Serie A Injury Report – Round 33

Atalanta: Robin Gosens was a late scratch against Juventus, but he has been called up and therefore avoided serious problems. Luis Muriel suffered a head trauma in a domestic incident, but he is fine and will be back for the next match.

Bologna: Federico Santander and Andrea Poli have recovered from their thigh injuries. Mattia Bani is pretty much done for the season with a calf strain. Jerdy Schouten (thigh) will be back in a pair of weeks.

Brescia: Jesse Joronen is out with an undisclosed injury, joining Andrea Cistana (tibia), Enrico Alfonso and Dimitri Bisoli (patellar tendon) on the mend. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 32

Atalanta: everybody is available and perhaps that is one of the reasons behind their success.

Bologna: Stefano Denswil is suspended, while Roberto Soriano won the appeal and will be available. Federico Santander and Andrea Poli should not be out much longer with their thigh strain, while Andreas Skov Olsen returned in the last round. Jerdy Schouten will miss a couple of weeks due to a biceps femoris strain. 

Brescia: Emanuele Ndoj was available against Torino. Jhon Chancellor (thigh) is progressing and is likely to come back at some point, Andrea Cistana is still 50/50 for the season. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 26 – Second Half

Brescia: Ales Mateju will miss this round due to yellow-card accumulation, as, by letter of the law, all suspensions in Serie A are served in the next match. Ernesto Torregrossa, Romulo have recovered from the small injuries that had sidelined them recently and will play against Sassuolo. Andrea Cistana hurt his ankle in practice, Sandro Tonali has a sore quad and they will both be sidelined. 

Fiorentina: Dalbert is disqualified, while Franck Ribery returned to full training following his massive ankle sprain, but he will need some time to get his conditioning up.

Genoa: Stefano Sturaro is trying to shake off some muscle fatigue and he is questionable, like Marko Pajac, who has spent time on the shelf with a sore tibia. Paolo Ghiglione (thigh) is progressing but this week is likely too early. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 23

Atalanta-Roma: the Goddess continue to add to their offensive arsenal, as Duvan Zapata is returning two his usual pre-injury numbers (two goals and three assists in the last four games) and Ruslan Malinovskyi came through last week. The Ukrainian attacker seems to have surpassed Luis Muriel as first option off the bench. Josip Ilicic did not score against Fiorentina, but still had a great performance and he has been en fuego for a while. The one small negative is that, with their front-line now featuring two quality scorers, Alejandro Gomez is back at looking more to feed them rather than finishing on his own: as a matter of fact he set up two goals last week and has not hit the net since in six weeks. Timothy Castagne came back and he is a bigger offensive weapon than the more diligent Hans Hateboer, but they will likely continue to alternate, while Robin Gosens on the opposite flank is slowing down a bit after a gorgeous January. Mario Pasalic fumbled away a pair of sitters in Florence. Rafael Toloi (one goal and six assists) has been their most intriguing defender. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Inter vs Milan

The Derby della Madonnina delivered in terms of entertainment value and was a classic tale of two halves, as Milan dominated before the break, but then Inter turned the table and earned a potentially massive win as far as the title race is concerned.

The Nerazzurri were looking to get definitely back on track, as they had won last week versus Udinese, but had tied three times in a row before that. Milan instead, after a three-game winning streak, had equalized with Verona. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 23

Roma-Bologna: the Giallorossi are in a funk and have played just one convincing game out of the last five. They will be without Lorenzo Pellegrini due to suspension and it is a massive loss considering that he is the mastermind of their offense. They should get Henrikh Mkhitaryan back from injury and perhaps even starting considering the hole at no.10. The other option is likely Diego Perotti and they seem to always be awarded a penalty when he is out there. Edin Dzeko has scored in three straight games and they will face a pretty suspect back-line. Cengiz Under took a step back versus Sassuolo, but he is always pretty assertive when he decides to play, while Justin Kluivert has not done much since coming back from injury, but should improve over time. Paulo Fonseca has elected to keep Aleksandar Kolarov on the bench in the last two matches for tactical reasons, but the decision has not really moved the needle so the stud left-back should soon be back in the XI. Continue reading

Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap: Saponara, Moses, Bonifazi…

Not a particularly big week as teams prefer do their business late hoping for some bargains, yet some decent deals still went down, but generally with limited fantasy ramifications, as testified by the fact that the most meaningful one is Lecce signing Riccardo Saponara on loan from Fiorentina after a poor spell at Genoa. Saponara is a pure no.10 and, if he manages to stay healthy, he could push their stud Marco Mancosu to box-to-box, but he will be fine there too. They can move pieces around in the midfielder and Fabio Liverani tested a Panagiotis Tachtsidis-less formation last week with good returns, so the Greek might ultimately be the one getting the short end of the stick. Continue reading

Chelsea stars who should consider their futures in January

Victor Moses

Chelsea lie second in the Premier League table after winning eight and drawing three of their first 11 league games under Maurizio Sarri.

The Blues’ Italian boss has managed to get the best out of the likes of Eden Hazard, David Luiz, Jorginho and Ross Barkley during the club’s unbeaten start to the 2018-19 campaign.

However, only Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has used fewer players so far in the league this season, which means there are several players at Chelsea who have been unable to break into the team since Sarri’s arrival in the summer.

Continue reading

Croatia vs Nigeria Preview: Can the Super Eagles carry the hopes of Africa?


Eight years on from when Africa came together at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the continent still seems as far away from winning the trophy as they were then. The hosts exited the competition at the group stage; it was down to Ghana to represent, but they fell in the cruelest manner possible in the quarter finals to Uruguay, on penalties. In Russia, Nigeria are attracting a lot of interest, both on and off the pitch. Their new shirt, brought out for the World Cup, has been lauded as one of the smartest for a long time, but it was in November last year when the world really sat up to take notice.

A 4-2 win, in Russia, against Group D opponents Argentina, showed just how dynamic and energetic their young team can be. They are all set to take on La Albiceleste again, as well as debutants Iceland and, on Saturday in Kalilingrad, Croatia.

With Lionel Messi hoping to take his country, who finished as runners up in Brazil four years ago, one step further this year, Argentina are favourites to top the group; this game could be huge for deciding who will finish second and reach the knockout phases. Iceland cannot be written off, having beaten England and given France a scare at Euro 2016, but their lack of experienice and quality should see them fall short. Nigeria have a nucleus of talent that can take them far into the tournament; but beating a team as strong as Croatia, with the plethora of options they have in midfield and attack, is vital for that to happen.

Luka Modric, the Real Madrid star, is their talisman; he is complimented by Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic in the centre of the park. Inter’s Ivan Perisic and Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic supply the firepower. It will be a tough test for Rohr‘s men, but they have shown their ability to take the game to their opponents with great intensity; their win over Argentina relied heavily on their pace on the counter attack. If the likes of Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, who usually operates at the base of a midfield three, can cut the supply line to Mandzukic and look to get the ball to John Obi Mikel, the captain who plays in a more advanced role than he did at Chelsea, Nigeria could cause problems.

Alex Iwobi is very important to the way they play; the Arsenal man may be on the periphery of things at the Emirates Stadium, but having scored twice against Argentina and once in the defeat to England at Wembley at the beginning of June, it is clear he will be the biggest threat for Croatia on Saturday. Victor Moses will add extra pace, while Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho and former Watford striker Odion Ighalo will be fighting to lead the line up front.

Croatia are a team that play to their strength by keeping possession and getting the wide players involved. Rakitic and Modric usually start alongside Milan Badelj, who offers an extra layer of protection in the middle. Nigeria are not in the best of form right now, winless in four since beating Poland 1-0 in March; they struggled to deal with England’s movement between the lines, but after John Ogu came on to replace Ogenyi Onazi at half time, they found a better shape. Iwobi scored almost immediately after half time and then they frustrated Gareth Southgate’s side. Nigeria do not have the same quality as Argentina, or Croatia for that matter, but Yusuf has selected a balanced squad with an identity and a style that can surprise a few people, starting in their first game.

Ahmed Musa, another player known to the Premier League, can come off the bench and stretch the play as the game goes on, but Croatia have been bringing both Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brosovic on as substitutes in their recent friendlies against Brazil and Senegal. Their strength in depth is very impressive, especially for a team not expected to challenge at the business end of the tournament. It could prove decisive in their battle with Nigeria, both in Kalilingrad and for a place in the knockout stages.

Senegal, who lost to Croatia last week, and a Mohamed Salah-inspired Egypt, are also flying the African flag this summer, but Nigeria are looking strong and their squad is developing together. Now is their chance to prove it on the biggest stage.

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