It was a good week for midfielders as several of them managed to score in the two games played. Continue reading
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
Fiorentina were expected to struggle at the beginning of the season: they have lost a lot of talent in the summer and the starting XI is basically brand new. During the last transfer market window, they have sold Federico Bernardeschi, Nikola Kalinic, Matias Vecino, Borja Valero, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Josip Ilicic and Ciprian Tatarusanu and replacing them right away is challenging. Yet, it was fair to expect a little more from the Viola after a few games of gelling.
They never had a chance against Inter, when the squad was still incomplete, and the loss to Sampdoria in the second match day already raised some eyebrows. Then they went on to win two games in a row against Hellas Verona and Bologna, but fell back to bad habits in the following three, where they were defeated by Juventus and Chievo Verona and dropped points to Atalanta at home. They let the opponents come back in the last two outings and the result against the Flying Donkeys is worrisome: a team that aims at a European spot is supposed to take care of those matches, especially when they score the opening goal.
As a consequence, they already find themselves in a little hole in the standings: they are in 13th position, five points behind Torino and Milan who are tied in sixth place. Sampdoria, Chievo Verona and Atalanta have all collected more points than them. The season is long and there is plenty of time to recover: the really concerning aspect is that they do not have a clear identity yet and it is ùhard to pinpoint what they are good at. It is not certainly defending, as they have already conceded ten goals and looked very shaky.
German Pezzella has been solid and Davide Astori is okay, but the backline as a whole has looked porous. Out of the four fullbacks, only Vincent Laurini can be labelled as decent in the defensive phase, but he still made few blunders in his prolonged time at Empoli, while the other three all have an offense-first mentality. It also does not help that they play with only two midfielders. Stefano Pioli is reportedly working on some changes.
The first step will likely be to move Marco Benassi back a few meters: he does not work as a no.10 and will be more efficient in his natural position in a three-man midfield. At some point, the coach will have to add a centre-back: Vitor Hugo struggled early on, but he was highly touted before joining and they acquired the youngster Nikola Milenkovic as well. Carlos Sanchez and Vincent Laurini also have experience in that position. A 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 would help Bruno Gaspar and Cristiano Biraghi massively, because they are better when attacking and have decent feet.
The main problem is that moving away from 4-2-3-1 would impact their depth as the roster was assembled for that tactic. Benassi was a placeholder until Riccardo Saponara returned and Cyril Thereau, Valentin Eysseric and Gil Dias would have to share minutes in a formation with one less attacker, where Federico Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone would obviously be heavily featured. The youngsters Simone Lo Faso, Rafik Zechnini and Ianis Hagi, who could maybe find some playing time down the line, would have very limited chances. It would not be a zero-sum game, but they need to do something because the direction they were built for is not working that well.
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