Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 12

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There were certainly some surprising results in the last round before another international break.

Standings implications: Juventus bested Milan in the last Sunday game, while Napoli prevailed in the soggy battle in Genoa and have re-assumed sole control of the second place since Inter came crashing down hard in Bergamo. Roma finally put together a brilliant performance against the wheezing Sampdoria. Atalanta leapfrogged few teams in the Europa League race since Fiorentina conceded late and was held to yet another 1-1 tie in Frosinone and Parma snatched a quality road win versus Torino. Continue reading

Serie A Probable Lineups – Round 12

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Frosinone-Fiorentina

Frosinone XI: 3-4-3 Sportiello; Goldaniga, Ariaudo, Capuano; Zampano, Chibsah, Maiello, Beghetto; Vloet, Ciofani, Campbell.

Potential lineup changes: Beghetto for Goldaniga, Gori for Maiello, Cassata for Vloet.

Confirmed Out: Ciano (thigh), Molinaro (quad), Dionisi (knee), Hallfredsson (knee), Paganini (knee), Ardaiz (thigh).

 

Fiorentina XI: 4-3-3 Lafont; Milenkovic, Pezzella, Hugo, Biraghi; Benassi, Veretout, Gerson; Chiesa, Simeone, Pjaca. Continue reading

Serie A Injury Report – Round 12

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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

Squad rotation continues to pay dividends for Carlo Ancelotti and Napoli

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Napoli turned around their UEFA Champions League Group C bout with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, earning a 1-1 draw with strong second half efforts from Kalidou Koulibaly and Allan, as well as a cold-blooded penalty strike from Lorenzo Insigne.

As things stand, the Partenopei sit joint-first with Liverpool, and cling to a slight advantage on goal differential over the English outfits. Much of this success can be attributed to the individual efforts of many in the squad under manager Carlo Ancelotti. But, without question, the sharpness in play and positive results stem from the Italian’s meticulous approach towards tactical modifications and rotation. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 12

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The next slate before another international break is pretty juicy.

Genoa-Napoli: the Griffon have not won in four games and the effects of the coaching change have not been palpable, since they continue to concede a lot. They lost twice in San Siro last week and the schedule does not do them any favor. The Partenopei easily romped Empoli last week and have won three out of their last four games, looking splendid at times. Krzysztof Piatek has not scored for four games in a row, which is unlikely to be a coincidence, and their last goals under Milan Juric have been pretty random, by Cristian Romero on a free kick, by Romulo on a penalty and by Daniel Bessa on a defensive mishap. Continue reading

Liverpool or PSG set to be knocked out of Champions League at the group stage

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Liverpool and PSG were amongst the favourites to win this seasons Champions League but it looks more and more like one of them will not even qualify for the knock out rounds after a topsy turvy group stage.

When the two European giants were announced to be in the same group, there was obvious excitement but most pundits believed they would get through in a group also containing Italians Napoli and Red Star. But some surprise results have left that chance really open ended with just 2 games left to play each for the super clubs.

Liverpool who got to the final last season have already lost 2 of their 4 games. These defeats both came away from home against Napoli and then this week to Red Star in a 2-0 loss. However for now they are still in 2nd place on 6 points.

As for PSG they started their campaign off with a loss away to Liverpool which ended 3-2 and then they drew two times against Napoli but slaughtered Red Star at home, they are, at this moment going into the Europa League with 5 points so far.

Napoli have been the real surprise and the problem for Liverpool and PSG. But Napoli who are in 1st place are not safe yet as they have drawn 3 of their 4 games but they do remain unbeaten. So the key to qualification will be in the next two matchday fixtures.

Napoli will play Red Star at home and given how poor they have been on the road we would expect a win for the Italians. But then they have to play Liverpool away and what would be a packed out and atmospheric Anfield and that could well end in a loss, so Napoli has the chance to finish with 9 points.

Liverpool have a massive crunch test with PSG in Paris on November 28th and it will in effect feel like a knockout game. All eyes will be on this match, let’s be conservative and say this game ends in a draw. It would mean that even if PSG beat Red Star away from home as long as Liverpool win they would go through. The key game seems to be Napoli’s match against Red Star, win that and one of Liverpool or PSG are going to go out. It would be a massive blow for either club.

Arguably one could say the blow is bigger for PSG given the new coach in Thomas Tuchel and the fact they have Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in order to win the competition. By the end of this month we should know which one of these teams will be playing Europa League football next year.

Mertens returns to starring role for Napoli

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-GENOA-NAPOLI Napoli’s impressive 5-1 Serie A demolition of Empoli last weekend showed how they are returning to dominant form in Italy.

They now look set to pick up their annual pursuit of rivals Juventus, who are chasing an eight consecutive Serie A title, with Napoli trailing in third, by six points.

The biggest news for Carlo Ancelotti’s team also been the explosive nature with which they have beaten teams in recent weeks – with talisman Dries Mertens at the heart of it. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 11

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Standings implications: the top three teams did not stutter in favourable match-ups. Inter and Napoli pummeled Genoa and Empoli, while Juventus had to dig deeper against Cagliari, but maintained their lead. Fiorentina and Roma shared the spoils in a result that helps neither. Lazio smoked SPAL, but Milan kept up with an improbable late goal in Udine. Torino looked very impressive again on the road as Sampdoria were their latest victims. Sassuolo tamed Chievo very easily despite being away. Atalanta keep climbing the standings and mounted a comeback against Bologna.  Continue reading

Serie A Probable Lineups – Round 11

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Napoli-Empoli

Napoli XI: 4-4-2 Karnezis; Malcuit, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Rui; Callejon, Rog, Diawara, Zielinski; Mertens, Insigne.

Potential lineup changes: Ruiz for Callejon.

Confirmed Out: Verdi (thigh), Chiriches (knee), Younes (Achilles), Luperto (hamstring).

 

Empoli XI: 4-3-2-1 Provedel; Di Lorenzo, Silvestre, Maietta, Antonelli; Acquah, Capezzi, Bennacer; Zajc, Krunic; Gumina, Caputo. Continue reading

Napoli newcomer Fabián Ruiz demonstrating his worth to Carlo Ancelotti

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Life after Maurizio Sarri and Jorginho has gone over relatively smooth for title contenders Napoli. Manager Carlo Ancelotti has properly assessed the ‘Sarrismo’ blueprint left behind, is rotating more frequently than the Chelsea coach ever had and tinkers accordingly to the point where the Partenopei are becoming a less predictable outfit to handle.

One of the biggest areas of strength and adjustment lies in the midfield where Ancelotti has shown a willingness to integrate every player, and utilize them in more ways than one. Recently, the name garnering the most attention amongst supporters and ‘calcio’ observers alike is Fabián Ruiz who, with each appearance, is demonstrating his real worth to the Azzurri cause. Continue reading