Juventus’ top executive Fabio Paratici gave another interview, this time to Tuttosport. After reaffirming the club’s serenity about Cristiano Ronaldo’s status and future, he commented on Giorgio Chiellini’s incendiary’s words about Real Madrid robbing the Portuguese ace of the Balloon d’Or last year: “He truly deserved it, he is the best. Giorgio was right, some clubs have more power on the international scale, but I do not how you can influence an award like this.” Continue reading
With another action-packed match-day in store for us, it’s time to look ahead and get your fantacalcio sides ready. Juventus will be hosting Sassuolo as Inter take on SPAL. With just one point separating the two sides, Antonio Conte’s men will be looking to maintain the pace with the Italian champions.
With match-day 14 upon us, here are FIVE players you should consider dropping from your elevens. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Robin Olsen (GK, Cagliari, Value 13.65) – The former Roma goalkeeper has been in sensational form to begin the season, putting last year’s woes behind him, but has since been suspended for the next four match-days. It comes at an unfortunate time for both him and Cagliari as the Sardinians are competing for European places.
In addition, the Swedish international has been rock solid between the posts and has established himself as a crucial piece to Rolando Maran’s setup. For the time being, use the 13M on a backup keeper and perhaps a creative midfielder.
Federico Chiesa (FWD, Fiorentina, Value 13.99) – There’s currently a power struggle going on between Federico Chiesa and Fiorentina. The Italian international has reportedly set his sights on a move to one of Italy’s top dogs, with Inter and Juventus both expressing interest. Determined to make Chiesa the face of their rebuild, however, Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso is reluctant to sell the young winger. Chiesa was frozen out of the side in their most-recent defeat, with Montella claiming that he was out of shape mentally and physically.
This week, Montella confirmed that Chiesa will miss the side’s upcoming clash against Lecce with a thigh injury, as well. The 22-year-old has not been at la viola’s training ground all week, fuelling speculation that he may be on his way out. At 13.99M, you would be wise to freeze Chiesa out of your fantacalcio sides yourself. I hear Atalanta have a few interesting forwards…
Sami Khedira (MID, Juventus, Value 10.92) – The former German international started the season well, but has since slowed down, with many calling for him to be benched. In Juventus’ most recent Serie A win against Atalanta, Khedira was anonymous and was a constant liability down the bianconeri’s right-hand side. While the penalty he conceded was rather unfortunate, it was merely the tip of the iceberg of his poor performance.
With Rodrigo Bentancur impressing in mid-week and Emre Can eager to prove himself, it may be time for Sarri to look elsewhere in Juventus’ midfield ranks and bench the much-maligned Khedira. Regardless, his price-tag is still too high for a player who simply does not produce. For example, you can afford Juan Cuadrado for the same price. Are you braver than Sarri?
Rodrigo De Paul (MID, Udinese, Value 9.21) – Continuing with the theme of struggling midfielders, Udinese’s Rodrigo De Paul makes this week’s list. The Argentine international was supposed to break through this season, emerging as a crucial player for the Zebrette, but nothing of the sort has taken place. With Udinese hovering over the relegation zone, De Paul is going to need to step up. In his 10 appearances this season, the 25-year-old has one goal and one assist – a far cry from last season’s impressive tally of nine goals and eight assists.
Given the side’s lack of creativity in the middle of the park, the Udinese man is burdened with much of the offensive work in the final third. While his fortunes should change, Udinese take on a high-flying Lazio side this weekend. As a result, it would be wise to keep De Paul out of your elevens for the time being.
Kalidou Koulibaly (DEF, Napoli, Value 8.53) – Since establishing himself as one of the league’s elite defenders, Koulibaly’s stock has never been lower. With the ongoing player mutiny at Napoli, the partenopei have struggled for results and their rearguard has suffered. In fact, Napoli have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last eight games – a scoreless draw against Genoa. While Koulibaly has largely been solid over this stretch, he hasn’t been blameless either and has been committing mistakes with more regularity, indicating that his head may be elsewhere.
Napoli’s performance against Liverpool was encouraging and could serve as a turning point in their season, but with the tense atmosphere at the club unlikely to change, it could go either way. Despite his immense quality, I would temporarily swap Koulibaly out of my side, especially considering the threat Bologna pose on the counter through Riccardo Orsolini.
Atalanta-Juventus: after producing at an historic pace through the first ten weeks, the Goddess failed to score in their last two matches against Sampdoria and Cagliari. Josip Ilicic and Ruslan Malinovskyi are suspended, but the Slovenian attacker has appealed, but they will get a boost from the return of Duvan Zapata, who is expected to feature at least in limited capacity. He notched six goals in seven appearances before getting hurt. Luis Muriel is no longer red-hot, as he has not found the target in the last three rounds, but he will be again their main scoring option from the jump. Alejandro Gomez is going through something similar, but he always has loads of potential as an assist-man. Mario Pasalic is likely to move to the hole and he can pretty sneaky there. Robin Gosens has been their best wing-back so far, but also Timothy Castagne has hit the net once. Continue reading
Roma-Napoli: the Giallorossi have reached a pretty strong level of consistency and they are starting to recovering pieces, which will further add to their arsenal. Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov have been terrific all year long, Nicolò Zaniolo has started scoring, Justin Kluivert did damage in Udine and even Javier Pastore is starting to look good playing with continuity. Gianluca Mancini has been a stabilyzing presence, allowing the other contributors to focus more on the offense, primarly Jordan Veretout has begun to be more impactful as a playmaker after a slow start at his new club. Diego Perotti and Cengiz Under will likely need some time before being fit enough to receiving considerable playing time. Continue reading
When Maurizio Sarri was first appointed as Juventus boss, many expected Rodrigo Bentancur to benefit greatly. After all, the Uruguayan international is slick in possession and is a classic regista, a position Sarri greatly values. In many ways, he epitomizes everything the veteran manager looks for in a midfielder. However, life under the former Napoli tactician didn’t get off to a great start as Sarri regularly fielded Sami Khedira and Blaise Mautidi alongside Miralem Pjanic, relegating the 22-year-old to the bench. With limited minutes, Bentancur was constrained solely to cameo appearances.
In recent weeks, however, Bentancur has seen his playing time increase and has played the full ninety minutes in consecutive games. Rather than play as the side’s deepest midfielder, Sarri has used the former Boca Junior man as a mezz’ala on the right-hand side of Pjanic. This is a new position for the player as he’s typically used to playing as a number six. In this role, Bentancur often filters in centrally as a regista, giving the Bosnian international the license to roam forward. While on paper he’s fielded as a mezz’ala, Pjanic and Bentancur’s understanding of space means he occupies both positions at times.
Against Lokomotiv Moscow, at first, Bentancur was used as an attacking midfielder behind Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo. When that didn’t work, the Uruguayan international was quickly shifted deeper into midfield, once again, alongside Pjanic.
From a more familiar position, Bentancur regained control and looked way better in possession. Before the season started it seemed it was either Pjanic or Bentancur, however, Sarri has demonstrated he’s willing to use them together given their ability to interchange positions at will.
Tomorrow, Bentancur is expected to start at the heart of midfield against Genoa, after Pjanic picked up a knock in Juventus’ most recent draw against Lecce. As the side’s regista, expect the 22-year-old to dictate play and link the midfield to attack. It will be interesting to see how Bentancur performs in Pjanic’s absence as it will be the first time he plays without the Bosnian this season. Thus far, the duo have formed an unlikely partnership and give Juventus’ midfield some much-needed technique and directness.
With Pjanic on the pitch, Bentancur takes on a more subdued role as opposing defences are focused on the former Roma man. From a wider position in midfield, Bentancur filters in between the lines and is able to carve out space for himself in dangerous areas. Take the Inter game, for example. As Marcelo Brozovic was marking Pjanic for most of the game, Sarri introduced Bentancur to create a numerical advantage in the middle of the park.
Despite playing as a mezz’ala, the Uruguayan midfielder was often in central positions and played a crucial role in Gonzalo Higuain’s winner, providing the assist. With Pjanic in a deeper position, Bentancur played in an advanced role behind the strikers. As Dybala moved freely around the pitch, Inter’s defence struggled to keep track of the bianconeri’s midfielders, leaving Bentancur time and space to find Higuain on the winner.
Against Genoa, however, Bentancur is expected to play the regista role on his own; a challenge he’ll surely welcome. Despite his positive performances in recent weeks, he’s yet to prove he can handle the midfield workload on his own and has struggled in the past when tasked with dictating play.
If Bentancur impresses tomorrow, it will pose Sarri with quite the selection headache moving forward. Either continue using the Uruguayan from a mezz’ala role in tandem with Pjanic, or keep an in-form player on the bench. Remember, there’s also Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi and Adrien Rabiot to account for. In any case, Bentancur’s progress this season is something Juventus will welcome, especially considering their midfield woes.
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Brescia-Inter: Eugenio Corini has had some reservations in using Alfredo Donnarumma and Mario Balotelli together, but Florian Aye, while tactically precious, has not been productive and so the more predictable duo should be the way to go moving forward. However, they have combined for just one goal in the last three matches and they will face one of the best back-lines in the League. Daniele Dessena’s injury ended up hurting Romulo’s fantasy stocks in the short-term, since he is being used as box-to-box, at least until one between Emanuele Ndoj and Jaromir Zmhral manages to unseat Nikolas Spalek, who has not been effective as no.10. Sandro Tonali is coming off his first Serie A goal and constitutes is half of their offense. Continue reading
After a hotly-contested match-day eight and mid-week European clashes, Serie A returns to action tomorrow when Verona take on Sassuolo. The following day Juve and Inter will be in action against Lecce and Parma respectively, while Roma will take on Milan in this weekend’s marquee match-up. Otherwise, Lazio will look to overcome Fiorentina in what promises to be an enthralling affair.
With match-day nine upon us, here are FIVE players you should consider dropping from your fantacalcio side. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Sami Khedira (MID, Juventus, Value 21.2) – After being surprisingly reinstated in the starting eleven by Maurizio Sarri at the start of the season, Khedira has slowed down and has shown signs of fatigue. Most recently, the German looked out of sorts in Juventus’ Champions League game against Lokomotiv Moscow and was subbed out for Gonzalo Higuain, much to his dismay. These substitutions at the hour-mark have typified Khedira’s season and will arguably continue moving forward. After all, Sarri is a creature of habit as demonstrated throughout his Chelsea stint.
As his minutes get further reduced and Adrien Rabiot’s influence in the side grows, expect Khedira to be rotated out of the lineup. At 21.2 million, you can do better.
Alessio Romagnoli (DEF, Milan, Value 25.9) -The Milan defender has been the only bright spot in the rossoneri’s defence, however, that doesn’t change the fact that his side have struggled in their own third. Most recently, Milan conceded two goals against a newly-promoted Lecce side and looked vulnerable throughout the ninety minutes. With the pressure increasing in Casa Milan, it doesn’t look likely that they’ll resolve their issues anytime soon.
As they are set to take on Roma, expect Milan’s defensive woes to continue, especially considering Edin Dzeko’s return from injury. Until Pioli figures out his best shape and best eleven, it might be best to swap out Romagnoli temporarily from your elevens for a low-cost option.
Gervinho (ATT, Parma, Value 25.9) – The former Arsenal man is in relatively decent form to start the season but has since slowed down for Parma in recent weeks with his last goal coming at the beginning of September. Currently, his teammate and assist leader, Dejan Kulusevski, is Parma’s main creator in the final third and has assumed much of the ball possession in the final third.
Considering Gervinho’s dwindling influence in the final third in addition to his hefty price tag, it’s time to swap the Ivorian out of your fantacalcio side immediately. With Inter coming up, it doesn’t look likely that the winger will get on the score-sheet regardless.
Bryan Cristante (MID, Roma, Value 25.7) – Since Paulo Fonseca has assumed the reigns at Trigoria, Cristante has established himself as a set starter and a crucial figure in the double pivot. Unfortunately, the Italian international recently suffered an injury and could miss a couple of months of action for the giallorossi. Given the uncertainty surrounding his fitness and injury concerns, Cristante should be the first player on your chopping block this week.
Despite the injuries, there is no shortage of options for Fonseca in the middle of the park. As a result, expect the veteran tactician to take his time re-integrating Cristante back into his side.
Nicola Sansone (MID, Napoli, Value 21.3) – Eight appearances, zero goals, one assist – 21.3 million. The numbers aren’t great for Sansone and suggest it may be time to transfer him out of your eleven once you’re finished reading this. Initially seen as a low-cost midfield option, Sansone has since failed to deliver on his fantacalcio hype and has been usurped by Bologna teammate Riccardo Orsolini.
The 22-year-old is quite clearly Bologna’s catalyst in the final third and has shown no signs of slowing down. As a result, Sansone has seen less of the ball and will arguably benefit from a spell on the bench. Buyers beware!
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Lazio-Atalanta: the formula for the Biancocelesti never really changes, as Ciro Immobile is going like gangbusters this year, while Luis Alberto has been their second-best player, especially thanks to his playmaking, as he has already provided five assists. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa have both broken the ice, but they have yet to turn into consistent scorers. The ancillary contributors like Manuel Lazzari and Adam Marusic have been stuck in a timeshare, while Senad Lulic’s fantasy appeal is limited.
The Goddess lost Duvan Zapata for some time due to a muscular injury, so it now will have to be Luis Muriel’s time to shine as the primary go-to-guy. He has scored three times in five appearances despite the irregular playing time and, despite the different skillset, they might not take a big hit there. Continue reading
Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri have not been very spectacular in the last two matches against minnows, but they got the job done with the contribution of few different players. Cristiano Ronaldo has shaken off his injury and will be back in this one, Paulo Dybala has outperformed Gonzalo Higuain in the last couple of outings, but the latter is usually closer to the goal. Aaron Ramsey has been pretty good and they could carry on with the tactics where he is heavily featured, but it remains to be seen whether he can play thrice in a row, otherwise Adrien Rabiot or Federico Bernardeschi could get the nod there and reap the benefits of a very offensive role. They have gotten goals from Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi, even though Sami Khedira is generally the midfielder who is most involved in the offense. Juan Cuadrado loses some steam because he is forced to play as right back for the time being. Continue reading
With Juventus taking on Hellas Verona tomorrow, it’s as good a time as any for Maurizio Sarri to rotate his eleven and give the bianconeri’s new arrivals some much-needed playing time.
As the Italian champions debuted with a tough schedule that saw them take on Napoli, Fiorentina and Atletico Madrid in succession, the former Chelsea tactician opted not to ruffle any feathers and stick with Juventus veterans such as Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi among others.
Now with Juventus taking on Hellas Verona, Brescia and SPAL in the coming weeks, Sarri would be wise to rest his starters and look to integrate the new signings. While Matuidi and Khedira haven’t had bad starts to the season by any stretch, they are limited and are currently holding back ‘Sarriball’ from being in full flow.
New arrivals Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot are far more suited to free-flowing football and will benefit from increased playing time in the coming games.
Uruguayan international Rodrigo Bentancur is also expected to feature and has looked impressive in brief cameos thus far. Outside of a revamped midfield, hard-nosed defender Merih Demiral is rumoured to start alongside Leonardo Bonucci.
The Turkish international has patiently waited in the wings and appears more than ready to seize the opportunity. With Giorgio Chiellini out for the foreseeable future, Demiral’s aggression is an asset this Juventus defence desperately craves – as highlighted by their most recent collapse against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
Reports also suggest that Gonzalo Higuain will make way out of the lineup for Paulo Dybala. After a summer linking la Joya away from the club, the former Palermo man opted to stay, rejecting a move to Manchester United. Now with Sarri looking to rotate, it’s time for Dybala to prove himself and demonstrate he has what it takes to play as an outright number nine in the former Napoli tactician’s system.
At Napoli, Dries Mertens played this role to perfection and has a similar skill-set to the Argentine. While the Belgian is arguably a better finisher than Dybala, there’s no reason the Juventus forward can’t get into similar positions as Mertens. While the 25-year-old will be eager to play in more important games, proving himself against Hellas Verona will be a good start after an indifferent season under Allegri. Factor in Higuain’s good form, and it’s clear Dybala has to have a good performance against the newly-promoted side to keep up with his compatriot.
As the season unfolds and Juventus get more comfortable with their new boss, expect to see more and more signs of Sarriball in Turin. Introducing the likes of Dybala, Rabiot and Ramsey – players who are more technical than their direct competitors in their position – will only help in this respect.
As a result, the following weeks are of paramount importance to Sarri and co. Not for the table, but for his playing philosophy. If Juventus wish to play free-flowing football in their coach’s image, the time to buy in is now. On Sarri’s end, it’s time to use Juventus’ deep roster and look for alternatives to the current starters. Starting, of course, with the game against Hellas Verona.
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