoning was for the better, and puts him in position to be a regular fixture in Mancini’s plans long-term.

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