Sassuolo v Atalanta – Stadio Città del Tricolore at 17:00 Live at BT Sport

Sassuolo axed Cristian Bucchi following a home defeat to 10-man Verona at the end of November, a result that left the Neroverdi with only 11 points from 14 fixtures. A thumping 3-0 loss at Fiorentina followed but the Neroverdi have finally started to get their act together.

Beppe Iachini was brought in to carry the can and the experienced coach has guided the club to W3-D2-L1 since, including seven points from encounters with top-six sides Sampdoria, Roma and Inter Milan.

Iachini openly admits his charges must improve in possession against Serie A’s bigger clubs but the Neroverdi’s newfound confidence comes from their ability to keep things tight at the back.

Tight encounter anticipated

Indeed, none of Sassuolo’s last six games has been settled by more than a single goal one way or the other, with their most recent five fixtures all featuring fewer than three goals; so a repeat at 1.83 has to appeal on Saturday evening.

At home, the hosts have seen eight of their last 10 matches produce no more than two goals with five of those outings featuring Under 1.5 Goals as Iachini’s more defensive approach has started to pay dividends.

High-flying visitors Atalanta have also been relatively shy on the goals count with four of their five trips to bottom-half teams returning Under 2.5 Goals winners so a tight contest is anticipated at the Mapei Stadium.

Atalanta’s eyes elsewhere?

Visitors Atalanta are preparing for their first Coppa Italia semi-finals in 22 years. The Bergamo boys will meet Juventus in the first leg of the tie on Tuesday night and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Gian Piero Gasperini make a few changes to his team ahead of that important contest.

Despite losing Roberto Gagliardini to Inter and Franck Kessie and Andrea Conti to Milan from last season, Atalanta remains a force to be reckoned and they were unfortunate to lose out 1-0 against table-topping Napoli last time out.

But Gasperini’s tactically astute high-energy team don’t have the depth that other leading Serie A sides boast and they may find Saturday evening’s trip to Sassuolo a tough nut to crack should they opt to put their eggs in the Coppa Italia basket.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.5 Goals at 1.820

By @MarkOHaire

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