One of the standout performers from Fiorentina’s superb display during their 0-0 draw with Juventus last weekend isn’t exactly a household name in Italian football circles. At just 22 years old, Gaetano Castrovilli had spent time in the youth ranks of Cagliari and Bari before making the move to Tuscany in 2017.
After two sleepy weeks, Serie A teams have resumed dealing and wheeling with some very interesting purchases over the last few days. Inter finally landed Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United, while Juventus cashed in on Joao Cancelo in a swap with Manchester City, getting back Danilo in the deal. Cagliari pulled off an unexpected one by adding Radja Nainggolan from Inter, then successfully completed the chase for touted prospect Nahitan Nandez from Boca Juniors and, all of a sudden, they have a very crowded and well-assorted midfield despite losing Nicolò Barella.
Milan continue to work on the roster and acquired young centre-back Leo Duarte from Flamengo. He emerged over the last year and a half in Brazil and will contribute to holding down the fort until Mattia Caldara returns later in the year. He will compete with solid but unspectacular Mateo Musacchio to play next to Alessio Romagnoli to open the season.
The week was pretty much dominated by midfielders: a year after letting him go for free, the new Fiorentina management brought back Milan Badelj on loan with option to buy from Lazio, then they snatched Erick Pulgar away from Bologna by exercising the relatively low release clause. The Chilean international was a standout last season and was deadly on penalty, which will come in handy considering the departure of Jordan Veretout. Despite the age difference, the two are pretty similar, so it will be interesting to see whether Vincenzo Montella will tweak his system to accommodate both and perhaps deploy one more attacker.
Genoa have found their new technical leader in Lasse Schone from Ajax who, despite the rather defensive position as pivot, put up great numbers thanks to his ability on set pieces and therefore will be one to look out for in the fantasy game. The Griffon also signed Riccardo Saponara on loan from Fiorentina, whom coach Aurelio Andreazzoli will try to turn into an offensive box-to-box in the Rade Krunic mold, and Colombian youngster Kevin Agudelo from Atletico Huila.
For one brilliant midfielder joining Serie A, another one left as Sampdoria agreed to sell Dennis Praet to Leicester City, who has been a linchpin of their squad over the last three seasons and grew constantly year after year. They acquired Morten Thorsby from Heerenveen and could gamble on a Jakub Jankto resurgence on top of obviously reinvesting the funds on a newcomer.
For once, Atalanta decided to go with an experienced guy rather than bet on potential and brought in Martin Skrtel from Fenerbahce to fill in the gap after Gianluca Mancini left. Gian Piero Gasperini is now back to having five reliable centre-backs to rotate.
A decent coup for Verona, as they won the race for free agent Darko Lazovic, who was pretty good last year at Genoa, where he notched three goals and four assists. He reunites with coach Milan Juric and will be able to play in a number of positions on both flanks. They also grabbed two of the best Serie B players from last season: Gennaro Tutino, on loan from Napoli, who had a terrific year in Cosenza, and Valerio Verre from Sampdoria, who shined in Perugia. They both reached the double-digit threshold and could be significant parts of the 3-4-2-1 tactic Milan Juric is currently using.
Brescia got busy too and signed two presumptive starters in Jaromir Zmhral from Slavia Prague and Giangiacomo Magnani from Sassuolo. The midfielder could be a sneaky fantasy asset, while the centre-back started last season very well but was eventually overshadowed by more talented teammates. Lecce instead added Cristian Dell’Orco, who was serviceable as left centre-back at Empoli in 2018/2019 and will probably end up playing left back for them, alternating with other buzzed about newcomer Brayan Vera.
A pair of players departed from Serie A: Roma sent Rick Karsdorp back to Feyenoord on loan, while Bologna shipped Adam Nagy to Bristol City. The Dutch right back had some okay stretches and at times challenged Alessandro Florenzi, but ultimately he could not stay healthy, while Nagy had become merely a back-up. The Felsinei will have to address the midfield in a meaningful manner.
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Juventus: Blaise Matuidi subbed off against Ajax due to a calf problem, but the injury is not believed to be severe. Emre Can (ankle) and Giorgio Chiellini (calf) will sit Saturday’s game too but they are not distant from returning. Juan Cuadrado is back after knee surgery, while Douglas Costa suffered a new calf problem. Miralem Pjanic, Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo have not been called up for rest purposes.
Napoli: Simone Verdi was scatched late for the previous match due to muscle fatigue, but he was called up for the London trip. Raul Albiol (knee) and Amadou Diawara will miss another one, but at least of them could be back next week.
Inter: Marcelo Brozovic suffered a pull of the semitendinosus muscle in the right pull and will miss the Frosinone game and perhaps one more after that. Lautaro Martinez and Stefan De Vrij are set to be called up after being sidelined by thigh ailments. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus tacked on two more points to their lead, as they walloped Frosinone, while Napoli could not come up with a goal versus Torino. Inter seem fully back as they showed some fight against Sampdoria, winning their second in a row. Milan prevailed in the key clash with Atalanta, remaining in control of the Champions League race. Lazio got beat in the final minutes by Genoa. Roma kept up with the Rossoneri by edging Bologna. Fiorentina leapfrogged Torino and Sampdoria thanks to the drubbing they handed to SPAL. Empoli jumped out of the relegation zone with a commanding victory over Sassuolo, closing the gap with the Estensi, but also Udinese and Cagliari snatched the full loot despite much tribulation, against Chievo and Parma. Continue reading
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.
Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi has a thigh ailment and he is likely to miss the next two games. Juan Cuadrado will not undergo knee surgery, but his timetable is uncertain. Blaise Matuidi is under the weather and out for the Bergamo trip. Moise Kean has a hamstring ailment.
Napoli: Allan is set to return after missing one due to back pain. Mario Rui is back to the squad list.
Inter: Radja Nainggolan has been suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons. Joao Miranda is out again due to muscle fatigue.
Lazio: Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are fatigued and might sit initially. Luis Alberto subbed off against Cagliari, but just for cramps. Milan Badelj is iffy with a muscular problem. Valon Berisha and Riza Durmisi will not be available. Continue reading
Juventus: Sami Khedira (hamstring) and Mario Mandzukic (ankle) played in Champions League, while Douglas Costa was ruled out for another thigh problem, same for Moise Kean. They are unlikely to be available for the weekend. Federico Bernardeschi is questionable for the muscular ailment that has been bugging him for a while.
Inter: Radja Nainggolan started against Barcelona, but he is still less than 100 percent because of the recent ankle sprain so he could be rested.
Napoli: Dries Mertens subbed off versus PSG because of a bruised shoulder, but he avoided further complications and should be good to go for the weekend. Continue reading
Juventus: Mario Mandzukic missed the Champions League game with an ankle sprain and will not be available in the weekend. Emre Can is dealing with a thyroid issue and his status is uncertain until further tests. Sami Khedira will skip a couple more games with his hamstring strain.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne subbed off against PSG for a knock on the chest but he should be good to go. Simone Verdi could miss up to a month with a grade one thigh (adductor) strain. Alex Meret and Faouzi Ghoulam were called up midweek, while Adam Ounas and Sebatiano Luperto were out because of muscle fatigue, which they will try to solve by Sunday. Continue reading
Juventus: Paulo Dybala had a little scare with Argentina, but his knee is fine. Daniele Rugani nursed a rib fracture during the break. The only injured player is Sami Khedira, who is dealing with a hamstring strain. Leonardo Spinazzola is close, but he has not been called up for this weekend.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne has picked up a minor injury and will not be available. Kalidou Koulibaly returned early from international duties because of muscle fatigue and he is likely to rest. Faouzi Ghoulam (kneecap fracture), Amin Younes (torn Achilles) and Alex Meret (arm fracture) are inching closer to a return but the could be held out for another week. Sebastiano Luperto is fatigued. Continue reading
This week was dominated by the transfer market: Juventus and Milan pulled off a three-part deal involving Gonzalo Higuain, Leonardo Bonucci and Mattia Caldara; Inter acquired Sime Vrsaljko from Atletico Madrid, while Lazio signed Joaquin Correa from Sevilla and former Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj.
Chievo Verona were deferred again with the accusation of making false profits in several trades with Cesena as the prosecutor hopes to have solved the defect of form that prevented the case from going to trial a couple of weeks ago. Continue reading