Previewing Serie A Clubs for the Rest of the Season (Part Four)

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The anticipation in my head is building like crazy, as tomorrow the Serie A season will resume! Here’s my article previewing Serie A clubs for the rest of the season (part four). Be sure to enjoy it!

Roma

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I’m not really sure what to make of this season for Roma. I predicted them to finish in the top four at the beginning of the season. But, results-wise, I don’t think they’ve disappointed that much being in fifth. At the beginning of the season, they were a bit inconsistent. As the season has gone on, they’ve definitely improved. Dzeko has been decent upfront. At the back, the likes of Smalling and Mancini have also formed a decent partnership. Even Veretout and Diawara have done their jobs in the midfield. What may help this squad be in the Champions League next season is the fact that Zaniolo will be back. We’ll see if he can help elevate them to that next level for the remainder of the season.

Atalanta

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Like I’ve mentioned many times, Atalanta has been performing above expectations by far this season. They qualified for the Champions League for the first time, as a result of finishing third last season. Once again, they’re holding on to a Champions League spot for next season. The fact that they could perform at this high of a level in the league and qualify to the quarterfinals of the Champions League is amazing, to say the least! Considering, the revenue the club earns. Roma is only 3 points away from them for that final Champions League spot. Don’t ever doubt this squad, though. We’ll see if Gasperini can lead Atalanta to the Champions League once again!

Inter

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This season has been an interesting one for the nerazzuri. During the first half of the season, it seemed like they could go toe to toe with Juve for the scudetto. However, in the second half of the season, their form dipped significantly. They definitely possess the players to be scudetto contenders. However, it seemed as though their opponents began to figure out their tactics more and how to limit them. In Inter’s match last Saturday against Napoli, Antonio Conte changed his formation from a 3-5-2 to 3-4-1-2 and Christian Eriksen started. He definitely showed how good Inter can be when he starts. We’ll see if Conte keeps using the 3-4-1-2 for the rest of the season.

Lazio

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I don’t think that Lazio or even calcio fans, in general, could’ve expected Lazio to perform this well. Kudos to them! Everything has seemed to click for this squad. As a result, they’re neck and neck with Juve for the scudetto. Before this all happened, they went on a massive unbeaten run in the league. This whole situation may effect that momentum. However, one thing is certain. That thing is that if they keep the momentum up from before, surely, they’ll win the scudetto. That’d be something remarkable if it happened! I’m sure Napoli fans wouldn’t be impressed, as they’ve been Juve’s main contender for the scudetto over the last several seasons and they haven’t been able to pull it off.

Juventus

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It’s clear that this season Juve hasn’t had the same fear factor in Serie A as previous ones. Sarri shares a little bit of blame for that. But, it’s mostly because of Juve’s upper-management. In the summer, they didn’t address Juve’s right-back and central midfield issues. As a result, their flaws have been very explicit. Sarri has also had a tough time this season, so far. Yes, they’re in first but he’s had trouble implementing his style of play with their current squad. A big part of that is because the midfield doesn’t fit his style of play. He could implement Sarriball with this squad. But, the issue would be is they’d get exposed badly at the back. We’ll see if Maurizio Sarri can lead Juve to a Scudetto, in his debut season with the club.

Thank you for reading all four articles previewing Serie A clubs for the rest of the season! I don’t about you, but I’m so excited to finally be able to watch Serie A once again! We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out.

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Previewing the Second Legs of the Coppa Italia Semifinal Ties

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I’m so excited because the Italian Soccer we’ve all been craving for months will return this Friday and Saturday! The Coppa Italia will return with the second leg of both the Coppa Italia semifinal matches. The first semifinal second leg will take place on Friday between Juve and AC Milan. The other semifinal second leg will take place on Saturday between Napoli and Inter. Here is my article, previewing the second legs of the Coppa Italia Semifinal Ties!

Juventus Vs. AC Milan

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In the first leg, Milan definitely outplayed Juve. However, due to Juve scoring a penalty in stoppage time of the second half, they’re at a bit of a disadvantage going into the second leg in Turin. Before this whole situation, AC Milan was beginning to find themselves once again and we’re challenging for a Europa League spot for next season. Indeed, it seemed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had brought much-needed leadership to the squad. However, he’ll be out of this match with a calf injury. So, it’ll be tough to get a result. Also, going to the Allianz Stadium is already tough to play in, nevermind getting a result. So, it’ll be very difficult to get a favourable result. But, anything is possible.

This season has been shaky so far this season for Juve. Sarri has had trouble implementing his preferred style of play because of Juve’s lack of creative midfielders. Even, in the first leg, Juve didn’t look at their best, whatsoever. They got outplayed for basically the whole match. As a Juve fan, it was definitely frustrating to watch. Despite that, they were able to get the job done and secure the advantage heading into the second leg. Having an advantage will definitely help to go into the second leg at home. However, with no crowd, the home advantage may not apply for Juve in this match.

Napoli Vs. Inter

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At the beginning of the current season, Inter were flying high and seemed like the Serie A contender many thought they should be before it started. However, as the season progressed, their performances began to decline. Even, in the first leg of this semifinal match against Napoli, they looked shaky. Although, they may have felt that they should’ve got a result. The match was also at the Stadio San Siro, so that was a big blow to them. Hopefully, Conte changes the squad’s formation going into the second leg, as they’ll play away at the Stadio San Paolo.

Napoli was flying high before. Gattuso was rapidly improving the squad and leading them to better results after performing below expectations for the first half of the season. Signing Lobotka in the winter definitely helped them as well. They even have a lead over Inter going into the second leg of their Coppa Italia tie. They’ll also be playing at home which may tremendously help them. The only issue will be the same as every other club in Serie A, which is they’ll be playing behind closed doors. We’ll see if they can replicate their usual form at home with no fans to cheer them on.

Thank you for reading this article! Let me know your predictions for these matches in the comments. If you haven’t already, be sure to follow me on Twitter @calciofanblogs1, on Instagram @calciofanblogs. Be sure to follow and like my Facebook Page, which is Calcio Fan Blogs. Additionally, if you would like to reach out to me via email, write to josephporco6@gmail.com or calciofanblogs@gmail.com.

Here’s Napoli’s goal against Inter in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal tie! Video Via: Youtube-Fon Tifunus

Inter Milan’s Needs in the Summer Transfer Window

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Man Utd eye swoop for Inter Milan centre-back Diego Godin

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So far, it’s been a season fulls of many ups and downs for Inter. They definitely possess the talent to compete for Scudetto. However, they’ve been exposed in some areas. So, here’s my latest article where I write about Inter Milan’s needs in the Summer Transfer Window. 

 

First Need: A Right-Back/Right-Wingback 

Moses grabs assist in Inter Milan's comeback derby win against AC ... 

   Image Via: https://www.sportingnews.com/ 

As I’ve eluded to in previous articles such as this one, a top right-back at a decent price is tough to find. However, like some other clubs, Inter definitely needs one. In Inter’s case, their search is even more difficult, though. Antonio Conte likes to play a 3-5-2, which requires wingbacks. It’s tough to suggest right-wing backs they should go for just because not a lot of clubs play with that formation.  However, one player that could maybe fit that mould is Joao Cancelo. He definitely has to work on his ability to defend. But, he’s fast and can definitely create a lot of great attacking plays from that position. Victor Moses is not good enough in that position for Inter, neither is Candreva. Also, signing Cancelo would be simpler than the last couple of summers, considering at Manchester City, he hasn’t gotten playing time. This is definitely Inter’s biggest need and an area they should invest in, in the Summer. 

 

Second Need: A Box-to-Box Central Midfielder 

   Image Via: https://sempreinter.com/ 

This is an interesting one because, on paper, their starting midfield doesn’t have flaws. It definitely has little vulnerability. However, if Inter can, it’d be great if they tried to sign a box-to-box midfielder in the next transfer window. Now, this is a tough position to go for just because similarly to a right-back, it’s tough to find a top box-to-box midfielder for a cheap price. For this Summer, I don’t think it’s realistic for them to sign Sergej Milinkovic-Savic or Paul Pogba, who can play that position. However, since Stefano Sensi is injury-prone, maybe, they can sign a box-to-box midfielder to rotate with him, throughout next season. This is not their primary need in the Summer, but it’s an area worth looking at.  

 

Third Need: Depth at Centreback 

  Image Via: https://sempreinter.com/ 

Within Inter’s starting 11, they definitely have top Centrebacks. The likes of Skriniar, De Vrij and even Bastoni have been tremendous this season. The only thing Inter needs to improve in this area is their depth. Godin has lived up to expectations at Inter. However, I think he’d be a great backup option. I think that if Inter wants to improve their depth in this area, looking at players such as Kumbulla, Armando Izzo, or even Felipe may help immensely. It’d also be good to increase competition with any of those signings, which would increase their level of performance. Hopefully, they can sign either of those three or others in the centreback position. 

Maybe, the current season resumes and Inter improves their place in the standings. However, either way, these needs should be addressed. Of course, if it can be done. So, there you have it, here’s this article where I discuss Inter Milan’s needs in the summer transfer window. 

 

 

 

 

Previewing the Derby d’Italia

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It was officially announced yesterday, that the Derby d’Italia will be played behind closed doors on Sunday, March 8th at 3:45 pm Eastern Time. This means that there will be no fans attending the match. However, despite that, it’s still going to be such a crucial match. So, here’s my article previewing the Derby d’Italia!

Inter Milan

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The season is mostly finished and Inter has definitely looked better than the last several seasons. However, recently their form has dipped. In their last five Serie A matches, they’ve won two matches, they’ve lose two matches and drew a match. That form has led them to go down in the table. Currently, they sit third in Serie A. If Inter are to win this match, I’d advise Conte to not play the 3-5-2. Unfortunately, their wingbacks are vulnerable defensively, which will make this formation very tough to implement. Especially, against a side such as Juve. I’d also advise Conte to start Christian Eriksen in this match.

Juventus

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Juve fans like myself will find it tough to complement Juve’s season so far. They’ve looked a bit shaky. However, in Serie A, they’ve had a pretty good season through the majority of it. They’re one point clear at the top of the table. Their form hasn’t been superb in the league lately, as they’ve won three out of their last five matches. If I were to give advise to Maurizio Sarri, it’d be to implement the 4-3-1-2 for this match. Unfortunately, Juve doesn’t seem to have good enough wingers going forward to play the 4-3-3. In my opinion, I think the 4-3-1-2 works for them, as they’ve looked more fluid going forward.

Match Prediction

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Based on this match being played behind closed doors, the Derby d’Italia will definitely be different this time around. Juve won’t be about to feed off the energy of the crowd, as they do with most matches they play at the Allianz Stadium. Just because of that, I think it’ll be a 1-1 draw. Whatever the result, get ready for the popcorn. It should be awesome!

Previewing Lazio Against Inter

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There are a lot of matches over the course of the Serie A season that are crucial. However, this one probably tops all of them so far. Both Inter and Lazio are competing in a tight scudetto race and this could be a deciding match in it. So, here’s the article of me previewing Lazio against Inter.

Lazio

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Coming into this match, Lazio are among the scudetto contenders. I assume that pundits and fans can’t believe it. However, they have the potential to win the Scudetto, for sure. Everything has been working out for them this season. Immobile is Serie A’s leading scorer with 25 goals thus far. His partner in crime, Joaquin Correa is doing decent as well. Things have definitely fallen in to place for them. Heading into this match, they’re undefeated in their last 5 league matches. Indeed, if they play as they have for the better part of the season, Inter will have a very difficult match on their hands. Consider, Lazio is playing Inter at the Stadio Olimpico as well.

Inter

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For Inter, this season has definitely been a good one so far. Yes, many expected them to be scudetto contenders this season. But, I don’t know who thought they’d make the title race this tight. Antonio Conte has definitely got the best out of his squad. Their defence and midfield are great sights to watch. Even, upfront both Lautaro Martinez and Romelu lukaku are having tremendous seasons. That striker duo has combined for 28 goals so far this season, which is very surprising. Coming into this match, they’ve been undefeated in the last 5 matches. However, out of those 5 matches, they’ve only got 2 wins. However, one thing is for sure and that’s the fact that this match will probably be Inter’s biggest challenge so far this season.

What to Make of Inter’s New Signing, Ashley Young

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I have to admit that when I first heard the news that Inter would sign Ashley Young, I didn’t agree with it. However, as I started thinking about it, I realized he’s actually a decent signing for Inter. So, this may actually work out in Inter’s favour in the end. Here’s why signing Ashley Young may be beneficial for Inter this season.

WHY WILL ASHLEY YOUNG FIT INTO INTER’s SYSTEM OF PLAY?

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Like many, I thought that Inter signing Ashley Young would be ridiculous, considering his age. However, he has way more to offer than that. Right now under Antonio Conte, Interplays very tight and for the most part, their defenders lack speed and the ability to create in open play. Fortunately, Ashley Young can do that. He’ll provide an extra bit of creativity to Inter when they’re trying to create offence from the back. Ashley Young is fairly fast and is also a decent crosser of the ball, so, he’ll provide that extra boost inter needs going forward. That provides balance to this Inter side that doesn’t have many players at the back who can go forward with the ball as he can. There’s no doubt, Inter being tight at the back has worked for the most part under Antonio Conte. However, in modern calcio, a club needs defenders who can provide decent service going forward. The only drawback of Ashley Young other than his age is his vulnerability defensively. However, if he buys into Antonio Conte’s system, he should enjoy his time at Inter Milan.

WILL SIGNING ASHLEY YOUNG INCREASE INTER’s CHANCES OF WINNING THE SCUDETTO?

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I’m sure the biggest question that many Serie A fans are asking is whether Ashley Young can help Inter win the scudetto. I definitely think that if Ashley Young buys into Conte’s system, he’ll be of great assistance to Inter. The question here though is whether Ashley Young’s signing will actually increase their chances of winning the scudetto. Personally, I don’t think he’ll increase Inter’s chances of winning Italy’s most coveted prize. I believe he’s a good player, however, I don’t believe he’s a gamechanger. Maybe, ManU or even Inter fans will read this article and think that I’m completely wrong, which may be true. However, in my opinion, he’s not the calibre of play to instantly increase Inter’s chances of winning the Scudetto. He may provide balance to their very tactical squad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll make the ultimate difference for them. However, I’m curious to see whether he makes a bigger impact on Inter than I think he will. We’ll begin to see the scope of his impact tomorrow at 9 am Eastern Time, when Inter squares off with Lecce.

The Most Impressive Clubs So Far This Season in Serie A

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Like every season, there’s been several surprises so far. However, it seems as though there has been more surprisingly overachieving clubs than usual, this season. Here’s who I think have been the most impressive Serie A clubs, so far this season.

HELLAS VERONA

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Many Serie A fans would’ve thought that coming into this season, Hellas Verona would battle relegation throughout. However, they’ve proved so many wrong and may challenge for a spot in a European competition if they continue like this. They currently sit in ninth in the standings. The interesting part of Hellas Verona is the fact that they don’t possess any notable players. But, they’re getting the job done and that’s what matters the most. Well see if they can avoid a relegation battle throughout the rest of this season.

CAGLIARI

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When Nainggolan was loaned to Cagliari, it seemed as if his biggest motivation was to prove Inter wrong. So far, him and Cagliari are doing just that. Yes, Cagliari sold their star player last season, Nicolo Barella. However, they’re boasting players such as Joao Pedro, Giovanni Simeone, and of course Radja Nainggolan, who are taking the league by storm. Also, they boast some decent veterans such as Ragnar Klavan and Luca Cigarini as well. All in all, they’re a very underrated squad and at this rate, they have a good chance of being in the Europa League next season. They’re also challenging for the Champions League, so watch out for this squad.

LAZIO

Image Credit: http://sundaypost.com

So far, Lazio looks like a very tough club to face. Ciro Immobile has scored the most goals out of all players in Europe’s top 5 leagues, this season. Once again, he is feeling it. They also sit 3rd in the Serie A table and are an exciting club to watch. They play a very offensive style. Also, unlike past seasons, it seems they’ve found a defender who can be a rock for them at the back. Right now, that’s Francesco Acerbi. They also possess Joaquin Correa who plays as a forward. Him and Immobile seem to complement each other’s games. They also a boast a midfield that has the highly touted? Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, as well as Luis Alberto, who is massively underrated. It’ll be tough, however if they can keep being this consistent, we’ll see them in the Champions League next season.

INTER

Image Credit: http://sempreinter.com

Inter has a very good manager in Antonio Conte at their disposal. However, despite that, I predicted they’d finish in third before the season started. But, Inter is definitely proving me wrong by a wide-margin. Antonio Conte has gotten this squad to play how he wants them to already. Also, although Barella and Sensi are currently injured, they’ve been a massive part of this midfield that has dominated many other Serie A sides. Upfront, with Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, they’ve been pretty good, as well. That midfield is a big part of it, in my opinion. Not to take away either from Martinez or Lukaku, but the service that midfield has provided to those two is a big part of why they’re playing tremendously right now. As for their backline, nothing needs to be said. Many expected that backline to be a wall and it has lived up to that, so far. We’ll see if they’re able to get enough points to win Serie A’s iron throne this season. One thing is for sure, it’ll be a tough fight, but one they’re winning as of now.

3 Takeaways From Last Weekend’s Serie A Action

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Like usual, this past weekend of Serie A matches were amazing! As a result of the matches this past weekend, there were two managers fired, as well. This made this past weekend’s fixtures seem even more fascinating. So, here are 3 of my takeaways from last weekend’s Serie A matches!

 

1. JUVE SHOWED WHY THEY’VE KEEP WINNING THE SERIE A TITLE WHEN THEY FACED INTER.

 

Image Credit: timesofmalta.com

This past weekend, Juve were victors in the Derby D’Italia, beating Inter 2-1. However, this match demonstrated why they’ve won the scudetto 8 consecutive times. Not only did they get the job done, but they dominated such a big match in the Serie A. I’ve had my doubts about Maurizio Sarri ever since he got appointed to be the manager of the bianconeri. However, it seems as though the squad is beginning to learn how to fit within his system. In my view, Juve’s defence still needs work. However, Bonucci looks as though he is becoming comfortable with leading that backline. Despite, Juve’s key injuries, they don’t look like they’re missing a beat, whatsoever.

2. SAMPDORIA NEED TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER QUICKLY

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Last season, Sampdoria seemed like they had so much upside under Giampaolo. Then, he left and they appointed Eusebio Di Francesco. I must admit that before the season started, I had written a blog post that mentioned Sampdoria as being underrated with Di Francesco as their manager. However, I was completely wrong and instead, he was a bust at Sampdoria. After, only leading Sampdoria to one win in his seven matches on the touchline, it was inevitable that he’d be sacked and he was. Now, Sampdoria will need to get back to how they played last season if they want to finish in a mid-table spot by the end of the season. They will need to fix their issues fast, as they are currently on track to be relegated to Serie B by the end of this season.

3. AC MILAN WON AGAINST GENOA, BUT GIAMPAOLO IS NO LONGER THEIR MANAGER

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AC Milan has now gone through 8 different managers in 5 years as a result of this sacking. The weird part is that AC Milan’s upper-management decided to sack Giampaolo after they won against Genoa last Saturday. However, it is not surprising, as AC Milan’s upper-management seems to not have had patience with their managers over the past several seasons. I understand that under Giampaolo, AC Milan were performing way below par, but they should’ve given him more time to implement his philosophy with the squad. However, the club’s board has clearly not possessed patience for a while, in regards to the managers they’ve hired. As a result, they are a mess and all I will say to AC Milan’s new manager is good luck because whoever it is, will need a ton of it.

 

 

Predicting How Well Italian Clubs Will Do in the Champions League This Season

For those who don’t know, this should turn out to be an exciting season for Serie A clubs in the Champions League!  It will make for an exciting season for calcio fans and hopefully, we’ll see all four Serie A clubs in the semifinals of the Champions League. However, based on my predictions for each of them, that’s unlikely. So, here is how I think the Serie A clubs will do in the Champions League this season!

   1. INTER MILAN 

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Inter will be playing their first Champions League match this season against Slavia Prague today at 12:55 pm Eastern Time. When Inter fans and members of the club envisioned who would be in their group, no one anticipated that they’d be in the group of death. Indeed, Lionel Messi will return to the San Siro for the second consecutive year to face Inter. Inter is also joined by Borussia Dortmund and Slavia Prague in this group, making it very tough to get through to the round of 16. In all honesty, I predict that Inter will finish third in the group, as they will be with two clubs in Dortmund and Barcelona that are juggernauts in Europe and it may be too much for this Inter side. However, they could definitely surprise many people.

2. NAPOLI

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Image Credit: http://www.espn.com

While, Napoli were in a favorable position before the draw began, I don’t think they could’ve anticipated an easier group on paper than they’ve gotten. Make no mistake, no Champions League match is simple, but the group Napoli got dealt is one of the most simple they could’ve gotten. Yes, they’re with the 2019 Champions League winners, Liverpool. But, other than that, they’re with Genk and Red Bull Salzburg. Considering, Napoli’s group as well as the fact that they made some key signings over the summer in Hirving Lozano, Kostas Manolas, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t get in second place in the group and get through to the knockout phase of the competition. Their first match will be later today against Liverpool at 3 pm Eastern Time.

3. JUVENTUS

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                                  Image Credit: thenational.ae

Juventus shocked their fans with some of the moves they made in the summer. Many fans were left scratching their heads with some of those moves or lack of moves that weren’t made. However, that’s all behind us and the season has started. They’ve been drawn in a decent group with Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, and Lokomotiv Moscow. I predict that Juve should get through to the round of 16 in second in this group. However, the sky is the limit for this club if they play at their best. Not even the beasts at Atletico Madrid can stop them. Their first Champions League match will take place at 3 pm Eastern Time on Wednesday!

4. ATALANTA 

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Atalanta will make their first ever Champions League appearance on Wednesday at 3 pm Eastern time against Dinamo Zagreb. They got drawn into a group with Manchester City, Shakhtar donetsk, and Dinamo Zagreb. Based on their position heading into the draw, it was inevitable that they’d be drawn into a tough group. This will be a very tough group for Atalanta, but the good thing is they don’t have high expectations heading into this competition, so it might actually work in their favor. I predict that they’ll finish in second in their group behind Man City. I hope they demonstrate their quality in this group, as I feel their an underrated club coming into competition. They could very well make some noise this season.

I’ve predicted three out of the four Serie A clubs in the Champions League this season to qualify for the champions League round of 16. But, hopefully it’s all four clubs!

 

 

Previewing Inter Milan vs. Lecce

Every other Serie A club will play on both Saturday and Sunday except for Inter Milan and Lecce. However, this match should be intriguing like the rest and is worth previewing. So, here is the preview of this Monday’s match for both clubs.

    Inter 

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       Image Credit: sempreinter.com

     Over the last couple of months, Inter has vastly transformed itself in terms of their manager, as well as some of their players. Before the summer transfer window, Inter hired the always animated, Antonio Conte, to be their man behind the bench. For many, this marks a change from Inter’s recent years, as Conte expects the best out of his players and doesn’t take any nonsense. Also, Inter have vastly transformed their player personnel on the field, too. First off, they’ve sold a key player in Radja Nainggolan and loaned out Ivan Perisic to Bayern Munich. They’ve also given Mauro Icardi, who was their star striker for many seasons, the number 7 to wear. Inter have signed some good players in Diego Godin, Stefano Sensi, Nicolo Barella, and Romelu Lukaku over the course of the summer, as well. As a result of these changes, many within the nerazzuri fan base expect them to compete for the scudetto this season. Monday at the Stadio San Siro against Lecce will be a good test for them to begin to see if they’re capable of winning Italy’s coveted prize this season.

                                                                             Lecce 

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Image Credit: trnews.it

        For Lecce’s fans and people who work for the club, this upcoming season may be very memorable. The club has been through trouble, as they’ve had to win promotion from Serie C (Italy’s third division) to Serie B (Italy’s second division) in the 2017-2018 season. Then, they finally got promoted to Serie A for this season. It will be very exciting for this club to be in Italy’s top flight once again, considering the struggle they’ve went through in recent years. However, they haven’t been very active in the summer transfer market. But, that is understandable considering they’re a newly promoted side.  Their first match will see them travel to Milan to face an Inter side that could challenge for this season’s scudetto. It’ll be a very steep test for this newly promoted club. However, they don’t have much expectations coming into this season, so they could very well catch Inter off guard. There is no doubt that they cannot miss a beat on Monday, if they’re going to get something out of it. However, sometimes low expectations can help clubs more than they hurt them.

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