Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round Two

Juan Musso: Udinese were very sound against Milan and managed to stymie most of the opponents’ offense. They might be able to replicate that against Parma and the Argentinian goalkeeper is a sure thing by now.

Milan Skriniar: he is the only one standing in Inter’s big three in the back, as Diego Godin and Stefan De Vrij are currently injured. Despite the make-shift rearguard, the Nerazzurri could still be able to stop a Leonardo Pavoletti-less Cagliari that could not hit the net against Brescia last week.   Continue reading

Marotta and Conte Propelling Inter Forward With A Clear Vision

When Giuseppe Marotta was appointed as Inter’s sporting director after an abrupt departure from Juventus, the nerazzurri sent a clear message of intent to the rest of the league.

Rather than being satisfied with vying for a place in the top four, Inter wanted to emerge as contenders once more. Gone are the days of Pazza Inter and they have since been replaced with stability and a particular focus on the team rather than the individual. Marotta’s track record is impressive within Italy, and he played a major role in Juventus’ ascent back to the top of Italian and European football.

However, much of this success couldn’t have been achieved without the initial groundwork laid down by Antonio Conte in 2011. In the tactician’s first season, Juve’s roster was nowhere near what it is today, and frankly was inferior to Massimiliano Allegri’s Milan that they were up against. Instilling this belief of ‘us v them’ and bringing back a sense of accountability to the side, Juventus won their first Scudetto in years against all the odds.

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To this day, It remains a mystery how the bianconeri would finish that season undefeated with the likes of Alessandro Matri and Mirko Vucinic leading the line and Paolo De Ceglie featuring regularly. At the same time, however, Juve’s success with limited resources was a testament to Conte’s great work.

Now reunited with Marotta at Inter, expect no less from the veteran tactician. The duo have been together in Milan for a mere couple of months and have already banished notorious bad apples, Mauro Icardi and Radja Nainggolan from the club.

As per Bleacher Report, Marotta proclaimed neither player had a spot in Conte’s team. “Talent can win you games, but the squad wins you the league, which is the main objective we are setting out for,” said Marotta. “They are not part of our project, with all due respect.”

While both Icardi and Nainggolan have been among Inter’s top performers and are a major reason behind their recent Champions League qualification, their exclusions show that Conte and Marotta are ready to build a true team rather than a collection of talented individuals; something that the Inter brass have struggled with in the past. If the nerazzurri’s summer activity is anything to go by, you can already see the duo’s work slowly being put into place.

Much like it was the case at Juventus, Marotta turned to a free transfer to shore up a squad need, and brought in Diego Godin from Atletico Madrid. The Uruguayan is among the best defenders in the world and will fit like a glove in Conte’s back three alongside Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij. In many ways, this is Inter’s version of Juventus’ BBC, albeit with way more to prove.

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Outside of defence, Inter have secured Italian internationals Nicolo Barella and Stefano Sensi for their midfield. Both players are the archetypal Conte midfielders and possess the qualities the former Chelsea tactician demands. Determined, technical and team-oriented. In Inter’s new-look midfield, Barella will act as a mezz’ala (#8) making late runs into the box much like Marchisio did at Juve while Sensi will be used as the side’s regista. In this role, the former Sassuolo man will be able to make the most of his range of passing and in many ways, will be a poor man’s Andrea Pirlo for Conte.

Realizing that centre midfield wasn’t their only need, Marotta quickly concluded a deal for Valentino Lazaro. At just 23 years old, the fullback has demonstrated he’s a hard worker and is the prototypical two-way player. Lazaro will be a much welcomed addition down the right-hand side; think Stephan Lichtsteiner but with more upside and end-product.

To round off Conte’s 3-5-2, he has requested Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku. While the Belgian has blown hot and cold for the Red Devils, finding the back of the net has never been an issue for the former Chelsea man. With his towering physique and keen eye for goal, expect the 26-year-old to slot in wonderfully alongside Lautaro Martinez. Martinez and Lukaku are the typical, hard-working, ‘small-big’ partnership Conte has turned to in the past. Think Vucinic-Giovinco, Tevez-Llorente, Eder-Pelle, and so on and so forth. Inter are reportedly tabling their first bid for the striker shortly and have prioritized the Belgian.

With both Conte and Marotta leaving Juventus on poor terms in their own way, the duo have now reconnected at their fiercest rivals and are well on their way at creating a Juventus 2.0, but this time, in Milano. Banishing drama-kings Icardi and Nainggolan was the first step, followed by the acquisitions of prototypical Conte players. It may not end the same way as the league is much stronger than it was in years past, but one thing’s for sure: Linking up Conte and Marotta is Inter’s best bet at silverware in nearly a decade.

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Opinion: Juventus can reload with Serie A players alone

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No matter what coach will be chosen, Juventus will have to address some glaring needs in the upcoming transfer market session, but they might be able to fill them with the usual modus operandi: plucking players from other Serie A teams. Here are some of the three biggest holes.

A heir to Giorgio Chiellini: the Old Lady had a good thing going in the first half of last season, where for a while they were able to rotate two well-assorted duos, Leonardo Bonucci-Medhi Benatia and Daniele Rugani-Chiellini, and go with Bonucci-Chiellini in the most demanding fixtures. Eventually, the Moroccan centre-back grew tired for the lack of consistent playing times and asked to leave and Martin Caceres was a temporary cheap patch. Continue reading

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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