Best Serie A team to pick – Week 13

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Here are Serie A’s Fantasy Picks in every position for Week 13. The suggested formation is 3-4-3. Continue reading

Best upcoming central midfielders in Serie A

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Differently from other positions, there is no shortage of excellent young central midfielders in Serie A. Besides Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who is among the league’s best outright, there are several upcoming players who have already earned primary roles in the top teams.

Unsurprisingly, two of them were raised by Atalanta and then moved to bigger clubs. Roberto Gagliardini joined Inter last January and his consistency has been a pleasant surprise, because he was lost in the shuffle prior to the 2016/2017 season. Gian Piero Gasperini trusted him, the Nerazzurri nabbed him quickly and he has been very reliable: he is not flashy, but an all-around midfielder, whose work is always precious. Franck Kessie is more muscular and explosive, but Milan got what they hoped for: a dominating presence in the middle of the field. Lucas Torreira’s play in the last two seasons has been superb: he is rather tiny but he is imposing in both phases, he has great feet and he is an excellent distributor. His full arsenal was on display in the last win over Chievo Verona. Continue reading

Best young goalkeepers in Serie A

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It has not been an easy start of the season for young goalkeepers in Serie A. There have been a couple of highpoints, but most of them are stuck on bad teams and have inevitably conceded several goals. The two best ones are relatively surprising. Lazio’s Tomas Strakosha came out of nowhere last season after an injury to Federico Marchetti, but firmly managed to beat out the veteran goalie afterwards. A very explosive player, he has capped off a terrific start with a game-winning save on a Paulo Dybala penalty in Juventus-Lazio.

Roma’s Alisson has not had the same flashy plays but, after a year as an understudy behind Wojciech Szczesny, he has been extremely reliable. He has improved his game, eliminating the small blunders of the past. It also helps that Roma has had so far one of the best defensive phases in the League: they have allowed only five goals, tied with Inter and Napoli as league’s best.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is obviously a generational talent and he is head and shoulder above the other prospects. Unfortunately, Milan’s defence has been very leaky and he has not been able to save the day. After an incredible 2016/2017, a slight regression could be justifiable, but he was not severely at fault in any of the 13 goals already conceded by the Rossoneri. He will have plenty of suitors next summer if Milan does not qualify to Champions League.

Mattia Perin has become an established name in Serie A: at 24-year-old, his acrobatic and daring style has proved to be effective. Knee injuries have slowed him down in the past, but if he had a clean year from that standpoint it could be time for him to make the jump to a bigger club. Alessio Cragno returned to Cagliari as a starter after a productive loan spell at Benevento: he has shown some flashes, but he has been a little inconsistent and has had to endure a couple of small physical ailments. The Sardinian club has also one of the worst backlines in Serie A.

Alex Meret is supposed to be the next great Italian goalkeeper, alongside Donnarumma, unfortunately he has yet to play this season because of the dreaded sports hernia. Alfred Gomis has started in his place at Spal so far and has been serviceable. Meret is owned by Udinese, like Simone Scuffet, whom Udinese gave the starting job this summer over Orestis Karnezis. However, the youngster has not been able to recapture his 2013/2014 form, when he had an impressive debut in Serie A. A few big mistakes costed him his spot, which has been given to the experienced Albano Bizarri.

There are a couple of talented goalkeepers still regularly sitting on the bench. Lukazs Skorupski was excellent last season at Empoli and he was Roma’s fall-back plan if Alisson disappointed, but that has not happened and they might be better off moving him in January. Pierluigi Gollini has played here and there at Atalanta, but Etrit Berisha has still a firm grip on the starting job.

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The Underutilized Newcomers XI

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The summer is always a time for much fanfare: the clubs and the fans get excited about the new acquisitions, but when it is time to play, some of them could be quickly discarded by the coaches. There are teams that prefer to bring along the youngsters very slowly and at times injuries prevent the teams from seeing their investment pay off. Let’s take a look of a line-up composed by newcomers that have been underutilized, mostly because of coaching decisions: the tactic will be the 4-2-3-1 that is so in vogue right now.

The goalkeeper is the cleanest position from this standpoint: the newcomers are all covering the roles they were expected too. Maybe the only slight disappointment is Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, acquired very early by Torino from Lechia Gdansk for €2.6M, but Sinisa Mihajlovic did not like what he saw in the pre-season and they signed Salvatore Sirigu as a starter. The defence is formed by a couple of Cagliari players: Gregory Van der Wiel arrived from Fenerbahce, but due to a sore ankle and some conditioning issues he has barely practiced with the rest of the group and they have a big void on that flank after Mauricio Isla’s departure. They spent €7.6M on Filippo Romagna from Juventus, as part of a swap deal, but Massimo Rastelli picked Marco Andreolli, Fabio Pisacane and Luca Ceppittelli over him: he started, and struggled, only against Napoli when they ran out of options. The 19-year-old Nikola Milenkovic was signed by Fiorentina from Partizan for €5.1M, but he has yet to record a single minute. Sampdoria acquired Nicola Murru for €7M from Cagliari, but he quickly became a backup after they opted to bring in Ivan Strinic after the first subpar outings.

Maxime Gonalons transferred from Olympique Lyonnais to Roma for €5M mostly to be Daniele De Rossi’s reserve: it is tough to unseat the veteran, but it was reasonable to expect more than two mere starts at this point and the performances were rather underwhelming. His partner in the midfield is Francesco Cassata, whom Sassuolo signed from Juventus for €7M. The Neroverdi have had all sorts of problems and tried many different combinations, but the versatile youngster has yet to log a single minute.

In the three-man forward line behind the striker, we have Adam Ounas on the right flank: Maurizio Sarri is always very hesitant in giving minutes to newcomers, especially the younger ones, but right now he has a €10M player sitting on the bench. A magnified example of that is Federico Bernardeschi, which Juventus pried away from Fiorentina for €40M: he had a single start, against Atalanta, where he scored. Massimiliano Allegri did the same thing with Paulo Dybala and Marko Pjaca in the previous seasons, so it is likely only a matter of time. Also, like Sarri, he had little reasons to move on from the regular starters. On the left wing, there is Oliver Kragl: he was a top player in Serie B and you would think that the talent-poor Crotone would be able to use him in some way, but so far he has not cracked the regular rotation, featuring only in small twenty-minute cameos.

There were some good candidates for the role of the lone strikers, such as Sampdoria’s Dawid Kownacki and Udinese’s Riad Bajic, but the starting job goes to Benevento’s Samuel Armenteros. It is tough for foreigners to adapt to a new league, but Benevento have struggled so much offensively and every combination of Massimo Coda, Pietro Iemmello and George Puscas has been disappointing. Perhaps the coach should trust Armenteros more, who scored 29 times with Heracles last season, but it looks like he will move to a trident, therefore limiting the playing opportunities for the strikers.

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