Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 14

Atalanta: Luis Muriel and Hans Hateboer subbed off due to knocks on the knee in Champions League, but there is optimism they will be able to play Saturday. Duvan Zapata flew to Spain for further check-ups on his thigh and will remain sidelined. Rafael Toloi is suspended. Simon Kjaer has been ruled out due to fatigue. 

Bologna: Mattia Destro is improving after his knee problem and could be called up, while Mitchell Dijks (toe) and Roberto Soriano (knee) are having troubles absorbing edemas. The midfielder is actually at risk of missing all the December games. Federico Santander is nursing a thigh strain. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 13

Atalanta-Juventus: after producing at an historic pace through the first ten weeks, the Goddess failed to score in their last two matches against Sampdoria and Cagliari. Josip Ilicic and Ruslan Malinovskyi are suspended, but the Slovenian attacker has appealed, but they will get a boost from the return of Duvan Zapata, who is expected to feature at least in limited capacity. He notched six goals in seven appearances before getting hurt. Luis Muriel is no longer red-hot, as he has not found the target in the last three rounds, but he will be again their main scoring option from the jump. Alejandro Gomez is going through something similar, but he always has loads of potential as an assist-man. Mario Pasalic is likely to move to the hole and he can pretty sneaky there. Robin Gosens has been their best wing-back so far, but also Timothy Castagne has hit the net once. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 12

Standings implications: the usual trend up top as Juventus and Inter did not look great but still found a way to sink the opponents, despite fiery efforts by Milan and Verona. Another shake-up in the Champions League zone as Roma’s run came to a stop in Parma, while Lazio and Cagliari kept it rolling, creaming Lecce and Fiorentina respectively, and they both surpassed La Lupa and gained some ground on Atalanta, which were held to a tie by Sampdoria. Napoli could not do much better at home against Genoa and thus remain seventh, one point over the Ducali. Torino returned to winning ways with an away drubbing of Brescia, while Sassuolo convincingly defeated Bologna. Udinese-SPAL ended in a nil-nil draw despite the late drama.

Continue reading

On the Rise: Gaetano Castrovilli

Every Serie A season a new wave of talents break onto the scene and steal the headlines. This season has been no different as countless youngsters have staked their claim to make a name for themselves. Fiorentina’s Gaetano Castrovilli is one of these players. Making the most of his regular minutes under Vincenzo Montella, the 22-year-old has now established himself as a key member of la Viola’s eleven.

Typically fielded as a mezz’ala (outside of the midfield three), Castrovilli is able to make the most of his enterprise and drive his team forward. Currently, the midfielder’s 2.6 dribbles per game is the fourth most in Serie A and is a clear sign Montella turns to him to progress the ball in the midfield. 
When he’s not driving with the ball at his feet, Castrovilli has proven to be a willing runner without it. In many ways, his game is eerily similar to that of Juventus legend Claudio Marchisio. He’s at his most dangerous making late, unmarked runs into the box and has proven to have a knack for being at the right place at the right time.
In possession, the Fiorentina man is equally as impressive and plays positively whenever given the chance. Castrovilli is currently averaging 1.4 key passes per game and is becoming a creative threat in the middle of the park. Alongside Milan Badelj and Erick Pulgar, the 22-year-old has carved out a role for himself as the ‘runner’ of the midfield trio, offering industry both in and out of possession. In Badelj, Castrovilli and Pulgar, la Viola currently possess one of the league’s most technical midfield units, capable of covering ground and protecting their defence in the process. 
Most recently, the young midfielder notched his first goal in Serie A in Fiorentina’s 3-1 win over Milan. Castrovilli was excellent against the rossoneri and gave the viola faithful a glimpse of what’s hopefully to come from him.
Considering newly-appointed Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso wants to usher in a new era in Tuscany, predicating the importance of quality and youthful Italians, expect Castrovilli to become a center-piece of his vision. Alongside Federico Chiesa, the 22-year-old can help his side put last season’s woes behind them and kick off a new era. 
Montella has had success with young players in the past and we’re already starting to see his impact on the side. Currently, Fiorentina sit two points out of fourth place having already played Napoli, Juventus, Atalanta and Milan. Moreover, despite the results not always going their way, Montella’s men have looked the better side in most, if not in all, of these games. As their schedule gets easier, expect la Viola to keep climbing up the table with Castrovilli emerging as a key man.
If the 22-year-old is able to maintain this level, a national team call-up shouldn’t be too far away. While Italy’s midfield ranks are currently congested with the likes of Stefano Sensi, Marco Verratti and Jorginho, gli Azzurri lack a true mezz’ala beyond Inter’s Nicolo Barella. Having already qualified to Euro 2020, expect Mancini to experiment and Castrovilli to get a chance with the senior setup.
After all, he’s earned it. 
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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Seven

Genoa-Milan: both offenses have looked very anaemic in recent matches, as the coaches, who are well-known for their proactive mentality, seem to have struggled to convey their ideas to the players. The Griffon have failed to score in the past two matches. Christian Kouame has led them with three goals so far and has been the only consistent contributor, while Andrea Pinamonti has been struck out since week one and ceded minutes to Antonio Sanabria and Andrea Favilli, who have not fared much better. They have yet to find a midfielder that can do some damage in the final third: Lasse Schone is too far away from the goal, but his aim on free kick is getting better, Ivan Radovanovic is shooting a lot but without precision and, like Lukas Lerager, he is more of a substance player than a quality one. Riccardo Saponara has not cracked the XI with enough continuity to be a fantasy factor. There is some appeal on the flanks, where Paolo Ghiglione and Marko Pajac have been serviceable. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Six

Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri have not been very spectacular in the last two matches against minnows, but they got the job done with the contribution of few different players. Cristiano Ronaldo has shaken off his injury and will be back in this one, Paulo Dybala has outperformed Gonzalo Higuain in the last couple of outings, but the latter is usually closer to the goal. Aaron Ramsey has been pretty good and they could carry on with the tactics where he is heavily featured, but it remains to be seen whether he can play thrice in a row, otherwise Adrien Rabiot or Federico Bernardeschi could get the nod there and reap the benefits of a very offensive role. They have gotten goals from Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi, even though Sami Khedira is generally the midfielder who is most involved in the offense. Juan Cuadrado loses some steam because he is forced to play as right back for the time being. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 5

Brescia-Juventus: two questions loom large on the game, one for each side. Mario Balotelli is eligible to return after the suspension, but his conditioning might be a problem after skipping the summer preparation, so he might be initially be kept on the bench. Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out due to muscle fatigue and it is new situation under Maurizio Sarri; they also do not have Douglas Costa, so they lack a pure left-wing player. Federico Bernardeschi could certainly be adapted there, but he has struggled so far, so the coach might try new solutions, like for instance fielding Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain together. Whoever ends up starting up front will have to shoulder a bigger load sans Ronaldo. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Milan Derby

The most anticipated match of the round had a clear winner, as Inter came out on top with a two-nil result, but it was still pretty intense and entertaining.

The Nerazzurri came into the game having won the three previous matches against Lecce, Cagliari and Udinese, but had to bounce back from lackadaisical and costly performance in Champions League against Slavia Prague. Milan had scraped by Verona and Brescia in the last two. Antonio Conte kept Antonio Candreva on the bench since he suffered a knock in the most recent fixture, picking Danilo D’Ambrosio to man right flank, while the rest of the XI was the standard one, with Lautaro Martinez partnering Romelu Lukaku up front and Nicolò Barella in the midfield. Marco Giampaolo changed his selection again as he fielded Rafael Leao up front, next to Krzysztof Piatek and Suso, while Andrea Conti filled in for the suspended Davide Calabria at right back. Lucas Paqueta and Ismael Bennacer were again left on the bench. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Four

Juventus-Verona: the Old Lady had a subpar performance in Florence but obviously will be in a much better spot this week at home against a relegation struggler. Cristiano Ronaldo usually does not go scoreless for long and Gonzalo Higuain is not a bad pick either, as for now the coach has refrained from using Paulo Dybala there. Douglas Costa, who was their go-to-guy so far, will miss time, so Federico Bernardeschi and Juan Cuadrado will return to prominence. Until the coach entrusts one of the newcomers, Aaron Ramsey in particular, Sami Khedira remains the most appealing midfielder for his offensive dexterity. Their defenders are surely worth consideration. Continue reading

Serie A Round 3 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Down

Now that the international break has come and gone, it’s time to get back to the football that matters. This match-day, Juventus and Inter will look to maintain their perfect record against Fiorentina and Udinese respectively while Napoli take on Sampdoria. Otherwise, Roma host Roberto De Zerbi’s high-flying Sassuolo in what promises to be a top clash.

With match-day three upon us, here are FIVE players you should consider dropping from your fantacalcio side. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Bartosz Bereszyński (DEF, Sampdoria, Value 6.3) - The Sampdoria defender has endured a torrid start to the season as the blucerchiati have struggled immensely defensively. After conceding seven goals in their first two games against Lazio and Sassuolo, it won’t get any easier for Bereszyński and co. as they travel to the San Paolo to take on Napoli. With Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon and Hirving Lozano all expected to feature at one point or another, expect another goal-fest.

While the Pole was initially seen as a decent, low-cost option due to his offensive thrust, now may be a good time to get him off your fantacalcio side.

Pau Lopez (GK, Roma, Value 6.3) - Let’s get something straight – Pau Lopez has not been at fault for Roma’s porous defence and has played a minimal role in the goals conceded thus far. In the first two games of the season, it’s clear he’s a notable improvement on the departed Robin Olsen. That being said, the Spaniard could only do so much on his own and currently, the Roma rearguard is struggling. 

With a clash set against De Zerbi’s Sassuolo, it would be wise to shift the goalkeeper out of your side, even temporarily, until the giallorossi fix their issues at the back. After all, Domenico Berardi is in fine form and will be looking to hurt Roma’s suspect back four.

Kostas Manolas (DEF, Napoli, Value 13.8) - When the Greek international joined Napoli, he was expected to form a brilliant partnership alongside Senegalese stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly. Two games into the season, it’s been nothing of the sort and the partenopei have already conceded seven goals. While they have played Fiorentina and Juventus, two opponents who find the back of the net with ease, Napoli’s defensive concerns remain a cause for concern.

At 13.8 million euros, you would be wise the drop the former Roma man and replace him with another defender. For example, Inter’s Diego Godin is available for a mere 9 million euros and will be slotting in the nerazzurri’s defence regularly from this point forward.

Krzysztof Piątek (ATT, Milan, Value 12.9) - While it’s the second week in a row the Milan man features in this series, his quality is not in question. However, with rossoneri boss Marco Giampaolo still experimenting with his best eleven, it will take some time before we see the best from Piątek. Until now, the Polish international has started alongside Samu Castillejo in the first game and came off the bench in the second game.

Before joining Milan, Castillejo was primarily a winger and has struggled to adapt to Giampaolo’s narrow system. As a result, he makes for an awkward fit alongside Piątek. Until Giampaolo establishes his best eleven and the new signings are fully integrated into the team, I would keep the former Genoa man out of my fantacalcio side.

Nicolo Barella (MID, Inter, Value 12.3) - Another player of great quality features in this week’s piece. Again, his inclusion can be attributed to the competition for places at Inter, rather than his own form. Last match-day, Inter boss Antonio Conte went with Matias Vecino in his place, as Barella came off the bench with just over twenty minutes to play.

While the former Cagliari captain will surely become a starter for Inter in the long-run, Conte will arguably take time before giving him a starting position. After all, he did the same thing with a certain Paul Pogba. As a result, your 12.3 million could be better spent.

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