Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Four – Other Games

BOLOGNA-SASSUOLO

Bologna: the Felsinei have been unconvicing in their two road games, against Benevento and Milan, while they hanged four goals on Parma on their lone home one. They had their chances against the Sanniti but could not knock one through. They lost Andreas Skov Olsen for significant time during the break and so Riccardo Orsolini will recapture the starting job, but he will have to watch out for Emmanuel Vignato if he does not wake up. Musa Barrow has taken a bunch of shots but has yet to score, the leading man in that regard has been Roberto Soriano and also Rodrigo Palacio has notched one. The absences of Gary Medel and Andrea Poli will force them to field either Mattias Svanberg or Nicolas Dominguez, who carry more value because they participate more in the final third. Sassuolo tend to leave some room to counter and they have a pair of speedsters. Continue reading

Pedro helps Roma to their first win of the season but club post record debts

Roma’s new signing Pedro scored his 1st goal for the club as they beat Udinese away 1-0 and that resulted in their first win of the season.

It’s been a slow start for Roma who have won 1, drawn 1 and lost 1 but the victory at the weekend took the club up to 10th place and they are 5 points behind the current leaders Atalanta.

Pedro took his goal well and ran with the ball before unleashing a 25 yard screamer that was unstoppable. It was a magic moment in a game that lacked real quality from both sets of teams.

It was an important result for the Giallorossi as going to Udinese is never an easy task. After the game Roma coach Paulo Fonseca had this to say: “In the first half we continually played in Udinese’s final third, but they were dangerous when breaking on the counter. We weren’t aggressive enough when we lost possession, but still created good situations. After the break we managed to get the goal and the team remained united to bring home the result, which was the most important thing. Roma are a very attack-minded team, but Udinese’s style in the closing stages forced us to sit deeper. The team is playing well with Lorenzo Pellegrini in his current midfield position and we’ll see in future whether he remains there.”

El Shaarawy deals falls through but Smalling is back

Stephan El Shaarawy almost rejoined Roma on transfer deadline day but the move collapsed at the final hurdle with El Shaarawy claiming that the blame did not lie with him. The Italian left Roma to join Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua last season where he has scored just once in 16 games. With the Chinese league suspended until February it was thought that he could re join Roma up until then but that won’t happen now.

Still there was some good news as Chris Smalling completed a permanent transfer to the club after his successful loan period last season. Such was that news that fans even went to the airport to greet Smalling who has now officially left Manchester United.

New Balance and record losses

Roma reported the 2nd biggest lost in Italian football over a season as they came up short by 204m euros. Only Inter Milan a decade before reported higher losses. The club though have been busy looking for new sponsors and it appears that New Balance will take over from Nike, though this has yet to be confirmed.

When the league returns Roma will  be at home to Benevento where they will be the huge favourites to win that and hopefully move up the table and get their season fully on track.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Three

Atalanta: Pierluigi Gollini (PCL tear), Aleksey Miranchuk (thigh strain) and Matteo Pessina (patellar dislocation) will once again be unavailable and the coach raised some concern regarding Cristiano Piccini, who has not been able to practice fully since joining. The fact that they are signing another player in his role does not bode well for his timetable. The team announced that somebody tested positive but did not disclose whom: Mattia Caldara and Rafael Toloi are absent out of the blue. 

Benevento: Federico Barba returned midweek but subbed off in the first half and has been ruled out. Andres Tello (thigh) and Oliver Kragl (neck) are again sidelined. Nicolas Viola (meniscus) might not be back for the first game after the break. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Three – Other Games

FIORENTINA-SAMPDORIA

Fiorentina: the Viola were rather unlucky to be pipped at the post by Inter, but on the offensive end they surely raised the bar compared to opener, primarily thanks to a superb Franck Ribery, who shredded the defence and dished two assists. However he is said to be banged up, so the others could have a bigger role in this case. Gaetano Castrovilli, who notched the second goal in a row, and Federico Chiesa capitalized, while Christian Kouame benefitted from a generous feed by Giacomo Bonaventura. The ex-Genoa striker has separated himself from Patrick Cutrone and Dusan Vlahovic as main centre-forward and should end up being their primary scorer, even though generally throughout his career he has fared better as second-striker. The Gigliati are pretty stacked offensively and Cristiano Biraghi has been exuberant down the left flank.

Suggested picks: Kouame, Chiesa, Ribery.

Sampdoria: the Blucerchiati thought they had the Benevento game in the bag, but the Sanniti had different plans. Despite the second-half collapse, the Blucerchiati produced more than against Juventus, as natural, and Fabio Quagliarella quickly opened his seasonal tally, followed up by Omar Colley’s first Serie A goal. The offense got a boost with the addition of Antonio Candreva as right winger, who provided an assist right away. Federico Bonazzoli and Jakub Jankto instead have not been great in the first two games, while the secondary option Morten Thorsby was supplanted by Valerio Verre in the midfield last week, who was pretty good at Verona, but featured in a much more advanced position. Tommaso Augello uncorked few decent crosses in the last game, while Manolo Gabbiadini hit the post immediately upon subbing in and might get the start this week. Jankto has been ruled out, which could lead to an extended run for newcomer Mikkel Damsgaard or last year’s late bloomer Kristoffer Askildsen.

Suggested picks: Quagliarella, Candreva, Gabbiadini.

SASSUOLO-CROTONE

Sassuolo: the Neroverdi predictably detonated in the Spezia match, taking advantage of a lousy defence, and could be in a similar spot this week given Crotone’s early struggles on that front. Jeremie Boga still has not cleared the COVID-19 protocol: Lukas Haraslin was limited by an injury in the last game, but Gregoire Defrel picked up the slack more than convincingly, while Filip Djuricic and Francesco Caputo quickly shook off an underwhelming opener and Domenico Berardi nailed a PK. Manuel Locatelli is already playing at an excellent level, but he is not so prone to picking up bonuses. As far as the full-backs go, where there is some potential, Rogerio is hurt and Grigoris Kyriakopoulos is not as impactful, while on the right Jeremy Toljan has so far played more than Mert Muldur, who is generally more exuberant, although a little unbridled.

Suggested picks: Caputo, Berardi, Djuricic.

Crotone: the Pitagorici could not keep up with Genoa and Milan in the first matches and the going will not get any easier here, also considering their injury problems, as it is manifest that they need Ahmad Benali’s playmaking and leadership in the midfield. The coach has kept Junior Messias there to have more offensive punch, but it is not the same thing. Denis Dragus got the start to replace Emmanuel Riviere up front and was sprightly, the main problem though is that their fulcrum Simy has yet to get going and most of their offense goes through him. Nicolò Zanellato and Luca Cigarini generally take more care of the dirty work in the midfield. They added Pedro Pereira and Arkadiusz Reca on the flanks last week: the latter figures to be a bigger factor when it comes to attacking, but Andrea Rispoli and Salvatore Molina, who already had an assist, are no slouches on that regard.

Suggested picks: Messias, Simy, Dragus.

UDINESE-ROMA

Udinese: the Zebrette lost the second game in a row, this time against the lowly Spezia, and once against struggled to come up with convincing offense. Kevin Lasagna missed a pair of chances like in the opener, but that was about it on open play. Stefano Okaka and Ilija Nestorovski have not had a much impact so far, while they are almost completely depleted in the midfield, where they were forced to field 18-year-old Martin Palumbo, on top of other youngster Mamadou Coulibaly. Roberto Pereyra could be a decent factor, but it is not certain he will be available for this one due to bureaucratic elements. Therefore, Rodrigo De Paul will remain almost the sole source of playmaking, even should he be forced to play again in front of the defence. Thomas Ouwejan looked pretty promising when he subbed in Wednesday, certainly more enticing that Marvin Zeegelaar.

Suggested picks: De Paul, Lasagna, Okaka. 

Roma: he missed a pair of sitters, but the Giallorossi inevitably looked much better with Edin Dzeko back in the lineup and his quality flick-ons and passes started up several interesting sorties against Juventus. Jordan Veretout cashed in, and also canned a PK, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan was denied by the goalie. The major development is that Paulo Fonseca kept Pedro in the formation and moved Lorenzo Pellegrini to the pivot position, where Amadou Diawara and Bryan Cristante generally play. Therefore, the Spaniard is set to be one of their main weapons, while the Italian midfielder loses some shine as he is more far away from the box, but his playmaking could come through anyway, especially in easier matches where they are expected to attack consistently, like this one. He notched nine assists last season. It is pretty strange that Mkhitaryan still has not scored since he had few tasty chances.

Suggested picks: Dzeko, Mkhitaryan, Pedro.

BENEVENTO-BOLOGNA

Benevento: the Sanniti have been surprisingly shoddy in the back to begin the season, although keeping up with Inter might be difficult for anybody. However, they have been more productive than expected on the other end and while the goals in the opener were rather fluky, two by Luca Caldirola, one by Gaetano Letizia, the output coming from Gianluca Caprari (brace) and Gianluca Lapadula (one assist) should be more sustainable. The two already looked in sync, even though Lapadula’s minutes are being monitored due to lack of fitness: Gabriele Moncini has not really grabbed the brass ring in relief and so Lapadula is set to lead the charge whenever healthy. They added Iago Falque earlier this week and he can be a big weapon if in good conditions, but he will have to beat out last year’s starter Roberto Insigne, who is a substantial part of their offense. Some rotation could lead to good minutes for Marco Sau, who had 13 goals last year. The two box-to-box have not been particularly involved in the offensive proceedings.

Suggested picks: Caprari, Lapadula, Insigne.

Bologna: the Felsinei broke through in the derby with Parma thanks to a magnificent Roberto Soriano (two goals, one assist), but they had shown interesting stuff late versus Milan as well, despite the poor result. They are among the most proactive and productive sides among the minnows. Andreas Skov Olsen and Rodrigo Palacio joined Soriano in the stat-sheet in the last game, which is not great news for Riccardo Orsolini, which seems to have a long-standing beef with coach Sinisa Mihajlovic that is trying to make his flourish, and Nicola Sansone, who has seen little playing time in the early going. Musa Barrow is likely due after few attempts in the first two matches. Aaron Hickey played great in his debut and might quickly unseat Mitchell Dijks at left-back, while Lorenzo De Silvestri is always a steady hand. Jerdy Schouten has been splendid so far, but his role is pretty defensive.

Suggested picks: Barrow, Soriano, Palacio.

PARMA-VERONA

Parma: as if things were not going badly enough for the Ducali, Roberto Inglese and Andreas Cornelius both picked up last-minute injuries before the last game and so they were forced to field a very light attack. Gervinho, who did not have his signature burst right after a small physical problem, and Yann Karamoh did not do the trick and Andrea Adorante is the only pure centre-forward left. Hernani scored, on a Gaston Brugman sly feed, but only because of a defensive blunder. The Brazilian midfielder had not hit the target last season despite often firing away from distance. They will indeed get back Jasmin Kurtic after a technicality kept him out for the second game in a row, so that should lift them a little since they were forced to field Jacopo Dezi in the previous game. He and Jasmin Kucka might be biggest threats than their strikers all things considered. They need reinforcements from the transfer market.

Suggested picks: Gervinho, Kurtic, Kucka.

Verona: the Scaligeri will never be the most explosive team, but they tend to find a way to get the job done, especially because their stifling defence allows them to pick up good results even when they do not shine offensively. Samuel Di Carmine subbed off and will be out this week, but Andrea Favilli bagged the game-winning goal, his first Serie A one. They are adding some pieces since Darko Lazovic was able to make an appearance, but Federico Dimarco was surely serviceable on the left flank, and Ebrima Colley fared well in limited minutes. Antonin Barak has strong upside used as attacking midfielder and Adrien Tameze has been very promising. With different protagonists, they are getting back to the formula that propelled them last season, aided by the playmaking of Miguel Veloso and Mattia Zaccagni.

Suggested picks: Favilli, Barak, Zaccagni.

MILAN-SPEZIA

Milan: the Rossoneri took care of busines against Crotone, with Franck Kessie converting a penalty kick and Brahim Diaz netting his first goal in the Peninsula. They have another easy match-up on tap, however they will be undermanned and likely spent because. Ante Rebic injured his elbow in the past game and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is iffy due to COVID-19. It will likely up to youngster Lorenzo Colombo to lead the attack, while Rafael Leao should be ready for more playing time with one more week of practice under his belt following a long quarantine. With all the absences, Hakan Calhanoglu will have an even bigger role and, while he has been great in Europa League, he has not found the target in Serie A play yet. Samu Castillejo and Alexis Saelemaekers will have to make to make their presence felt in the final third more and they could unleash Theo Hernandez to get a boost.

Suggested picks: Calhanoglu, Colombo, Castillejo.

Spezia: the Aquilotti confirmed to be a pesky team in the Udinese game, what was a little stunning was to see Andrej Galabinov being this effective (three goals) after he failed to reach the double digit in the last three years. Emmanuel Gyasi picked up an assist, while Daniele Verde was fairly bubbly down the right flank and he is more at ease there than Kevin Agudelo, but the latter can play in a number of spots. Matteo Ricci has already had an helper and a goal called back, while Giulio Maggiore and Paolo Bartolomei have been more subdued and they have yet to fully explore all the new additions to the midfield. Tommaso Pobega and Lucien Agoume could be pretty interesting, but the hierarchies have yet to fully take form and they might just roll with last year’s starters anyway.

Suggested picks: Galabinov, Gyasi, Verde. 

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 38 – Sunday Games

SPAL-FIORENTINA

SPAL: they were thumped early against Verona and failed to generate any semblance of offense, interrupting a mini-streak of consecutive matches where they had managed to score. Their agony will finally end here after a terrible season. Marco D’Alessandro has been their best player in the resumption, while Andrea Petagna and Gabriel Strefezza were the most reliable ones in the first part of the season. Mattia Valoti and Federico Di Francesco came back from their injuries and they could be worth a flier-

Suggested picks: D’Alessandro, Petagna, Valoti. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 36

BOLOGNA-LECCE

Bologna: they stayed in the game until the end but they could not perforate Atalanta’s defence and, result-wise, they have been on a pretty steep downward trajectory. They could use some offensive help because Musa Barrow and Roberto Soriano have been the only ones producing in the last month, since Riccardo Orsolini’s effectiveness has abated, Nicola Sansone has not been great all season long and Rodrigo Palacio, while being a tactical weapon, is not very prolific. Deploying Federico Santander and Andreas Skov Olsen has not changed things and they also lost one of their most trusted contributors in Takehiro Tomiyasu. However, the match-up could help their attackers get off their schneid.

Suggested picks: Barrow, Soriano, Orsolini. Continue reading

Vulnerable Juventus could be perfect prey for Lazio attack to rediscover spark

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It was a sign of the times that a 0-0 draw against Udinese felt like progress for Lazio.

A run of three consecutive defeats against Milan, Lecce and Sassuolo ended the Roman club’s Scudetto dream, as they struggled to rediscover the swagger that was on show earlier in the season.

But taking a point in Udine stopped the rot – at least to a certain extent. The first half display was particularly positive as Lazio played at a higher tempo, asked more questions of the opposition defence and dominated possession.

But the familiar issue of tired legs and minds crept in after the break, and in the end Simone Inzaghi’s side had goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha and the post to thank for keeping out an improved Udinese. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 34

VERONA-ATALANTA

Verona: after a consistent stretch with a pure striker up front, Ivan Juric went back to a false-nine, Valerio Verre in this case, against Roma, but the results were not that great, with the second half push coming on the heels of the subs. The returns from injury of Fabio Borini, Eddie Salcedo and Valentin Eysseric will allow the coach to go that route more often, especially against top teams, although Samuel Di Carmine has been decently effective (three goals in the last six games). Mattia Pessina scored again and he has separated himself from their slew of attacking midfielders, while Mattia Zaccagni picked up the assist. Darko Lazovic has been their most consistent player.

Suggested picks: Pessina, Lazovic, Borini. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 32

LAZIO-SASSUOLO

Lazio: the Biancocelesti had scrapped their way into two wins after the resumption, but they had generally looked off and everything came crashing down in Lecce. Ciro Immobile, other than drilling a penalty kick, has not been the same player he was prior to the stoppage and he has not been in synch with Luis Alberto. The issues were then exacerbated by key injuries, the latest one to Joaquin Correa. Sergej Milikovic-Savic, like Alberto, bagged one recently but has not been as dominating as in the past. Felipe Caicedo returned to the box score after a while in Lecce and he is poised to take on a massive role. The form is lacking, the talent is not, so they can snap out of it in any given moment. Manuel Lazzari has arguably been their most consistent player recently.

Suggested picks: Caicedo, Lazzari, Immobile.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 31

LECCE-LAZIO

Lecce: another losing effort caused by the nth defensive collapse, but the Giallorossi looked a tiny bit better offensively versus Sassuolo, as Diego Farias returned to the XI and was livelier than Filippo Falco and Riccardo Saponara and Khouma Babacar did a little bit more than usual. The goals came on corner kick and then through the usual penalty kick by Marco Mancosu and it is pretty crazy how many fouls they manage to draw in the box. Antonin Barak has yet to recapture is best form after an injury, but he remains their most appealing non-Mancosu midfielder.

Suggested picks: Mancosu, Farias, Babacar. Continue reading