Serie A Predictions – Round 16

Brescia-Lecce: the Rondinelle returned to winning ways after a long time last week against SPAL, while Lecce have notched yet another draw against Genoa, the sixth one in the past eight rounds. That could be the case again considering their solidity on the road: tie.

Napoli-Parma: the Partenopei brought in Gennaro Gattuso to try to find a spark after seven winless fixtures (five draws, two losses) and the potential is certainly there to go on a run, but they need to pull it together. The Ducali got the W versus Sampdoria last week and have been good on the road recently, but the new coach’s bump could be in full effect here: home win.

Genoa-Sampdoria: three ties in the past four matches for the Griffon, which left something on the table, but the same could be said for the Blucerchiati, who are coming off two unlucky losses against Cagliari and Parma after a positive stretch: draw.

Verona-Torino: three L in the past four contests for Verona in a rough stretch of the schedule (Inter, Roma, Atalanta). The Granata are in strong form with three wins in the last four and might keep it going, even though the Scaligeri will have some manpower back for this one, as they have been able to pick on the minnows: road win.

Bologna-Atalanta: the Felsinei fought but lost to Milan last week after collecting four points in their previous two outings. The Bergamaschi could be spent after the Champions League feat but have excelled on the road and prevailed in their last two: road win.

Juventus-Udinese: it is hard to imagine the Old Lady going three games without winning, especially considering that they are facing a lowly opponent that has struggled on the road (five losses). Home win.

Milan-Sassuolo: the Rossoneri have not looked super duper great but have won in their two most recent fixtures, over Parma and Bologna away. However, the Neroverdi have been beaten only by Lazio in their last five matches and held Juventus and Cagliari to a tie in their last two: draw.

Roma-SPAL: the Giallorossi have prevailed in five of their last sevem games, dropping points against Parma and Inter. The Estensi have not won since early October and were almost always upended on the road: home win.

Fiorentina-Inter: four straight defeats for La Viola, against Cagliari, Verona, Lecce and Torino, and there is a lot on the line for Vincenzo Montella. The Benamata tied with Roma at home last week and is coming off a major disappointment in Champions League, but they have come out on top all the time away: road win.

Cagliari-Lazio: the Sardinians found a way to not lose in the last two, keeping their streak alive, but they look ripe for a loss and the hottest team in the League might hand it to them: road win.

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Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 16

Wojciech Szczesny: the Juventus back-line has not been stout in the last two matches, allowing multiple goals for the first time this season, but they might be able to rectify things in the Udinese clash, since the opponents are tied for the least goals scored in the season. The goalie instead has been superb so far.

Aleksandar Kolarov: he has not scored or assisted in five straight rounds, which is odd for him, and he could be due to bounce back in a plum match-up against SPAL. Since Gianluca Mancini is suspended and Chris Smalling is banged up, he is slated to be Roma’s most appealing defender versus a team that has found the target just once in away matches. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 16

Napoli-Parma: there is great curiosity to see what immediate changes Gennaro Gattuso will bring to the table. In his introductory presser, he hinted that he is going to use 4-3-3, which would lead to few duels up front. The first order of business will have to be reviving Lorenzo Insigne, who has not fared well in a long time, while Dries Mertens is in a domestic slump but has done some damage in Europe. Arkadiusz Milik came back midweek and he looked like a million bucks and he was en fuego before getting injured. He should be front and center in the new project. The new tactic would see José Callejon and Hirving Lozano alternate and the Mexican winger has abated after a decent stretch. It would give Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz more freedom and the Polish midfielder finally broke through last week. Giovanni Di Lorenzo is trending back up after a period of lull.

Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – UCL Round 6 vs Leverkusen

Juventus turned a good shift in despite the lack of real objective in the Bayer Leverkusen clash and did their coach a solid by extending his undefeated streak in Europe.

Danilo: granted it was not the most challenging test, all the reserves in the back showed well in their own right. Merih Demiral put his explosiveness to good use with a pair of flashy slides and constantly forestalling his opponents, Daniele Rugani had some very good reads and Mattia De Sciglio stayed away from the usual blunders and started the decisive action by nutmegging an opponent. A very diligent all-around performance that allowed Gianluigi Buffon to be called into action just once. Danilo put in a consistent effort in both phases and added and bust out some quality incursions, passes and longballs.  Continue reading

Napoli dismiss Ancelotti and appoint Gattuso

Despite punching their ticket to the next Champions League save with a commanding win over Genk on Wednesday, Napoli have decided to sack Carlo Ancelotti as the team has been in disarray for over two months. They have not won the last seven Serie A rounds and have dropped to seven in the standings, eight points below the top four. The manager had refused to step down immediately following the tilt. Late on Wednesday, they announced the hiring of Gennaro Gattuso on a six-month contract plus an option second season.

Besides some lackadaisical performances of the pitch, which led to disappointing ties with SPAL, Genoa, Milan and Udinese and defeats versus Roma and Bologna, the club has been in turmoil behind the scenes. Continue reading

Pjanic and Sarri rally the troops before Leverkusen clash

Miralem Pjanic and Maurizio Sarri talked to the press late on Tuesday ahead of the Bayer Leverkusen game, mostly discussing the team’s poor form: “This is a different competition compared to Serie A, we take it game after game and we carry with us the confidence we accumulated in the previous one. It is important to play well, we will try to win in order to gear up for the next domestic match. We will face a nice team that can still go through. It will not be easy, but we are prepared.” Continue reading

Bologna 2-3 AC Milan: Tops and flops for the Rossoneri

AC Milan claimed all three points away at Bologna on Sunday evening, building on the important win against Parma. For the Rossoneri, it was only the second time this season that they have won two consecutive games, which certainly says a lot about their season so far. 

Finally, Stefano Pioli’s men converted their chances, showing great improvement from the clash against Parma. However, there was still a bit of drama as Bologna somehow managed to score two goals, both of which were very silly from Milan’s point of view. As many would agree, the scoreline didn’t do the Rossoneri’s performance justice. Continue reading

Serie A Best Fantasy XI – Round 15

Luigi Sepe (7 points): just four clean sheets in this round and two of the goalie combined that with a key save on a penalty, Parma’s one and Brescia’s Jesse Joronen. However, the Finnish international was also booked, so the unheralded #1 of the Ducali gets the nod by default. Antonio Mirante had a terrific outing in relief, denying two clear-cut attempts by Lautaro Martinez and Matias Vecino with superb dives and one-handed saves.

Cristian Ansaldi (6 points): Torino conceded late, but Ansaldi still paced all defenders with his contribution on the other end, as he set up Simone Zaza’s goal with a great cross after a delightful action down the left wing and scored in the second half by picking his way to the box centrally and slotting it home from just outside of it. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Atalanta vs Verona

In a round that featured Inter-Roma and Lazio-Juventus, the most entertaining match naturally ended up being Atalanta-Verona, but few were in the running since the weekend was jam-packed of action and goals.

The Goddess came into the game having snapped an unsatisfactory four-game stretch with a drubbing of Brescia last week, while Verona, which are in the midst of an intricate part of the schedule, had lost to Inter and Roma and won versus Fiorentina in the past three fixtures. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Round – Lazio

Just two shut-out, but narrow wins in this round, by Brescia and Parma and there was not really any commanding display, as the teams that appeared on track for that ended up suffering a comeback. Therefore, the coveted award goes to club that garnered the best W of the weekend and therefore inevitably Lazio, which sunk Juventus for the first time this season.

The Biancocelesti had prevailed six times in a row entering the fixture and were looking to separate themselves from Roma, which had equalized the day before against Inter, and cement their third spot in the standings. Filippo Inzaghi trotted out his best XI, picking Luiz Felipe over Bastos in the back in the only duel. Continue reading