Juventus-Frosinone: the Bianconeri quickly bounced back in Sassuolo after the 3-3 draw with Parma and have won four times in the last five fixtures, fortifying their lead in the standings. The Ciociari have been pesky recently and they are coming off a surprise win over Sampdoria, their second in a row on the road, and they are now within striking distance from the 17th spot. With Champions League just around the corner, Cristiano Ronaldo might be rested for the second time in Serie A, which would mean more scoring opportunities for Mario Mandzukic, Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala, or whoever will compose the front-line. Continue reading
The next Serie A round will start very early, on Thursday, and stretch throughout the weekend.
Lazio-Empoli: it was not necessarily pretty, but the Biancocelesti returned to winning ways against Frosinone after three unsatisfactory results and now are in the fifth spot, tied with Roma and Atalanta, one point away from Champions League. The Azzurri came back against Chievo, collecting the second draw in the last three fixtures after a slew of losses, but behind them Bologna have gotten closer. The Biancocelesti are really banged up and, considering the minuscule turnaround, there is growing pessimism about the presence of Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto, who got hurt on Monday. Joaquin Correa should be able to play and in this scenario he and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic become very attractive fantasy assets and Felipe Caicedo could be a cheap plug considering he has scored in the last round. Valon Berisah and Riza Durmisi might be unlikely protagonists. Continue reading
Napoli-Sampdoria: the Partenopei had a disappointing two-game meeting with Milan, as they did not manage to beat them in the weekend and then got got in Coppa Italia. They are undefeated at home, where they have won four games in a row, often scoring multiple goals. The Blucerchiati are coming off a thumping against Udinese, their fourth W in the last six fixtures and they lost only to Juventus since the beginning of December. While Lorenzo Insigne is stuck in a prolonged drought, Arek Milik has done most of the damage for the Azzurri up front, with Dries Mertens chipping in from time to time and some contribution from José Callejon, Marek Hamsik and Piotr Zielinski, but not in a consistent way. Continue reading
Sampdoria-Udinese: the Blucerchiati were pipped at the post in Florence last week, in a game that turned on its head a thousand times. They have won three straight at home. After three positive, or semi-positives, results Udinese took a tumble at home against Parma. They have managed to prevail just once on the road thus far. Fabio Quagliarella has found the target in ten straight appearances and is one shy of tying the record, so he is obviously a must-start, considering that the match-up is not that hard. Gaston Ramirez is suspended, so Riccardo Saponara will draw the start and could be worth a look. Even Jakub Jankto showed some life in the last game, but Karol Linetty might be able to return in the midfield. Continue reading
“While we were negotiating (with Inter for Radja Nainggolan) we had two requests: (Andrei Ionuț) Radu Continue reading
Juventus: Blaise Matuidi and Medhi Benatia missed the last game, but they will be available to play. Federico Bernardeschi has been called up after missing time with a thigh pull. Rodrigo Bentancur is suspended. Juan Cuadrado underwent knee surgery and could be on the shelf for three months.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne and Kalidou Koulibaly were handed two-game bans. Marek Hamsik subbed off against Inter due to a thigh injury and will try to recover for the first game of 2019. Continue reading
Juventus-Sampdoria: after a string of close wins over fierce enemies, the Bianconeri draw against Atalanta, in a game where they came back in ten men. It is just their second tie in Serie A. The Blucerchiati are in a marvelous moment, as they have not lost in the last six games and have won in four of their last five. The offensive production remained the same for Juventus in the last four matches, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic were the only one to hit the net. Paulo Dybala is stuck in a playmaking role, while Douglas Costa has always been more of an assist man. They are awaiting for some goals out of the midfield and Emre Can and Sami Khedira have some potential there, while Rodrigo Bentancur will be suspended in this one. On the other hand, Sampdoria’s attack is humming as Fabio Quagliarella has scored for eight matches in a row and Gaston Ramirez, Gianluca Caprari and Riccardo Saponara have all found the target recently and even Karol Linetty and Dennis Praet have done some damage. The only one not playing well is Gregoire Defrel, but this could be a decent match-up for his skillset, should he be given the start. Continue reading
Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi has a thigh ailment and he is likely to miss the next two games. Juan Cuadrado will not undergo knee surgery, but his timetable is uncertain. Blaise Matuidi is under the weather and out for the Bergamo trip. Moise Kean has a hamstring ailment.
Napoli: Allan is set to return after missing one due to back pain. Mario Rui is back to the squad list.
Inter: Radja Nainggolan has been suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons. Joao Miranda is out again due to muscle fatigue.
Lazio: Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are fatigued and might sit initially. Luis Alberto subbed off against Cagliari, but just for cramps. Milan Badelj is iffy with a muscular problem. Valon Berisha and Riza Durmisi will not be available. Continue reading
The final whistle sounded late Saturday evening in Turin as Roma lost their fifth match of the season thanks to their 1-0 defeat against Juventus. The defeat dropped the Giallorossi to 10th place in Serie A and marked another negative chapter in the horror novel that has been their 2018/2019 campaign.
While the performance was certainly better than what was on display in recent weeks, there was very little consolation for Roma as they’re four points off the final Champions League place.
Despite the season being nothing short of a nightmare, Roma somehow still find themselves within striking distance of that Champions League place. With crucial upcoming clashes against Parma and Sassuolo, anything short of six points would be disastrous for Eusebio Di Francesco’s men.
And the Italian tactician has shouldered the majority of the blame for the team’s struggles this season, there is no doubting that the team’s lack of depth has been a major issue — something sporting director Monchi must absolutely be held accountable for.
There’s several reasons why Roma find themselves in the position they’re currently in, but it’s certainly acceptable to point to last summer’s underwhelming transfer campaign as a major reason.
The Giallorossi waived goodbye to Radja Nainggolan, Kevin Strootman and Alisson in the summer yet still brought in big names such as Steven Nzonzi, Bryan Cristante and Javier Pastore for the midfield, while Robin Olsen was tabbed as Roma’s new #1 in goal.
Despite extremely poor seasons from Nainggolan and Strootman in 2017/2018, Roma don’t seem to miss their abilities on the pitch as much as their character and personality in the dressing room.
Manager Eusebio Di Francesco has constantly cited the team’s poor mental approach, attitude and character throughout the season — leaving many to wonder why Monchi didn’t bring in players with characteristics similar to those of the departed Belgian and Dutchman.
With the January transfer market officially opening in just a few days, Monchi now finds himself in a peculiar position: it’s obvious Roma need solutions in every area of the pitch, however, he’s essentially working with a zero budget as the club continues to spend conservatively due to their books still being in the red.
While you could make the argument that every single position needs an upgrade, the Spanish director already has his sights set on two key roles — striker and defensive midfielder.
Monchi has been holding talks for over a month to try and find a player to who can play the mediano role in Di Francesco’s 4-2-3-1. In recent days, though, talks for a new striker have been increasing dramatically. The Spaniard is ready to waive the white flag on the disastrous campaign of Patrik Schick, Roma’s most expensive purchase, and allow the Czech to leave on loan to find calm and continuity.
With Schick potentially leaving, one name Monchi has his eyes on is Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian striker, who has been enduring a nightmare loan spell with Valencia, is ready to end his tenure in Spain early and one option is joining Roma. Batshuayi would bring a much-needed scoring presence after the Giallorossi have been lifeless in attack all season — which hasn’t been helped by the long injury layoff of Edin Dzeko.
So with the January transfer just days away and lasting only for one month, Monchi will be forced to work both diligently and quickly to bring in the needed reinforcements for Roma. Should he fail to bring in the proper firepower that the Giallorossi are clearly yearning for — Roma just may see themselves miss out on the Champions League for the first time since the 2012/2013 season.
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Lazio-Cagliari: after four draws in a row, the Biancocelesti came a cropper in Bergamo, following another subpar performance. The Sardinians have been unable to win in the past six weeks and they caught on Sunday their first L at home versus Napoli. So both teams are reeling, one more of the other considering their seasonal targets. Simone Inzaghi is giving Sergej Milinkovic-Savic every opportunity to get off his schneid, but he keeps misfiring. Luis Alberto is showing some signs of life, but he is far away from last year’s level of brilliance. So Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa remain their only two productive fulcrums, with Marco Parolo at times able to chip in. Continue reading