Tuesday, April 13

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

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

Unbeaten in six matches but still embroiled in the Serie A relegation battle, Torino welcome a stumbling Sassuolo side to Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino on Friday evening.

Having now broken a seven-game run since their last victory, the hosts seek to finally end their season-long stretch without a home win against the out-of-form Neroverdi.

Match preview

Following five straight draws, in which signs of life had begun to flicker, Torino edged a nervous 'six-pointer' away to close rivals Cagliari last weekend, to move five points clear of the Sardinian side in the race to avoid the drop. Though the hosts dominated the first half, the Granata eked out a precious victory thanks to a late headed goal by Brazilian centre-back Bremer.

Now in 17th place, on 20 points from 23 matches, Davide Nicola's men are far from out of the woods yet, but post-match celebrations - passionately led by the Toro-supporting coach - were telling of their joy and relief.

Success at the Sardegna Arena kept Nicola's unbeaten record as boss intact, with several games since he took the hot-seat ending tied after having gone behind, marking a clear change from their more customary habit of letting leads slip - a trend for which they led the statistics across the top five European leagues in 2020.

Demonstrating the greater grit and organisation apparent since Marco Giampaolo's disastrous reign came to an end last month, and with momentum building, the Granata were dealt a potential hammer blow this week though, as news emerged that the club reportedly have developed eight new COVID-19 cases in the squad.

Undertaking daily tests to determine if the spread of the virus has since been contained, Torino's preparations for the visit of Sassuolo have therefore been severely curtailed.

A spectacular 3-3 draw in the clubs' first encounter this season, at the Mapei Stadium, was reflective of both Sassuolo's free-scoring form at the time and the Turin side's previous propensity to blow leads. Filip Djuricic, Vlad Chiriches and Francesco Caputo all scored after the 70th minute for the hosts, at a time when Roberto De Zerbi's men were still flirting with the top of the Serie A table.

Since the turn of the year, however, Sassuolo have struggled, having picked up just two points from five outings - thanks only to draws against relegation-threatened Cagliari and Parma - before taking an improved haul of four from a possible six in the past fortnight.

Their bid to build a winning streak, versus near neighbours Bologna last Saturday, foundered against their Emilian rivals' deep-lying and dogged defence. The Rossoblu's young Scottish defender Aaron Hickey was dismissed on the half-hour mark and, from there on in, Bologna set out to frustrate the hosts.

In the end, Sassuolo only managed to secure a 1-1 draw courtesy of Caputo's sharp finish - that equaliser coming a week after his match-winning penalty versus Crotone and providing the striker's fourth strike in five games following a dry spell caused by lingering thigh problems.

Now fully recovered and once again enjoying the support of his forward colleague Domenico Berardi, who recently returned from injury, top scorer 'Ciccio' can expect to continue along the goal trail this week, as his attack-minded team have established an admirable record away from home.

In league matches on the road this season, Sassuolo have racked up six wins, three draws and just three losses, placing them in the top four in terms of their away record. Friday evening's trip to Turin may well offer the chance to improve such stats still further, as the Neroverdi look to keep pressure on the big names above them in the standings.

Torino Serie A form: DDDDDW

Sassuolo Serie A form: DLDLWD

Team News

According to Italian media reports, star striker Andrea Belotti is among a total of at least seven Torino players diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past week, after three cases were previously confirmed ahead of their win away to Cagliari last Friday.

Training sessions have since been cancelled amid an outbreak at the club, with Wilfried Singo, Bremer and Daniele Baselli also reported to be affected. Therefore, head coach Davide Nicola's preparations have been thrown into disarray and, if the game goes ahead, his task in fielding a competitive XI will be a tall one.

If available, Rolando Mandragora is expected to continue in midfield, having taken the place of Karol Linetty in recent games following his arrival on loan from city rivals Juventus. Meanwhile, Simone Verdi and Federico Bonazzoli would compete to join current incumbent Simone Zaza up front, deputising for leading man Belotti.

Sassuolo winger Jeremie Boga remains out through injury this week, so either Maxime Lopez will continue in a more advanced role or Hamed Traore could come into the side.

Centre-back Vlad Chiriches is nearing a return to fitness, so could make the Neroverdi bench, though Filippo Romagna and Mehdi Bourabia both remain out of action due to injury. Veteran skipper Francesco Magnanelli will compete with Pedro Obiang for a place alongside Manuel Locatelli in central midfield.

Torino possible starting lineup:
Sirigu; Izzo, Nkoulou, Lyanco; Vojvoda, Lukic, Mandragora, Rincon, Ansaldi; Verdi, Zaza

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

We say: Torino 1-2 Sassuolo

Sassuolo are set to take advantage of their opponents' misfortune, as they have most of their key players back in harness and have lost ground to make up on the teams just above them.

Davide Nicola has instilled an impressive collective spirit in a Torino squad that was once in disarray, but in the current circumstances, the strong-willed tactician would need to work a minor miracle to salvage a result on Friday evening.

Top 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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