Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 32

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Juventus: Blaise Matuidi subbed off against Ajax due to a calf problem, but the injury is not believed to be severe. Emre Can (ankle) and Giorgio Chiellini (calf) will sit Saturday’s game too but they are not distant from returning. Juan Cuadrado is back after knee surgery, while Douglas Costa suffered a new calf problem. Miralem Pjanic, Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo have not been called up for rest purposes.

Napoli: Simone Verdi was scatched late for the previous match due to muscle fatigue, but he was called up for the London trip. Raul Albiol (knee) and Amadou Diawara will miss another one, but at least of them could be back next week.

Inter: Marcelo Brozovic suffered a pull of the semitendinosus muscle in the right pull and will miss the Frosinone game and perhaps one more after that. Lautaro Martinez and Stefan De Vrij are set to be called up after being sidelined by thigh ailments. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 31


Juventus: Mario Mandzukic (flu), Paulo Dybala (calf) and Leonardo Spinazzola (knee) have recovered from their problems, while Cristiano is sitll out. Sami Khedira, Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado have ramped up their activity and are close to returning, but they will not be called up in this round. Martin Caceres will miss three weeks with a thigh strain.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne is said to have almost recuperated from his thigh contracture and could be in the squad list in this round. David Ospina (head), Faouzi Ghoulam and Vlad Chiriches (thigh) should be in the squad in list, while Raul Albiol is not far away.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 24


Juventus-Frosinone: the Bianconeri quickly bounced back in Sassuolo after the 3-3 draw with Parma and have won four times in the last five fixtures, fortifying their lead in the standings. The Ciociari have been pesky recently and they are coming off a surprise win over Sampdoria, their second in a row on the road, and they are now within striking distance from the 17th spot. With Champions League just around the corner, Cristiano Ronaldo might be rested for the second time in Serie A, which would mean more scoring opportunities for Mario Mandzukic, Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala, or whoever will compose the front-line. Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 2

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Juventus: Mattia De Sciglio is out again with a hamstring ailment.

Napoli: Alex Meret remains out for arm fracture, he should miss the next one as well. No issue for Lorenzo Insigne after last week’s blow to the knee. Fabian Ruis is out with muscle fatigue.

Roma: Diego Perotti is nursing a bruised ankle, but he might be in the squad.

Inter: Milan Skriniar is available, Radja Nainggolan should be as well, but he is more likely to feature off the bench. Continue reading

Torino preparing for a challenging Belotti-less run


On Sunday, Andrea Belotti left the pitch on a stretcher with a knee injury at the 82nd minute: Torino were up 2-0 against Hellas Verona and had already used the three substitutions, so they finished the game in ten men. The Scaligeri ended up tying the game thanks to a dubious Moise Kean’s goal and a penalty. Both circumstances were kind of fitting to underline how important Belotti is. Later tests revealed that Belotti avoided the dreaded ACL tear, but still sprained his MCL. He will not need surgery, but he will be sidelined him for four weeks, as per Torino’s official statement. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the recovery might take a little longer and he could be out until mid-November. The Rooster has had a good start of the season: he has tallied three goals in seven Serie A matches, adding two more in Coppa Italia. Torino are in sixth place in the standings.

Last season, Torino struggled in the three occasions they were forced to play without the star centre-forward. He suffered a minor injury with Italy and missed two games early: they lost to Atalanta and drew a goalless against Empoli, scoring only once in that span, thanks to a Iago Falque free kick. He was suspended for Bologna-Torino later in the year and the Granata were defeated two-nil.

Torino have let Maxi Lopez go this summer, they do have a deeper roster but there is no readymade solution for the absence of their emotional leader. After flirting with the idea of adding another strong striker that could team up with Belotti upfront, such as Duvan Zapata, they settled on Umar Sadiq as backup centre-forward. Sadiq is a very different player from Belotti, much taller and more physical: he struggled with injuries in the loan spell at Bologna, recording only 230 minutes and failing to score. He never really managed to threat Mattia Destro’s spot. He has scored twice in the six Serie A matches with Roma: he was a force in the youth system, especially during his time with Spezia, but so far he has not managed to assert himself in the pros.

Even if that is the easiest route, Sinisa Mihajlovic sometimes struggles to trust the youngsters and the task is massive in this case. The first option will probably be to rely on M’baye Niang as lone striker: the former Milan player has had a poor start in Piedmont, but has found the first seasonal goal in last game. He is not a pure centre-forward, but he has showed the ability to play centrally with Genoa and Milan. With the Grifone, he scored five goals in 19 games in 2014/2015, when he was primarily used in a similar position, and earned a return at Milan. The following season, he logged five goals and five assists with the Rossoneri as a second-striker in an injury-plagued year. He was used as a forward also at Montpellier. He does not have Belotti’s muscularity and tenacity, but his quickness could still be menacing.

Using Niang centrally will open up some minutes on the left in their 4-2-3-1. They signed Alex Berenguer from Osasuna this summer, but they were not totally satisfied with him in the early games and opted to add Niang on that flank. A very technical player, he might be a little too defensive and passive for the coach’s liking, but could improve over time. They have kept the youngster Simone Edera after a stint at Parma in the third league where he did not feature much, but he impressed Mihajlovic in the preseason: another speedster, he could earn himself some valuable minutes. Lucas Boye has just returned from an injury and the fact that he was here last season puts him on top of the pecking order: a winger in a center-forward body, he collected thirty appearances in 2016/2017, scoring once and assisting twice. He has impressive technique and dribbling skills and could be another option centrally as he was deployed there with Newell’s Old Boys.

In the next few games, Torino will face Crotone, Roma, Fiorentina, Cagliari and Inter. No matter who is chosen to replace him, a lot more will be asked to Adem Ljajic and Iago Falque, who started the season well but will need to take a further step forward. If things go awry, Mihajlovic could decide to bolster the midfield and revert back to 4-3-3, moving Ljajic to the flank, or even opting for a false-nine as a hail mary. There are some very demanding games ahead for Torino and their success, or lack thereof, without Belotti will set the tone for the rest of their season.

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