Four reasons Lazio still have much to play for in Serie A finale

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A wild and wonderful Lazio season comes to an end on Saturday when they travel south to face Coppa Italia holders Napoli.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side have nothing but pride left to play for in the league, as they are guaranteed to finish seventh regardless of the result.

On the face of it, Lazio have little on the line either. They can still finish anywhere between second or fourth, but a Champions League spot is guaranteed either way.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find a few reasons to get excited about the climactic moment of a memorable campaign for the Biancocelesti.

Ciro Immobile’s quest for history Continue reading

How might Lazio solve their striker emergency against AC Milan?

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The phrase ‘selection headache’ gets thrown around a lot in football journalism.

But it wouldn’t be a great surprise if the puzzle facing Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi on Saturday has had him reaching for the paracetamol.

The capital club came from behind to win for the second game in a row against Torino on Tuesday night, a result that kept Serie A leaders Juventus just four points away.

But their efforts came at a price, as strike partners Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo picked up bookings that ruled them out of Saturday’s clash with AC Milan at the Stadio Olimpico through suspension. Continue reading

Serie A Round 26 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Up

Serie A round 25 was trimmed down and cut short of a full slate of matches with the recent coronavirus crisis hitting various parts of Italy, so there wasn’t much to recap from last weekend apart from a few fixtures.

Lorenzo Insigne and Fabian Ruiz goals were enough to give Napoli the tight 1-2 win away vs. Brescia, while Juventus pulled out the same result in their 1-2 victory away to SPAL thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo‘s 11th straight match finding the back of the net.

Milan left the Stadio Artemio Franchi with a sour taste in their mouths as officiating controversy forced them to settle on a 1-1 draw against 10-man Fiorentina. As for the two Roman sides Roma and Lazio, both picked up victories with main hitmen Edin Dzeko and Ciro Immobile grabbing goals for themselves.

Let’s take a look at who you should be watching this weekend for your fantacalcio rosters. Continue reading

Gennaro Gattuso showing signs of growth at Napoli

From coaching under immense financial hardship at Crete and leading Pisa to Serie B promotion to taking up one of football’s most difficult bench jobs at former club Milan and missing out on a UEFA Champions League spot by one point, Gennaro Gattuso has experienced more than the average boss at just 42. His coaching career to date has been a roller-coaster, the kind where you have everyone sending mixed signals on how frightening it can be and how you contemplate stepping out of line to sit it out. But for the fierce Calabrese general, he has never been the one to turn back and run away from his battles. Instead, he has always stared his fears square in the eyes, no matter the circumstances.

When Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis came calling for the Italian to replace Carlo Ancelotti last December, a man he holds in high regard, another new challenge awaited him at the Casa Volturno training ground. Aware of what he was stepping into upon putting pen to paper and accepting the job of bringing balance at the San Paolo, Gattuso knew if he was to succeed in this new role, his group were going to have to fight, sacrifice and spit blood to revitalize the Partenopei.

Initially, Gattuso seemed in over his head, failing to disguise his flaws and those of the current squad this season, losing 4 of 5 in the league and falling into the bottom half of the table. However, he has completely reversed this downward spiral, winning 7 of 10 in all competitions, including wins over Juventus, Lazio and Inter – the latter two which have them one result away from clinching a Coppa Italia berth.

Throughout this stretch, Gattuso has been able to elevate those who were otherwise fumbling and struggling for form under Ancelotti, including Spanish international Fabian Ruiz.

The 23-year old broke out in a big way in his first season at the club, eventually earning regular runs in the starting XI after moving from strength to strength and having a tremendous impact. Yet, too often he was used in areas under Ancelotti where his best talents failed to shine through. Recently though, he has found the magic wand of a left foot he wields and the vision to split lines which has put him back on track as one of Italy’s brightest midfield players, something which will certainly sound the alarms for clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona who have been linked extensively with a summer move for the ex-Real Betis man.

Newcomer Diego Demme, who has seemingly taken Allan’s starting spot after the Brazilian came under criticism of Gattuso after his training approach failed to meet expectations, is also providing the kind of balance in the midfield that frees up Ruiz and Piotr Zielinski to have a real say in attacking areas.

But Gattuso’s impact has sparked more than just a few, with his presence having a trickle down effect on the entire squad who are not only putting in solid collective efforts, but also buying into the way their new boss wishes to perform with the ‘grinta’ for which he personified throughout his own career. Now that he has his squad fighting and willing to get their hands dirty, Gattuso has shown improvement in the tactical aspects of his job, just as we saw in the 1-1 draw with Barcelona.

His 4-1-4-1 operated by design, allowing Napoli to play with numbers behind the ball as Barcelona expectedly held the upper-hand in possession and strike the Catalans on the rare counter-attack just as Dries Mertens did. Many will argue Napoli hunkered down and absorbed too much, and preferred to have been the aggressor as Barcelona’s been susceptible to getting split open on many occasions this season. Nonetheless, it was a solid tactical display from a manager whose main critics have always lamented his limitations and it is a result that suggests he can do more than motivate.

Gattuso has never been one for excuses. He has always honestly addressed the media and never deflects blame onto his players. There is accountability, ownership of any wayward results and off-kilter performances. He demands professionalism, and equal commitment to the cause. As a result of this, he has won over the Napoli fans and is beginning to get the best out of an underachieving squad who are now working to correct the wrongs of the earlier season to get back where they need to be amongst the Serie A elites.

Is he tactically limited? Perhaps. Does he have the CV of a top coach or one that proves he can hold down a job? No. Does his football style look pedestrian at times? Certainly. But is he evolving as a manager in this game? We think so.

How well do you know Italian football? Do you want to battle the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

Serie A Round 25 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Up

We are back with another round of Serie A football this weekend, which means it is also time for you to start sorting out your fantacalcio rosters to ensure you stay on track in your leagues. But, before we get into all that, let’s briefly recap the previous round!

Lecce continued their climb out from the bottom of the table with a big 2-1 win over SPAL, while Genoa’s 3-0 victory over Bologna will surely help their own cause for survival.

After falling behind from an Edin Dzeko goal, Atalanta reversed the tie and managed to pull two back through Jose Luis Palomino and Mario Pasalic to hand Roma a 2-1 defeat.

Juventus returned to winning ways at home without Cristiano Ronaldo as Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado led the club to a 2-0 result over Brescia. Fiorentina thrashed Sampdoria 1-5, Napoli squeaked on past Cagliari 0-1 and Lazio moved into second place with a thrilling 2-1 win at home over Inter.

Alright, now let’s get into why you are all here with our five players to consider adding to your fantacalcio squads ahead of round 25. Continue reading

What to Watch for in Serie A: Round 24

Can you believe we are headed into round 24 of the 2019/20 Serie A season? Neither can we.

For this set of fixtures, there is no shortage of action coming our way. Here, we provide you with what you should be watching for in this weekend of calcio.  Continue reading

Serie A Round 24 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Up

Can you believe we are headed into round 24 of the 2019/20 Serie A season? Neither can we. Let’s briefly recap what happened on the peninsula last weekend.

Once again, Roma were stunned as Bologna came into their own yard and handed them a 2-3 defeat with Riccardo Orsolini and Musa Barrow delivering the big blows in this one. As for Atalanta, they overturned a deficit and managed to pull out a 1-2 win over Fiorentina at the Franchi, climbing back into 4th place.

Torino’s struggles continued as Fabio Quagliarella and his Samp came away victorious by the scoreline of 1-3. The Granata’s local rivals Juventus also fell on the day as Fabio Borini and Giampaolo Pazzini goals cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo’s 20th strike on the season to send the Bianconeri into second.

Jeremie Boga put on another clinic as Sassuolo found a way to win away to SPAL 1-2, while Gianluca Lapadula’s brace saw Lecce topple Napoli 2-3 in Naples.

For Sunday’s finale, Inter and Milan opened up another chapter in their Derby della Madonnina history at the San Siro. A tale of two halves, the Nerazzurri managed to erase a 2-0 deficit create by Ante Rebic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic by putting in four second half goals to complete the 4-2 comeback to reclaim possession of first place.

Here are five players to add to your fantacalcio roster ahead of the weekend. Continue reading

Five Breakout Serie A Stars Non-Calcio Fans Should Know About

2019/20 has been a year full of surprises. From the three horse title race to the wide open chase for the coveted Europa League spots, fans have been blessed with plenty this season to savor. But, in between everything transpiring in the league table, it has truly been an exciting time for breakout stars to come to the forefront, enter the limelight and make a real name for themselves in a league already brimming with talent. Even more so than earning domestic recognition is how these rising stars are gaining notoriety across the continent.

Here are five of the best breakout stars non-calcio fans should become acquainted with. Continue reading

Serie A Round 23 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Up

We are back with more of the expert fantacalcio content you crave ahead of Serie A matchday 23 in Italy. But, before we get into everything you need to gain the advantage in your respective leagues, let’s briefly recap what happened last weekend on the peninsula.

Riccardo Orsolini and Bologna sunk Brescia late 2-1 to get things rolling on the weekend, while Cagliari and Parma played out to a 2-2 draw in a match filled with Europa League implications.

Sassuolo dealt Roma the biggest shock of the round when Francesco Caputo and Jeremie Boga smashed the Roman side 4-2 at home.

On Sunday, when the majority of the matches were held, it was Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus who cruised to a 3-0 win over Fiorentina in Turin. Atalanta and Genoa split the spoils in a 2-2 stalemate, opening the door up for Milan to chip away at that gap separating them and 4th – but to no avail as the Rossoneri had to settle on a 1-1 draw against 10 man Verona at home.

Lecce went full throttle on Torino 4-0, Lazio mashed SPAL 5-1 and Inter returned to winning form by the score of 0-2 over Udinese.

Now, we take a look at the five players you should consider adding to your fantasy roster this weekend. Continue reading

Serie A Round 22 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Up

Ciao ragazzi! We are back to deliver more of the fantacalcio content you love and need ahead of round 22 Serie A action on the peninsula, but let’s briefly recap what happened last weekend.

AC Milan grinded out a 0-1 win over Brescia on the road, with super-sub Ante Rebic delivering yet again off the bench the decisive goal to seal the victory.

Atalanta thrashed Torino 0-7 on Saturday, with Josip Iličić stealing the show with an impressive hat-trick that included a goal from near midfield.

Radja Nainggolan returned to the San Siro to face his former club Inter, scoring a goal later in the second half to give Cagliari a point in a 1-1 draw. Roma and Lazio also played out to a 1-1 stalemate in their latest Derby della Capitale, with Thomas Strakosha and Pau Lopez each committing regretful errors which led to goals.

In the weekend finale, Napoli stunned league leaders Juventus with a 2-1 win at the San Paolo. Lorenzo Insigne and Piotr Zielinski each found the back of the net which held up in the end despite Cristiano Ronaldo striking for the eighth straight match.

Here are our five players to consider adding this week in fantacalcio. Continue reading