Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 32

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Pierluigi Gollini: the young goalkeeper has been trustworthy since snatching the starting job away from Etrit Berisha and he could be able to bring in some points since Empoli are not as effective on the road.

Cristian Ansaldi: he is having a really strong season and Torino as a whole have been pretty outstanding defensively. They will tangle with Cagliari this week, which have the second-worst away attack in the League. He could have a pretty significant offensive role too since both Andrea Belotti and Iago Falque will be sidelined. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Round – 30

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Emiliano Viviano (7 points): he contributed to SPAL’s impressive victory with a solid save on a Ciro Immobile’s shot and a rather lucky rejection with the help of the post on Lucas Leiva point-blank attempt.

Merih Demiral (13 points): he almost ruined a perfect night with a silly penalty foul late, but Emanuele Giaccherini missed and so his fantasy haul remains the best of the season for a defenders thanks to two outstanding headers.

Leonardo Bonucci (9 points): a commanding performance by the Juventus defense in Cagliari and the veteran centre-back embellished it with a great header on a corner kick.

Pol Lirola (7 points): a dominating performance for the energetic fullback, who was no match for the opponents on the right flank and set up two goals for Sassuolo

Josip Ilicic (10 points)he single-handedly knocked out Bologna in the span of ten minutes, punishing them with two venomous lefty strikes and then teeing up Hans Hateboer three-nothing goal. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 21

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Alban Lafont: Chievo can be an annoying opponent, especially lately, but they still have one of the least prolific attacks in the League, while Fiorentina have been able to keep three clean sheets in the past four road games. The young goalkeeper has been as good as advertised thus far.

Nicola Murru: Sampdoria have won three in a row at home, shutting down opponents twice, while Udinese have failed to score in their last three away fixtures. The ex Cagliari full-back has also been able to pick up some bonus points offensively here and there. Continue reading

Luciano Spalletti hoping to lure Diego Godin to Serie A

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Serie A giants are working on a deal to bring Atletico Madrid captain Diego Godin to Italy next season, with the Uruguayan’s contract set to expire in the Spanish capital this summer.

Godin, 32, was a transfer target for Manchester United in the summer of 2018, however he opted to remain in Spain – citing family reasons for his decision.

Media reports in both the UK and Spain have claimed that Godin is unhappy with the club’s delay in offering him a new contract, after eight and a half trophy laden years with Los Colchoneros.

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Serie A Team of the Week – Round 18 and 19

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The final edition of 2018 is a super-sized one since it comprises two rounds.

Juan Musso (14 points): only two teams managed to keep a clean sheet in both matches and Udinese joined Inter in that company. It does not represent a particularly big surprise, since the Zebrette have tightened their defensive phase after the appointing of Davide Nicola and the opponents, SPAL and Cagliari, were not super dangerous.

Jens Larsen (11 points): most of the Bianconeri defenders amassed ten points since they did not allow a goal in the last four days. The Dane gets the token spot for everybody since he tacked one more because he assisted Ignacio Pussetto’s goal versus Cagliari with a pinpoint long ball. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 16

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Gianluigi Donnarumma: fresh off an impressive display against Torino, the teenager will try to keep another clean sheet as Milan pay a visit to Bologna, one of the least explosive teams in Serie A.

Giorgio Chiellini: he was spared midweek and so he will be ready to rumble in one of his preferred match-ups, the Derby della Mole, as he always shows up when the ante is upped. Joao Cancelo is probably an even better pick considering his recent run, but there are some doubts about his availability. Continue reading

Inconsistent Inter fail Roma test

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Inter Milan failed to put any distance between themselves and Napoli, in the race for second in Serie A, with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Roma.

Neither Luciano Spalletti’s side nor Carlo Ancelotti’s are in a position to challenge Juventus at the moment, with the Turin club already 11 points clear after 14 games of the season played.

Napoli can close that eight points, if they win against Atlanta on Monday night, and in turn put three points between them and Inter as the campaign approaches its half way stage.

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Serie A Club of the Round – Inter

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Two of the top three teams got the job done in favorable match-ups: Inter bagged one more goal than Juventus, so the get the nod as club of the week. The Nerazzurri came into the game looking to atone for the brutal showing in Bergamo, where they conceded four goals.

As the seminal Champions League bout with Tottenham is coming up on Wednesday, Luciano Spalletti rotated his squad a lot, trusting Balde Keita and Lautaro Martinez up front and Borja Valero and Roberto Gagliardini in the midfield. Danilo D’Ambrosio filled in for the injured Sime Vrsaljko, while Radja Nainggolan was able to return to the XI after an ankle sprain. Continue reading

In form Inter Milan continue dominant Serie A form

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Inter Milan are the most in form side in Serie A, with Luciano Spalletti’s registering their seventh straight league win on Saturday.

They saw off Genoa in style at the San Siro on Saturday, with an emphatic 5-0 victory, keeping them in second place in the table, ahead of Napoli on goal difference, and six points behind leaders Juventus.

Whilst Max Allegri’s side are still unbeaten so far this season, in domestic and European competition, they did drop points in a 1-1 draw against Genoa in October.

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Three centre back options for Manchester United

After two resurgent performances by Manchester United, normality resumed for José Mourinho’s players this season as they suffered an embarrassing defeat to Juventus. It wasn’t the scoreline that caused public outrage, it was the fact that the Bianconeri were toying with United, who simply could not get anywhere close to them.

While Mourinho has spent a fortune since arriving in Manchester midway through 2016, the money allocated and spent has, arguably, not been enough. Coaching can always be improved upon, and there are managers who are very good at developing players, but Mourinho’s philosophy and reputation suggests his speciality is in assembling world-class squads that can go and win major honours in a relatively short period of time.

When Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, hired the Portuguese boss, he knew what he was signing for. In essence, it was a short-term fix. Mourinho has not usually survived past three years in a job and history indicates his influence quickly deteriorates due to the demands he gives and the expectations put on his shoulders by himself. And so the former Chelsea manager expects the executives above him, this being Woodward at Manchester United, to follow his orders and sign the players he envisages are paramount in taking the club back to where they belong.

However, it has not been plain sailing for Mourinho in his battle with the board. Last summer saw United desperately trying to recruit a new centre back, only for Woodward to veto plans for Harry Maguire and Toby Alderweireld due to his opinion that they were not better than what the club already had. This, quite understandably, upset Mourinho, who now has to pay the price of missing out on players he values.

In the Red Devils’ opening nine games, they have conceded 16 goals, the fifth-highest amount in the Premier League. What was once Mourinho’s bread and butter is now one of his main problems with his defenders constantly getting caught out. The defensive ill discipline shown this season is astounding.

With that being said, Man United are going to be entering the January and 2019 summer market with an eye on central defenders to bolster their weak backline. Here are three that could slot right in:

Kalidou Koulibaly: SSC Napoli

Easily the most expensive centre back on this list, Kalidou Koulibaly is most certainly in the conversation as one of the best defenders of his generation. Playing under Carlo Ancelotti for Napoli, the Senegal international has been a consistent rock in both his club and country’s defences.

Napoli’s president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, has mentioned on a number of occasions that his star defender is not for sale. Having rejecting extremely lucrative bids in the past, it would take an enormous, world-record bid to prize Koulibaly away from Naples. What would also be a determining factor would be the Senegalese’s motivation for pastures new – without that player influence, the president can continue to reject what comes before him.

In terms of fitting into the Premier League, Koulibaly would have no qualms about the adaptation. Standing tall at 1m87, the former KRC Genk centre back is a powerhouse and commands respect from his aggression in the tackle. While the physical attributes of him easily stand out when first watching him, Koulibaly is also a very talented ball player, hence why he is one of the most sought out players in the world – he has the best of both worlds.

Man United have been lacking a true leader to demand high standards throughout for a number of years. Under Sir Alex Ferguson and with the central pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić, the players around them had an aura of confidence due to knowing their impact and defensive stability. In the post-Ferguson era, United have missed that and would welcome a player such as Koulibaly who can most definitely bring that presence to Old Trafford.

Milan Škriniar: Inter

A relatively unknown defender that has come out of the woodwork to wider Europe, Milan Škriniar is leading the line for a new period for talented centre backs this season.

Coming from Slovakia, there were certainly going to be question marks over whether he could truly adjust to Serie A’s technical side, but Škriniar slotted in Vincenzo Montella’s back three perfectly. Having the ability to play out of the back and the raw speed to be used as one of the wider central defenders, Škriniar posed a threat going forward as well as making sure he was effective in thwarting danger.

After impressive for a year-and-a-half, it wasn’t too long until the bigger clubs in Italy started to show their interest. It was Inter who won the battle and signed him in the summer of 2017 for a modest £25 million. Given what centre backs are currently going for, and bearing in mind his age of just 23, the Nerazzurri can claim they got themselves a bargain.

Škriniar certainly has more developing to go and is not at the truly elite level yet, but he also hasn’t hit his prime years. His performance against Barcelona, in the most recent round of the Champions League, showed why fans and scouts rate him so highly. The Slovakian international glided on the Camp Nou pitch and ushered his opposition out of dangerous positions – especially Philippe Coutinho. While Inter lost that game, Škriniar came out of it with his head held high and with a lot more admirers.

Manchester United might need a more experienced centre back, but age is only a number and Škriniar is proving that he has the calm head a clear thinking process to make a difference in Mourinho’s defence.

Benjamin Pavard: VfB Stuttgart

After coming off the back of an immense summer which saw Benjamin Pavard score one of the goals of the World Cup, as well as winning the illustrious trophy, it was always going to be interesting to see how the France international would come back to club football with Stuttgart.

A modest-sized team in Germany, Pavard is not surrounded by the global icons of the game on a day-to-day basis, with many predicting that he would have found himself a new home post-World Cup.

However, that wasn’t meant to be and Pavard’s repaid the faith shown in him by Stuttgart and has remained at the club for the foreseeable future. While there are reports suggesting he might have a gentleman’s agreement with the club which allows him to move to Bayern Munich next summer, nothing has been confirmed.

Pavard, 22, is still in the early stages of his career, but he has shown his maturity and selflessness with his country by playing at right back for the whole of the tournament. With injuries within the squad, Didier Deschamps opted for the former Lille youth graduate on the right-hand side for more defensive stability.

However, what would have even surprised Deschamps was Pavard’s eagerness to get forward and pose a threat to the opposition. His goal against Argentina was struck with such elegance and panache; it showed Pavard’s talents on full display in front of the world. What has also been noted is his wonderful versatility given that he is actually a natural centre back and was only filling in for France at right back.

The Red Devils could do with Pavard’s cool and collected spirit when taking the ball out of the defence and looking for a pass to carve open the opposition’s midfield. The Frenchman looks adept with the ball at his feet and, unlike some at Old Trafford, understands when the right time to give the pass is.

Whether or not he has an agreement with other clubs remains to be seen, but Stuttgart are not going to let go of their prized possession for cheap. The German club know what a talent he is and the career he’s projected to have, so if Manchester United want to join the queue for Pavard, they are going to have pay a pretty penny.

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