Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Eight

Lazio-Atalanta: the formula for the Biancocelesti never really changes, as Ciro Immobile is going like gangbusters this year, while Luis Alberto has been their second-best player, especially thanks to his playmaking, as he has already provided five assists. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa have both broken the ice, but they have yet to turn into consistent scorers. The ancillary contributors like Manuel Lazzari and Adam Marusic have been stuck in a timeshare, while Senad Lulic’s fantasy appeal is limited.

The Goddess lost Duvan Zapata for some time due to a muscular injury, so it now will have to be Luis Muriel’s time to shine as the primary go-to-guy. He has scored three times in five appearances despite the irregular playing time and, despite the different skillset, they might not take a big hit there. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round Seven

Alex Meret (7 points): pretty solid goalkeeping by those who earned a clean sheet, Bartlomiej Dragowski and Marco Silvestri in particular, but the nod goes to the Napoli youngster, who managed to parry away a cannon shot by Cristian Ansaldi and exuded confidence throughout the game.

Nikola Milenkovic (9 points): he decided the match against Udinese with a trademark header where he soared in the sky. The switch to a three-man defence has surely helped him. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Inter vs Juventus

The best game on paper going into the round turned out to be a riveting contest and therefore Inter-Juventus easily gets the nod this weekend.

The Beneamata had a perfect record prior to Sunday, while the Old Lady had dropped two points so far. Antonio Conte confirmed his standard lineup, with Romelu Lukaku returning after missing one with a quad problem. Maurizio Sarri picked Paulo Dybala up front and Federico Bernardeschi in the hole instead of the predicted Aaron Ramsey. Continue reading

Juventus Top Perfomers – Round Seven vs Inter

Juventus head into the second international break as top of the table after outlasting Inter the most anticipated game of the early season.

Leonardo Bonucci: all defenders played a role in holding La Beneamata to one goal, as their furious fast-breaks were certainly a lot to deal with. Bonucci had the final key interception on a Romelu Lukaku through ball for a wide-open Matteo Politano and in general was the one who fared better against the big Belgian and Lautaro Martinez, who were a terror when had some room to manoeuvre. Wojciech Szczesny had one great save and came out beautifully on Matias Vecino late and Alex Sandro thwarted one vary threatening chance of his own and in general looked better than his last few outings. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Seven

Standings implications: Juventus prevailed in the Derby d’Italia and now lead the table with a narrow maring over Inter. Atalanta continue to be on a warpath and trounced Lecce. There were few ties in this round as Napoli did not manage to bend Torino, Roma could not get past Cagliari and Lazio threw it away against Bologna. Fiorentina instead kept it rolling against Udinese. Milan returned to winning ways in a battle with Genoa on Saturday night, while Sampdoria hit rock-bottom against Verona. SPAL flattened Parma, garnering their second W of the season and thus leaving the two Genoa-based sides in the last two places of the standings.

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Sarri wants Juventus to play its football in San Siro

Maurizio Sarri talked to the press early on Saturday to set the stage for the Inter game and addressed right away the duel between Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala to get the start up front: “We will have to pick between the due. Once that is one, it is fair for the one that is excluded to feel angry, because he is doing well. We will see after today’s practice, it is part of the job. I do not have to worry about the reactions of the players. Some may have some media impact, but I consider them a positive aspect.” Continue reading

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

Big Week Ahead For Sarri and Juventus

With Juventus set to take on Bayer Leverkusen and Inter this week, it’s the bianconeri’s first real tests of the season since the Napoli clash. In recent weeks, the Italian champions have impressed and have begun showing positive signs that Sarriball is well and truly on its way.

However, Hellas Verona, Brescia and SPAL aren’t exactly the fiercest of challengers and will likely all be near the relegation zone come the season’s end. As a result, the following week will act as the all-important litmus test: Are Juventus real Champions League contenders under Maurizio Sarri and can they keep their Serie A crown?

After going with the 4-3-3 for the early goings of the Serie A season, Sarri went back to his roots and has deployed the more narrow 4-3-1-2 over Juventus’ last three games. This is a formation that the former Chelsea boss used throughout his time with Empoli with great success. In the absence of Douglas Costa, the bianconeri lack wide players capable of beating their men in the final third. While Juan Cuadrado has been a pleasant surprise since returning to the fold, Federico Bernardeschi has disappointed.

The former Fiorentina man frankly lacks the pace to be an out-and-out winger and has looked poor in the early stages of this season. Sarri has even claimed in a recent press conference that Bernardeschi’s future is arguably from a deeper, more central role in midfield as a mezz’ala. 

The formation change has also coincided with Paulo Dybala’s return to form. Since switching to the ‘Christmas Tree’ formation, the former Palermo man has played an integral role in the buildup and has looked incredibly dangerous between the lines. Linking up with either Cristiano Ronaldo or Gonzalo Higuain, la Joya is not far off his brilliant best.

Outside of Dybala’s return to form, this formation also suits new arrival Aaron Ramsey. Playing in an advanced role, the Welsh international is able to infiltrate the opposition’s defence with late runs into the box. Since returning from injury, Ramsey has been in sensational form and is establishing himself as a key piece to Sarriball.

Equally capable of running behind the defence as he is playing neat touches in tight spaces, Ramsey is the missing piece in Juventus’ eleven. With Miralem Pjanic, Adrien Rabiot and Sami Khedira behind him, the Turin-based giants are now capable of fielding a blend of skill and tenacity in the middle of the park.

Defensively, Juventus are showing improvements, as Matthijs de Ligt is growing every week alongside Leonardo Bonucci. While their fullback crisis is worrying, Alex Sandro has had a phenomenal start to the season and will look to continue that this week.

With Leverkusen and a top-of-the-table clash against Inter on the horizon, Juventus are going to need to continue familiarizing themselves with their new formation and manager’s playing philosophy. As their performances keep improving, it’s clear Sarriball is well on its way. With Juventus’ new arrivals blending in nicely with Ronaldo and co. it’s only a matter of time before free-flowing football is the norm in Turin.

Pick your stars and compete with other Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-champions-league.com

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 Picks – Round Six

Samir Handanovic: Inter have given up just one goal so far and he has been a fabulous final bulwark, pulling off amazing saves as per usual. They will square off against Sampdoria on Saturday, which have managed to score only three times so far.

Takehiro Tomiyasu: Bologna will travel to Udine in this round and, while a road game is inherently tricky, the Bianconeri have been unable to find the target in the past three matches and have done it just two times so far, which is the worst clip in the League. They will not get Rodrigo De Paul back either, so it could make sense to pick from the Felsinei back-line and the Japanese fullback has the most upside.   Continue reading