Lazio adding impressive depth ahead of Champions League return

Lazio surprised the masses last season with an unlikely title push, but ultimately fell short when it mattered, sliding down to fourth place. In many ways, the Biancocelesti’s lack of depth hurt the side after the restart. Simone Inzaghi’s men played some of the best football in Italy when playing once a week, but will need to adapt quickly as their return to the Champions League approaches.

The capital-based club has wasted no time bolstering their ranks and addressing their needs. Vedat Muriqi has arrived from Fenerbahçe S.K and will offer some crucial depth up front. Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa start the season as Inzaghi’s undisputed starters but will benefit from sitting out some games. Felipe Caicedo impressed early on in the year but tailed off towards the tail end of the season while Bobby Adekanye is still young for a bigger role.

At 26 years old, Muriqi offers experienced depth and is a proven goalscorer. The Kosovo international netted 15 goals and 6 assists last season in Super Lig action, indicating he is deadly in front of goal. Beyond his impressive goalscoring repertoire, Muriqi has demonstrated he can play in a two-striker setup and could form a dangerous partnership with either Immobile or Correa. It may have taken Lazio some time to get this deal over the line, but Muriqi’s arrival is a big one.

Other than Muriqi, Lazio has also signed Mohamed Fares from the relegated SPAL. Last season, Jony started most of the Biancocelesti’s games from left wingback and faced no competition from Jordan Lukaku. Fares’s arrival creates competition for the starting role, all-while offering Inzaghi depth off the bench. Fares is an experienced Serie A player and comes at a relatively low price.

SPAL may have disappointed last season, but Fares was regularly a bright spot for the Ferrara-based club and was a constant menace down the left-hand side. As the new season approaches, expect Fares to start off the bench and slowly stake a claim for the starting spot. His signing is yet another one that may go under the radar but could prove to be one of the bargains of the summer.

Gonzalo Escalante has also been added from Eibar and has looked decent in the midfield in the early goings of preseason. A more pressing need for Inzaghi’s men, however, is at centreback. The Biancocelesti have previously been linked with Hellas Verona’s Marash Kumbulla and are reportedly monitoring Torino’s Armando Izzo. 

According to recent reports, Izzo does not fit into Marco Giampaolo’s plans next season, as the former Sampdoria tactician looks to transition I Granata to a back four. In this sense, Izzo would be an ideal signing for Inzaghi’s men and much like Fares, has plenty of Serie A experience in a similar system.

Kumbulla is another player who impressed in a back three this season but may be unrealistic given his price-tag. Inter has recently pulled out of the race for the defender, giving Lazio the opportunity to swoop in. As the new season approaches, Inzaghi will be eager to add another center-back to his side, with Izzo or Kumbulla both representing great options.

It would appear the Biancocelesti are gearing up to compete on all three fronts going into next season, adding impressive depth across the board. With the new season kicking off in just ten days, it remains to be seen if Lazio will add another centre-back, despite the recent links. Inzaghi’s men may not contend for the Scudetto this season, but if last season was anything to go by, underestimate them at your own risk. Lazio has bolstered their roster and will be raring to go upon their Champions League return.

How well do you know Italian football? Do you want to battle the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

Inter gearing up for yet another Scudetto challenge

When Inter appointed Antonio Conte last summer, it was understood the Nerazzurri would immediately contend for Italy’s top prize. The former Juventus boss has quickly led his sides to glory upon his arrival, guiding the Bianconeri and Chelsea to league titles in his first season with the respective clubs. While last season did not go as planned – with Inter ultimately disappointing when it mattered – the Nerazzurri are gearing up for next season and are already significantly bolstering their ranks.

Giuseppe Marotta has done an exceptional job as Inter’s sporting director since arriving, revolutionizing their midfield with the signings of Nicolo Barella, Stefano Sensi and most recently Christian Eriksen. Inter’s big-money move for Romelu Lukaku also panned out, with the Belgian international netting 35 goals in all competitions last season and combined wonderfully with Lautaro Martinez. The former Manchester United man may have disappointed in the Europa League final, but definitely emerged as one of Serie A’s most prolific hitmen.

The next step for Marotta is to continue adding players that fit Conte’s image, to ensure the fiery tactician has everything he needs to usurp Juventus atop Italian football. Former Borussia Dortmund wingback Achraf Hakimi has already arrived this summer and is a prototypical Conte player. Capable of playing on either wing, the Moroccan international is ideal for Conte’s 3-5-2 and will offer some much-needed quality and end product in the final third.

Inter also recently secured Roma’s Aleksandr Kolarov for 1.5 million euros, who will likely slot in as a left center-back in their back three. The Serbian has lost his turn of pace in recent seasons but represents solid depth for the emerging Alessandro Bastoni. His best days may be behind him, but Kolarov is a low-cost signing that comes in with plenty of experience and tactical know-how.

Beyond Kolarov, Inter is reportedly interested in Hellas Verona’s Marash Kumbulla. The defender broke onto the scene this season with the newly-promoted outfit and established himself as one of Serie A’s most intriguing young prospects. With Diego Godin on the wrong side of 30 and with Milan Skriniar’s future in doubt, Kumbulla is an ideal option to rejuvenate their backline and offer Conte the possibility to rotate.

Sandro Tonali was reportedly on his way to Inter, as well this summer, but has since dropped down their list of priorities. Milan has inserted themselves in the race for the midfield maestro and has since become favourites for the Brescia midfielder’s signature. Should Inter pull off a move for Tonali, however, they will undoubtedly have the deepest midfield ranks in the league and sufficient quality to overtake Juventus.

The summer window may not have officially opened just yet, but Inter has sent a clear message of intent to the rest of Italy. Fresh off finishing just one point behind Juve and failing at the final hurdle in the Europa League, Conte’s men are eager to retool and mount yet another title challenge. Juventus are currently in a period of transition under rookie manager Andrea Pirlo, something Inter will be hoping to take advantage of next season. As the summer wears on, expect Inter to be active in hopes of winning their first Scudetto in ten years.

How well do you know Italian football? Do you want to battle the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

Breaking down Lazio’s Mercato Needs

Lazio will be making its highly anticipated return to the Champions League next season and will be eager to hit the ground running in Europe’s elite competition. Simone Inzaghi’s men surprised Italy this season, springing an unlikely title challenge, but ultimately fell short. In many ways, their lack of depth hurt them late and caused the Biancocelesti to drop unnecessary points. With Lazio competing on three fronts next year, Igli Tare and Claudio Lotito will use this summer to retool the side and offer Inzaghi more flexibility.

According to recent reports, Lazio are in the market for another striker. Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa formed a deadly duo in the final third this season, but Lazio lacked quality depth when either was out of the lineup. Felipe Caicedo finished the season with nine goals but left a lot to be desired at crucial moments while Bobby Adenkanye failed to break through Inzaghi’s starting eleven.

Lazio have since been linked with former Real Madrid striker Borja Mayoral. In recent times, however, Fenerbahce’s Vedat Muriqi has emerged as the favorite up front. The Kosovo international will reportedly join Lazio for 18 million euros and will give Inzaghi some much-needed depth.

Beyond Muriqi, Lazio are closing in on SPAL’s Mohamed Fares for the left wingback role. Jony struggled to make an impact when called upon while Senad Lulic is beginning to slow down out wide. As a result, reinforcements are needed to offer Lazio some width and pace in the wide areas. Jordan Lukaku never got going in Inzaghi’s system and could very well be on his way out this summer. Fares is already familiar with Serie A and was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for SPAL. At eight million euros, Fares could offer Lazio great value, similarly to Manuel Lazzari down the right-hand side.

While Fares and Muriqi offer depth and will largely be used in rotation, Lazio have set their sights on a huge free agent signing. Manchester City’s David Silva is reportedly heavily considering moving to the nation’s capital and joining forces with his compatriot Luis Alberto in the middle of the park. The duo will undoubtedly form one of the league’s most creative midfield units and will thrive supplying Immobile and Correa.

Silva may be approaching 35 years old, but the Spaniard could offer Lazio another season or two at the highest level. Lazio struggled to break sides down towards the tail end of the season and could benefit from Silva’s presence in their lineup. The former Valencia man, however, is currently weighing an offer from Qatar and will give Lazio his final answer shortly. In any case, Silva would be a major coup for Tare and would offer the side a wealth of experience going into the Champions League.

Fares, Muriqi, and Silva would represent a phenomenal summer for Lazio, but if Inzaghi’s men want to take the next step, they arguably need another centreback. Francesco Acerbi, Luis Felipe, and Stefan Radu formed an uncompromising trio at the back this season, but they could benefit from an injection of youth.

The Biancocelesti were previously linked to Hellas Verona’s Marash Kumbulla, but the defender is now Inter bound. In many ways, the Verona man is an ideal profile for Lazio and would have refreshed their rearguard. Beyond Kumbulla, Lazio could inquire about Juventus wantaway Daniele Rugani. The former Empoli man desperately needs a move away and could rekindle his best form away from Juve. In any case, another defender would help reduce Acerbi’s workload significantly and tighten up their back three ahead of Thomas Strakosha.

How well do you know Italian football? Want to challenge the best Italian Football Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 36

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic is again sidelined due to lack of form. Duvan Zapata (ankle), José Palomino and Berat Djimsiti (toe) picked up knocks in the last game but they are all available. The most at risk of being rested is the last one.

Bologna: Takehiro Tomiyasu closes his season in advance due to a biceps femoris strain. Jerdy Schouten is unlikely to be back here from the same injury.

Brescia: Stefano Sabelli is suspended. Simon Skrabb is nursing an ankle sprain. Jesse Joronen, Birkir Bjarnason, Jhon Chancellor and Alfredo Donnarumma will get the day off.

Cagliari: Christian Oliva and Luca Pellegrini  will stay on the shelf again with their ankle sprains.

Fiorentina: Gaetano Castrovilli is suspended. Dalbert subbed off versus Inter but it was just fatigue, Bartlomiej Dragowski missed some time with back spasms.

Genoa: Lukas Lerager is out due to yellow-card accumulation. Cristian Romero bowed out in the Derby, Francesco Cassata, Stefano Sturaro and Antonio Sanabria are dinged up but they have been pretty secretive with their injuries.

Inter: Nicolò Barella is suspended. Stefan De Vrij left the last game with a knee sprain but it is not believed to be a major issue.

Juventus: Mattia De Sciglio is expected back soon from his thigh strain. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) and Gonzalo Higuain (back) are day-to-day. Douglas Costa suffered a grade two thigh strain that will likely cost him the rest of the season, Champions League included. 

Lazio: Manuel Lazzari is banned. Luis Alberto (knee), Joaquin Correa (knee), Jony (thigh) and Adam Marusic (thigh) all came back in the last game, while Djavan Anderson missed it with fatigue. Stefan Radu (calf) might be back maybe in the season finale. Francesco Acerbi is questionable with knee soreness.

Lecce: Marco Calderoni  returns from a contracture, while Khouma Babacar and Diego Farias were late scratches for the past game and are questionable, but at least they are available this time around. Luca Rossettini has shaken off his worrying illness.

Milan: Theo Hernandez and Ismael Bennacer are suspended. Simon Kjaer is not 100 percent but should gut it out, especially because Alessio Romagnoli pulled his calf and will miss the remaining matches. Andrea Conti hurt his knee but the exams ruled out structural damages. Samu Castillejo and Leo Duarte (thigh) are available after spending time on the shelf. 

Napoli: David Ospina missed the last game with fatigue, but shook it off quickly, while Mario Rui will be rested.

Parma: Gaston Brugman is out due to yellow-card accumulation and also strained his calf, so he is done for the season. Bruno Alves (hip) came back in the previous game, while Riccardo Gagliolo might miss another one with a similar ailment. Hernani suffered a quad strain and he too will skip the remaining fixtures. Matteo Scozzarella (calf) and Andreas Cornelius (thigh) are trying to come back but face an uphill battle.

Roma: Roger Ibanez is likely to miss another one due to a thigh injury, while Cengiz Under is being assessed after being ruled out late for the previous match. Federico Fazio (ankle), Antonio Mirante (calf), Juan Jesus (hip) and Davide Santon (calf) are nursing minor stuff that cost them some time.

Sampdoria: Omar Colley and Ronaldo Vieira are suspended. Albin Ekdal subbed off in the last game after hurting his ankle and he is out.

Sassuolo: Mehdi Bourabia was sent off versus Milan. Jeremie Boga picked up a muscular injury and he is being evaluated. Pedro Obiang (thigh), Gregoire Defrel (thigh) and Vlad Chiriches (calf) will probably sit out another one.

SPAL: Kevin Bonifazi was red carded from the bench against Roma. Andrea Cerri fractured a phalanx in the left hand that will cost him some time. Jacopo Sala sprained is ankle and is iffy, while Sergio Floccari and Lucas Castro have been ruled out in advance. 

Torino: Armando Izzo is expected to return from his mild knee sprain, while Lorenzo De Silvestri is out for the season due to an AC joint sprain in the right shoulder.

Udinese: Kevin Lasagna was ruled out very late against Juventus due to a thigh issue. Walace has a shoulder problem but he is good to go, William Troost-Ekong is suspended.

Verona: Giampaolo Pazzini (thigh), Pawel Dawidowicz (pec) and Claud Adjapong are trying to come back from their minor physical problems, while it is probably too early for Marash Kumbulla. Alan Empereur, Salvatore Bocchetti, Valerio Verre and Matteo Lovato are out with last-minute issues. 

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you’re up for it play www.fantasyseriea.com now!  

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 34

Atalanta: Luis Muriel quickly resumed practicing after suffering a fortunately mild head injury in a domestic accident. Josip Ilicic will be held out as he keeps working on his fitness. 

Bologna: Andrea Poli and Federico Santander were available for the last game after some time on the shelf. Mattia Bani (calf) is done for the season, Jerdy Schouten (thigh) will try to return for the final couple of matches.

Brescia: goalie Jesse Joronen is back, unlike Enrico Alfonso (hip). Andrea Cistana is ramping up his activity in practice and might be back soon. Emanuele Ndoj is back on the shelf.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury Report – Round 33

Atalanta: Robin Gosens was a late scratch against Juventus, but he has been called up and therefore avoided serious problems. Luis Muriel suffered a head trauma in a domestic incident, but he is fine and will be back for the next match.

Bologna: Federico Santander and Andrea Poli have recovered from their thigh injuries. Mattia Bani is pretty much done for the season with a calf strain. Jerdy Schouten (thigh) will be back in a pair of weeks.

Brescia: Jesse Joronen is out with an undisclosed injury, joining Andrea Cistana (tibia), Enrico Alfonso and Dimitri Bisoli (patellar tendon) on the mend. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 29

Atalanta: Ruslan Malinovskyi is suspended for yellow-card accumulation. Josip Ilicic is not 100 percent after an ankle sprain but he is at his coach’s disposal. José Palomino is out with a thigh injury. 

Bologna: Federico Santander and Andreas Skov Olsen remain out with thigh strains. Andrea Poli will miss up to ten days with a thigh pull. 

Brescia: Andrea Cistana (lower leg) and Jhon Chancellor (thigh) will be back in mid-July at the earliest, Dimitri Bisoli (patellar tendon) is out until December. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 24

Wojciech Szczesny: with the top two defences (Inter and Lazio) facing off against each other, it makes sense to look at the next in line and the Bianconeri, who have been way better at home, have a plum match with Brescia coming up.

Alessio Romagnoli: trusting the Milan back-line has been an hit-and-miss affair, although they have given up only an acceptable 13 goals at home and they will host the reeling Torino, which have scored just twice in the past four matches and looked just a tiny bit better in the first game under the new coach. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 19

Emil Audero: Sampdoria have tightened it up in the back since Claudio Ranieri took over, allowing multiple goals just twice in the past nine fixtures, to Cagliari and Juventus, so their goalie is unlikely to do harm against a depleted Brescia squad that has never scored more than twice so far on the road.

Francesco Acerbi: Lazio are quietly tied with Juventus for the second-best statistical defence in the League behind Inter and have surrendered just seven goals at home thus far. Their leader could be a decent selection against the ever-underwhelming Napoli.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 18

Samir Handanovic: the match-up against Napoli is not that inviting fantasy-wise, but Inter boast the best statistical defence in the League by a decent margin and the Partenopei had not bagged two goal in a game in a long while before the last fluky one versus Sassuolo. It could be a low-scoring affair, giving an edge to defences and goalkeepers.

Chris Smalling: Roma have not conceded more than once in the past five fixtures and they will tangle with Torino this weekend, which are not a very explosive side. Smalling is also always a threat on set pieces. Continue reading