MX23RW : Wednesday, June 16 06:48:17| >> :600:311290:311290:
Feb 6, 2021 at 2pm UK at Stadio Alberto Braglia
Caputo (25')
De Zerbi (70'), Locatelli (79'), Ferrari (86')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Erlic (39'), Gyasi (78')
Bastoni (31'), Erlic (70'), Vignali (90+1')

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

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

In search of a first win since early January, Sassuolo welcome Spezia to the Mapei Stadium on Saturday afternoon determined to get their challenge for a European place back on track.

Their Ligurian visitors have begun to tail off of late too, and have picked up just a single point from their last three league outings.

Match preview

Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi pictured in January 2021© Reuters

Having remained unbeaten during their first dozen Serie A games, perennial overachievers Sassuolo were finally defeated in the 13th round by leaders Milan. Since that 2-1 loss, Roberto De Zerbi's men have hit a more inconsistent phase, in which their once-sparkling play has dulled a little.

Coming into this game from a disappointing draw in Cagliari, recent results for the Neroverdi have been far from positive - with no wins in five games, including a Coppa Italia exit to Serie B side SPAL. Nonetheless, the Emilians still sit eighth in the Serie A standings, comfortably inside the top half but just adrift of the higher-profile top seven clubs.

Winger Jeremie Boga secured a point for Sassuolo in stoppage time at the Sardegna Arena last Sunday, which came as a distinct relief to De Zerbi - particularly as the hosts have been sinking like a stone in recent weeks.

Acknowledging that several of his key players are not in their best form at the moment, the highly-rated coach continues to speak positively about his side's displays.

Certainly, the Neroverdi's commitment to a progressive approach is reflected in the fact that they top the Serie A possession statistics and a pass accuracy of 87% represents the third-best rate in the league - ahead of Milan, Inter, Roma and Atalanta.

Now, they must return to converting performances into points at the weekend, with visitors Spezia seemingly going through a sticky patch themselves.

Spezia manager Vincenzo Italiano pictured in January 2021© Reuters

After a surprising start to the season, Serie B playoff winners Spezia have begun to reveal some weaknesses typically associated with newly-promoted sides.

With their 'goals conceded' column recently rising to 37, at a rate of nearly two per game (the third-worst record in the league), it is clear where their difficulties lie.

As a result, Vincenzo Italiano's side have begun to slip down the standings, to 16th place, after a run of three league games without a win - the most recent loss coming at home to Udinese despite dominating possession against direct rivals to avoid relegation. In mitigation, the Bianconeri had played in Naples just days before, suffering elimination in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals - leaving them only one training session to prepare.

Defensive issues aside, the ongoing absence of star striker M'Bala Nzola, who plays such an integral role for the team, has dealt Spezia's survival hopes a major blow. Since the French forward was injured last month, the Aquilotti have failed to win in the league - registering only a draw and two defeats.

Now just three points above the dreaded dotted line, Italiano's men will be keen to arrest their slide on Saturday, as they aim to prove the pundits' pre-season predictions wrong and achieve Serie A salvation come May.

Sassuolo Serie A form: LWLDLD
Sassuolo form (all competitions): WLLDLD

Spezia Serie A form: LWWDLL
Spezia form (all competitions): WDWLLL

Team News

Sassuolo's Domenico Berardi in action with Roma's Roger Ibanez in Serie A on December 6, 2020© Reuters

Sassuolo's star man Domenico Berardi is expected to remain unavailable through injury this weekend, but is apparently now nearing a return. Therefore, Hamed Traore, Jeremie Boga and Filip Djuricic are most likely to start in support of striker Francesco Caputo.

Midfielder Mehdi Bourabia is still out injured, while regular starter Maxime Lopez is suspended, so either Pedro Obiang or Francesco Magnanelli will replace Lopez alongside Manuel Locatelli in the central pairing of Roberto De Zerbi's customary 4-2-3-1 setup.

Meanwhile, the visitors will travel to Reggio Emilia significantly understaffed, as several squad members have been ruled out. Young forward Roberto Piccoli, plus defenders Federico Mattiello, Salva Ferrer, Riccardo Marchizza and Claudio Terzi are all suffering with injuries - though the latter two will be reassessed before the game.

Top scorer M'Bala Nzola is not expected to return yet either and midfielders Tommaso Pobega and Riccardo Saponara are suspended, leaving coach Vincenzo Italiano with some serious selection headaches.

Andrey Galabinov should continue to deputise up front, with Nahuel Estevez and Gennaro Acampora will compete to replace Pobega in Spezia's midfield three.

Sassuolo possible starting lineup:
Consigli; Muldur, Marlon, Ferrari, Rogerio; Obiang, Locatelli; Traore, Djuricic, Boga; Caputo

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Vignali, Terzi, Chabot, Bastoni; Maggiore, Agoume, Acampora; Gyasi, Galabinov, Farias

SM words green background

We say: Sassuolo 2-1 Spezia

Sassuolo's once-prolific attacking output has dimmed significantly since Domenico Berardi has been unavailable, so facing Spezia's dubious defence - now also short of several men through injury - could prove a shot in the arm for the Neroverdi.

Both sides like to keep the ball, but the greater technical ability and incision Roberto De Zerbi can call upon should decide this game in Sassuolo's favour.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at 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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