Sassuolo v Juventus – Stadio Città del Tricolore at 11:30 Live at BT Sport
For the first time since their promotion to Serie A in 2012/13, Sassuolo is looking over their shoulders. A crippling injury crisis hindered their first venture into European competition last term and their small squad struggled to compete on two fronts, finishing in 12th.
Having enjoyed year-on-year progression, the Neroverdi were forced to take a step back. Losing head coach Eusebio Di Francesco in the summer was a bitter blow and many expected Sassuolo to struggle this season, particularly after selling top goalscorer Gregoire Defrel and talented youngster Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Those suggestions appear quite accurate a month into the new campaign. The Neroverdi have collected a solitary point and scored a single goal across their first three fixtures despite avoiding games against the traditional big seven clubs on the peninsula.
Cristian Bucchi is the new man in charge and after leading Perugia to fourth in Serie B last time out is embarking on his maiden season in Italy’s top-flight here. His first task has been to plug a porous defense and improve upon an uninspiring home record at the Mapei Stadium.
The club has again invested in youth – all five of their major signings are under the age of 23 – so there’s a great deal of unknown about Sassuolo. Still, Sunday’s early kick-off against Juventus gives the hosts a great chance to lay down a marker and there might be value in the home side avoiding a heavy defeat.
The Neroverdi struggled against top-six clubs last term, losing nine of 12 winless fixtures, including five of six at the Mapei. However, only one of those 12 games ended in defeat by more than a one-goal margin so even if Domenico Berardi misses out through injury, I’d be confident Sassuolo can keep this tight.
Why? Well, whilst Juventus have started their title defense with three consecutive victories – scoring three goals on each occasion – the visitors aren’t in the best of shape themselves.
The Old Lady are missing both Benedikt Howedes and Mattia De Sciglio as right-back options, meaning Stephan Lichtsteiner will be recalled. Meanwhile, Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio also remain out in central midfield; considering Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci left in the summer, Juve is light on bodies.
Max Allegri’s men suffered a chastening 3-0 loss in the Champions League at Barcelona on Tuesday night and although they should be considered strong favorites to lift a record-breaking seventh successive Scudetto this season, I don’t believe they’ll blow too many teams away outside of Turin.
Last term the Bianconeri bagged only 29 goals on their travels – five clubs managed more – so I’m happy to back Sassuolo with a +1.25 start on the Asian Handicap line here. We’ll make money should the home side avoid a defeat by a two-goal margin or more.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Sassuolo +1.25 at 1.793
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