Not every gameweek gets a preview. Only the really special, deserving ones receive the red carpet treatment, and this one is the biggest yet. As outlined in the review of leagues a few weeks back, Serie A is possibly the closest and most competitive league in FFS UEFA, with only 3 points separating 2nd place from 11th place, no runaway leader and 14 teams sitting on points differences between -50 and +50 over 9 weeks of action. GW10 marks the halfway point of this Serie A season, with the battle for the title and European spots continuing in earnest. As you doubtless know, the top 4 enter the Champions League with places 5-10 entering the Europa League.
The fixtures are perfectly set up to create a gameweek of destiny. In the top half of the table, 1st plays 6th, 3rd plays 8th and 4th plays 9th. Potential banana skins loom for the current high-fliers, with 2nd playing 20th and 5th playing 17th, among many other exciting matchups.
But if that wasn’t enough, we’ve been hit at Halloween by the FPL gameweek of horror. The fixtures looked bad enough to us at last gameweek’s deadline. All hell then broke loose and made for the nearest template footballer. First Wilson out for months, Berba’s rib scare, and Ba’s shin tweak and subbing off. Despite this, the worst was yet to come, and come it did at the end of the working week. Today’s news that Mata’s hamstring is “very doubtful” leaves many people struggling to field a full team without hits. The possibilities are endless. The horror is unending.
Welcome… to the Gameweek of Horror!
Atalanta (MJ6987, 1st) v Napoli (Daniel, 6th)
Top of the league by 3 points, MJ6987 looks to squeeze out another victory but is up against an unpredictable opponent in Daniel who does have a remarkably high points difference of 67. At the back it’s Cuellar, Hughes and Clyne for MJ6987 against Gallas, Johnson and Wilson, with half carrying injuries. Midfield comes down to Fellaini against Nolan with the other 4 slots very much agreed on, it appears. Even the forward lines are very similar, with the only difference being Daniel’s Aguero against RVP. Looks like this one is coming down to who sorts their defence out best…
Udinese (Menly, 2nd) v Catania (Djerbil, 20th)
Looking to emulate his hero Di Natale by qualifying for the Champ… oops, best not to mention that I guess… Menly plays the bottom placed Djerbil. It’s not been a great season so far for Djerbil but as they say, he must be due. Both have Foster so may well be tied in goal. The defensive battle is fought between the home team’s Mertesacker, Baines, Hughes and the recuperating Demel, against Hangeland, Gorkss, doubtful Cuellar and the injured Gibbs. Again, both could be a bit light in defence. The midfield battle is interesting with Udinese playing Bale, Gervinho, Morrison and Yaya against Mata, Nolan, Cazorla and Ben Arfa. Fascinating variety. Up front there are no players in common either, with Udinese’s Ba, Suarez and Lambert facing off against Aguero, Berbatov and Fletcher. An extremely open game.
Chievo Verona (Reina Man, 3rd) v US Pescara (Goonerdhanesh, 8th)
The FFS resident photographer Reina Man faces off against my fellow Goonerdhanesh in a European qualification battle. It’s almost certain to be Mignolet v Begovic in goal – looks pretty even between the two most exciting defences in the Premiership. Defence is competitive with Mertesacker, Hughes, Baines and Demel up against Ivanovic, Cuellar, Rafael, McAuley and Clyne. Including the injured Wilson, that’s 10 different defenders. Midfield is again open with Michu, Sterling, Pienaar and Ben Arfa meeting Bale, the very doubtful Mata, Yaya and Fellaini. Up front it’s yet more refreshing variety – perhaps the secret of Serie A’s competitiveness! – with RVP, Tevez and Petric against Ba, Berbatov and Lambert. Wide open.
Internazionale (Isacki, 4th) v Sampdoria (Megatron x, 9th)
This is the bit where the author tries desperately not to give away his transfers while setting out the battle lines. Having finally got a winning run together, he takes on the most psychedelic guy in the deadzone – megatron x. With both owning Begovic, there’s a possibility of cancelling out in the goalkeeper area. Defence looks like a scene from a slasher movie with both teams suffering from Cuellar doubts and an “unknown return date” for Demel. Isacki has Richards out for the count too. So it’s Boyce and whoever manages to turn up against Gorkss and Davies. In midfield it’s Mata and Sterling against Maloney and Hazard, with Sampdoria looking in much better shape there. Up front it’s RVP, Berbatov and the repeatedly-benched Lambert against Ba, Suarez and Tevez. It’s Sampdoria’s to lose… no pressure!
Lazio (Forca Inter, 5th) v Torino (BowString 92, 17th)
Everyone’s favourite Suarez fan hosts the famous talking FPL fish. In a bizarre twist of fate, it’s actually the away team that own Suarez, pairing him with Tevez against Ba and Jelavic in a contest that will probably be decided by the condition of Ba’s shin. In goal it’s likely to be even with both owning Foster. In defence it’s Hughes, Gorkss, Nelsen and doubtful Demel against Gallas, Davies and Rafael with Wilson injured. Clean sheets look scarce. The midfield comes down to Mata, Cazorla, Bale and Michu and injured Guthrie against Fellaini, Yaya, Morrison and Sterling and injured Gervinho. Another hard one to call.
Juventus (Pratik, 10th) v Bologna (Frazek, 15th)
Council member Pratik looks to improve in his own competition against Spurs fan Frazek. Both will probably choose to play Begovic in goal. In defence it’s Gallas, Hughes and the curiously missing Steven Taylor against Coloccini, doubtful Cuellar and Wisdom. Midfield is open with Ben Arfa, admirable differential Gerrard and Bale against Michu, Yaya and a fading Kacaniklic. Up front, the home team goes without RVP to field a midpriced forward line of Podolski, Berbatov and Ba against RVP, will-he-won’t-he-play Lambert and Aguero. Will Frazek’s heavy hitter attack see him through or Pratik’s midfield flair triumph?
Palermo (Mark, 11th) v AC Milan (Milanista, 18th)
Scoutcast fan Milanista will perhaps be listening a little closer to this week’s podcast looking for subliminal messages in his battle against Mr FFS, so be prepared for the inexplicable appearance of Victor Moses. The home team edges behind in goal, with Jaaskelainen against Begovic or Foster. The home team’s defence is also threadbare with current injuries setting up Davies against Boyce, Rafael and McAuley. It’s in midfield that the battle hots up with steadfast keeper Cazorla, Hazard and Michu against Bale, Kightly and a not-so-hazardous Mata. Up front Mark edges ahead with Tevez and Berbatov against Lambert and Jelavic.
Parma (Little_Wizard123, 13th) v AS Roma (Udit, 7th)
The lesser spotted Udit travels to Parma knowing a win could propel him into the Champions League spots, while a win for Little_Wizard123 could get him into the Europa zone. In goal it’s Begovic v Begovic/Foster. In defence it’s Baines, Cuellar and McAuley against Hangeland and Figueroa with Fabio injured. In midfield, Maloney and Sterling play the Batman duo of Bale and Nolan – very much in keeping with an Udit grav. Strikers are slightly in the home team’s favour with Tevez and Fletcher against Jelavic and Lambert. Too close to call.
Genoa (EX, 14th) v Fiorentina (RoysCallerAnne, 16th)
Old-timer in more ways than one – I really do think I am going to pay for writing this article – RoysCallerAnne hosts Ex in a battle to stay clear of the “relegation zone” which actually doesn’t exist because there are no lower leagues. It’s another Begovic v Begovic/Foster affiar in goal. Defence is Rangel, Cuellar and the benched Steven Taylor against Davies, Boyce and the injured Demel. Midfield is Michu, Sterling and Pienaar against Nolan, injured Guthrie and injured Gervinho. It’s Giroud v Tevez up front. As if to complete the uncertainty, both own Ba. The home team look likelier to field 11. It might come down to that.
Cagliari (Grounderz, 19th) v Siena (Running Riot, 12th)
Second-from-bottom Grounderz hopes to finally get Running Riot. Grounderz’s defence of Baines, Hughes, doubtful Clark and injured Demel against RR’s Santon, Gorkss, Davies and Cole could be a close one. Both own Fonte, and must feel rather chuffed at picking the only Southampton defender who hasn’t been an absolute disaster. In midfield the old Mata v Hazard debate rears its head again, with Yaya and the injured Guthrie against Michu and Sterling. The strikers are identical. The away team could nick it.
20 teams down and 300 players digested. It’s down to you now to escape from the Gameweek of Horror!