Serie A Match of the Round – Empoli vs SPAL

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At this point of the season, the heftiest points are often on the line in the bouts between relegation strugglers, although it rarely happens that one terminates with a 2-4 result like Empoli-SPAL.

The Azzurri were coming off a good point on the road in Bergamo, but they need wins to get out of the third-to-last spot, while the Estensi beat Juventus’ second/third stringers last week and had prevailed in four of their last five fixtures.

Aurelio Andreazzoli, who has to navigate through several absences, chose Cristiano Dell’Orco as left wing-back, Dimitrios Nikolao to shore up the Matias Silvestre-less back-line and preferred to advance Rade Krunic rather than using Dimitri Oberlin up front. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 33

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Thomas Strakosha: fresh off a saved penalty in the Udinese game, he could be able to take home few more bonus points against Chievo, which have scored just nine times on the road.

Jens Larsen: the two-game trip to the Nation’s Capital went poorly for Udinese, which were handled by both Roma and Lazio. However, they have had much success at home, while Sassuolo are pedestrian away and the fullback has been able to haul in points in six of the last eight tilts at the Friuli stadium. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 31

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Marco Sportiello (7 points): few unexpected clean sheets in this round, which had some extraordinary saves, but not by goalkeeper that managed to keep the goal locked up. Among them, Pierluigi Gollini had probably the best performance, but he was docked one point because he was booked. So the shout-out goes the Frosinone player for his alert work in Florence against a pretty good offence.

Erick Pulgar (13 points): the reigning player of the month confirmed his proficiency from the penalty spot by convering two in the span of three minutes.
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Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 31

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Standings implications: Juventus outlasted Milan on Saturday and are now one point away from the title since Napoli were held to a draw by Genoa. Roma were the only ones to succeed among the teams gunning for a Champions League berth and have pulled closer to the Rossoneri and Atalanta, who have just more point. Inter kept the suitors at bay by drawing against the Orobici, while Lazio salvaged a point at the buzzer against Sassuolo. A slow round in the Europa League race too, as Torino could not find a way to perforate Parma and the Blucerchiati were bested at home by the Giallorossi. Fiorentina keep slipping and Stefano Pioli is on the hot seat after the loss to Frosinone. In the relegation zone, Udinese capped off a big week by topping Empoli and moving four points clear of Bologna, which responded and got out of the final three spots on Monday night by trashing Chievo. Cagliari are almost save after sinking SPAL, which stay in precarious position. Frosinone are trying to mount a late comeback that would be quite incredible: the two consecutive Ws put them five points behind Empoli.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 31

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Juventus: Mario Mandzukic (flu), Paulo Dybala (calf) and Leonardo Spinazzola (knee) have recovered from their problems, while Cristiano is sitll out. Sami Khedira, Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado have ramped up their activity and are close to returning, but they will not be called up in this round. Martin Caceres will miss three weeks with a thigh strain.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne is said to have almost recuperated from his thigh contracture and could be in the squad list in this round. David Ospina (head), Faouzi Ghoulam and Vlad Chiriches (thigh) should be in the squad in list, while Raul Albiol is not far away.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 30

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Milan-Udinese: the Rossoneri slowed down just as things were starting to get really interesting, as they were defeated by Inter and Sampdoria after they had managed to surpass the Nerazzurri riding a five-game winning streak. They also have to look behind at the onrushing Atalanta and Lazio. Udinese came out on top in Igor Tudor’s second debut, besting Genoa after two losses to Juventus and Napoli, although their home numbers were solid also before the firing of Davide Nicola. Milan have had troubles feeding Krzysztof Piatek in the last two matches and they do not really have a second reliable scoring option because Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu are more creators and have not had much feeling with the goal recently. Samu Castillejo did not deliver in Genoa despite the opportunity to start. Lucas Paquetà and Franck Kessie were benched after international duties, but they should be back in the XI here and could provide a decent boost. The Brazilian starlet might play closer to the guy and Patrick Cutrone could get to start over Suso in a different scheme.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 29

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Juventus-Empoli: the Bianconeri are coming off their first Serie A loss this season, against Genoa, while they dropped points just twice at home thus far. The Azzurri defeated Frosinone in Aurelio Andreazzoli’s return match, nabbing the second win in the last 13 rounds. They have lost in five of the last six away games. The Old Lady will be without Cristiano Ronaldo, who got hurt while playing with Portugal, and Douglas Costa, who remains sidelined. Therefore, Federico Bernardeschi, Moise Kean, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic will lead the charge and try to alleviate the absence of the Portuguese star. They could be helped by the fact that the Tuscans have one of the leakiest defenses in the League. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 28

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Salvatore Sirigu: his record run of clean sheets came to end in Frosinone, but he could be a good pick again as Torino have not conceded in five straight at home and they will tangle with Bologna, which are not particularly prolific and will be without their leading scorer Federico Santander.

Kalidou Koulibaly: Napoli are tied for the best statistical home defense in the League, while Udinese have the third worst road attack and had not found the target in five consecutive games before the previous in Turin. The Senegalese powerhouse will also get to rest midweek as he is suspended in Europa League. Continue reading

Empoli dismiss Iachini and bring back Andreazzoli

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Empoli have decided to ax Giuseppe Iachini and put Aurelio Andreazzoli back in charge following the tough loss to Roma on Monday night and few days before a pivotal clash with Frosinone. The Azzurri were unlucky in the Olimpico bout, but they have won just once in the last 12 games and find themselves with just a one-point advantage over the 18th-placed Bologna.

Andreazzoli led the team to the promotion from Serie B last season, but was sacked after picking up just one victory and six total points in the first 11 matches. The Tuscan side turned to the relegation race specialist at the beginning of November and he provided an immediate spark by winning three of the first four matches, but then they fell into a prolonged slump that ultimately led to today’s firing. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 27

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Juventus-Udinese: despite being under siege for the whole second half, the Bianconeri survived in Napoli and further broaden their lead atop of the standings. Despite the results in the domestic league, where they have won four in a row and seven in the last eight and are still undefeated, the squad seems to be trending down in the last couple of weeks. The Zebrette are coming off two massive wins over Chievo and Bologna, which allowed them to jump to the 15th position and move seven points clear of the final three spots. Miralem Pjanic and Joao Cancelo are suspended and coach Massimiliano Allegri is expected to heavily rotate the squad ahead of the second leg with Atletico Madrid, but they are not particularly deep. Continue reading