Soccer Italy Serie A Prediction
Empoli vs Lecce - Match Preview
⚽ 3 April 2023 - 16:30 GMT +0
Manager Paolo Zanetti will hope speculation about his future does not unsettle his Empoli team as they attempt to end a run of four straight defeats. The 40-year-old only took charge last summer but he’s already being linked with a return to Torino, where he spent four years of his playing career, should they part ways with incumbent Ivan Jurić.
Such uncertainty comes at a bad time for the Blues, who could yet be dragged into a relegation battle following an eight-match winless streak (D3, L5). Zanetti insists he would have “signed in blood” to be where they are in the table at this stage of the season, but their current form means Empoli’s league position is a far cry from where they were at the end of January when qualifying for European football for the first time in 15 years looked on the cards.
Supporters may be confident of ending that barren run against visitors Lecce, who have won just two of the last dozen meetings between the two sides (D6, L4). That does not bode well for the Yellow and Reds, who also arrive at Stadio Carlo Castellani having lost four successive fixtures, meaning they sit one point below Empoli in the table.
Just staying in Serie A (SA) would be an achievement for Marco Baroni’s side, who are enjoying only their second season in the Italian top flight since 2012. Their position in the table has been aided by a decent return of 15 (of their total of 27) points accumulated away from home, with their two most recent victories both coming on the road and contributing to Lecce being one of just five sides in SA ahead of the round to have won more points on their travels than at home.
📋 Key battle: Empoli skipper Filippo Bandinelli has faced Lecce three times without ever losing (W1, D2), with both teams scoring in each match. Lecce’s Gabriel Strefezza, meanwhile, will be hoping to improve his reasonably poor winning record from matches in which he’s netted, after losing four of the last nine fixtures when getting on the scoresheet (W3, D2).
⚡ Hot stat: There’s been just four goals in the last 15 minutes of Lecce’s league games this season (two for, two against), the lowest total in SA.
Sassuolo vs Torino - Match Preview
⚽ 3 April 2023 - 18:45 GMT +0
With the international break now firmly behind us, Sassuolo will be looking to pick up where they left off considering their only loss in their last nine Serie A (SA) fixtures came to runaway leaders Napoli (W6, D2). A four-match winning run has afforded Alessio Dionisi’s men a chance to make history, as never before have Sassuolo won five consecutive top-flight matches in the same season.
This fine form has rocketed the Neroverdi to greener pastures since they’re now closer to the European spots than they are to the relegation zone. Sassuolo will be hoping that momentum, and return home, translate to a fast start here, as the scorer of the opening goal has won the last six matches at the Mapei Stadium – Città del Tricolore.
That may spell trouble for the optimistic hosts, as visiting Torino had scored first in four consecutive matches (W2, D1, L1) before being romped 4-0 at home by Napoli last time out. Perhaps manager Ivan Jurić will be looking forward to this fixture then, seeing as his team won their last game on the road 2-0 against Lecce.
Il Toro can therefore chase consecutive away league wins for only the second time this season, with the added motivation of revenge on their mind, having lost the reverse fixture 1-0 back in September. That was only their sixth loss in 27 prior H2Hs (W12, D9), while having never lost back-to-back meetings with Sassuolo.
📋 Players to watch: Domenico Berardi has been highly influential in his last three games for Sassuolo (G2, A2), much like his record when playing against Torino as he’s racked up five direct goal contributions in as many H2Hs (G3, A2). He’ll look to go toe-to-toe with former teammate Antonio Sanabria who has four goal contributions in six meetings against his former employers (G2, A2), while recently proving dangerous on the road having scored seven of his last eight SA goals for Torino away from home.
⚡ Hot stat: There’s only been three scoreless first-halves in Torino’s last 17 SA fixtures.
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