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

:Headline: Preview: Spezia vs. Sassuolo - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Serie A clash between Spezia and Sassuolo, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Following three successive losses, Spezia seek a positive result against Sassuolo on Sunday, as they continue the quest to prolong their Serie A stay into a third term.

While the Aquilotti were beaten by the champions in midweek, their visitors fought back to hold leaders Napoli to a draw - just days after downing second-placed Milan.

Match preview

Languishing just a point above the drop zone after their latest loss on Wednesday, modest Spezia are in need of some inspiration to turn things around before the mid-winter break.

Serie A's leakiest defence shipped two more goals in midweek, as head coach Thiago Motta saw his side comfortably dismissed by former club Inter in a 2-0 defeat at San Siro - already a tenth league loss of the 2021-22 campaign.

While finding the net has been an issue for the Aquilotti - they have now scored just five times in their last seven outings - it has been at the back where most of the damage has been done, though they have generally kept things tighter at home.

Indeed, Spezia have won two of their last four games at Stadio Alberto Picco - losing only once - so will have cause to target a repeat of their last meeting with Sassuolo: a 2-1 away win last February which played a part in keeping the Ligurians up and earning a second shot at the big time.

However, that success was the only one recorded from their last seven against Sunday's opponents, who have beaten them in five of their six most recent encounters.

Not only do Sassuolo have precedent in their favour this weekend, but they also travel to La Spezia on the back of two impressive results against a high-profile pair of Scudetto challengers.

Following a come-from-behind 3-1 victory against AC Milan at San Siro last week, Alessio Dionisi's side were once more able to fight back from a losing position against Napoli just three days later, as they restricted the league leaders to a solitary point.

As in Milan, Italy striker Gianluca Scamacca was on target for the Neroverdi on Wednesday, with his 71st-minute strike being followed by a late Gian Marco Ferrari goal that salvaged a 2-2 draw at the Mapei Stadium.

Sassuolo have also previously got the better of Juventus with a stoppage-time winner, so they can certainly raise their game to meet Serie A's top teams. However, having finished eighth in both of the last two seasons, they remain 12th in the standings due to a below-par home record.

On the road, meanwhile, they are among the division's better performers - in fact Sassuolo's past 10 away matches have averaged 3.7 goals per game, with the Emilians winning six times in the process - so Dionisi will expect nothing less than maximum points away from headquarters for a fourth time this term.

Spezia Serie A form:
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L

Sassuolo Serie A form:
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • D

Team News

Though Thiago Motta rarely deviates from a four-man defence, he did pack Spezia's back line against both Atalanta and Inter. However, the former Genoa coach is likely to revert to type on Sunday, for the visit of Sassuolo.

A number of changes may therefore be made, as Simone Bastoni, Daniele Verde and M'Bala Nzola look set to be restored to the hosts' starting XI.

The Aquilotti's only significant absentee should be midfielder Leo Sena, while Mehdi Bourabia has recently returned from injury and will hope to feature against his parent club.

Meanwhile, Sassuolo are poised to draft full-backs Mert Muldur and Giorgios Kyriakopoulos into the team which held Napoli to a draw, which would see Jeremy Toljan and Rogerio drop to the bench.

For the first time in his Serie A career, Gianluca Scamacca has now netted in three matches in a row, and he is one of only four players to score on each of the last three matchdays - joining the illustrious company of Lautaro Martinez, Dries Mertens and Dusan Vlahovic.

The Azzurri striker should once again be flanked by international teammates Domenico Berardi and Giacomo Raspadori, though Gregoire Defrel is also pushing for a place up front.

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Amian, Erlic, Nikolaou, Bastoni; Sala, Bourabia, Maggiore; Verde, Nzola, Gyasi

Sassuolo possible starting lineup:
Consigli; Muldur, Chiriches, Ferrari, Kyriakopoulos; Lopez, Frattesi, Traore; Berardi, Scamacca, Raspadori

We say: Spezia 1-2 Sassuolo

Confidence will be coursing through the veins of Sassuolo's squad following two commendable results in the space of a week, so their impressive front three should anticipate their trip to the Picco with great relish.

Spezia's defensive woes do not seem set to end any time soon, given Thiago Motta's approach so far, and that will cost them again on Sunday afternoon.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals 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.Under 3.5:data

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