Sarri edges closer to Roma head coach and best performers of the club so far

Former Chelsea and Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri has edged closer to becoming the new coach for Roma according to reports.

Of course Paulo Fonseca is still in charge of the Giallorossi but it is as clear as daylight that if the club do not qualify for the Champions League then Fonseca will lose his job.

Currently Roma are in 6th place and are 5 points behind 4th place Atalanta. All is not lost but it has become increasingly clear that the club are struggling of late and have lost 3 games from their last five, this includes losing their last two in a row. Apart from Atalanta the Giallorossi will also be battling with Napoli and the emerging Lazio for 4th.

It is thought that Sarri has conducted talks with Roma and that it is now in an advanced stage. With Sarri’s extensive experience this could be a great move for Roma. There are also rumours that Fonseca just can’t win given that he may be replaced even if the club end up in the top four. This is a story that could run for the next 2 months so watch this space.

Roma’s best performers so far in 2020/21

Domestic football has taken a two week break for internationals but the action returns this weekend. Roma will play Sassuolo away from home. Whilst Fonseca’s side will be the favourites to win that game looks tricky and could be very close.

With the break in place we haven’t seen any action for 14 days so we will take a look at the best performing players for the club so far.

- Henrikh Mkhitaryan with 70 points is the best overall player for the club so far. He has scored 9 goals and assisted in another 8. He started the season in brilliant form although faded in the middle. Despite Roma’s recent woes he has played some good football and will be hoping to finish the season in style.

- Lorenzo Pellegrini is a superb player when he is on his game. The one worry is he hasn’t been consistent enough but he usually steps up for the big games. His value is worth 7m and he has been involved in 10 goals so far with 6 of those coming from assists.

- Special mention should go to Rick Karsdorp in defence because with 36 points he is ranked as the best Roma defender. His value is just 5m so he would have been a real bargain this season and he has assisted in 5 goals and even scored one. The important statistic for him though is always going to be clean sheets and he has managed 8 so far.

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Roma fall 5 points from Champions League qualification with back to back defeats

Roma already knew the league was over for some time but still held out hope for a top 4 place finish and entry into next seasons Champions League but that now looks in doubt after the Giallorossi lost their 8th game of the season.

Eight games just seems like too many to lose by this stage of the season if you have dreams of playing in Europe’s most elite competition but this is where Paolo Fonseca’s team stand.

Roma lost 2-0 at home to Napoli to record their 3rd defeat in 5 games and to make it back to back losses for the Giallorossi.

Dries Mertens was the thorn in Roma’s side as the player scored two goals within three first half minutes. The first was a sublime free kick and the second was from his head. That was Mertens sixth and seventh goals of the campaign and with 58 points so far the midfielder has the most of any Napoli player.

After the game Roma coach Paulo Fonseca was puzzled by the clubs slow start but saw encouraging signs in the second half, he said: “ This is not the way we wanted to play. We didn’t do anything in the first half because the team was lacking courage. We are all responsible, because when we are afraid of playing and afraid of losing, it becomes too difficult. The fact we saw the second half being completely different, that means it is a psychological issue and we could only really get going once we’d fallen behind. If the team was bad all the way through, I’d say we were incapable. If the team was bad in every game, I’d say that was an issue. The fact we had a totally different attitude in the second half means it is the mentality that was at fault.”

The worry for Fonseca is that his job could be on the line if the club do not at least finish in 4th place. The favourite person to step in if Fonseca is sacked looks to be Massimiliano Allegri who has taken some time away from the game and could be the perfect candidate.

To summarise Roma have 50 points and are 3 behind 5th place Napoli and 5 points adrift of Atalanta who now occupy the final Champions League spot. Five points isn’t the end of the world given that there are still 30 left to play for but Roma will be mindful that Napoli, who leap frogged them with this win also have a game in hand which just complicates matters further still.

Roma’s next game is after the international break where they will play 8th placed Sassuolo away from home. Whilst they are 11 points behind Roma they also have a game in hand and last season they beat Roma 4-2 in this very fixture. Indeed Roma have only beaten Sassuolo once in the league from the last four matches played.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of form but Roma’s best player

It’s clear as daylight that Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks like the shadow of the player that graced Serie A at the start of the season and one has to wonder if the midfielder is fatigued? Still he is the best player Roma have according to the fantasy Serie A points and he currently has 70 so far.

The Giallorossi will need his form to turn around if they have any hopes of finishing in the top 4. Mkhitaryan has been good value for money for the fantasy teams with his value at 7.5m and he has scored 9 goals which is very impressive from his position.

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Champions League blow for Roma as they lose seventh game of the season

Roma might not make the Champions League after losing their seventh game of the season at the weekend. Roma lost away to Parma 2-0 and there would have been frustrations given that the Giallorossi played well and created many chances.

The result has left Paulo Fonseca’s side in 6th place and they are currently two points behind Atalanta in 4th. The worry could come from Napoli though who have jumped in front of them and have an extra game to play.

The Giallorossi were a goal down inside 10 minutes and didn’t stop to battle to try and come back but they simply did not have the luck on their side. In the end Roma were arguably the better side and actually had 20 goal attempts in the end but didn’t matter and you have to accept that some games just don’t drop fairly.

The Parma defeat felt like a surprise and whilst Roma’s objectives of finishing in the top four are still on this result has made it more awkward.

Roma coach Fonseca said after the game: “We should have scored earlier. It was a good start, we had a situation with Edin Dzeko, then the first time they got near our area, they scored a goal. A team that wants to be in the Champions League cannot concede those goals. That was a lack of concentration. Parma scored, then they were able to clam up.”

Fonseca continued: “We cannot concede a goal like that. It changed the game and Parma were then allowed to control the tempo. We conceded an avoidable goal and struggled to create chances, which is pretty inevitable when we don’t move the ball quickly enough and the opposition is able to sit back. We improved once Bryan Cristante came on, but he has played almost every game this season, he needs rest. Dzeko worked for the team, he made the right movements, but he wasn’t getting the right service. It’s not an issue of individuals but of the collective.”

Roma’s next game is against Napoli at Stadio Olimpico and what a duel that promises to be as it is 5th v 6th.

How many Roma players are in the top Serie A fantasy standings?

The fantasy standings are a unique way of telling us which players are performing the best this season. For Roma though only 2 players have made the top 30.

Position No. 4. Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Mkhitaryan has been Roma’s best player so far and has amassed 70 points. Given that he cost 7.5m then that is fantastic value if you had him in your team. The attacking midfielder has dropped off sometimes this season but has also been very solid and confident at times. He has contributed 17 goals for the club in the league and scored 9 of them and this has been a successful season for the player so far.

Position No. 12. Jordan Veretout

Jordan Veretout has shown some good signs in the last few weeks but he started the season in explosive style which has helped his points standing. Veretout has 54 so far and is edging nearer to being in the top 10 players of the season in Serie A. So far he has scored 10 goals but would probably want more assists to his name as he has just 2 at this time.

We would have to go back to 37th place for the next Roma to pop up and that is Lorenzo Pellegrini who has really come on in recent months and been an influential player for the Giallorossi. Pellegrini currently has 38 points.

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AC Milan vs. Napoli: Serie A Round 27 – Team news, stats and prediction

After what was a positive outing against Man Utd, eventually earning a 1-1 draw thanks to a late Simon Kjaer equaliser, Milan will be looking to pick up another good result on Sunday evening. However, it won’t be easy for the Rossoneri as they will take on 6th-placed Napoli at San Siro.

Milan secured an important away win against Hellas Verona at the weekend and the result against Man Utd has only boosted their confidence. Tomorrow evening, therefore, it will be important for them to continue their positive run and also improve their home record, which hasn’t been great.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 26 – Late Games

CROTONE-TORINO

Crotone: Simy bagged his eighth goal of the season, in pretty lovely fashion too, in the Atalanta game, but that was about it for their offensive production in a very demanding match-up. Adam Ounas, who was their top guy lately, and Samuel Di Carmine were late scratches and it is unclear whether they will be available for this one. Sans Ounas, they would lean hard on Junior Messias, who is seeking to snap out of a scoring slump. They get some pizzazz back in the midfield as Salvatore Molina and Milos Vulic are good to go, although it is uncertain how much playing time they will be able to handle. If one recovered, he would be among the top three options, instead the spot goes to Arkadiusz Reca (1 goal, 3 assists), who continues to wreak havoc down the left flank. Pedro Pereira is not as flashy, but he too has set up three teammates. Continue reading

Who should replace Gennaro Gattuso?

Napoli took aggressively to this past transfer window, securing Victor Osimhen for a record fee. The southern-based club was largely expected to challenge for the title this season but has since failed to deliver. While recurring injury problems have undoubtedly played their part, Napoli has simply not been good enough. As their struggles persist, reports suggest Gattuso will not last past this season.

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis is yet to offer him a contract renewal, highlighting his lack of faith in the World Cup winner. A number of high-profile names have been linked to the Napoli hot-seat, including Massimiliano Allegri, Vincenzo Italiano, Maurizio Sarri, Rafa Benitez, and most recently Luciano Spalletti.

Let’s start with Allegri. Napoli would be lucky to have the former Juventus boss on its touchline, but his arrival remains unlikely. Allegri is reportedly holding out for his next opportunity and has his sights set on a move to England. While he would definitely bring some much-needed stability to Napoli, the chances of him arriving are slim to none.

Beyond Allegri, a sensational reunion with Maurizio Sarri has been reported. As the old Italian saying goes, “la minestra riscaldata non e mai buona.” Reheated soup is never good. The veteran tactician had his shot and brought Napoli as far he could take them. The season he spent in Turin with Juventus will not help his chances either, but as a whole, Napoli should stay away from Sarri. Their side is vastly different from the one he lead and would require a total shift in the way they play.

The same logic applies to Rafa Benitez. The only reason the Spaniard is being linked back with a move to Napoli is due to the familiarity he already has with the club. The former Liverpool boss is not a great fit with the club’s current project and would not be able to deliver the consistency they so desperately crave.

That leaves us with the final two options: Spezia’s Vincenzo Italiano and Luciano Spalletti. In many ways, these are arguably Napoli’s best two options to replace Gattuso. On one hand, Spalletti has a proven track record of results in Italy, most recently delivering Champions League football with Inter. While on the other, Italiano has impressed with Spezia and appears ready to take the next step to a bigger club.

Spalletti definitely offers more guarantees, but Italiano would introduce a fresh style of play, opting for an aggressive pressing system. At the end of the day, the final decision will come down to De Laurentiis. The Napoli president has proven he can swing either way – going with experienced options in the past in Benitez or Ancelotti or going the unproven route by hiring Sarri off the back of his breakout year with Empoli.

An article on Napoli’s managerial situation would not be fair without giving Gattuso a fair shake. Who knows – the Partenopei can still turn their fortunes around, string a positive run of results, and finish the season strongly. Crazier things have happened. Gattuso has already proven he can steady a sinking ship, leading Napoli to a Coppa Italia triumph last season, but appears to be in his final days.

Napoli would be wise to start considering alternatives starting with Spalletti and Italiano. While Benitez and Sarri are both on the table, going back with your ex is seldom a good idea. Let’s face it – neither would be able to lead Napoli to new heights. Elsewhere, securing Allegri would be a masterstroke, but the veteran tactician reportedly sees his future elsewhere.

With just 15 games to go and a big decision looming large, De Laurentiis has a lot to consider. Whether he opts for an experienced bench boss or the new kid on the block remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: He is not short on options.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 24 – Late Games

CROTONE-CAGLIARI

Crotone: as expected the Juventus clash proved to be too hard for them to overcome, even though Junior Messias got few shots off and Adam Ounas tried to get something going with his mazing runs. The duo will lead the way again here in a much easier fixture. Messias has bagged seven goals thus far, while Ounas scored on his second appearance with the Squali and will be facing his former team, which did not trust him too much. Samuel Di Carmine has quickly unseated Simy but has not really shined thus far. The coach initially tweaked his system in the past game, but the changes were not that profound. Salvatore Molina returned from a lengthy absence and he was dynamic early in the season (one goal, four assists). Milos Vulic has not made the stat-sheet but he has been very busy over the last couple of matches and could be due. Left-back Arkadiusz Reca (one goal, three helpers) has been one of their most consistent players. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 23 – Late Games

PARMA-UDINESE

Parma: they did manage to score against Verona, thanks to a successful penalty kick by Juraj Kucka, but they lost again and their offense left a lot to be desired. The midfielder has tallied their last three goals. Yann Karamoh looked decently spry in his return to the XI, while Gervinho and Andreas Cornelius are stuck in an endless slump and the former is in pretty lackluster form. Joshua Zirkzee had a pair of chances after subbing in but did not exploit them. Valentin Mihaila was the liveliest out of their youngsters, but so far the coach has been very conservative in giving minutes to them. Jasmin Kurtic has hit the net a couple of times in the season and he is not shy when it comes to bomb away from distance. If they somehow managed to play more proactively, their fullbacks Andrea Conti and Giuseppe Pezzella would have some interest. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 22 – Top Matches

SPEZIA-MILAN

Spezia: Vincenzo Italiano shook things up against Sassuolo, going with Kevin Agudelo as false-nine over Andrej Galabinov and, while the bouncy attacker did not score, the solution worked out pretty well as he added an element of unpredictability and a ton more pace. It could be the solution here again as it does not look like M’Bala Nzola will be ready to start. Diego Farias is likely to be sidelined, which will allow Daniele Verde to stay in the XI, but so far he has had success mostly in Coppa Italia. Emmanuel Gyasi’s starting job instead has never really been in question and he returned to the stat-sheet after months in the previous match: he is now up to two goals and four assists. Their second leading scorer Tommaso Pobega (three goals) is back from suspension and their midfield does not have the same punch without him, even though Matteo Ricci has been a nice assist-man and Giulio Maggiore is decently involved in their offense, but not as effective as the Milan loanee. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 21 – Early Games

FIORENTINA-INTER

Fiorentina: the news for them is that somebody not named Dusan Vlahovic managed to hit the net, as Franck Ribery bagged his first goal of the season with a pretty play against Torino. The Frenchman had indeed started to show better recently: he also has four assists in the season, but he has had an hiccup in practice, which could allow Jose Callejon or Christian Kouame to get the nod in this one. Giacomo Bonaventura has been their only other scorer in recent games and he showed up versus Torino with an assist, thus picking up bonuses in two matches in a row. His role will be bigger due to the suspension of Gaetano Castrovilli. Erick Pulgar, who is first in line to replace the teammate, has some value due to PK duties, but he has not done much this year, while Sofyan Amrabat could move to a more dynamic position. Cristiano Biraghi is a secondary option as he has tallied one goal and four assists thus far. Their defense has been quite stingy but the match-up is complicated. Continue reading