Marco Silvestri: Verona and their stifling defence will visit an undermanned Sampdoria squad on Monday. The Scaligeri have not given up more than one goal in the past eight rounds.
Kostas Manolas: Napoli can be very stingy when they want to be, as evidenced by the Barcelona clash, and Torino have been incredibly subpar offensively over the last two months. Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Mario Rui have more upside than the Greek centre-back, but it is possible that the coach rotates the squad a bit. Continue reading →
Lazio-Bologna: the only game between two teams that actually played last week. The Biancocelesti extended their superb run by grinding out a W versus Genoa, thanks to the usual Ciro Immobile goal and two unlikely heroes coming through, Adam Marusic, who has started over Manuel Lazzari in two matches in a row, and Danilo Cataldi. While Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored against Inter, the bonuses for their other two fantasy stars, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa, have not been there in recent rounds, leaving Felipe Caicedo as the only serviceable option besides the capocannoniere. Jony has taken over for the injured Senad Lulic and, while he is a high-volume crosser, he has come up with just one assist so far. It could be another ripe day for their offense considering that the Felsinei have a soft defence. Continue reading →
SPAL-Juventus: Luigi Di Biagio devised a new system in his debut, arraying his men with a 4-3-3. While they failed to get the win, they attacked more than usual and Andrea Petagna bagged the ninth goal of his campaign. Federico Di Francesco has always been playing in very offensive role, but he is more comfortable out wide and the trident was completed by Mattia Valoti in that case, although Gabriel Strefezza will have his chances too. The duo gets a bump thanks to the coaching change, likewise Mirko Valdifiori, who resurfaced and can be a decent weapon on set pieces, as a matter of fact he picked up an assist with a corner kick. Simone Missiroli is back at box-to-box like earlier in his career, joining the sneaky Lucas Castro. On the downside, Arkadiusz Reca, and Mohamed Fares when he will be ready, will feature as fullback, so few meters behind what they were accustomed to doing. Scoring has been one of their main issues so far, as they have no reliable contributors behind Petagna. Continue reading →
Atalanta-Roma: the Goddess continue to add to their offensive arsenal, as Duvan Zapata is returning two his usual pre-injury numbers (two goals and three assists in the last four games) and Ruslan Malinovskyi came through last week. The Ukrainian attacker seems to have surpassed Luis Muriel as first option off the bench. Josip Ilicic did not score against Fiorentina, but still had a great performance and he has been en fuego for a while. The one small negative is that, with their front-line now featuring two quality scorers, Alejandro Gomez is back at looking more to feed them rather than finishing on his own: as a matter of fact he set up two goals last week and has not hit the net since in six weeks. Timothy Castagne came back and he is a bigger offensive weapon than the more diligent Hans Hateboer, but they will likely continue to alternate, while Robin Gosens on the opposite flank is slowing down a bit after a gorgeous January. Mario Pasalic fumbled away a pair of sitters in Florence. Rafael Toloi (one goal and six assists) has been their most intriguing defender. Continue reading →
Salvatore Sirigu: he has been one of the few Torino players to save face even in their recent disastrous stretch and the coaching change should lift the whole organization. They will host Sampdoria in this round, which are one of the least prolific teams on the road and might be without their catalyst Fabio Quagliarella.
Francesco Acerbi: Lazio have the second-best statistical defence in the League, despite making it a habit of giving up cheap consolation goals. Acerbi is their centre-pieces, but, depending on the projected lineup, also Patric and Luiz Felipe are worth a look versus Parma, which will not have two or three of their top forwards. Continue reading →
Roma-Bologna: the Giallorossi are in a funk and have played just one convincing game out of the last five. They will be without Lorenzo Pellegrini due to suspension and it is a massive loss considering that he is the mastermind of their offense. They should get Henrikh Mkhitaryan back from injury and perhaps even starting considering the hole at no.10. The other option is likely Diego Perotti and they seem to always be awarded a penalty when he is out there. Edin Dzeko has scored in three straight games and they will face a pretty suspect back-line. Cengiz Under took a step back versus Sassuolo, but he is always pretty assertive when he decides to play, while Justin Kluivert has not done much since coming back from injury, but should improve over time. Paulo Fonseca has elected to keep Aleksandar Kolarov on the bench in the last two matches for tactical reasons, but the decision has not really moved the needle so the stud left-back should soon be back in the XI. Continue reading →
Having crashed out of the Coppa Italia in midweek at the hands of Inter, Fiorentina’s difficult run of fixtures continues on Sunday as they travel to Turin to take on Juventus. Fans of La Viola would love nothing more than to add to Maurizio Sarri’s problems, the Bianconeri having lost away at Napoli last weekend.
Sassuolo-Roma: an early red card took the Neroverdi out of the Sampdoria game pretty early, but they still came away with a decent point, even though they were understandably unable to do much on offense. In the previous round, Domenico Berardi and Jeremie Boga propelled them past Torino the previous week and they have an intriguing front-line when everybody is healthy and on his day, since they are quite moody, the concerns are more on the other end and the suspension of Federico Peluso adds to those. Francesco Caputo has not scored since mid-December after a fast start, while their duo of no.10s Hamed Traore and Filip Djuricic, who generally alternate, have been able to do a decent amount of damage. Manuel Locatelli and Pedro Obiang/Francesco Magnanelli rarely attack due to their defensive position, they have combined for just one goal, while Jeremy Toljan and Grigoris Kyriakopoulos are decent fullbacks, but the match-up is pretty hard. Continue reading →
Maurizio Sarri fielded some questions ahead of the much-anticipated Napoli clash: “It is clear that it is a particular game for me, but we must not spend energies for a personal aspect. We have to focus on the collective goal, which is to take home some points. It will be a complicated match for various reasons.”
On a possible return to the Partenopei: “I have not given much thought about that. Maybe I could retire after Juventus, I will have to ponder whether I can still do well after this experience.” Continue reading →
Juventus punched their ticket to the Coppa Italia semi-finals courtesy of the prairies left by Roma in the first half and will face the winner of the Milan-Torino contest.
Leonardo Bonucci: one player in each role made it to stat-sheet so compiling the list is not exactly rocket science. The captain quite miraculously avoided the offside trap on the second ball after a set piece to notch yet another goal in what is becoming a prolific season for a defender. It was instead Daniele Rugani who stood out for his work in the back with a pair of timely reads, general precision and also a little more physicality than usual. Gianluigi Buffon was unlucky on the goal but avoided troubles with a great coming out on an unguarded Alessandro Florenzi in a one-on-one situation deep into the second half, preventing a major turn of the worst. The one-handed save in the final minutes was even prettier but not as significant. Danilo got hurt pretty early, while Alex Sandro turned his usual solid but unspectacular shift it. Continue reading →