Serie A Best Fantasy XI – Round 26

Thomas Strakosha (seven points): the Lazio goalie was the only one that managed to keep a clean sheet out of the eight teams that played over the weekend and he helped out with some strong saves, especially in the first half.

Luiz Felipe (four points): he had big shoes to fill as the Biancocelesti’s defensive leader, Francesco Acerbi, was unavailable against Bologna, but he stepped up and quarterbacked the back-line with command and tidiness. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Cagliari vs Roma

Fewer matches but still plenty of action in Serie A and Cagliari-Roma was clearly the most balanced match-up of the slate, as the home teams kept clawing back but still came up short.

The Sardinian approached the match having failed to win in the past 11 rounds, lastly versus Napoli and Genoa. The guests instead were coming off a slump-busting win over Lecce, which allowed them to bounce back from a three-game losing streak. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 26

Standings implications: sadly, a late decision by the League to postpone few matches that were scheduled to be played behind closed doors took the legs from underneath the second round in a row and now the table is poised to be full of asterisks for a while.

In the limited ones that were indeed played, Lazio took full advantage of Juventus-Inter not happening, got the job done versus Bologna and jumped on top of the standings. Atalanta dismantled Lecce, thus fending off Roma in the Champions League race, which survived Cagliari’s late rally. Continue reading

Roma sign Kalinic and Mkhitaryan

After making sure that Edin Dzeko would still lead the attack with an extension, quashing Inter’s pursuit, Roma changed the back-up striker as they acquired Nikola Kalinic from Atletico Madrid and shipped Patrick Schick to Leipzig and also strengthened their thin front-line by adding Henryk Mkhitaryan from Arsenal. Both newcomer joined on a initial loan. 

Mkhitaryan has already appeared three times with the Gunner this season and logged nine goals and 13 assists in his two seasons in London. Prior to that, he spent two years at Manchester United, where he was slightly more productive. Continue reading

Atletico Madrid in the market for attacking options

Antoine Griezmann

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is set for a busy summer in the transfer market, with the biggest exodus of his time in charge in La Liga, expected in the coming months.

The Argentinian is set to remodel his side for 2019-20, with experienced players moving on and uncertainty surrounding other players in the squad.

Defenders Diego Godin and Filipe Luis look increasingly likely to leave in the summer, when their contracts expire at the Wanda Metropolitano.

That means defensive reinforcements are a priority, in particular a replacement for Godin, who has been central throughout Simeone’s time in charge.

There are doubts over the futures of Saul Niguez and Rodri, with Manchester City interested in both midfielders – however Simeone is unlikely to let either leave, having worked so hard to keep them away from Barcelona in the past 12 months.

The main issue, alongside Godin, could be finding a fresh attacker to partner Antoine Griezmann.

The French international has committed his own future to the club, after another round of speculation linking him with Barcelona.

However, the club are looking to part ways with controversial striker Diego Costa, after he received a eight game following a red card against Barcleona earlier this month.

Simeone has been standoffish on the subject, claiming the Spanish international deserved to be punished, but remained ambiguous as to whether or not he was actually guilty.

The club’s hierarchy appear to have now lost patience, and want to move Costa on, and are willing to take a cut price offer for the former Chelsea man.

Gelson Martins is set to make his loan move to Monaco a permanent one at the end of the season, with Luciano Vietto set to head off to Portugal as a makeweight in the deal.

Alvaro Morata’s loan looks set to stand, with Chelsea’s attempts to recall him early due to their transfer ban, set to be rebuffed by FIFA – however he could go back to London at the end of the 2019-20 season.

That leaves just Griezmann, Morata and Nikola Kalinic, who has also been linked with an exit, as Simeone’s only strikers, unless he can make a move.

Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi could be the ideal fit to replace Costa, and act as a foil for Griezmann, however Simeone will have to battle Real Madrid and Bayern Munich to bring the Argentinian international in.

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Alvaro Morata’s Atletico Madrid move stalls

alvaro morata chelsea

Alvaro Morata’s move to La Liga title challengers Atletico Madrid is yet to be completed, with both sides saying they are still some way off an agreement for the 26 year-old.

The Spanish international looks certain to end his stay in West London, but time is running out ahead of the closing of winter transfer window at the end of January.

Atletico have confirmed that they are interested in bringing Morata back to Madrid, where he spent five years at rivals Real Madrid, across two separate spells, however manager Diego Simeone confirmed that nothing is yet agreed between them.

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Depleted Atletico Madrid look to close the gap on Barcelona

Simeone

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone will be hopeful that his side can close the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona, with a win at bottom of the table Huesca this weekend.

With the Catalan side not playing until Sunday night, at home to Leganes, Atletico have a chance to narrow the gap between first and second place from five points to two, in Game Week 20.

The former Argentine international could not have asked for an easier game in theory, with their hosts ten points adrift of safety in the Spanish top flight, and with just one win in their last 18 league games.

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Beware of ‘wounded beast’ Atletico Madrid

Simeone

The midweek 4-0 humbling away at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League will have stung Atletico Madrid, and they will be looking to make an immediate La Liga response this weekend.

The defeat was Diego Simeone’s heaviest during his seven year tenure at the club, with Lucien Favre’s exciting young side simply too much in attack for Atletico.

Having stabilised their La Liga form following a inconsistent start to the season, Simeone and his players will be rocked by a result that few saw coming, despite Dortmund’s impressive displays in the Bundesliga this season.

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Game changers could catalyze Milan’s Champions League berth

Prior to the commencement of the season, the area that needed the most improvement for AC Milan was the striking department. As Nikola Kalinic and Andre Silva failed to impress in their debut season for the Rossoneri, the mantle fell to 20 year-old Patrick Cutrone, who produced 18 goals in all completions last season.

To be fair to Andre Silva, he didn’t see enough minutes on the pitch, and it looked like his first Milan manager Vincenzo Montella, had earmarked him to for the Europa League competition, whiles preferring Kalinic to the league, probably based on his experience in Serie A. To the surprise of many Milan’s attack had the most departures this season. Nicola Kalinic has left for Atletico Madrid, Andrew Silva is currently on loan at Sevilla whiles Carlos Bacca made his loan move to Villareal permanent.

The acquisition of Gonzalo Higuain is a big improvement in the striking department as the Argentine has got a pretty goal scoring record compared to his predecessors. His success will, however depend largely on the framework around him .Cutrone, meanwhile, is set to play an important part of the season as he continues to blossom into a shining star. The young Italian once again proved his value to the Club as he came on in the 84th minute to secure Milan their first win of the season over AS Roma at the San Siro.

Gattuso had previously stated publicly, that he needed a left winger to add to his offensive unit. Someone who could provide a more attacking edge going forward .And more importantly a backup for Suso. Last season, Milan didn’t appear to have much firepower to turn things around in difficult situations, and lacked the composure and maturity to respond when a goal down. There was a lack of confidence on the bench, the likes of Andre Silva, Fabio Borini, and Manuel Locatelli except for one, Patrick Cutrone. The reserve unit failed to impact games.

Now, Fabio Borini, despite his lack of technical proficiency, cannot be questioned when it comes to application and having the right attitude. His ability to track back to help the defense whiles occasionally providing excellent delivery into the box contributed five goals and seven assist in all completion last season. The problem is, he’s not a reliable and consistent performer. Portuguese international Andre Silva was a better player in the few games that he started, as he looked confused as to where to function alongside Cutrone or Kalinic anytime he came on as a substitute. The only moment Silva truly affected a game was his first League and match winning goal away to Genoa after coming off the bench.

This Season, the Rossoneri boast a better quality on the bench. AC MIlan have bolstered their attacking options by signing Diego Laxalt from Genoa and Samu Castijlleo from Vilarreal and Alen Halilovic from Hamburger SV. These are not World class, but an upgrade in the context of their previous campaign. Halilovic who has been purchased to give Suso a bit of a respite may find playing time in the league hard to come by, but could be useful in the Europa League.

Diego Laxalt can play as a left back as we witnessed at the just ended World Cup for his country Uruguay. And compared to Ricardo Rodrigues, the former Genoa left midfielder provides a bit more attacking impetus with his aggression than the Swiss International.

In the 2-1 win over Roma, Milan’s attack came to live in the when Cutrone, Laxalt and Castillejo joined the fray in the second period, as they helped to galvanize the home side’s offensive play. Castillejo could be a hugely significant player for the Diavolo with his trickery and pace on the flanks. Gattuso was effusive of the former Villareal winger in his comments, “Castillejo gives us a different alternative, and he and Laxalt changed things on Friday. Samu came on with a competitive ferocity I had not seen before in training, he seemed a little indifferent to me. Instead, on Friday he showed the qualities that made us sign him. When he wants to win back the ball, he does so with great vehemence.”

The Spanish international could serve as another viable tool in the Italian’s arsenal. Castillejo scored six goals and provided seven assist in La Liga last season in 30 appearances.

Gattuso needs to maximize the talents available to him by assimilating the new players and re-inventing established ones such as Suso,Hakan Calhanoglu and Giacomo Bonaventura, whiles hoping others find top gear. The AC Milan manager has already floated the idea of playing his two strikers, Higuian and Cutrone together as they study and understand each other. Higuain is a better role model for the 20 year-Old Italian.

It is rare for teams to be successful without decent backups, and Milan’s game changers will help to secure qualification for the Champions league football. As Gennaro Gattuso said “Important players have arrived and both Laxalt and Castillejo have shown it. When they play together, Castillejo and Laxalt can break up the game in 15-20 minutes”.

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Serie A Weekly News Recap

kalinic

This week was less headline-grabbing on the transfer market, but a ton of deals got done, especially involving the lower-table clubs. But let’s start off with some news pertaining the sports justice, which has had a leading role this summer. Parma and Emanuele Calaiò partially won their appeal: the club will no longer be deducted any point but will simply be fined, while the striker is suspended until December 31st, down from the initial two years, for sending some inappropriate texts that the prosecutor believed to have the purpose of fixing a match.

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