Sassuolo’s bid to overcome an underwhelming start to the 2023/24 Serie A season faces a stern test on Saturday as high-flying Juventus touch down at the Mapei Stadium. Let’s look at our match preview for this contest.
It’s been a season of disappointments for Sassuolo thus far. After a brace of disheartening 2-0 defeats to Atalanta and Napoli in the opening two rounds, Alessio Dionisi’s men got off the mark on matchday three. Domenico Berardi marked his return to the fold with a match-winning double to inspire Neroverdi to a 3-1 home win over Hellas Verona.
When Andrea Pinamonti struck home twice in quick succession to give Sassuolo a 2-0 lead inside the first 25 minutes at Frosinone last time out, Dionisi’s lads seemed on the verge of grabbing another victory. However, their former manager, Eusebio Di Francesco, came out on top as his new employers netted three times beyond the 69th minute en route to registering a mind-boggling 4-2 home triumph.
Stuck in deep waters after a disturbing result against the newly-promoted outfit, Dionisi has emerged as the frontrunning candidate to become the first Serie A manager to be relieved of his duties this season. The under-pressure Sassuolo boss could be forgiven for assuming the worst ahead of his team’s clash against a rampant Juventus side.
Dusan Vlahovic’s brace, aided by another goal from Federico Chiesa, propelled Juventus to a 3-1 home thumping of Lazio last weekend. Since they’re out of European football for the first time in over a decade, Massimiliano Allegri’s men have had a whole week to rest and prepare for this trip, looking to maintain their near-perfect Serie A start.
Except for a shock 1-1 home draw against Bologna on matchday two, Juventus have won their remaining three league matches this season via multi-goal margins, reinforcing fans’ hopes of returning to the Scudetto picture after three disappointing seasons. But since the campaign is still young, with plenty of games left, they would be wise not to rest on their laurels.
Sassuolo have blown hot and cold across their opening two home league outings (W1, L1). Both those matches saw the winner on the day score two second-half goals, suggesting most of the action could take place after the break. Considering they’ve been leaking goals at an alarming rate, Neroverdi may prefer a more conservative approach this time.
Given the circumstances, there’s no doubt Dionisi would settle for a draw. But his men will have to work their socks off to earn it. They come into proceedings with very little to lose and much to gain after experiencing their worst four-game Serie A start since 2017/18. Unfortunately, the Mapei Stadium is no longer their safe shelter.
Indeed, Sassuolo have only won once in their last five home league games (D1, L3). If it’s any consolation, they just failed to score once in that stretch.
Player to Watch: Andrea Pinamonti
Last season wasn’t kind to the Italian striker, but he has turned his fortunes around this term. Each of his three Serie A goals in 2023/24 has come within the opening 25 minutes of play, highlighting him as a potential early threat.
Lazio, Empoli, and Udinese are the sides to have fallen victim to the record-time Italian champions’ relentless start to the new campaign. All those teams found themselves behind inside the first 25 minutes, with Juventus firing on all cylinders from the get-go. Allegri will expect nothing less from his firing squad this weekend.
It’s also worth mentioning that Juventus have won both away league games this season by 2+ goals ‘to nil,’ putting themselves in a position to open a new top-flight season with three consecutive wins without conceding for the first time since 2014. However, it won’t be simple.
Juventus haven’t kept a clean sheet on their last four Serie A visits to the Mapei Stadium (W2, D1, L1). That’s not to mention they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat in this corresponding fixture in mid-April.
Player to Watch: Dusan Vlahovic
He’s been the star of the show this term despite squandering a penalty in a 2-0 win at Empoli on Juventus’ last road trip. The Serbian frontman has already tallied four goals and one assist this term, breaking on top of the club’s scoring charts.
This encounter may come too soon for long-serving goalkeeper Andrea Consigli and Uruguayan forward Agustin Alvarez. But the remainder of the Sassuolo squad is fit and ready for the game.
Juventus will take this trip without Alex Sandro, Paul Pogba, and Mattia De Sciglio. The rest of Allegri’s team will land in Emilia-Romagna.
Sassuolo vs Juventus Potential Lineups
Sassuolo (4-2-3-1): Alessio Cragno; Jeremy Toljan, Mattia Viti, Martin Erlic, Matias Vina; Uros Racic, Matheus Henrique; Domenico Berardi, Nedim Bajrami, Armand Lauriente; Andrea Pinamonti.
Juventus (3-5-2): Wojciech Szczesny; Federico Gatti, Gleison Bremer, Danilo; Weston McKennie, Fabio Miretti, Manuel Locatelli, Adrien Rabiot, Kostic; Federico Chiesa, Dusan Vlahovic.
Sassuolo vs Juventus Prediction
We’d back Sassuolo to upset the apple cart in other circumstances. But this is not 2022/23, and Juventus are no longer a downtrodden club. As such, we expect the visitors to continue building momentum, perhaps even at the expense of Dionisi’s job.
Prediction: Juventus Win
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