Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Nine

Atalanta: Robin Gosens sprained his knee versus Liverpool, but the tests came back clean and he might play through it. Mario Pasalic missed the midweek tilt with a bruised pubic bone, Fabio Depaoli with a thigh pull. Cristian Romero has a sore adductor. Ruslan Malinovskyi and Aleksey Miranchuk are out with COVID.

Benevento: Gaetano Letizia is likely to feature despite some knee pain, while Daam Foulon could be back after sitting out one because of few knocks. Nicolas Viola and Iago Falque are iffy because of lack of fitness. Brayan Dabo has Coronavirus. Continue reading

Improving Inzaghi proves a point as Lazio rotate their way to eight-game unbeaten run

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If anyone deserves a bit of festive cheer, it’s Simone Inzaghi.

It’s remarkable that the Biancocelesti boss has any of those luscious locks left on his head and hasn’t torn them out in frustration by now, because even by the standards of this most unpredictable and disrupted of seasons, he’s had a rough ride.

The 44-year-old came in for some criticism when Serie A returned after lockdown last season, as his side slipped from one point off top to fourth place.

He struggled to effectively rotate his squad and manage the energy levels of his key players as Lazio’s form nosedived.

Continue reading

Serie A Probable Lineups – Round Nine

SASSUOLO-INTER

Sassuolo (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Toljan, Chiriches, Ferrari, Rogerio; Locatelli, Lopez; Berardi, Djuricic, Boga; Raspadori.

Potential lineup changes: Ayhan for Toljan, Marlon for Chiriches, Traore for Djuricic.

Likely bench options: Traore, Muldur, Kyriakopoulos.

Probable: Chiriches, Berardi, Djuricic.

Ruled out: Romagna (knee), Caputo (thigh), Defrel (thigh), Ricci, Haraslin (COVID).  Continue reading

Mkhitaryan in the form of his life as Roma go 3rd with third win in a row

There were no problems for Roma who went 3rd in the league as they beat Parma 3-0 for the 3rd win in a row in Serie A.

Paulo Fonseca’s side were ruthless as they scored all of their goals in the first half, having 5 shots on target alone in that period. Parma had to make do with having 1 shot on target for the whole match.

The plaudits will once again be paid to Henrikh Mkhitaryan who scored 2 goals, and a few weeks ago scored a hat trick. The player is on fire and is obviously enjoying himself.

With his 2 goals Mkhitaryan earned 10 points at the weekend in the fantasy rankings and he now has a total of 38. This total is enough to make him currently the best player in the rankings for Serie A.

So far this season Roma have scored 19 goals and Mkhitaryan has been involved in 9 of them, scoring 5 and assisting in a further 4.

The opening goal in the Parma game came after 28 minutes after some lovely work from Leonardo Spinazzola. His reverse clever pass found Borja Mayoral unmarked in the area and tucked away with precision. That was Mayoral’s first goal of the season and also Spinnazola’s first assist.

Minutes later it was 2-0 and this was a belter. Mkhitaryan picked up a bouncing loose ball on the edge of the area and thumped it home. Then just a few minutes after that it was 3-0, this goal again for Mkhitaryan won’t be remembered as was just a simple tap in.

Roma may have been left frustrated in the second half as no further goals developed but they had done their job early on and earned the three points. With the club in 3rd place they are just 3 points behind AC Milan.

Paulo Fonseca happy with Roma’s performance

“We put in an excellent performance, especially in the first half, as we scored three goals and could’ve had quite a few more. I think the team played well, in the second half we controlled the situation and still created more chances to find the net. I always said Mkhitaryan is a great professional who can do well in various different roles, so I am not surprised by what he’s doing. The team is feeling confident. It’s true Edin Dzeko is very important to us, but it’s also important to see that the team maintains its identity despite changing numerous players.”

Roma prepare for Cluj and receive fantastic boost

Roma will play Cluj in the Europa League on Thursday evening and the club received some good news. Striker Edin Dzeko has been passed fit to play in the game. It was initially thought that he would miss this one and instead make his comeback from injury against Napoli at the weekend.

It is expected that Dzeko will start from the bench and play at least 20 minutes of the game to get his fitness levels up before the Napoli match.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Nine – Remaining Games

LAZIO-UDINESE

Lazio: Ciro Immobile did it again in Crotone, and then versus Zenit, and is fixing his numbers after a subpar start compared to last year’s ungodly stats. He is now up to seven goals in eight appearances, plus two assists. Joaquin Correa finally made it to the stat-sheet in a Serie A game, while Luis Alberto did not look particularly affected by the recent controversy, but he rarely scores and quite stunningly has yet to dish an assist. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is expected to return after COVID and he has done his part by scoring twice out of the midfield. Immobile’s return de-emphasizes both Felipe Caicedo and Vedat Muriqi, but the former does not need many minutes to punish goalkeepers. Marco Parolo hit the net after ages in Champions League. Nobody has really popped among their wingbacks lately. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Nine – Top Matches

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Sassuolo: the Neroverdi were actually pretty opportunistic against Verona, as they did not create all that much, but still found the target twice. The major development is that Jeremie Boga resurfaced in a big way with a terrific goal, his first of the season after dealing with COVID, and he is poised to resume being the weapon he was last year, when he notched 11 goals and two assists was uncatchable. Domenico Berardi continues to heap misery on the opponents as he scored his fourth goal of the season and provided his third helper. Filip Djuricic was not great in his first game back, but he obviously deserves some slack and he was splendid before contracting Coronavirus. Francesco Caputo will be questionable this week as well and his replacement Giacomo Raspadori has not done damage in relief. Manuel Locatelli and Maxime Lopez have been quieter since their offensive linchpins returned, while Rogerio is their peppier fullback. Continue reading

Serie A Matchday 9: Preview, what to watch, and more!

The new Serie A season has not disappointed, with Stefano Pioli’s Milan taking the league by storm. The Rossoneri have not been the only team to shock the calcio world, as Sassuolo’s rapid rise to prominence has them within two points of first place, off the back of an unbeaten start. Paulo Fonseca’s Roma is slowly coming together and would be unbeaten, had it not been for an administrative error condemning them to forfeit against Hellas Verona.

In any case, matchday nine is upon us and presents some intriguing matchups. Without further ado, here’s what to watch out for:

1) Are Sassuolo legit? 

The Neroverdi are off to an incredible start to the season, maintaining an unbeaten record after eight matchdays, including an impressive 2-0 over Napoli. Roberto De Zerbi’s men have thrown their names into the conversation in Itay alla Atalanta and continue to emerge as this season’s surprise package. Their recent success comes with one question mark: Can they replicate their success as their schedule gets harder?

Sassuolo has won five of its eight encounters thus far, with four of their wins coming against Spezia, Bologna, Crotone, and Hellas Verona. While you can only beat the sides in front of you, they may be rocked back to earth shortly. This weekend De Zerbi’s men host Inter, a clash that will serve as a good litmus test for their top-four credentials. They will then take on Roma the week after. If they can get two positive results, it is safe to say they’re legit.

2) Can a Zlatan-less Milan get it done? 

Milan’s recent resurgence has been nothing short of remarkable, with the Rossoneri emerging as one of Europe’s hottest teams since the lockdown. Pioli’s men are flying high in first place and have shown no signs of slowing down. Led by the indomitable Ibrahimovic, Milan has picked up from where they left off last season, with six wins and two draws in eight games.

The big Swede has led the line with great aplomb and most recently fired his side to an important victory with a brace against Napoli. Ibrahimovic currently tops the scoring charts with 10 goals in six appearances but has since been sidelined with a thigh injury. The initial prognosis has ruled him out from Milan’s upcoming game against Fiorentina, begging the question: Can a Zlatan-less Milan get it done?

We’ll have our answer Sunday morning when Pioli’s men take the pitch against la Viola.

3) Are Roma title contenders? 

This question is often asked about Roma after their hot starts to the new season, with the Giallorossi eventually disappointing. But this season feels different. Roma is in fine form right now and surging up the table with convincing wins. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has rolled back the years, Jordan Veretout is doing his thing from the spot, Pedro has impressed and countless budding talents have stepped up.

In a year unlike any other, Roma might just have what it takes to go all the way and contend. Juve remains a side in transition and the Giallorossi have shown they can compete with them. Milan has emerged as the anti-Juve until now, but their depth in the long run is concerning.

Roma takes on Napoli this weekend and will then shift its attention to Sassuolo: Much like it is the case for the Neroverdi, Roma’s next two games will be highly indicative of where they will finish this season. If they can get two wins, or at the very least four points, you would be foolish to write them off.

Then again, don’t get your hopes too high just yet as the wheels might just fall off. A prospect many Giallorossi fans have come to terms with.

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Inter hit Torino for 4 as Antonio Conte’s men prepare for Real Madrid

What a game we witnessed at the San Siro as Inter came back from 2-0 down to beat Torino 4-2. The win has moved Inter up to 5th place and this was the clubs 4th unbeaten game in a row.

It is of course incredible to think that an encounter which featured six goals only had one in the first half and that came by the way of Simeone Zaza’s strike in injury time of the first half. Some nice one two interplay on the edge of the box led up to the goal. In truth it was hard for Inter to complain as they had been sluggish in the first half and Torino were the better team, indeed at home Inter had only managed one shot on target up until then.

The objectives for the second half were crystal clear for Inter and that was to pull a goal back as soon as possible. But again it was a stop start procedure to the game in the early exchanges of the second half which saw both Alessandro Bastoni and Ashley Young booked within 15 minutes of each other. But it was Young’s yellow card that counted more as he committed a foul on Torino’s Wilfried Singo. Though it was never intentional Young’s foot caught Singo in the chest and a penalty was awarded. Cristian Ansaldi made no mistakes from the spot and Inter were losing 2-0 with less than 30 minutes left.

However the key to the comeback was Inter scoring just two minutes after the penalty. Some good build up play saw Romelu Lukaku hit the bar, but a scramble in the area afterwards saw the ball fall to Alexis Sanchez who scored his first goal of the season for the Italian giants.

With Torino’s defence now being opened up at will Sanchez crossed the ball for Lukaku who simply couldn’t miss from what looked like to be inches out. Inter had pulled back to 2-2 in the space of three minutes and the visitors looked shell shocked.

By this time Lautaro Martinez and Ivan Perisic were brought on to bolster attack and the message was clear, Inter were going in for all three points. With just six minutes of the game left Torino gave away a needless penalty which Lukaku made no mistakes of tucking away. Inter were now leading 3-2 from 2-0 down and that was the Belgian’s seventh goal of the season so far.

A fourth was on its way and Lukaku who had a terrific second half was unselfish to lay the ball off for Martinez to score his first goal of the game rather than Lukaku going for his hat trick. A once nightmare of a game ended up being a dream for Inter who showed a lot of character to come through a difficult moment.

Antonio Conte’s thoughts on the Torino game

“I didn’t like the first half, as we basically didn’t play. I hope this can serve as a wake-up call, so we realise it’s a tough slog and we need to dig deep to make it as difficult as possible for our opponents. Too often, we either haven’t done that at all or done it too late.” Said Conte.

Conte added: “What changed in the final half-hour was the ferocity of our pressing. If you do pressing slowly, going through the motions, it won’t do anything. You need ferocity and the desire to work hard and win the ball back immediately. We scored four goals after that and could’ve had a few more.”

Next up Real Madrid in the Champions League

Attentions now turn to a huge game where Inter will face Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage match to be played at San Siro. These two teams have won the Champions League in the last decade five times between them. When the clubs met a few weeks ago in the reverse fixture the game ended 3-2 to Real.

If Inter lose this game they could be in real danger of not qualifying for the knock out rounds and come into this match in last place in their group with 2 points. Borussia Monchengladbach lead the group with 5 points which presently remains tight, but Inter really need a win to put them back in the mix.

 

Inter players fantasy points update

Romelu Lukaku was the star turn for Inter in the fantasy rankings and earned 12 points against Torino. Alexis Sanchez earned 6 and Lautaro Martinez took home 4 points.

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Juventus Top Performers – Champions League home game vs Ferencvaros

Juventus tried to jog their way past a very scrappy Ferencvaros that defended with great organization and energy throughout the whole game, also adding some interesting counter-attacks. The lack of effort was almost costly, but the Bianconeri ultimately succeeded when the hopes appeared to have vanished thanks to another Champions League by Alvaro Morata.

Matthijs De Ligt: the return of the Dutch startler has fixed a lot of things in the defence, even though they were unable to keep the clean sheet in this one due to a rather random goal where Alex Sandro and Danilo defended too non-chalantly and Wojciech Szczesny just read the trajectory of the shot all wrong. Danilo, who was tidy beyond that, then redeemed himself late with a gorgeous long-ball for the sprinting Juan Cuadrado ahead of the game-winning goal. Continue reading

Serie Best Fantasy XI – Round Eight

Ivan Provedel (7 points): it was a pretty good showing for defenses, like in the last round before the break, as six of them managed to keep a clean sheet, two in the same game (Spezia-Atalanta). The Aquilotti’s goalkeeper was by far the busiest in the weekend and shined in particular on a pair of monster saves on point-blank attempts by Robin Gosens.

Merih Demiral (7 points): his partnership with the returning Matthijs De Ligt worked just fine against Cagliari as Juventus blanked the opponents, plus he put his overwhelming physicality to good use on set pieces in the opposing box, rattling the crossbar in one occasion and setting up Cristiano Ronaldo’s tap-in in another one. Continue reading