Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 18 – Remaining Games

BOLOGNA-VERONA

Bologna: they could not find a way around the not-so-vaunted Genoa rearguard in the past match, with their attack failing to deliver for the fourth game in a row, given that their recent goals have come from Takehiro Tomiyasu (two), Nehuen Paz and Matthias Svanberg. Roberto Soriano, one of the early fantasy leaders, has found the target just once in the seven matches and has not been able to dish helpers either in that stretch, however he remains the top players in both categories (six/four). The other attackers have instead been able to take part in the teammate’s goals, Riccardo Orsolini in particular with two recent assists, but also Musa Barrow and Rodrigo Palacio, but they obviously need to start scoring to become real fantasy assets. As always, Barrow is the biggest threat, but they will face a really stifling defense in this one. Emanuel Vignato and Andreas Skov Olsen have not exploited their recent minutes. Continue reading

Inter record 10th win of the season as they hunt down Milan in Serie A

10 wins from just 15 games means that Inter are just a single point behind their rivals Milan in the chase for the Serie A title.

For Inter it would have been 11 years next year since they won the league and Milan 10. The two teams from the San Siro have had to watch Juventus run riot in the league over the past 9 incredible seasons, that could be set to end this season though. Milan are 10 points in front of the old lady although the champions do have game in hand. But Milan end the year as ‘winter champions’ and that could be a good omen.

As for Inter they have been incredibly strong this season and if not for Milan’s brilliant start which has seen the black and reds go unbeaten so far Inter would easily be top. Inter themselves have only lost one game and this latest victory against Verona away from home means that Antonio Conte’s side have won their last 5 games in a row and would be 1st in the league on form.

Just before Christmas was the last batch of Serie A games to take place this year and Inter travelled to Verona. It would be a game that Conte’s team would win 2-1.

Inter played some good football in the first half but it wasn’t a memorable one for either side as they had just 1 shot on target each and the first 45 minutes ended with the score at 0-0.

However just seven minutes into the 2nd half Inter were able to break the deadlock through striker Lautaro Martinez. It was an important feat for the Argentine player given that he had been quiet in front of goal in the last few weeks. A cross by Hakimi found an unmarked Martinez who swung his body in the right direction to score a fine goal, with the way the game was panning out it felt like it could be the only goal of the game and the winner.

However just 10 minutes later Verona found an equaliser. Ivan IIic could hardly miss as a cross should have easily been covered by Inter goal keeper Samir Handanovic but the keeper made a rare mistake and fumbled the ball into the path of IIic who was just a few yards from goal and it was 1-1.

With Romelu Lukaku having a quiet game it would be left to an unlikely hero for Inter to get the winning goal. Aptly named Milan, his full name Milan Skriniar of course, the defender rose high to head in a powerful shot which left the keeper stranded. Skriniar looked surprised and this was his first goal of the season, but what an important one to give Inter all three points.

Inter’s next game is at home against Crotone who are in 19th place on January 3rd.

Best Inter Players for Each Position So Far This Season

Goalkeeper: Samir Handanovic 8pts

This was an easy one given that Handanovic has played every game and Inter’s other keepers haven’t had a chance yet. However one would expect more points from a goalkeeper whose team are in 2nd place. This is because Inter have conceded goals and he has only been able to keep 3 clean sheets so far.

Defender: Achraf Hakimi 28pts

Hakimi has been very solid and is by far leading for Inter’s defenders. Along with his 3 clean sheets he has also contributed to seven goals for the club, scoring 4 and assisting in 3 which of course is very impressive for a defender.

Midfielder: Nicolo Barella 16pts

Barella leads from Roberto Gagliardini by two points and has been a very important player for the club scoring once but also assisting in a further 4 goals.

Striker: Romelu Lukaku 46pts

Easily out in front is the one and only Lukaku who has been magnificent this season. He already has 11 goals and has assisted in 2 more and is feeling very confident. Last season was a landmark one for him and this one could even be better.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 13 – Remaining Games

FIORENTINA-VERONA

Fiorentina: finally some signs of life for the Viola attack as Dusan Vlahovic snapped out of his scoring slump thanks to a penalty kick and Franck Ribery looked lively against Sassuolo, producing a pair of his vintage slaloming runs. Cesare Prandelli is trying various configurations to get his guys going: it seems like José Callejon is losing some momentum, but he has mostly been replaced by fullbacks, Giacomo Bonaventura is on the rise, while Gaetano Castrovilli has been in a funk for a while, even though he remains their leading scorer with four early goals. Cristiano Biraghi quickly shook off a physical problem and he has three assists and one goal in the season. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 12

Atalanta: Aleksey Miranchuk has cleared the COVID protocol and has been called up. Mario Pasalic will undergo sport-hernia surgery and return in January. Matteo Ruggeri (fatigue) and Josip Ilicic (strep throat) are questionable.

Benevento: Nicolas Viola has returned after some physical problems, while Gabriele Moncini (ankle), Christian Maggio (calf) and Luca Caldirola (knee) remain sidelined. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 12 – Remaining Games

UDINESE-CROTONE

Udinese: the Argentinian trio led the charge again for the Bianconeri, as both Ignacio Pussetto and Rodrigo De Paul hit the net against Torino, Roberto Pereyra dished two assists and Ilija Nestorovski chipped in late with his first goal of the season. Some improvements also out of Gerard Deulofeu, who set up a teammate. Nestorovski and Deulofeu will remain relevant until Stefano Okaka and Kevin Lasagna fully return, while Pussetto has played himself into a starter’s role, especially given Lasagna’s struggles thus far. He and De Paul have both scored three times so far. Pereyra moved to five helpers thanks to the recent showing. The two wingbacks Jens Larsen and Marvin Zeegelaar are only midrange options. Continue reading

Game on in the battle for the gloves at Lazio as Pepe Reina provides rare challenge to Thomas Strakosha

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Lazio’s priority in the summer transfer window was clear: to strengthen the overall depth of the squad. 

With the additions of Andreas Pereira, Vedat Muriqi, Mohamed Fares, Gonzalo Escalante, Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro and Wesley Hoedt, coach Simone Inzaghi was handed new options across the park.

But few expected that the signing to make arguably the biggest impact of all come December would be Pepe Reina.

The veteran’s arrival was low key, as you might expect for a 38-year-old reserve goalkeeper. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 11 – Top Matches

LAZIO-VERONA

Lazio: they had two sweat it out, but the Biancocelesti got the job done in Champions League, positively following up last weekend’s win over Spezia after a stumble. Ciro Immobile is returning to last year’s level of consistency and he is now up to 11 goals in 12 appearances between the two competitions. Joaquin Correa hit the net in Champions League, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic did it in Serie A (third goal) and the two have outperformed Luis Alberto so far, who continues to be their mastermind but as not been as prolific as in the past. Andreas Pereira was not great last week but had a late goal that was called back, while Felipe Caicedo is reportedly a little banged up, but this game might call for his late-game heroics. No bonuses for their wing-backs lately, even though Manuel Lazzari and Adam Marusic have been decently bubbly. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Ten – Remaining Games

VERONA-CAGLIARI

Verona: as usual, a date with a top team brought the best out of the Scaligeri, who withstood Atalanta for an hour and then got the W thanks to a PK by Miguel Veloso and an outstanding goal by Mattia Zaccagni, his first of the year after he had dished four assists. Samuel Di Carmine did not exploit his chance to lead the front-line and Andrea Favilli was more dangerous when he subbed in, so he will probably get the nod relieving the injured Nikola Kalinic is this one. Antonin Barak is in great form and he is their leading scorer with three goals. Darko Lazovic is most likely going to be sidelined again, but Marco Faraoni returned and Federico Dimarco has been a weapon on the left flank. Despite some absences, their pecking order has become pretty clear and Ebrima Colley and Eddie Salcedo have not shown well enough to be promoted from their bench role.

Recommended picks: Barak, Favilli, Zaccagni.

Cagliari: after a rough start, they looked like their normal selves versus Spezia, actually throwing away a win they had in hand despite the major voids left by that Diego Godin, Nahitan Nandez, Gaston Pereiro and Giovanni Simeone contracting COVID and Adam Ounas joined the list late. That leaves them with very limited options on the wings behind Riccardo Sottil, who has pretty lively, and it is possible Gabriele Zappa moves up from full-back, as he has done in Serie B but also in some previous games: he has set up three teammates thus far. The good news is that Leonardo Pavoletti bagged a great goal in his first start in forever and is going to be able to hold down the fort while Simeone goes to through the protocol. Joao Pedro delivered again, scoring his sixth goal in nine matches, on top of two assists. On the other flank Alessandro Tripaldelli and Andrea Carboni do not provide the same punch as Charalampos Lykogiannis, who is nursing a calf injury. Marko Rog and Razvan Marin have very limited opportunities to attack in their role as pivots.

Recommended picks: Pedro, Pavoletti, Sottil. 

 

PARMA-BENEVENTO

Parma: coach Fabio Liverani did switch to a more offensive scheme after a suggestion from above, but not to the diamond formation they used to open the season, but to a 4-3-3 with Gervinho and Yann Karamoh together, which worked out pretty well as the former scored his second brace of the season and the latter was pretty exuberant, but that has often been the case this season. Andreas Cornelius returned to the XI but he did not do much and neither him or Roberto Inglese have been effective so far, as both are still looking for the best form after some injuries. In theory, Cornelius should be the more prolific of the two. Juraj Kucka served a great assist and both him and Jasmin Kurtic are secondary weapons as box-to-box. Hernani returned from a rib injury and he has been surprisingly involved in the final third as he has notched two goals and one assist, but his role is TBD. Maxime Busi looked overwhelmed in his first start and they have lost both Riccardo Gagliolo and Giuseppe Pezzella on the left, so Vincent Laurini should be the next man up.

Recommended picks: Gervinho, Karamoh, Cornelius/Inglese.

Benevento: they came away with a great point versus Juventus thanks to a smasher by right-back Gaetano Letizia, who found the target for the second time in the campaign. Gianluca Caprari was held in check in his first game back from a suspension, like Gianluca Lapadula, but that was to be expected in a tough match-up and they will be in a better spot this week. They both have three goals and two assists to their names. Riccardo Improta has been the surprise of the last couple of matches, he decided the Fiorentina one, and it looks like he is here to stay, either as offensive-minded box-to-box or supporting the strikers. Roberto Insigne has notched one goal and one assist but he has been hurt a little by Improta’s rise. They have started to move Artur Ionita around the formation more, but he has remained pretty underwhelming. Marco Sau has registered two assists off the bench.

Recommended picks: Lapadula, Caprari, Improta.

 

UDINESE-ATALANTA

Udinese: a late COVID outbreak forced them to field an experimental lineup against Lazio and it worked wonders as the light front-line feasted on open spaces, with both Ignacio Pussetto and Fernando Forestieri finding the target. They will be in the same position this week and the only available alternative up front is Gerard Deulofeu as Kevin Lasagna, Stefano Okaka and Ilija Nestorovski and are unlikely to be cleared in time. They will face a side with comparable characteristics as well. Their leader Rodrigo De Paul has notched two goals and one assist in the past four matches, while Roberto Pereyra is finally turning it up with two straight helpers after a so-so start of the season. Wing-backs Jens Larsen and Marvin Zeegelaar are decent parts of the offense but that yet to yield a bonus.

Recommended picks: Pussetto, De Paul, Forestieri.

Atalanta: the Orobici’s offense continued to sputter in the past two matches and so many of their linchpins are not in great form. Duvan Zapata has looked the worst with multiple misses and also Alejandro Gomez’s stocks are plummeting. Josip Ilicic and Luis Muriel have been a little better eye test-wise, but neither has been a consistent scorer. The coach has decided for an ample rotation so Gomez and Ilicic will be outright rested and Zapata might get the day off as well. Robin Gosens contracted COVID, while Ruslan Malinovskyi is back from it and could have an immediate role. Among the replacements, Matteo Pessina has the potential to do some damage if he plays in the Papu role given his success at Verona and Sam Lammers has been pretty good in his short cameo as he has already scored twice.

Recommended picks: Muriel, Lammers/Zapata, Pessina. 

 

CROTONE-NAPOLI

Crotone: another futile effort for the Squali’s attack last Sunday in Bologna, a team that had always conceded in the previous 41 fixtures. They have collectively struck out in three matches in a row and they will now run into a buzzsaw. Their target man Simy has three goals in the season, but he has not been fed regularly over the last few matches. Their secondary weapons Junior Messias and Ahmad Benali are banged up, Emmanuel Riviere, who had scored in the opener is hurt, so the lineup is pretty much up in the air. At least Salvatore Molina returned pretty decently from COVID and Milos Vulic continues to progress in his role as playmaker, but the lack of end product makes them a team to avoid. Arkadiusz Reca has provided two assists.

Recommended picks: Simy, Molina, Vulic.

Napoli: they had their best display of the season versus Roma, which was accompanied by the return of a scheme utilizing three central midfielders, although it was not a straight 4-3-3. Piotr Zielinski featuring freed up Fabian Ruiz, who not coincidentally scored his first goal of the season with a superb daisy-cutter, then the Giallorossi’s defensive woes did the rest. Dries Mertens is back after a little lull as he has found the target in two consecutive matches, Lorenzo Insigne made the stat-sheet after a five-game absence, although he had an assist in the previous round, while Matteo Politano continues to be pretty consistent even though he has to split time with Hirving Lozano, who has slowed down significantly. Therefore, all their weapons are humming even though they are likely going to miss the biggest of ‘em all, Victor Osimhen.

Reccomended picks: Mertens, Insigne, Politano.

 

FIORENTINA-GENOA

Fiorentina: the turnaround has yet to arrive despite the coaching change and they have failed to score in the past four matches. They have one of the easiest match-ups on the docket, so it would be very troublesome if their struggles continued this week as well. The situation has brought everybody down, including Gaetano Castrovilli (four goals, one assist), their lone productive player up to this point. Cesare Prandelli is tinkering with the tactics and gave José Callejon the start against Milan but neither him or Franck Ribery appear to be in acceptable shape and Dusan Vlahovic is engulfed by defenses way too easily, but Patrick Cutrone has not done much better in his cameos. Giacomo Bonaventura might get a shot this week to have more zing, either as winger or as box-to-box. Even though he has not look great, most of their offense is engineered by Ribery.

Recommended picks: Castrovilli, Ribery, Bonaventura.

Genoa: Gianluca Scamacca had a big chance versus Parma but did not deliver this time, while Eldor Shomurodov got the start, fared well and found the target on a good-looking play. However, the coach has gone back to 3-5-2, so there is room for just one between the Uzbek, Goran Pandev and Marko Pjaca (two goals). He has also decided to rely on a grittier midfield, sidelining Nicolò Rovella and Miha Zajc for Stefano Sturaro and Lukas Lerager. Hierarchies obviously are not set in stone and he will be scrambling for every possible solution since he is on the hot seat and Rovella has been one of their top performances up to this point, while the ex-Empoli man has been unimpressive this season. The scheme surely boosts wing-backs Luca Pellegrini and Paolo Ghiglione (two assists), who have a high ceiling in the offensive phase.

Recommended picks: Scamacca, Shomurodov, Ghiglione.

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Improving Inzaghi proves a point as Lazio rotate their way to eight-game unbeaten run

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If anyone deserves a bit of festive cheer, it’s Simone Inzaghi.

It’s remarkable that the Biancocelesti boss has any of those luscious locks left on his head and hasn’t torn them out in frustration by now, because even by the standards of this most unpredictable and disrupted of seasons, he’s had a rough ride.

The 44-year-old came in for some criticism when Serie A returned after lockdown last season, as his side slipped from one point off top to fourth place.

He struggled to effectively rotate his squad and manage the energy levels of his key players as Lazio’s form nosedived.

Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Seven – Top Matches

SASSUOLO-UDINESE

Sassuolo: the Neroverdi were missing their top three players against Napoli, but they won anyway thanks a brand-new scheme by Roberto De Zerbi, who, for once, opted for caution and a three-man back-line and got rewarded with their talented central midfielders stepping up. Filip Djuricic has COVID and will not return here, Domenico Berardi and Francesco Caputo have been called up, but they might be limited, so it is possible Giacomo Raspadori stays initially in a big role and Gregoire Defrel gets the nod. Both the Frenchman and Jeremie Boga have not looked great as they work their way into shape, while Hamed Traore is generally pretty lively. Even if at less than 100 percent, Caputo and Betardi are always good choices, while Lopez would be an outstanding one if used as no.10 to substitute Djuricic. Continue reading