Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 38

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Juventus: Blaise Matuidi and Federico Bernardeschi are suspended, while Joao Cancelo and Mario Mandzukic both fractured their nose in the same week and are unavailable for Sunday. Alex Sandro is dealing with a rib contusion. Douglas Costa (calf), Mattia Perin (shoulder) and Sami Khedira (knee) remain sidelined as expected. Cristiano Ronaldo will be rested, while Wojciech Szczesny has suffered a knee injury.

Napoli: Allan and Kalidou Koulibaly are disqualified. Amadou Diawara looked close to returning from a foot fracture for a pair of weeks, but he was again unable to make the squad list, like Adam Ounas that is banged up and David Ospina, who is still in Colombia. Mario Rui is out with an undisclosed injury.  Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Round – Sampdoria vs Lazio

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Some hard-fought contests in this round: the most intense turned out to be Sampdoria-Lazio, as the Blucerchiati did not roll over despite the events of the first half.

The locals came into the game looking for three points to fuel a desperate comeback for the Europa League zone after they had dropped three of the last four fixtures, while Lazio were riding the high of reaching the Coppa Italia final and had to atone for the incredible loss to Chievo last week.

Marco Giampaolo selected Alex Ferrari to substitute the injured Joachim Andersen and, as it has often been the case, chose Gaston Ramirez and Gregoire Defrel to fill out the front-line next to Fabio Quagliarella. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 33

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Thomas Strakosha: fresh off a saved penalty in the Udinese game, he could be able to take home few more bonus points against Chievo, which have scored just nine times on the road.

Jens Larsen: the two-game trip to the Nation’s Capital went poorly for Udinese, which were handled by both Roma and Lazio. However, they have had much success at home, while Sassuolo are pedestrian away and the fullback has been able to haul in points in six of the last eight tilts at the Friuli stadium. Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Round – Lazio

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An easy choice in this case as far as the team of the round goes since Lazio romped Roma in the much-awaited Derby. The Biancocelesti came into the game looking to avenge their tough loss in the final minutes against Genoa in their last Serie A game two weeks ago, while they could not bend Milan’s defence in Coppa Italia on Tuesday. They did not play last week against Udinese due to a scheduling conflict at the Olimpico Stadium.

Simone Inzaghi could not field Ciro Immobile and Marco Parolo from the get-go due to last minute ailments, but was otherwise able to marshal all his other stars, including Luis Alberto. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 18

Thomas Strakosha: Lazio have conceded at least a goal in few matches in a row, but they were a little unlucky against Cagliari and the match-up versus Bologna is favorable in that department, since the Rossoblù have scored just seven times at home, the second fewest of any Serie A team, and have had very little juice offensively lately.

Alex Sandro: a trip to Bergamo is never too comfortable for any team, but the Juventus back-line has repelled even better opponents on their way to six consecutive clean sheets. The fullback, fresh off a contract renewal, always makes his presence felt on offense. Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Round – Lazio

Lazio were denied the clean sheet, and therefore a great fantasy haul, in the final minutes, but they still had by far the most commanding display of any team on Saturday. They had failed to win in five straight games, drawing with Sassuolo, Milan, Chievo and Sampdoria and tumbling against Atalanta.

Coming into the match, there were rumours Simone Inzaghi would do away with his usual 3-5-1-1 to field his three creative midfielders together. He indeed deployed Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa from the start, but did it by keeping out both Milan Badelj and Lucas Leiva and using Marco Parolo as metronome in a very aggressive formation. Continue reading

Three David de Gea replacements should Manchester United have to sell

It has come to the attention of Manchester United fans that David de Gea’s contract negotiations have hit a stumbling block.

The Spain international is weighing up his future and knows that his next contract could rule him out of a move during his peak years. With the way that Manchester United are playing under José Mourinho, and how far they are from truly challenging the elite in Europe, it is no surprise that De Gea is questioning his options.

If the Spaniard decides against renewing with the Red Devils, the club will need to act fast in approaching potential replacements. Here are three that are worth considering should that outcome come to fruition:

Jan Oblak: Atlético Madrid 

The outstanding candidate would be Atlético Madrid’s Jan Oblak, who has been tremendous ever since joining the Spanish giants. So much so that he has in fact kept more clean sheets than goals conceded while in goal since the 2014/15 season, showing his exemplary credentials and case to be crowned the best goalkeeper in the world.

Oblak is a wonderful shot-stopper, like De Gea, and also makes remarkable, worldly saves that he has no right to. The Slovenia international might have a brick wall in the form of a defence in front of him, but Oblak holds more than his own and has kept Atlético in crucial games.

At 25-years-old, Oblak is coming into his peak years as a goalkeeper and can rule as one of the leading goalkeepers of his generation. There is no reason to suggest that he cannot go on for another decade, playing at the elite level winning trophies.

The problem Manchester United face would be to prize the Slovenian away from sunny Madrid. Not only is it about convincing him to step down in terms of the level, because United at this moment are not comparable to Atlético, but to also convince the board members of the Spanish club to sell him. It would most likely take his full buy-out clause of £88 million (€100m) to acquire him.

If De Gea does leave in the next two years, Oblak should be the frontrunner in terms of who they target. He is the perfect replacement.

Jordan Pickford: Everton 

England’s number one has had a meteoric rise since leaving Sunderland for Everton just over two seasons ago.

Jordan Pickford has shown that height is not a sticking point in becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League with his distribution and positioning being first class.

Against Spain, Pickford set up two goals with his quick thinking and immaculate passing out of his hands and on the floor. That quick tempo that the England international plays at is what has allowed him to reach the heights he is beginning to.

He might be 24-years-old but Pickford has shown his calm, collected nature on a regular basis, especially in England’s round of 16 penalty shootout against Colombia. With the momentum with the South Americans, Pickford remained composed and eventually saved the crucial penalty that allowed England to win their first shootout in a major tournament for decades.

The Toffees player might not be a universally popular choice among United fans, but he is certainly not one to rule out given his status of being one of the uprising goalkeepers of his generation.

Thomas Strakosha: Lazio 

Thomas Strakosha is the unknown quantity in this list to those who do not follow Serie A, but he is one to take seriously.

The Albania international is an up and coming goalkeeper that has been courted by some of the biggest European clubs out there over the past few years, all while only making his proper breakthrough in the 2017/18 campaign.

Off the back of his 53 appearances last season, Strakosha has nailed down the number one jersey at Lazio and will be eyeing a move to a more influential club in Europe’s top five leagues. The 23-year-old has time on his side, but should the opportunity arise, he would not think twice about switching sides.

He might be the easiest profile to obtain on this list, but that does not mean he will come at a cheap price. Lazio set their price at around £35 million last summer and with the way he is play, that fee is likely to only rise in the near future.

Standing tall at 1.93m, Strakosha is a commanding and physical goalkeeper with aerial prowess. He might not have the distribution abilities of Pickford or shot-stopping qualities of Oblak, but he does climb above others to claim what is his.

While it was difficult for De Gea to adjust to English football given the physicality aspect of the league, Strakosha should not have the same problem due to his style of goalkeeping. He is not yet globally known, but the Albanian will burst onto the scene soon enough.

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Serie A Club of the Week – Roma

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Three teams won both of their fixtures this week, Juventus, Inter, Genoa and Roma, and none was more impressive than the Giallorossi, who bounced back after a rocky stretch, where they had failed to pick up a win for four consecutive Serie A games and were demolished by Real Madrid in Champions League.

Getting to face Frosinone is healthy for everybody at this point, but La Lupa smoked them. Cengiz Under broke the deadlock after just two minutes with a great central run capped off by a robust shot from distance that bended the goalie’s gloves. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 4

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Some of the biggest names finally delivered in the last weekend: here are the best players for round 4.

Thomas Strakosha (7 points): five teams managed to keep a clean sheet, so few goalies are together atop of the positional rankings. The Albanian had easily the best save of the week, which might easily go down as one of the finest in the year, as he thwarted a point-blank attempt by Francesco Caputo at the last second by sticking his foot out with perfect timing. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 3

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Here’s the list of the recommended players to select ahead of the next Serie A round.

Thomas Strakosha: Lazio had two gruelling games to open the season, against Napoli and Juventus, and came away empty-handed, but the schedule gets easier this week with a cosy match-up against Frosinone, which have yet to score and will be without their top two guys up front Federico Dionisi and Daniel Ciofani.

Joao Cancelo: the Portuguese right back has fitted right into Juventus’ XI, providing a solid offensive contribution while he works on his defensive limitations. The Bianconeri will head to Parma in the weekend. Continue reading