AC Milan 1-0 Torino: Rebic on target again as Rossoneri claim important win

AC Milan followed up the impressive display against Juventus with a win this evening, beating Torino by the odd goal at the San Siro. Once again, just like against the Bianconeri, Ante Rebic got on the scoresheet (his sixth goal in seven games) and ultimately won the game for his side. 

The Rossoneri are now just four points behind Roma in fifth place, although the top-four zone and Atalanta are still ten points away. The Champions League dream remains, though, with 14 games left of the season. After Christmas, few would have predicted the progress that Milan have made since the start of the year.  Continue reading

AC Milan vs. Torino: Team news, stats and prediction

Having faced Juventus in the Coppa Italia semi-final during the week, AC Milan are gearing up to take on yet another Turin side at the San Siro, namely Torino. Seemingly in good form, Stefano Pioli’s side will be looking for a win to keep their dream of Champions League qualification alive. 

The Rossoneri responded well to the blackout against Inter, being the better side for a majority of the game against Juventus. Had it not been for the 90th-minute Ronaldo penalty, then they would have secured an important 1-0 win ahead of the second leg. Now, however, the situation is a bit tougher.  Continue reading

Torino part ways Mazzarri and hire Longo

After two years, Walter Mazzarri’s reign at Torino is over, as the two sides mutually decided to move on following a hellish week, where they gave up seven goals to Atalanta, were eliminated by Roma in Coppa Italia and were trounced by Lecce as well on Sunday.

The Granata were hot in December but lost all three January games and sit in 12th position, five points away from the sixth place. They failed to qualify to the group phase of the Europa League in the summer after going through the play-off following a seven-placed finish last season and Milan’s exclusion. Continue reading

Serie A Round 22 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Down

Match-day 21 saw Italy’s top three all drop points with Juventus picking up their second loss of the season against Napoli. Despite this, Lazio and Inter weren’t able to capitalize and drew their games against Roma and Cagliari respectively. This week, Italy’s top sides will all be looking to return to winning ways as Juve will host Fiorentina and Lazio take on SPAL. Inter, by contrast, will look to beat Udinese.

With match-day 22 upon us, here are FIVE players you should consider dropping from your elevens. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Gonzalo Higuain (FWD, Juventus, Value 15.43 ) – After a storming start to the season, the former Real Madrid man has slowed down and has looked fatigued when given a starting role. Against Fiorentina, expect Sarri to use Higuain off the bench rather than from the start. The Juve hitman failed to create anything of note against Napoli on the weekend and looked sluggish in and out of possesion. As a result, a spell on the sidelines could prove to be exactly what the doctor ordered.

At 15.43M, let’s face it, you can do better than Higuain. After all, he’ll feature mostly off the bench as the season draws to a close.

Armando Izzo (DEF, Torino, Value 13.00 ) – The Torino man had an outing to forget against Gian Piero Gasperini’s high-flying Atalanta and got sent off in a 7-0 defeat. Izzo, a defender typically known for his solidity and imposing physique, has looked off the pace recently and could use the weekend off. With the red, he frankly has no choice.

Torino have also had a week to forget conceding a further four goals against Milan in their most recent Coppa Italia defeat. That’s eleven goals in two games. As a result, you would be wise to temporarily swap out the veteran defender out of your sides.

Domenico Criscito (DEF, Genoa, 7.93 Value ) – Much like Izzo, Criscito had a weekend to forget. While Genoa’s scoreless draw against Fiorentina wasn’t the worst result all things considered, it could have been much more for the Grifoni. Criscito was handed a golden opportunity from the spot to gift his side a crucial three points, but much to his dismay spurned the spot-kick. It was his first penalty miss of the season and came at a painfully unfortunate time.

With Genoa stuck in the relegation zone, Criscito will need to rise to the occasion and deliver captain-like performances. For now, however, his stock is low.

Lautaro Martinez (FWD, Inter, Value 18.95 ) – Despite his goal on the weekend, Martinez makes the list. The month of January has been a frustrating one for Conte’s men as they have dropped points against Cagliari, Lecce, and Atalanta. All draws that might come back to haunt them at the end of the season.

The frustration arguably hit a boiling point against the Sardinians as Martinez let his anger get the best of him and was sent off deep into stoppage-time. He was subsequently suspended for Inter’s next two games. The nerazzurri will now have to make do without his services for the foreseeable future at a crucial time in their season. While Martinez features in most fantacalcio sides and rightfully so, keep an eye on the Argentine international’s progression over the next few weeks.

Rodrigo De Paul (MID, Udinese, Value 13.44) – The Udinese man has failed to follow up last season’s impressive exploits and has struggled in Friuli. While Udinese lack creativity and alternative options in the final third, De Paul has shied away from responsibility and was anonymous in his side’s most recent defeats against Parma and Milan.

While Udinese are relatively safe from the drop, De Paul will need to step up if he foresees a big-money move in the summer.

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AC Milan 4-2 Torino: Calhanoglu brace sees Rossoneri through after extra-time

 

AC Milan managed to secure a spot in the Coppa Italia semi-finals this evening, beating Torino by four goals to two. However, the game required extra-time and once again the performance could have been better. 

Unlike many games this season, Milan looked good from the first minute and immediately showed the opponents their intentions for this game. Every time they advanced in attack, you could sense danger and it paid off early on for Stefano Pioli’s men.  Continue reading

AC Milan vs. Torino: Team news, stats and prediction

AC Milan managed to grab their fourth consecutive win in all competitions last time out, prevailing in a tough away clash against Brescia by the odd goal. However, the performance was far from perfect by the Rossoneri, and they certainly have Gigio Donnarumma (and Ante Rebic) to thank for the win. 

At this stage of the season, though, getting the win is all the matters for Milan. In many ways, Friday’s win was a sign of strength by Stefano Pioli’s men. Despite the poor performance, they battled on and eventually grabbed the three points, although one could argue that they didn’t really deserve them.  Continue reading

Atalanta’s Progress: By the numbers

Last season, Atalanta sent shock-waves throughout Italian football and qualified for the Champions League, finishing ahead of Italy’s traditional giants Inter, Roma, and Milan among others. Along with European football comes the luxury of a pitfall of cash and unique opportunities for growth that Atalanta have taken full advantage of.

Beyond their Champions League cash, Gian Piero Gasperini’s men have been extremely proactive on the transfer market, selling their players for incredible profits. Dejan Kulusevki, for example. The Swedish international has only played three times for them in his entire career and was sold for nearly forty-five million euros. Let’s take a deeper look at the numbers.

According to Calcio e Finanza, Atalanta have already cashed forty million euros from the Champions League and could make more depending on their two-legged affair with Valencia. Given recent form, it’s not entirely improbable they progress to the final eight.

While Champions League money is always welcomed, it’s not as sustainable as other sources of revenue for the club. After all, will they qualify for Europe’s elite competition every season? They’re hoping so, but probably not.

As a result, Atalanta have enacted a model wherein they sell their top-performing young players to Italy’s big clubs after breakout seasons. Kulusevski to Juve, Gagliardini to Inter, Cristante and Mancini to Roma, Conti and Kessie to Milan, and the list goes on. In this sense, they maximize their profits. While certain cases will have them thinking they moved on their players a season too early, that’s always better than feeling they sold a player a season too late.

Just ask Torino’s Urbano Cairo. After Andrea Belotti’s breakout season, Torino reportedly got offers ranging between 50 to 75 million euros for their hitman. Cairo played hard-ball, kept Belotti and has since missed out on a unique rebuilding opportunity by turning down those offers. Today, Belotti won’t fetch anywhere near the previously reported price-tags. Atalanta, on the other hand, have a knack for selling players at the right time. In fact, their track record speaks for itself.  Most of their departed players, bar a few, have struggled to recreate their past form at their new clubs.

According to Transfermarkt’s numbers, the Bergamo-based club are set to cash in a further 110 million euros this season, in addition to Musa Barrow’s reported sale of 20M. That’s 130M on players that have either already been replaced or have never featured regularly for them.

With their squad lacking a few additions to take the next step, it will be interesting to see what Atalanta does with that money. Will they abandon their current philosophy and go for more-experienced players in hopes of making the leap alongside Italy’s elite or will they continue with their own model that has worked wonders for them?

If last transfer window was anything to go by, it will arguably be a mix of both, with a particular focus on experienced players. See: Luis Muriel and Ruslan Malinovskyi. As another transfer window beckons, Atalanta’s activity will be worth monitoring. They have the money and a vision: but can they deliver on it?

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Losers of the summer transfer window

Last week we looked at the winners of the summer transfer window now that we have a fairly substantial sample size of games, while today we’ll look at the teams that so far have not received many positive returns from their summer acquisitions:

 

Juventus- the first summer window without Beppe Marotta was rather challenging for Fabio Paratici and Pavel Nedved. It’s bad enough that the team would likely be far worse off had they sold Gonzalo Higuain, who was so at the margins of the project that he changed numbers from 9 to 21, and Paulo Dybala who was very close to both Manchester United and Tottenham, but beyond that, so far you can question the decision of investing significantly on Mathijs De Ligt over a stud midfielder like Milinkovic Savic or Pogba.

One of the reasons you can question the De Ligt signing is however the emergence of Mehdi Demiral, but by the same token investing a ton in wages in both Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot has so far backfired even though they arrived on Bosman deals just like another player at the margins of the project in Emre Can.

Paratici has so however looked like a genius with the sales of Joao Cancelo and Moise’ Kean, who just like Caldara have yet to make an impact at their new clubs. While Danilo has failed to make an impact at wingback, Juan Cuadrado has reinvented himself as a well above average right winger and Rodrigo Bentancur has been the biggest beneficiary of the Sarri hire. Paratici has been able to move both Perin and Mandzukic. But he still has a bloated payroll and question marks in his midfield.

 

Milan- safe to say Marco Giampaolo was completely in over his head at Milan, but he also wasn’t set up to succeed since his squad wasn’t built for the (only) formation he was known to use. Now you can forgive a bit of chaos when you consider that Milan had four different sporting directors in four years and this summer had the inexperienced Boban, Maldini and Massara trio in charge, but the only new addition that clearly looks like a keeper is Theo Hernandez.

Leao showed some flashes but has also been described as immature off the pitch, Bennacer had as many dreadful performances as great matches (but at least does seem like a potential building block), Duarte and Krunic battled injuries, Rebic could return to Germany after just 6 months and the two big additions from last January Piatek and Paqueta’- who were brought in a bit early to try to clinch the last Champions League spot- could both leave in January.

While the Ibrahimovic signing shouldn’t be seen as a repudiation of the youth movement at the club, it also could be seen as a sign of desperation after another poor summer transfer window.

 

Genoa- I was very impressed with what Preziosi’s club did in the summer since they bolstered their defense by signing Zapata, who had his moments at Milan, and bringing back Barreca to Serie A where he used to be an above average left back. Landing Schone, who just a few months before was starting in a Champions League semifinal for Ajax, was quite the coup as well as adding highly rated Inter prospect Pinamonti to their front line.

But while things can look good on paper, in the end “decide il campo” (the pitch decides). Genoa never clicked under former Empoli manager Andreazzoli and hiring Thiago Motta as his replacement was a gamble that didn’t pay off. Genoa now already added Mattia Perin and Valon Behrami to try to avoid relegation in the second half of the season.

Sampdoria- while Genoa looked good on paper to me, you could see their cross town rivals were in big trouble going into the season. They banked on Quagliarella coming close to his standards from his previous, sold their best defender in Andersen and their best midfielder in Praet. With the club up for sale, president Ferrero wasn’t going to invest significantly but Andersen’s replacement Murillo and highly rated Argentine prospect Maroni have been busts.

 

Torino- going with continuity really paid off for Lazio so far this season, but the same cannot be said for the granata who brought back manager Mazzarri as well as essentially the same squad. Center back N’Kolou was essentially kept against his will rather than letting him reunite with Petrachi at Roma and Izzo, who signed a rich extension, hasn’t performed at the level of last season making the defense significantly worse than a year ago.

Torino invested significantly to acquire Ola Aina on a permanent basis, but the former Chelsea wing back was often benched in favor of Ansaldi and new addition Simone Verdi, who was expected to go back to his Bologna form after a difficult season at Napoli was called out publicly by both manager Mazzarri and president Cairo,

 

 

PREVIEW: Torino-Fiorentina

Two teams in poor form meet this Sunday, neither Torino nor Fiorentina pleased with the start they have made to the 2019/20 season. Both began the campaign with aspirations of returning to European action, but the Granata – who have won just twice since September – sit tenth, just one point and three league places above their next opponents.

Continue reading

Time for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to wake up from hibernation and join in the fun at Lazio

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Lazio passed their autumn test with flying colours.

A demanding run of league fixtures between the October and November international breaks, interspersed with Europa League outings, promised to be the make-or-break moment of the season for Simone Inzaghi’s side after a mixed start.

It’s safe to say that taking 13 points from a possible 15 in games against Atalanta, Fiorentina, Torino, Milan and Lecce exceeded expectations.

Not only that, but it left the Biancocelesti in third place, albeit on goal difference, restoring their Champions League dream. Continue reading