Lazio won’t win the Scudetto – but that doesn’t mean their herculean efforts don’t deserve celebration

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Lazio’s win over Juventus on Saturday was a statement.

Coming from behind to become the first team to beat Maurizio Sarri’s side this season certainly peaked the attention of any dozy onlookers who hadn’t noticed the momentum building on the blue side of Rome.

The result spoke volumes about the progress this team is making. And it spoke loudly.

It said that Simone Inzaghi’s side are no flat-track bullies, that this is a team capable of beating anyone on their day.

It said that the days of flopping on the big occasion, of failing to respond to adversity, of choking at crucial moments, are behind them. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 16

Napoli-Parma: there is great curiosity to see what immediate changes Gennaro Gattuso will bring to the table. In his introductory presser, he hinted that he is going to use 4-3-3, which would lead to few duels up front. The first order of business will have to be reviving Lorenzo Insigne, who has not fared well in a long time, while Dries Mertens is in a domestic slump but has done some damage in Europe. Arkadiusz Milik came back midweek and he looked like a million bucks and he was en fuego before getting injured. He should be front and center in the new project. The new tactic would see José Callejon and Hirving Lozano alternate and the Mexican winger has abated after a decent stretch. It would give Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz more freedom and the Polish midfielder finally broke through last week. Giovanni Di Lorenzo is trending back up after a period of lull.

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Serie A Team of the Round – Lazio

Just two shut-out, but narrow wins in this round, by Brescia and Parma and there was not really any commanding display, as the teams that appeared on track for that ended up suffering a comeback. Therefore, the coveted award goes to club that garnered the best W of the weekend and therefore inevitably Lazio, which sunk Juventus for the first time this season.

The Biancocelesti had prevailed six times in a row entering the fixture and were looking to separate themselves from Roma, which had equalized the day before against Inter, and cement their third spot in the standings. Filippo Inzaghi trotted out his best XI, picking Luiz Felipe over Bastos in the back in the only duel. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 15

Inter-Roma: the Nerazzurri keep riding their elite striking duo and Lautaro Martinez has been balling out over the last few matches, as he is coming off two braces in a row. Romelu Lukaku did not score last week, but he has already reached the double-digit threshold in the domestic league. Antonio Candreva and Marcelo Brozovic both dished an assist in the last game and they are the two members of the supporting cast who are more likely to pick up bonus points. Matias Vecino has an history of scoring in big games and he has done some damage recently. Their back-line, instead, has not been airtight in the past couple of months, but Stefan De Vrij showed up big on the other end. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 14

Juventus-Sassuolo: Cristiano Ronaldo came back midweek and now it will be interesting to see whether or not he will be load managed in Serie A player after the knee injury. Nevertheless, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala have been excellent in relief and have been able to contribute also when coming off the bench in their standard configuration. Douglas Costa got hurt again, which takes away their most explosive option at no.10, so it will Federico Bernardeschi and Aaron Ramsey running the show there for a while, but they both have not done damage in a while. Ramsey has the most upside in the duo. Khedira is fading and, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi are serviceable contributors, they are not strong fantasy options. It could be instead the right kind of match-up for Miralem Pjanic to have a meaningful offensive role, while Juan Cuadrado has been a pretty good fullback for a while now. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 13

Atalanta-Juventus: after producing at an historic pace through the first ten weeks, the Goddess failed to score in their last two matches against Sampdoria and Cagliari. Josip Ilicic and Ruslan Malinovskyi are suspended, but the Slovenian attacker has appealed, but they will get a boost from the return of Duvan Zapata, who is expected to feature at least in limited capacity. He notched six goals in seven appearances before getting hurt. Luis Muriel is no longer red-hot, as he has not found the target in the last three rounds, but he will be again their main scoring option from the jump. Alejandro Gomez is going through something similar, but he always has loads of potential as an assist-man. Mario Pasalic is likely to move to the hole and he can pretty sneaky there. Robin Gosens has been their best wing-back so far, but also Timothy Castagne has hit the net once. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Lazio vs Lecce

Despite the fairly lopsided result, Lazio-Lecce was the funniest and most eventful game of the round. The Biancocelesti came into the contest having triumphed three times in a row, against Fiorentina, Torino and Milan, while the Salentini had collected four straight ties.

Filippo Inzaghi was able to field almost all of his go-to XI minus Stefan Radu, who is hurt, and replaced him with Patric, with some re-shuffling in the back as Francesco Acerbi was used as left centre-back. Manuel Lazzari manned the right wing with Adam Marusic on the shelf. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Ten

Brescia-Inter: Eugenio Corini has had some reservations in using Alfredo Donnarumma and Mario Balotelli together, but Florian Aye, while tactically precious, has not been productive and so the more predictable duo should be the way to go moving forward. However, they have combined for just one goal in the last three matches and they will face one of the best back-lines in the League. Daniele Dessena’s injury ended up hurting Romulo’s fantasy stocks in the short-term, since he is being used as box-to-box, at least until one between Emanuele Ndoj and Jaromir Zmhral manages to unseat Nikolas Spalek, who has not been effective as no.10. Sandro Tonali is coming off his first Serie A goal and constitutes is half of their offense. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Nine

Lecce-Juventus: the Salentini have weirdly been better away than at home, but, in any case, they are set to be pesky in most of the contests due to their daring style. While Gianluca Lapadula was out nursing an injury, Khouma Babacar proved to be a better reference point for the offense, even though he is unlikely to be particularly consistent in terms of scoring. With his latest performance, Diego Farias is seriously threating the starting job of Filippo Falco, who has not been able to produce despite starting in the eight matches. Marco Mancosu has instead bagged four goals, three on penalties, and he is always lurking as the trailer. Andrea Tabanelli is the other midfield tasked with meaningful offensive duties, while left back Marco Calderoni has found the target twice from distance so far. 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