Serie A Best XI – Round Eight

Alex Meret (7 points): Napoli would have found themselves in an early hole if it was not for his spectacular triple save in the span of ten seconds on point-blank attempts by Darko Lazovic, Matteo Pessina and Mariusz Stepinski.

William Troost-Ekong (5 points): if Udinese are rock-solid at home a lot of the credit goes to their defensive linchpin and to his quiet leadership, which contributed to holding in check the likes of Andrea Belotti and company. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Eight

Standings implications: the top two teams prevailed as Juventus defeated Bologna, while Inter survived Sassuolo’s late rally. Napoli got closer to the third spot after besting Verona since Atalanta three away a three-nothing lead against Lazio. Roma stumbled away against Sampdoria. Cagliari remain in the high-end district thanks to an easy win over SPAL and they have now put together the best start in their history. Milan got halted at the one-yard line by Lecce despite a decent debut for Stefano Pioli. Fiorentina’s winning streak was stopped by Brescia. Parma humilated Genoa, while Udinese grabbed another home win. 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

Serie A Injury and Suspensions Report – Round Six

Atalanta: Luis Muriel is dealing with tonsillitis and his recovery for the weekend is uncertain.

Bologna: Danilo could be back from his thigh strain in this round, while Mitchell Dijks is very likely to miss another one due to a rib injury.

Brescia: Giangiacomo Magnani, Emanuele Ndoj (ankle) and Ernesto Torregrossa (quad) are expected to stay on the mend. Mario Balotelli has a minor neck problem. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspensions Report – Round Four

Atalanta: Luis Muriel tweaked his knee against Genoa but he was available versus Dinamo Zagreb, so he avoided significant problems.

Bologna: Blerin Dzemaili picked up a calf ailment but he made the squad list. Danilo remains out with a thigh strain.

Brescia: Daniele Dessena is suspended and Mario Balotelli will serve the final game of his disqualification. Bruno Martella (calf) and Giangiacomo Magnani, Ernesto Torregrossa (quad) and Emanuele Ndoj (ankle shelf) stay on the shelf. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Three

Atalanta: Timothy Castagne will at least be called up after missing a month due to a torn meniscus, while Rafael Toloi and José-Luis Palomino both picked up a minor thigh injuries. There is more optimism about the Argentinian defender. 

Bologna: Danilo suffered a thigh strain and will miss at least a pair of matches.

Brescia: Ernesto Torregrossa hurt his quad against Milan and will likely miss few matches. Bruno Martella, who subbed early too, escaped without major calf complications but will still miss this one. Giangiacomo Magnani has not recovered from his thigh problem, while Andrea Cista is good to go after hurting his hand. Mario Balotelli is still suspended. Emanuel Ndoj needs to more time to return from ankle surgery.

Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Two

Milan-Brescia: the first game under Marco Giampaolo presented the same issues the Rossoneri suffered from last season, primarily keeping the ball up front and feeding their main striker. They managed to get only some limited offensive forays without never building a constant assasult. A faux pas that could lead to some tactical and personnel change, with Suso possibly returning to the flank and Ismael Bennacer and Rafael Leao getting the nod from start. If they can turn it around, it could be a decent spot for Krzysztof Piatek, but it is tough to trust them right now. The Rondinelle showed to be solid right away in a fairly tough road game in Cagliari: last year’s design worked and the defense held up. If that continues to be the case, Alfredo Donnarumma will be one to watch, he scored 26 goals in Serie B, same as Dimistri Bisoli, who is their most dangerous midfielder, while Sandro Tonali’s fantasy production is a little shakier because it hinges on set pieces. Continue reading

Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap

After two sleepy weeks, Serie A teams have resumed dealing and wheeling with some very interesting purchases over the last few days. Inter finally landed Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United, while Juventus cashed in on Joao Cancelo in a swap with Manchester City, getting back Danilo in the deal. Cagliari pulled off an unexpected one by adding Radja Nainggolan from Inter, then successfully completed the chase for touted prospect Nahitan Nandez from Boca Juniors and, all of a sudden, they have a very crowded and well-assorted midfield despite losing Nicolò Barella.

Milan continue to work on the roster and acquired young centre-back Leo Duarte from Flamengo. He emerged over the last year and a half in Brazil and will contribute to holding down the fort until Mattia Caldara returns later in the year. He will compete with solid but unspectacular Mateo Musacchio to play next to Alessio Romagnoli to open the season.

The week was pretty much dominated by midfielders: a year after letting him go for free, the new Fiorentina management brought back Milan Badelj on loan with option to buy from Lazio, then they snatched Erick Pulgar away from Bologna by exercising the relatively low release clause. The Chilean international was a standout last season and was deadly on penalty, which will come in handy considering the departure of Jordan Veretout. Despite the age difference, the two are pretty similar, so it will be interesting to see whether Vincenzo Montella will tweak his system to accommodate both and perhaps deploy one more attacker.

Genoa have found their new technical leader in Lasse Schone from Ajax who, despite the rather defensive position as pivot, put up great numbers thanks to his ability on set pieces and therefore will be one to look out for in the fantasy game. The Griffon also signed Riccardo Saponara on loan from Fiorentina, whom coach Aurelio Andreazzoli will try to turn into an offensive box-to-box in the Rade Krunic mold, and Colombian youngster Kevin Agudelo from Atletico Huila.

For one brilliant midfielder joining Serie A, another one left as Sampdoria agreed to sell Dennis Praet to Leicester City, who has been a linchpin of their squad over the last three seasons and grew constantly year after year. They acquired Morten Thorsby from Heerenveen and could gamble on a Jakub Jankto resurgence on top of obviously reinvesting the funds on a newcomer.

For once, Atalanta decided to go with an experienced guy rather than bet on potential and brought in Martin Skrtel from Fenerbahce to fill in the gap after Gianluca Mancini left. Gian Piero Gasperini is now back to having five reliable centre-backs to rotate.

A decent coup for Verona, as they won the race for free agent Darko Lazovic, who was pretty good last year at Genoa, where he notched three goals and four assists. He reunites with coach Milan Juric and will be able to play in a number of positions on both flanks. They also grabbed two of the best Serie B players from last season: Gennaro Tutino, on loan from Napoli, who had a terrific year in Cosenza, and Valerio Verre from Sampdoria, who shined in Perugia. They both reached the double-digit threshold and could be significant parts of the 3-4-2-1 tactic Milan Juric is currently using.

Brescia got busy too and signed two presumptive starters in Jaromir Zmhral from Slavia Prague and Giangiacomo Magnani from Sassuolo. The midfielder could be a sneaky fantasy asset, while the centre-back started last season very well but was eventually overshadowed by more talented teammates. Lecce instead added Cristian Dell’Orco, who was serviceable as left centre-back at Empoli in 2018/2019 and will probably end up playing left back for them, alternating with other buzzed about newcomer Brayan Vera.

A pair of players departed from Serie A: Roma sent Rick Karsdorp back to Feyenoord on loan, while Bologna shipped Adam Nagy to Bristol City. The Dutch right back had some okay stretches and at times challenged Alessandro Florenzi, but ultimately he could not stay healthy, while Nagy had become merely a back-up. The Felsinei will have to address the midfield in a meaningful manner.

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Nainggolan returns to Cagliari

After just one year at Inter, Radja Nainggolan has left Inter to join Cagliari, the team that launched him in Italy, on a season-long loan. The midfielder lost a big supporter when Luciano Spalletti was axed and the new course led by Giuseppe Marotta and Antonio Conte decided to cut ties with players that have had behavioral issues in the past.

In reality, the 31-year-old Belgian did not have many issues of this kind in Milan. Last season, after an underwhelming first part where he was affected by muscular injuries and lack of conditioning, he got it going in the final months and ended up registering seven goals and three assists in 36 appearances in all competitions. He had moved to the Nerazzurri from Roma last summer for a €38M bid. Continue reading

Inter acquire Nicolò Barella from Cagliari

barella

After a lengthy negotiation, Inter managed to sign Nicolò Barella from Cagliari, with a strong assist by the player who refused other destinations even if the talks between the two teams stalled for a while. The formula chosen is season-long loan with obligation to buy and the total package, including some bonuses, will cost around €45M. The 22-year-old midfielder has penned a five-year contract.

Barella has had a steady rise over the last three years in Sardinia, to the point where he became a centre-piece of the Italian national team too. He accumulated 112 appearances with the Rossoblù, scoring seven times and collecting six assists. He had his most prolific campaign in 2017/2018, where he tallied six goals, three on penalties. Continue reading