يلا أعرف|| Preview: Lecce vs. Sassuolo – prediction, team news, lineups
previews Saturday’s Serie A clash between Lecce and Sassuolo, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Lecce play host to Sassuolo at Stadio Via del Mare, keen to continue an encouraging return to Serie A.
The Lupi stunned Atalanta 2-1 in Bergamo last time out, while the Neroverdi could not stop an irrepressible Napoli on their turf, losing 2-0 to the potential champions.
What has been a commendable ride for Lecce on their return to Italy’s top division has got even better in the last fortnight, with four points gained in games they were expected to lose.
Marco Baroni‘s team held Roma to a 1-1 draw at Via del Mare two gameweeks back before defeating the Bergamaschi 2-1 at the Gewiss Stadium.
A 2-0 victory over winless Cremonese began this run that has seen last year’s Serie B winners stay unbeaten throughout February, picking up seven points from an available nine in their recent three fixtures.
Despite losing Massimo Coda to Genoa last summer — the forward ended top scorer in the second tier in successive seasons before the Salentini’s promotion — Lecce have competed admirably on their return to Serie A, occupying 13th spot heading into round 24.
Wide attacker Gabriel Strefezza has hitherto carried the can for Baroni’s troops, finding the back of the net seven times in only his second campaign in the division. In the 2019-20 season with SPAL, the winger netted just once in 24 starts, further demonstrating the Brazilian’s improvement this term.
Sassuolo not only have to be wary of the attacker but also mindful of Lecce’s set-piece threat. Roma and Atalanta conceded from well-worked corners in recent games, giving the Neroverdi cause for concern heading into Saturday’s encounter.
The side from Emilia-Romagna have been disappointing this season, languishing in 15th, placing them two positions and three points behind their opponents.
There remains a threat of being sucked into a relegation battle, although they sit seven points clear of 18th-placed Hellas Verona.
Alessio Dionisi has been unable to build on a decent first season in Reggio Emilia that saw the former Empoli boss guide the Neroverdi to 11th after replacing Roberto De Zerbi in 2021.
This year’s standing means Sassuolo could end lower than they managed in the last eight campaigns since their debut 2013-14 top-flight season when they flirted with immediate relegation before finishing 17th.
Having ended no lower than 12th in the following years, it remains to be seen how Dionisi’s team fares in the remainder of 2022-23.
Last Friday’s defeat at the hands of table-topping Napoli ended a run of four Serie A games without losing, a sequence that included a 5-2 hammering of outgoing champions AC Milan and a 1-0 success over Atalanta.
The Neroverdi have never been beaten by Lecce in league football, going five unbeaten against this weekend’s opponents, having won the reverse fixture 1-0.
Lecce Serie A form:
Sassuolo Serie A form:
Even though a thigh injury ruled Samuel Umtiti out of Lecce’s victory at Atalanta, there is a possibility of the on-loan Barcelona defender returning to the fold this weekend.
Joan Gonzalez missed the win over La Dea through suspension but could be reinstated to Lecce’s midfield for his 20th start.
Despite starting on the bench in Bergamo, Strefezza is likely to be included in the attack, with Baroni also expected to restore Lorenzo Colombo at centre-forward at Assan Ceesay‘s expense, despite the latter’s cracking strike against Atalanta.
Andrea Consigli is not expected to be dropped even though the Sassuolo goalkeeper could have done better with Victor Osimhen‘s goal last time out.
Dionisi has preferred Nadir Zortea at right-back since the full-back’s move from Atalanta, and the Italian is likely to start with the backline staying unchanged.
Pedro Obiang could replace Maxime Lopez in the only midfield alteration made by the Neroverdi boss.
Sassuolo’s attack will be without the suspended Armand Lauriente, who was booked against Napoli, but Domenico Berardi should return to the team, having been an unused substitute last Friday.
The healthy again Andrea Pinamonti could replace Gregoire Defrel at centre-forward.
Lecce possible starting lineup:
Falcone; Gendrey, Baschirotto, Umtiti, Gallo; Blin, Hjulmand, Gonzalez; Strefezza, Colombo, Di Francesco
Sassuolo possible starting lineup:
Consigli; Zortea, Erlic, Ruan, Rogerio; Fratessi, Obiang, Henrique; Berardi, Pinamonti, Ceide
We say: Lecce 1-1 Sassuolo
Lecce have scored in all but one game at Via del Mare this season, so there is a likelihood the Salentini finds the back of the net against a side that have not kept an away clean sheet since September.
Five of the home side’s 11 games in Puglia have ended 1-1, and another low-scoring tie could be in the offing this weekend.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.