Tag Archives: Sassuolo

Manchester City eye best replacement for Fernandinho

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Despite this small blot on his record, Locatelli’s passing has come on leaps and bounds this season and a few years of Guardiola’s tutelage should be enough to get him up to scratch.

After nearly a decade of effortless success, Fernandinho’s Manchester City career is finally drawing to a close.

His contract is set to expire at the end of the campaign and even if he does pen fresh terms, one more season is likely all that City can ask of the 35-year-old.

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Despite his declining involvement, he remains an important member of Pep Guardiola’s squad. His absence in midfield last season was harshly felt and it was telling that he recently started in the Manchester derby.

Replacing Fernandinho is not going to be an easy task. City have already tried it once, bringing in Rodri for over £60m two summers ago, but with the Spaniard looking increasingly like a different sort of player, they may be tempted to dip into the market once again.

Recent reports suggest that they are interested in Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli. Aged just 23, he has already been capped multiple times for Italy – but is he really what the Citizens are looking for? NoRM analysed all the relevant stats to find out.

The profile.

At his peak during the 2017/2018 season, Fernandinho was unquestionably the best defensive midfielder in the world.

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Operating as City’s deepest midfielder in their famous 4-3-3, he balanced the roles of playmaker, destructive ball winner and anchor man to devastating effect.

If City want to return to their peak, discovering a player capable of doing all of this is necessary. Therefore, we are looking for a midfielder who can not only excel defensively but also possesses significant playmaking ability and positional discipline.

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Does Locatelli fit the bill? Let’s take a look…

Passing.

Following in a rich tradition of Italian deep lying playmakers before him, Locatelli’s is a terrific passer of the ball.

Capable of breaking the lines with short and long passes, his playmaking ability has particularly stood out this season. During the 2019/2020 campaign, he averaged a progressive passing distance of 296.7 yards per 90 minutes, ranking him 155th in Serie A.

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This term, his numbers have spiked dramatically. After 17 league games this season, he was averaging over 400 yards per 90, a figure eerily close to what Fernandinho posted during City’s Centurions campaign.

Locatelli makes 50+ yards switches to Sassuolo’s wide men look ludicrously easy and his ability to drill hard, low passes through the opponent’s midfield is also worth a mention. While he prefers to pluck away in deep positions, he is often involved in the final stages of the attack as well, racking up well over two shot creating actions per 90 after 17 league matches this season.

Of course, while Guardiola has somewhat surrendered his obsession for possession this season, playing in midfield for one of he teams will not always consist of Hollywood passes. In order to move the opposition out of shape, the Citizens’ deepest midfielder is often used as a bounce board for recycling possession.

This is an area that Locatelli may require some refinement in. Last season, he successfully received 95.5% of his passes. An impressive stat – until you realise Fernandinho has averaged closer to 98% when playing in midfield during his recent career. It may seem like a marginal difference but being sloppy in possession can have significant knock-on effects for a team like City.

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Defending.

Few players are capable of making defending look as sexy as Locatelli. His sliding tackles, in which he contorts his legs at near impossible angles, are a highlight, though his reading of the game is equally impressive.

After his first 16 Serie A games this season, he was leading the way for tackles + interceptions, registering 71 in total.

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Even more impressive, especially for a centre-midfielder, is that he tackled 50% of the dribblers that unwisely choose to take him on during this period. Locatelli also featured in the top ten for blocks at the end of gameweek 17.

Like with his progressive passing stats, his defending has dramatically improved this season, providing further evidence of his exciting potential.

If he comes close to matching the same level of performance for the rest of the campaign, Locatelli will not only match Fernadinho’s 2017/2018 numbers, he will easily surpass them.

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The only area in which there might be a few question marks is his defensive discipline. At times Locatelli plays like, well, a 23-year-old out to prove himself, storming into advanced positions to try and inspire his team to victory.

The fact that he is far better than the majority of his teammates partly explains this, however, to fill Fernandinho’s shoes he will need to be develop increased defensive discipline.

What else can Locatelli bring Manchester City?
Manuel Locatelli
.

While it may not suit him well to an anchor man role, one of Locatelli’s other strengths is driving forward using his pace and strength.

Not only is he strong physically, he also possesses a wide array of flicks and feints, as well as lightning fast feet, which allows him to evade opposition midfielders in close quarters. This box of tricks makes him a real handful for the opposition and it little surprise that only three out-and-out midfielders had carried the ball for more yards progressive yards than him after 17 Serie A games.

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He has also displayed an appetite for an eye-catching goal during his career so far, most notably when he fired an unstoppable effort past Gianluigi Buffon aged just 18.

These two traits suggest that, as well as being well primed to step into the void left by Fernandinho, Locatelli may also excel in a more advanced role at the Etihad Stadium. This makes snapping him for a reported £30m a complete no brainer for Guardiola’s side.

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#Newsworthy

Final score: Sassuolo 1-2 AC Milan

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Game is over and the final score is Sassuolo 1-2 Milan. Here is the match report.

2019/2020 Serie A
1-2
F. Caputo (42′ PEN)
Ibrahimovic (19′)
Ibrahimovic (45’+2′)


Match Events


0′ The match is about to start!

0′ The wait is OVER! Sassuolo vs Milan is underway!

17′ CLOSE! Ibrahimovic’s free-kick over the bar

19′ GOAL! Sassuolo 0-1 Milan (Ibrahimovic)

32′ CLOSE! Ibrahimovic’s header saved

42′ Penalty Goal! Sassuolo 1-1 Milan (Caputo)

47′ GOAL! Sassuolo 1-2 Milan (Ibrahimovic)

51′ Second Yellow Card! Bourabia sent off

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Line-ups

Sassuolo XI: Peluso, A. Consigli, F. Caputo, M. Bourabia, Berardi, L. Haraslín, Marlon, Locatelli, Rogerio, G. Raspadori, M. Müldür

Subs: G. Pegolo, Magnanelli, Djuricic, Toljan, J. Boga, G. Magnani, G. Kiriakopoulos, S. Turati, H. Traorè, A. Ghion, S. Piccinini, G. Manzari

Milan XI: Ibrahimovic, Kjaer, Calhanoglu, Conti, Rebic, Romagnoli, Kessie, Bennacer, Theo, Donnarumma, A. Saelemaekers

Subs: Biglia, A. Begović, Bonaventura, Antonio Donnarumma, Laxalt, Krunic, Calabria, Gabbia, Paqueta, Leao, Brescianini, Maldini.

Must Read

Juventus Vs Ac Milan starting Xi’s revealed


#NobleSports

Juve coach, sarri faults players for poor performance.

…we didn’t use our heads

Juventus’ Italian coach Maurizio Sarri gives instructions during the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta Bergamo vs Juventus on November 23, 2019 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Lautaro Martinez’s first-half brace sent Inter Milan top of Serie A on Sunday with a 2-1 win over SPAL after champions Juventus were held at home by Sassuolo.

“We didn’t use our heads,” lamented Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri after his side dropped their first points at home this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the spot to rescue a 2-2 draw but Juventus slipped one point behind Antonio Conte’s Inter.

Argentinian Martinez put Inter ahead on 16 minutes at the San Siro, and then headed in Antonio Candreva’s cross to score his eighth league goal this season.

Mattia Valoti pulled a goal back, but second-from-bottom SPAL fell to their ninth defeat of the campaign.

Conte has guided Chinese-owned Inter to 12 victories in 14 league games for the first time, and they reclaimed the top spot which they had previously held until their 2-1 defeat by Juventus on October 6.

“When a team like Juventus drops points, you need to make sure that you make the most of that,” said former Juve coach Conte.

In Turin, Leonardo Bonucci struck early for the eight-time reigning champions but Ivorian Jeremie Boga and Francesco Caputo hit back for Sassuolo before Ronaldo’s intervention.

Sassuolo, in 12th, claimed their first ever point at Juventus, and held Sarri’s unbeaten champions to their third draw this season.

“We got into trouble on our own, we didn’t use our heads in the first half, as the goals conceded show,” said Sarri.

“But we were coming off two games in which we used up a lot of energy against Atalanta and Atletico Madrid. We woke up after going behind.”

Veteran Gianluigi Buffon endured a nightmare in the Juventus goal.

The 41-year-old was making just his fifth start this season, putting him two short of Paolo Maldini’s record of 647 Serie A appearances.

Boga dinked the first Sassuolo goal on 22 minutes over the onrushing Buffon, who then fumbled in Caputo’s second after the break following a mix-up between Juan Cuadrado and Matthijs de Ligt.

Napoli crisis intensifies
By contrast, 18-year-old Stefano Turati made an impressive debut in the Sassuolo goal, and pulled off a string of fine saves, denying a Ronaldo free-kick, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala late on.

Ronaldo’s penalty pulled the hosts level in the 68th minute after Filippo Romagna fouled substitute Dybala.

It was the Portuguese star’s fifth Serie A goal this season, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner also having an effort ruled out for offside.

“Ronaldo has regained stamina, the next step will be to recover brilliance, but the road is right,” insisted Sarri.

Lazio consolidated third place — seven points behind Inter — with a 3-0 win over Udinese thanks to a double from Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile, including one from the spot, to bring his tally to 17 goals this season, and a Luis Alberto penalty.

Roma moved up to fourth, two points behind their city rivals, after a 3-1 win at midtable Verona, ahead of Cagliari, who host Sampdoria on Monday.

Justin Kluivert score after 17 minutes in Verona with Diego Perotti converting a penalty just before the break, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan adding a third in injury time.

But Napoli’s winless run stretched to eight games in all competitions with a 2-1 defeat at home by Bologna, leaving last season’s runners-up in seventh.

Bologna got their first win since October 27 with coach Sinisa Mihajlovic back on the bench following a bone marrow transplant as he fights leukaemia.

Despite taking a point in their Champions League game at Liverpool in midweek Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli are five points off the top four.

“It’s a very delicate time for us,” said Ancelotti.

Fernando Llorente put Napoli ahead four minutes before half-time, but Dane Andreas Skov Olsen volleyed in an equaliser just before the hour with Nicola Sansone scoring the winner 10 minutes from time.

Llorente thought he had scored a 95th-minute leveller, but it was ruled offside by VAR.

AC Milan, struggling in 11th, got their first win in a month, 1-0 at Parma.

#Newsworthy…

2-1: Felipe Caicedo Late Winner Puts Sassuolo Away..

Felipe Caicedo snatched a late winner to keep Lazio third in Serie A with a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo on Sunday just ahead of city rivals Roma, who beat Brescia 3-0 with England defender Chris Smalling involved in all of his side’s goals.

Champions Juventus maintained their grip on the top of Serie A with a 3-1 win at Atalanta on Saturday, to stay one-point ahead of Inter Milan who eased past Torino 3-0.

The two Roman outfits are now third and fourth respectively before Cagliari, a point behind in fifth, play lowly Lecce later on Sunday.

Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile struck to put Lazio ahead after 34 minutes in Sassuolo with his 15th league goal this season.

But struggling Sassuolo pulled back a goal back through Francesco Caputo just before the break.

Ecuadorian Caicedo came off the bench to seal a fifth consecutive league win in injury time to keep Lazio seven points behind Inter Milan in third place.

Roma is now two points behind their local rivals after defender Smalling scored and set up the other two goals in a victory over bottom club Brescia.

Smalling, on-loan for the season from Manchester United, headed in the first from a corner after 48 minutes in the Stadio Olimpico.

The 30-year-old then provided the cross that allowed fellow defender Gianluca Mancini to volley in eight minutes later, with Edin Dzeko completing the rout on 66 minutes after Smalling’s headed assist.

Brescia, now coached by 2006 World Cup winner Fabio Grosso, remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

Forward Mario Balotelli was dropped for Sunday’s game because of his lack of commitment in training.

The Italy international tried to play down Thursday’s training ground bust-up with Grosso.

“Recovery! Coming back soon, for the moment let them talk,” the former Marseille attacker said in a post on Instagram showing him undergoing physiotherapy.

Elsewhere, Samuel Di Carmine scored the only goal as Verona piled the pressure on Fiorentina, despite Franck Ribery returning after his three-match suspension.

The Tuscany side is in tenth place with just one point from their last three games.

#Newsworthy…