MX23RW : Thursday, June 24 11:46:25| >> :600:2938016:2938016:
Dec 12, 2020 at 2pm UK at Stadio Ezio Scida
CrotoneCrotone
4-1
SpeziaSpezia
Messias (7', 90+6'), Reca (49'), Henrique (56')
Messias (33'), Henrique (34'), Magallan (70')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Farias (18')
Chabot (3'), Ferrer (22'), Maggiore (64')

Preview: Crotone vs. Spezia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Crotone and Spezia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Rock-bottom Crotone anticipate the visit of fellow promoted side Spezia on Saturday, trailing the Ligurian club by eight points in the Serie A table after a winless start to the campaign.

The visitors have adapted to life in the top flight much more smoothly than Crotone, as Vincenzo Italiano's team have regularly picked up points and plaudits in reaching 15th, just two points outside the top half.


Match preview

Crotone manager Giovanni Stroppa pictured in October 2020© Reuters

Stadio Ezio Scida has not been a particularly happy home for Crotone since their promotion, as Giovanni Stroppa's strugglers have recorded a single draw and four defeats in their five games there to date.

Last week, Gli Squali were thumped 4-0 on home turf by likely Scudetto contenders Napoli, after Jacopo Petriccione was sent off for a high tackle on Diego Demme and they subsequently conceded three second-half goals.

Certainly, Crotone's opening fixture list has been unkind, with most of Serie A's biggest clubs summarily dismissing them - champions Juventus aside, as the sides fought out an unlikely 1-1 draw in October.

Stroppa must have looked at December's packed fixture list and considered that this could represent something of a restart to his team's stalled season. After Spezia's visit, they take on Udinese, Sampdoria and Parma - games from which they must retrieve at least a moderate handful of points if they are to avoid being cut adrift.

Though their defence has hardly been watertight, Crotone's chief problems have been in attack. Stroppa's profligate side have posted the worst shot conversion rate in Serie A so far this season, scoring with only six of their 96 shots - just 6.3%.

Regular strike partners Junior Messias (on 900) and Nigeria international Simy (893) are the two strikers with the most minutes played in Serie A this season, but have only registered four goals combined so far - two of which were from penalties.

No player throughout the league has completed more dribbles than Junior's 27 and the Brazilian forward has also attempted 27 shots so far - to little effect, however.

That must improve significantly this week, particularly in light of their latest visitors' upbeat mood and recent record at Ezio Scida. Spezia have won in their last two away matches at Crotone - 3-0 in December 2018 and 2-1 last January.

Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic celebrates scoring against Inter Milan in February 2020© Reuters

Vincenzo Italiano's side were most unfortunate in their defeat last week, at home to Lazio. The visitors' Sergej Milinkovic-Savic created a goal for Ciro Immobile and curled in an unstoppable free kick, but Lazio were made to labour for their 2-1 win, as the Bianconeri hit the woodwork twice and dominated possession - having two-thirds of the ball.

Spezia finally did get a thoroughly deserved goal through M'Bala Nzola, whose powerful run and left-foot strike into the corner was scant reward for their peppering of Pepe Reina's goal.

The former Liverpool goalkeeper later admitted Lazio were outplayed by "the better side" and home coach Italiano hailed his team's "best performance of the season."

However, often wasteful forwards Diego Farias and Kevin Agudelo must demonstrate a more clinical edge on Saturday, against a direct rival for survival. Frenchman N'Zola, previously plying his trade in the lower divisions, has adapted better to the challenge at hand - registering four goals and an assist in his first seven Serie A starts.

Spezia's first promotion to Serie A in their 114-year history was a moment savoured by many neutrals, as the unassuming Ligurian club made it to the promised land last summer. Their 19 bargain buys and loans signings since arrived from far and wide, in a transfer strategy that first appeared scattergun and doomed to fail.

However, the Bianconeri's start to life in the big time has impressed observers and suggests that they can at least fight against a swift return journey until the 2020-21 season's bitter end.

Crotone Serie A form: LLDLLL
Crotone form (all competitions): DLDLLL

Spezia Serie A form: DLWDDL
Spezia form (all competitions): LWDWDL


Team News

Spezia manager Vincenzo Italiano pictured in November 2020© Reuters

Midfielder Ahmad Benali came off after just half an hour against Napoli and will be missing for Crotone, as Giovanni Stroppa must do without important individuals for this crunch clash.

Benali, Andrea Rispoli and veteran Luca Cigarini will be absent through injury for the Gialloblu. Cigarini is not expected to return until the start of 2021, while fellow midfielder Jacopo Petriccione is suspended after his red card last week.

The Calabrian side are expected to persist with their usual 3-5-2, with misfiring duo Junior Messias and Simy again starting up front.

Vincenzo Italiano's Spezia injury list is even longer, with eight men unavailable, including on-loan Lucien Agoume, Elio Capradossi, striker Andrey Galabinov, Federico Mattiello, and ex-PSV goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet.

Tommaso Pobega should be ready to return to the bench, though he is unlikely to make the starting XI in Italiano's forward-thinking 4-3-3, which will be fronted by in-form M'Bala Nzola.

Crotone possible starting lineup:
Cordaz; Cuomo, Marrone, Luperto; Pereira, Zanellato, Vulic, Molina, Reca; Messias, Simy

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Ferrer, Terzi, Erlic, Bastoni; Estevez, Ricci, Maggiore; Gyasi, Nzola, Farias


SM words green background

We say: Crotone 1-1 Spezia

Crotone will bear all the pressure ahead of this important clash at the wrong end of the Serie A table, as their first win must feel further away than ever.

Opponents Spezia could take advantage of that fact, but are prone to wasting valuable chances due to penalty area profligacy and may just fail to get the job done once again.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1 38287389355491
2 38247774413379
3 38239690474378
4 38239677383978
5 38245986414577
6 38215126155668
7 381881268581062
8 381711106456862
9 38157165254-252
10 381112154648-245
11 381012164758-1142
12 381011175165-1441
13 38913164759-1240
14 381010184258-1640
15 38912175272-2039
16 38910194359-1637
17 38716155069-1937
18 38712194075-3533
19 3865274592-4723
20 38311243983-4420

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