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Sassuolo logo
Serie A | Gameweek 26
Feb 24, 2024 at 2pm UK
MAPEI Stadium - Citta del Tricolore
Empoli logo

2 - 3

Pinamonti (54' pen.), Marco Ferrari (77')
Boloca (10')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Luperto (11'), Niang (64' pen.), Bastoni (90+4')
Ismajli (54'), Cancellieri (56'), Bastoni (90+5')

Preview: Sassuolo vs. Empoli - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Trailing two points behind visitors Empoli in the Serie A standings, Sassuolo will seek just their second win of the year on Saturday.

Some dismal form has seen the Neroverdi slip towards the relegation zone, which their Tuscan counterparts recently climbed out of with a five-game unbeaten streak.

Match preview

Sassuolo coach Alessio Dionisi reacts on December 30, 2023© Reuters

After facing 27 shots and conceding three more goals, Sassuolo's defeat at in-form Atalanta BC last week came as no real surprise, and the Emilian club only sit above the dotted line due to a superior head-to-head record against Hellas Verona.

Leaking goals left, right and centre, Alessio Dionisi's side have added only five points to their total since the start of December, which is the lowest tally during that period, alongside free-falling Frosinone and rock-bottom Salernitana.

Dionisi must surely be fearing the sack, with Sassuolo's Serie A status apparently in some danger - and the ongoing absence of star man Domenico Berardi has certainly not helped.

Posting four defeats from five has allowed Empoli to overtake the Neroverdi, and they will be aware that losing at home on Saturday may not only aid a direct survival rival but also see them slip inside the drop zone.

Sassuolo have, though, lost only two of their last six league matches at the Mapei Stadium, and with five wins from their six previous home games against Empoli they will at least have precedent in their favour.

Empoli's Youssef Malehin action on January 7, 2024© Reuters

Beaten 4-3 in November's thrilling reverse fixture, when Berardi completed a decisive brace in second-half stoppage time, Empoli are now aiming for a first win over Sassuolo since 2022.

They will arrive in Reggio-Emilia amid their best form of the whole season, with Serie A survival specialist Davide Nicola making a major impact on the Azzurri's squad since arriving in Tuscany.

Two wins and three draws have made Nicola the first manager to go unbeaten through his first five top-flight matches in Empoli's long history, and his new side have navigated their way out of the relegation places.

A week after two late strikes secured a 3-1 win at last-placed Salernitana, last time out they held faltering Fiorentina to a 1-1 draw in the Derby dell'Arno: January signing M'Baye Niang coolly converted a penalty to secure another precious point, with his second successful spot kick in two games.

While Empoli's home record remains among the very worst in Serie A this season, ahead of Saturday's crucial clash, they have lost only two of their last seven away fixtures and clearly have momentum on their side.

Sassuolo Serie A form:

Empoli Serie A form:

Team News

Sassuolo's Andrea Pinamonti celebrates scoring their third goal with Domenico Berardi on September 23, 2023© Reuters

Still without influential winger Domenico Berardi due to a knee injury, Sassuolo may also be missing Pedro Obiang (Achilles) and Jeremy Toljan (hamstring) this weekend.

Despite defeat to Atalanta last week, Alessio Dionisi is not expected to make many changes against his former club, although Gian Marco Ferrari or Roma loanee Marash Kumbulla could be called upon to bolster the Neroverdi's leaky defence.

Sure to start up front, Andrea Pinamonti posted his best Serie A goal tally while on loan at Empoli in 2021-22, with 13 goals. The hosts' first-choice striker has scored in each of his last three appearances at the Mapei Stadium - including the winner against Fiorentina early last month.

Meanwhile, Empoli's M'Baye Niang will be seeking his third goal in three games - and aiming to displace Alberto Cerri in the visitors' attack. Notably, Niang has now scored for more teams (10) in Europe's top five leagues than any other player since his first season in Ligue 1 (2010-11).

Davide Nicola must make a change on the right flank of his favoured 3-4-2-1 formation this week, as Emmanuel Gyasi is suspended; with Tyronne Ebuehi still sidelined by injury, Bartosz Bereszynski or even Matteo Cancellieri could be drafted in as cover.

Sassuolo possible starting lineup:
Consigli; Pedersen, Kumbulla, Viti, Doig; Henrique, Boloca; Bajrami, Thorstvedt, Lauriente; Pinamonti

Empoli possible starting lineup:
Caprile; Ismajli, Walukiewicz, Luperto; Bereszynski, Fazzini, Maleh, Cacace; Zurkowski, Cambiaghi; Cerri

SM words green background

We say: Sassuolo 2-2 Empoli

This fixture has occurred most often in Serie A history without ever resulting in a draw, but after 13 straight games with a winner, Saturday's contest could finally produce a stalemate. Sassuolo rarely keep a clean sheet, while Empoli are full of confidence and tend to fare better on the road.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Tables header RHS
1Inter Milan32265177176083
2AC Milan32216563372669
7Atalanta BCAtalanta311561057362151
15Hellas VeronaHellas Verona33710163144-1331

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