Serie A Matchday 9: Preview, what to watch, and more!

The new Serie A season has not disappointed, with Stefano Pioli’s Milan taking the league by storm. The Rossoneri have not been the only team to shock the calcio world, as Sassuolo’s rapid rise to prominence has them within two points of first place, off the back of an unbeaten start. Paulo Fonseca’s Roma is slowly coming together and would be unbeaten, had it not been for an administrative error condemning them to forfeit against Hellas Verona.

In any case, matchday nine is upon us and presents some intriguing matchups. Without further ado, here’s what to watch out for:

1) Are Sassuolo legit? 

The Neroverdi are off to an incredible start to the season, maintaining an unbeaten record after eight matchdays, including an impressive 2-0 over Napoli. Roberto De Zerbi’s men have thrown their names into the conversation in Itay alla Atalanta and continue to emerge as this season’s surprise package. Their recent success comes with one question mark: Can they replicate their success as their schedule gets harder?

Sassuolo has won five of its eight encounters thus far, with four of their wins coming against Spezia, Bologna, Crotone, and Hellas Verona. While you can only beat the sides in front of you, they may be rocked back to earth shortly. This weekend De Zerbi’s men host Inter, a clash that will serve as a good litmus test for their top-four credentials. They will then take on Roma the week after. If they can get two positive results, it is safe to say they’re legit.

2) Can a Zlatan-less Milan get it done? 

Milan’s recent resurgence has been nothing short of remarkable, with the Rossoneri emerging as one of Europe’s hottest teams since the lockdown. Pioli’s men are flying high in first place and have shown no signs of slowing down. Led by the indomitable Ibrahimovic, Milan has picked up from where they left off last season, with six wins and two draws in eight games.

The big Swede has led the line with great aplomb and most recently fired his side to an important victory with a brace against Napoli. Ibrahimovic currently tops the scoring charts with 10 goals in six appearances but has since been sidelined with a thigh injury. The initial prognosis has ruled him out from Milan’s upcoming game against Fiorentina, begging the question: Can a Zlatan-less Milan get it done?

We’ll have our answer Sunday morning when Pioli’s men take the pitch against la Viola.

3) Are Roma title contenders? 

This question is often asked about Roma after their hot starts to the new season, with the Giallorossi eventually disappointing. But this season feels different. Roma is in fine form right now and surging up the table with convincing wins. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has rolled back the years, Jordan Veretout is doing his thing from the spot, Pedro has impressed and countless budding talents have stepped up.

In a year unlike any other, Roma might just have what it takes to go all the way and contend. Juve remains a side in transition and the Giallorossi have shown they can compete with them. Milan has emerged as the anti-Juve until now, but their depth in the long run is concerning.

Roma takes on Napoli this weekend and will then shift its attention to Sassuolo: Much like it is the case for the Neroverdi, Roma’s next two games will be highly indicative of where they will finish this season. If they can get two wins, or at the very least four points, you would be foolish to write them off.

Then again, don’t get your hopes too high just yet as the wheels might just fall off. A prospect many Giallorossi fans have come to terms with.

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Napoli 1-3 AC Milan: Three things we learned as Ibrahimovic brace ends ten-year winless run

Milan certainly bounced back from the 2-2 draw against Hellas Verona this evening, ending a ten-year winless run away at Napoli. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the big hero once again with a brace, helping the Rossoneri reclaim the top spot in the league standings. 

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring after just 20 minutes, managing to get away from Kalidou Koulibaly in the box. Theo Hernandez spotted this and picked him out with a perfect cross, which the Swede met with his head. It looked very easy, but that was indeed a world-class finish by the 39-year-old.  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

Serie A Fantasy Player of the Month in October – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

No Serie A player made the EuroFantasyLeague of November, also because some of the likely candidates had to miss games and the others simply could not achieve the required amount of consistency and amass enough bonus points to crack it. However, does not mean that the shout-out for this month should remain vacant in this month and the nod goes to who has easily been the single best contributor to grace the Peninsula at the beginning of the season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.   Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Six

Standings implications: Milan came out on top again thanks to a late push versus Udinese, retaining the top spot. Juventus managed to pull away from Spezia with a superb second half and moved to third place as Napoli got upended at home by Sassuolo, who come in second. After two losses, Atalanta put one on the win column by handling Crotone rather easily, even though the score was closer than what transpired in the game. Verona returned to winning ways against Benevento and resumed flying high.

Inter could not build up on last week’s win as they were held to a tie at home by Parma and actually were very close to losing. Roma extended their positive streak by breezing past Fiorentina. Lazio topped Torino at the buzzer in a nail-bater. Sampdoria and Genoa shared the spoils in a pretty entertaining edition of the Derby della Lanterna. Bologna got off their schneid with a quality and hard-fought victory against Crotone.

Continue reading

Udinese 1-2 AC Milan: Three things we learned as Rossoneri extend unbeaten run

Milan extended their unbeaten run earlier this afternoon as they beat Udinese by two goals to one, taking the tally up to 24 games. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the big hero with a goal and an assist, proving just how important he is for the team, bagging his seventh league goal of the season.

The Rossoneri perhaps didn’t have the best of games, with just four shots on target, but they did deserve the win all things considered. Franck Kessie opened the scoring after just 18 minutes with a thunderbolt of a strike, after Ibrahimovic brought it down on his chest and set up a Nocerino-esque goal.  Continue reading

Roma score 5 goals in 2 games amidst controversial encounter with Serie A leaders Milan

The week started in the Europa League for Roma as they took on Young Boys of Switzerland and won their Group A clash 2-1. It was the first game of the competition for the Giallorossi who found themselves 1-0 down early on courtesy of a Jean-Pierre Nsame penalty.

It wasn’t until the 2nd half that Roma got to grips with the game and the equaliser came from an unlikely hero in Bruno Peres. Five minutes later Marash Kumbulla made it 2-1 for the visitors as the Italians took hold of the game. The win will be welcomed as Roma try and negotiate a way out of the group stages.

It was an emotional winner from Kumbulla who went on to dedicate his goal to the club and all the help they have given his career. Coach Paolo Fonseca said: ”It was not an easy game, as let’s not forget that even Juventus lost here a few years ago and Young Boys won 15 home matches in a row. It was important to get the win and we did well. There’s still a long way to go in the group and the season. We rested a few players and can now focus on Milan in Serie A.”

And the Milan game was something in itself. The match finished 3-3 which was a positive for Roma as Milan lost their 100% start to the league but the game was marred in controversy of two penalties which looked like soft ones and naturally changed the nature of the game.

Referrer Pierre Giacomelli and VAR assistant Luigi Nasca are being reported to have been suspended for one month. This news hasn’t been confirmed but if true then Italian football is taking the right approach on the mistakes that were made in the game. Time and again odd decisions around Europe are being made even with the technology of VAR which is sometimes not even being used and when it is a decision that everyone thinks will go one way goes another. This is a welcome call and many more suspensions need to be served out across other leagues.

The first error of judgement came when Ismael Bennacer and Pedro simply collided as they both went for a loose ball and yet Pedro was adjudged to have been fouled but it just seemed like a normal clash between players, Milan were obviously furious and Roma scored from the penalty awarded.

Then after it felt as if the officials needed to level up the mistake and gave Milan a penalty after Hakan Calhanoglu was adjudged to have been fouled, Both seemed like weak decisions which seems to have been confirmed now by the Italian FA.

Roma’s next two games will begin later today on October 29th when they return to play in the Europa League against CSKA Sofia and they will be the favourites to win that one and keep their 100% record in Europe. At the weekend the club will play Fiorentina at home and in fact this is a moment that Fonseca’s side will want to take full advantage of the fact that they remain at home for their next three games in a row.

As for the fantasy points with another goal for Jordan Veretout he continues to have the most points for Roma and heads into another week with 19 so far.

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Giallorossi

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Six – Top Matches

INTER-PARMA

Inter: Romelu Lukaku suffered a thigh injury that will cost him at least one game and the Nerazzurri will have to make up for the loss of their target man, something that rarely happened last year. Alexis Sanchez is dealing with a small problem as well, therefore Lautaro Martinez, who has slowed down after opening the campaign with three straight goals, will have to shoulder the attack, then they will hope Andrea Pinamonti can be decent right away. They also briefly used Ivan Perisic as second-striker in the last game. Stefano Sensi is back on the shelf with his customary muscular problems: Christian Eriksen had some flashes last week, but so far him and Marcelo Brozovic have produced nothing too exciting. Their best midfielder has been Nicolò Barella (two assists), while Arturo Vidal has mostly taken care of the dirty work. At some point Radja Nainggolan will get in on the action, but it has not happened yet. Fortunately, Achraf Hakimi (one goal, two assists) was a false positive and he will resume plowing the flank from the start here, while Ashley Young has shaken off the virus and will challenge Ivan Perisic, who has been solid (two assists) but has not really taken off. Their back-line has improved with Alessandro Bastoni back in the fold.

Recommended picks: Martinez, Perisic, Hakimi.  Continue reading

Inter shot down by Ibrahimovic in Milan derby, concentration now on the Champions League

The Derby della Madonnina was won by AC Milan who beat Inter 2-1 in a pulsating game of football. Both sides are being tipped to challenge Juventus this season for the Serie A title so this derby had much more spice about it than it has had in the past few seasons.

But it was a derby that felt like it was over just after it had started. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was slightly touched in the box and seemed to go down far too easy for Milan to be awarded a penalty in the 12th minute which he stuck away with no problem. And then after a superb counter attack Milan were 2-0 up just four minutes later and Zlatan again was there from a couple of yards out to prod home in what was an easy goal for him to score.

But twelve minutes later Ivan Perisic crossed the ball for Romelu Lukaku who actually looked surprise by the poor defending of the Milan back four and seemed to take his time in easily tapping in from close range just as Ibrahimovic had done moments before. With 3 goals scored and not even half an hour played this looked like it could be a rare derby game with lots of goals, and yet there would be no more.

Inter did remain a threat and late on they thought they should have had a penalty but VAR concluded and was right that in the build up Inter were offside.

All in all and compared to other derby games this was an enjoyable one, in part because in the 2nd half Inter had to come forward and they ended up with 4 shots on target to Milan’s six. Milan are now top of the league with 12 points and Inter are in sixth place and are 5 points behind. It was Inter’s first defeat of the season and they have now gone their last two matches without a win.

Inter coach Antonio Conte had this to say after the game: “I think we played very well and created many situations to score goals, in some cases we are unlucky, and it’s disappointing because the lads certainly put the effort in and believed they could win. We were distracted and made errors on their two goals, still had the chances to equalise, but Milan won and so we congratulate them. Every match we seem to create many, many scoring opportunities, so need to be more cool-headed and clinical in front of goal. At the same time, I cannot complain about their attitude, as we tried everything to at least get the equaliser.”

Inter prepare to meet Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League

The Champions League has returned and Inter will kick off their campaign at home against German outfit Borussia Monchengladbach. Inter will be the favourites to secure all three points when the two teams clash. The big news for Inter is that Christian Eriksen and Alexis Sanchez should be able to return for the club and both are set to start the game.

Romelu Lukaku- the best player of Inter so far in the fantasy rankings

Romelu Lukaku took over Lautaro Martinez as the best player for Inter in the fantasy rankings. Lukaku now has 15 points and collected a further four points at the weekend as he scored what turned out to be Inter’s consolation goal. The Belgian international much like last season is on fire and may be worth adding to your team. You can check out Lukaku’s full stats right here.

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Inter 1-2 AC Milan: Three things we learned from the Rossoneri’s important derby win

Milan have finally done it. After four years without a derby win in the league, they changed the trend this evening, beating Inter by two goals to one. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the big hero with a brace, but the entire team impressed with what was a stellar performance at the San Siro. 

Stefano Pioli’s side extended their unbeaten run to 20 games and although the clean sheet wasn’t preserved, the display was certainly a sign of their improvement. As a Milan fan, you can’t really ask for much more than this, with the team currently sitting in first place with 12 points after four games.  Continue reading