Roma crush Benevento to head back into the top 10 in Serie A

After back to back wins Roma are now in the top 10 in Serie A after an initial slow start and after four games played are 8th and just five points behind current league leaders AC Milan.

Roma were widely expected to beat Benevento and let no one down as they powered through to a 5-2 win at Stadio Olimpico. But the visitors were not just going to roll over and gave Fillipo Inzaghi’s side a few scares.

Indeed in just the fifth minute Benevento took the lead through Gianlula Caprari’s shot which actually took quite a deflection before looping in and beating the goalkeeper for a freak goal.

From then on the game was predictable as Roma had the lions share of possession and made some good attacks although it took until just after the half hour stage to see Roma equalise through Pedro and bad defending.

Roma then took the lead just four minutes later through Edin Dzeko who after good work simply had to tap it in against a naive Benevento defence which were being torn apart by the pace of the home side. Soon after Roma thought they had a third goal but this was rightly ruled out for offside by VAR. The first half ended 2-1 to Roma and the second half seemed like it would be a formality.

However against the odds Benvento would be the next team to score and pull the game back to 2-2 after the 55th minute through Gianluca Lapadula. Jordan Veretout who is having a solid start to the season gave away a penalty after some confusion in their own box and Lapadula then missed the spot kick but got the rebound and suddenly we were in for a shock result.

However in the 69th minute Veretout made amends when Roma were awarded their own penalty when the goalkeeper fouled Pedro. Veretout stood up and made no mistakes to give Roma the lead once more.

Eight minutes later the game was effectively wrapped up as Dzeko struck again and again it was a simple tap in after good build up play where he couldn’t really miss. By this point Benevento who had worked hard throughout the match had given up the ghost and with just one minute left of the game Roma got their 5th.

It came through Carles Perez who may have scored the contender for goal of the season. Starting in his own half he beat 3 players before confidently smashing the ball home. Had Lionel Messi did that over the weekend the headlines would surely be tripping over themselves. It was a great win for Roma and their next game will be away to leaders AC Milan it what should be a mouthwatering encounter.

Top Roma performers in fantasy league so far:

1. Jordan Veretout 15pts

2. Henrikh Mkhitaryan 10pts

3. Antonio Mirante 10pts

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Serie A Fantasy Previews – Round Five – Top Matches

ATALANTA-SAMPDORIA

Atalanta: the Bergamaschi looked unprepared to match Napoli’s aggressiveness in the last fixture and the much-anticipated bout ended with a shocking beating. They will look to return to form in Serie A as well after pummelling Midtjylland. Alejandro Gomez has been the tip of the spear so far and straight-up one of the best players in the League. Luis Muriel has put his name in the stat-sheet twice, like Sam Lemmers, who has made the most of his limited opportunities. Duvan Zapata has been more up-and-down. Josip Ilicic looked rusty in his first game back, but that is understandable: the good news is that he indeed came back and the coach will likely give him regular minutes to get him into shape. Ruslan Malinovskyi is questionable due to an injury, which may lead to some playing time for the intriguing Aleksey Miranchuk. Their stud wing-backs Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens have scored one goal each, with the German international adding two assists.

Suggested picks: Gomez, Muriel, Zapata. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Four

Standings implications: Milan is atop of the table after convincingly besting Inter in the Derby della Madonnina. They are followed by Sassuolo, who staged an furious comeback against Bologna. Napoli made a statement by trouncing Atalanta, while Juventus could not get past Crotone. Lazio got stunned by Sampdoria on the road. Fiorentina wasted an early two-notching lead versus Spezia, while Cagliari outlasted Torino. Udinese nabbed their first points in dramatic fashion and Roma outgunned a fiery Benevento.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Four – Top Matches

NAPOLI-ATALANTA

Napoli: they did not get to play the third game because of well-known reasons, but the first two were pretty indicative. Victor Osimhen has yet to score, but he has had a major impact anyway and he is bound to break through soon. In the meantime, Dries Mertens has led the charge (two goals, two assists), helped by the resurgent Hirving Lozano, who has kept up the momentum from the restart. The injury to Lorenzo Insigne and Piotr Zielinski and Elijf Elmas getting COVID might slow down the deployment 4-2-3-1 in full force, but that should be the way forward and the arrival of Tiemoué Bakayoko cements it. The absences could give Matteo Politano and/or Stanislav Lobotka a bigger role than usual and the former scored in the Genoa romp. If Atalanta do not adjust the way they defend, they could make some sweet music on counters.

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Pedro helps Roma to their first win of the season but club post record debts

Roma’s new signing Pedro scored his 1st goal for the club as they beat Udinese away 1-0 and that resulted in their first win of the season.

It’s been a slow start for Roma who have won 1, drawn 1 and lost 1 but the victory at the weekend took the club up to 10th place and they are 5 points behind the current leaders Atalanta.

Pedro took his goal well and ran with the ball before unleashing a 25 yard screamer that was unstoppable. It was a magic moment in a game that lacked real quality from both sets of teams.

It was an important result for the Giallorossi as going to Udinese is never an easy task. After the game Roma coach Paulo Fonseca had this to say: “In the first half we continually played in Udinese’s final third, but they were dangerous when breaking on the counter. We weren’t aggressive enough when we lost possession, but still created good situations. After the break we managed to get the goal and the team remained united to bring home the result, which was the most important thing. Roma are a very attack-minded team, but Udinese’s style in the closing stages forced us to sit deeper. The team is playing well with Lorenzo Pellegrini in his current midfield position and we’ll see in future whether he remains there.”

El Shaarawy deals falls through but Smalling is back

Stephan El Shaarawy almost rejoined Roma on transfer deadline day but the move collapsed at the final hurdle with El Shaarawy claiming that the blame did not lie with him. The Italian left Roma to join Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua last season where he has scored just once in 16 games. With the Chinese league suspended until February it was thought that he could re join Roma up until then but that won’t happen now.

Still there was some good news as Chris Smalling completed a permanent transfer to the club after his successful loan period last season. Such was that news that fans even went to the airport to greet Smalling who has now officially left Manchester United.

New Balance and record losses

Roma reported the 2nd biggest lost in Italian football over a season as they came up short by 204m euros. Only Inter Milan a decade before reported higher losses. The club though have been busy looking for new sponsors and it appears that New Balance will take over from Nike, though this has yet to be confirmed.

When the league returns Roma will  be at home to Benevento where they will be the huge favourites to win that and hopefully move up the table and get their season fully on track.

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Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Three

Results: COVID-19 took away two fixtures in this round, including the much anticipated Juventus-Napoli. In the other crunch game, Lazio weathered the early storm produced by Inter and came away with a quality. Atalanta keep rolling and bagged five goals against Cagliari, while Milan throttled Spezia in the second half and the they are the only two perfect teams in the season. Right behind them in the standings there is Sassuolo, which rag-dolled Crotone. Roma snatched their first W of the season over the point-less Udinese, same feat for Sampdoria, which upset Fiorentina on the road. Benevento is now up to six points after squeaking by Bologna.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Three – Other Games

FIORENTINA-SAMPDORIA

Fiorentina: the Viola were rather unlucky to be pipped at the post by Inter, but on the offensive end they surely raised the bar compared to opener, primarily thanks to a superb Franck Ribery, who shredded the defence and dished two assists. However he is said to be banged up, so the others could have a bigger role in this case. Gaetano Castrovilli, who notched the second goal in a row, and Federico Chiesa capitalized, while Christian Kouame benefitted from a generous feed by Giacomo Bonaventura. The ex-Genoa striker has separated himself from Patrick Cutrone and Dusan Vlahovic as main centre-forward and should end up being their primary scorer, even though generally throughout his career he has fared better as second-striker. The Gigliati are pretty stacked offensively and Cristiano Biraghi has been exuberant down the left flank.

Suggested picks: Kouame, Chiesa, Ribery.

Sampdoria: the Blucerchiati thought they had the Benevento game in the bag, but the Sanniti had different plans. Despite the second-half collapse, the Blucerchiati produced more than against Juventus, as natural, and Fabio Quagliarella quickly opened his seasonal tally, followed up by Omar Colley’s first Serie A goal. The offense got a boost with the addition of Antonio Candreva as right winger, who provided an assist right away. Federico Bonazzoli and Jakub Jankto instead have not been great in the first two games, while the secondary option Morten Thorsby was supplanted by Valerio Verre in the midfield last week, who was pretty good at Verona, but featured in a much more advanced position. Tommaso Augello uncorked few decent crosses in the last game, while Manolo Gabbiadini hit the post immediately upon subbing in and might get the start this week. Jankto has been ruled out, which could lead to an extended run for newcomer Mikkel Damsgaard or last year’s late bloomer Kristoffer Askildsen.

Suggested picks: Quagliarella, Candreva, Gabbiadini.

SASSUOLO-CROTONE

Sassuolo: the Neroverdi predictably detonated in the Spezia match, taking advantage of a lousy defence, and could be in a similar spot this week given Crotone’s early struggles on that front. Jeremie Boga still has not cleared the COVID-19 protocol: Lukas Haraslin was limited by an injury in the last game, but Gregoire Defrel picked up the slack more than convincingly, while Filip Djuricic and Francesco Caputo quickly shook off an underwhelming opener and Domenico Berardi nailed a PK. Manuel Locatelli is already playing at an excellent level, but he is not so prone to picking up bonuses. As far as the full-backs go, where there is some potential, Rogerio is hurt and Grigoris Kyriakopoulos is not as impactful, while on the right Jeremy Toljan has so far played more than Mert Muldur, who is generally more exuberant, although a little unbridled.

Suggested picks: Caputo, Berardi, Djuricic.

Crotone: the Pitagorici could not keep up with Genoa and Milan in the first matches and the going will not get any easier here, also considering their injury problems, as it is manifest that they need Ahmad Benali’s playmaking and leadership in the midfield. The coach has kept Junior Messias there to have more offensive punch, but it is not the same thing. Denis Dragus got the start to replace Emmanuel Riviere up front and was sprightly, the main problem though is that their fulcrum Simy has yet to get going and most of their offense goes through him. Nicolò Zanellato and Luca Cigarini generally take more care of the dirty work in the midfield. They added Pedro Pereira and Arkadiusz Reca on the flanks last week: the latter figures to be a bigger factor when it comes to attacking, but Andrea Rispoli and Salvatore Molina, who already had an assist, are no slouches on that regard.

Suggested picks: Messias, Simy, Dragus.

UDINESE-ROMA

Udinese: the Zebrette lost the second game in a row, this time against the lowly Spezia, and once against struggled to come up with convincing offense. Kevin Lasagna missed a pair of chances like in the opener, but that was about it on open play. Stefano Okaka and Ilija Nestorovski have not had a much impact so far, while they are almost completely depleted in the midfield, where they were forced to field 18-year-old Martin Palumbo, on top of other youngster Mamadou Coulibaly. Roberto Pereyra could be a decent factor, but it is not certain he will be available for this one due to bureaucratic elements. Therefore, Rodrigo De Paul will remain almost the sole source of playmaking, even should he be forced to play again in front of the defence. Thomas Ouwejan looked pretty promising when he subbed in Wednesday, certainly more enticing that Marvin Zeegelaar.

Suggested picks: De Paul, Lasagna, Okaka. 

Roma: he missed a pair of sitters, but the Giallorossi inevitably looked much better with Edin Dzeko back in the lineup and his quality flick-ons and passes started up several interesting sorties against Juventus. Jordan Veretout cashed in, and also canned a PK, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan was denied by the goalie. The major development is that Paulo Fonseca kept Pedro in the formation and moved Lorenzo Pellegrini to the pivot position, where Amadou Diawara and Bryan Cristante generally play. Therefore, the Spaniard is set to be one of their main weapons, while the Italian midfielder loses some shine as he is more far away from the box, but his playmaking could come through anyway, especially in easier matches where they are expected to attack consistently, like this one. He notched nine assists last season. It is pretty strange that Mkhitaryan still has not scored since he had few tasty chances.

Suggested picks: Dzeko, Mkhitaryan, Pedro.

BENEVENTO-BOLOGNA

Benevento: the Sanniti have been surprisingly shoddy in the back to begin the season, although keeping up with Inter might be difficult for anybody. However, they have been more productive than expected on the other end and while the goals in the opener were rather fluky, two by Luca Caldirola, one by Gaetano Letizia, the output coming from Gianluca Caprari (brace) and Gianluca Lapadula (one assist) should be more sustainable. The two already looked in sync, even though Lapadula’s minutes are being monitored due to lack of fitness: Gabriele Moncini has not really grabbed the brass ring in relief and so Lapadula is set to lead the charge whenever healthy. They added Iago Falque earlier this week and he can be a big weapon if in good conditions, but he will have to beat out last year’s starter Roberto Insigne, who is a substantial part of their offense. Some rotation could lead to good minutes for Marco Sau, who had 13 goals last year. The two box-to-box have not been particularly involved in the offensive proceedings.

Suggested picks: Caprari, Lapadula, Insigne.

Bologna: the Felsinei broke through in the derby with Parma thanks to a magnificent Roberto Soriano (two goals, one assist), but they had shown interesting stuff late versus Milan as well, despite the poor result. They are among the most proactive and productive sides among the minnows. Andreas Skov Olsen and Rodrigo Palacio joined Soriano in the stat-sheet in the last game, which is not great news for Riccardo Orsolini, which seems to have a long-standing beef with coach Sinisa Mihajlovic that is trying to make his flourish, and Nicola Sansone, who has seen little playing time in the early going. Musa Barrow is likely due after few attempts in the first two matches. Aaron Hickey played great in his debut and might quickly unseat Mitchell Dijks at left-back, while Lorenzo De Silvestri is always a steady hand. Jerdy Schouten has been splendid so far, but his role is pretty defensive.

Suggested picks: Barrow, Soriano, Palacio.

PARMA-VERONA

Parma: as if things were not going badly enough for the Ducali, Roberto Inglese and Andreas Cornelius both picked up last-minute injuries before the last game and so they were forced to field a very light attack. Gervinho, who did not have his signature burst right after a small physical problem, and Yann Karamoh did not do the trick and Andrea Adorante is the only pure centre-forward left. Hernani scored, on a Gaston Brugman sly feed, but only because of a defensive blunder. The Brazilian midfielder had not hit the target last season despite often firing away from distance. They will indeed get back Jasmin Kurtic after a technicality kept him out for the second game in a row, so that should lift them a little since they were forced to field Jacopo Dezi in the previous game. He and Jasmin Kucka might be biggest threats than their strikers all things considered. They need reinforcements from the transfer market.

Suggested picks: Gervinho, Kurtic, Kucka.

Verona: the Scaligeri will never be the most explosive team, but they tend to find a way to get the job done, especially because their stifling defence allows them to pick up good results even when they do not shine offensively. Samuel Di Carmine subbed off and will be out this week, but Andrea Favilli bagged the game-winning goal, his first Serie A one. They are adding some pieces since Darko Lazovic was able to make an appearance, but Federico Dimarco was surely serviceable on the left flank, and Ebrima Colley fared well in limited minutes. Antonin Barak has strong upside used as attacking midfielder and Adrien Tameze has been very promising. With different protagonists, they are getting back to the formula that propelled them last season, aided by the playmaking of Miguel Veloso and Mattia Zaccagni.

Suggested picks: Favilli, Barak, Zaccagni.

MILAN-SPEZIA

Milan: the Rossoneri took care of busines against Crotone, with Franck Kessie converting a penalty kick and Brahim Diaz netting his first goal in the Peninsula. They have another easy match-up on tap, however they will be undermanned and likely spent because. Ante Rebic injured his elbow in the past game and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is iffy due to COVID-19. It will likely up to youngster Lorenzo Colombo to lead the attack, while Rafael Leao should be ready for more playing time with one more week of practice under his belt following a long quarantine. With all the absences, Hakan Calhanoglu will have an even bigger role and, while he has been great in Europa League, he has not found the target in Serie A play yet. Samu Castillejo and Alexis Saelemaekers will have to make to make their presence felt in the final third more and they could unleash Theo Hernandez to get a boost.

Suggested picks: Calhanoglu, Colombo, Castillejo.

Spezia: the Aquilotti confirmed to be a pesky team in the Udinese game, what was a little stunning was to see Andrej Galabinov being this effective (three goals) after he failed to reach the double digit in the last three years. Emmanuel Gyasi picked up an assist, while Daniele Verde was fairly bubbly down the right flank and he is more at ease there than Kevin Agudelo, but the latter can play in a number of spots. Matteo Ricci has already had an helper and a goal called back, while Giulio Maggiore and Paolo Bartolomei have been more subdued and they have yet to fully explore all the new additions to the midfield. Tommaso Pobega and Lucien Agoume could be pretty interesting, but the hierarchies have yet to fully take form and they might just roll with last year’s starters anyway.

Suggested picks: Galabinov, Gyasi, Verde. 

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Two – Top Matches

TORINO-ATALANTA

Torino: the Granata did really not show anything new in the Fiorentina game even though Marco Giampaolo is supposedly going to bring a ton of changes, but that will take time and likely a couple of new players to come to fruition. They created just a pair of changes, with Andrea Belotti fully in the thick of it as per usual, while Simone Zaza rubbished a tasty one. They might be better off signing a new striker. The coach went with Alex Berenguer in the hole and then voiced doubts about Simone Verdi’s playing in that position, however there is not really any other place for him in the formation, so he will have to adapt. Soualiho Meite and Karol Linetty were not very involved offensively, mostly because the match-up was not easy, but this upcoming one is worse.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round One

Bologna: Gary Medel is suspended and is also recovering from a grade one strain in the semimembranosus muscle on the right thigh, therefore he could miss week two as well.

Cagliari: Luca Ceppitelli, Filip Bradaric and Kiril Despodov are quarantining after catching COVID-19 in late August. Gaston Pereiro suffered a fifth metatarsal fracture in the right foot about two weeks ago and he has a 45-day timetable. Alessandro Deiola is recovering from a clean-up surgery on the right knee he had during his time at Lecce. Continue reading

Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap: Saponara, Moses, Bonifazi…

Not a particularly big week as teams prefer do their business late hoping for some bargains, yet some decent deals still went down, but generally with limited fantasy ramifications, as testified by the fact that the most meaningful one is Lecce signing Riccardo Saponara on loan from Fiorentina after a poor spell at Genoa. Saponara is a pure no.10 and, if he manages to stay healthy, he could push their stud Marco Mancosu to box-to-box, but he will be fine there too. They can move pieces around in the midfielder and Fabio Liverani tested a Panagiotis Tachtsidis-less formation last week with good returns, so the Greek might ultimately be the one getting the short end of the stick. Continue reading