Preview: Sassuolo vs. Udinese – prediction, team news, lineups
Udinese are out to equal their best Serie A points tally since 2014 when they take on free-scoring Sassuolo at Mapei Stadium on Sunday.
The Bianconeri slipped to defeat last time out and are down in 14th place, nine points worse off than Sassuolo in eighth.
A shock win over Juventus last week killed off the threat of relegation for Udinese, who followed up that impressive victory with three points away to Cagliari.
Throwing away a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 against 18th-place Lecce last time out killed off their momentum, however, and 13th place is now the best the Bianconeri can hope for.
Still, victory this weekend would take Udinese’s points tally to 45 for the season, equalling the number they accrued in 2016-17.
That would ultimately make 2019-20 their best season in three years, but Sassuolo enter this game in good form after putting five unanswered goals past Genoa in midweek.
Domenico Berardi was the star of the show on Wednesday evening, scoring one and setting up three others as the Neroverdi put defeats to AC Milan and Napoli firmly behind them.
Roberto De Zerbi‘s men have now won five of their last nine and are well positioned to end the season in eighth, holding a two-point advantage on Hellas Verona with one game to go.
Indeed, since football returned in Italy in June, only AC Milan (32) and Inter Milan (30) have scored more goals than Sassuolo’s 28.
However, De Zerbi is yet to win a game against Udinese as a Serie A manager, drawing three and losing three of his previous encounters with the Bianconeri.
Sassuolo were on the wrong end of a 3-0 loss when the sides met six months ago and have won only once at home against Udinese in nine previous top-flight encounters.
That is a run the Neroverdi will need to put an end to if they are to hold on to eighth place, making this their best campaign since 2015-16.
Sassuolo’s Serie A form: WDDLLW
Udinese’s Serie A form: LDLWWL
Jeremie Boga is carrying an injury and will be replaced on the left wing by Lukas Haraslin.
Midfielder Pedro Obiang is serving a suspension and Vlad Chiriches is also sidelined, but De Zerbi is not expected to make many changes.
Francesco Caputo will lead the line and is looking to become the first player in Sassuolo’s history to be involved in 30 goals in a single Serie A campaign, requiring two more goals or assists to achieve that.
As for Udinese, Jens Stryger Larsen is back in contention after serving a suspension and could take over from Hidde ter Avest.
Bram Nuytinck will play no part because of injury, which is also the case for Mato Jajalo and Rolando Mandragora.
Udinese midfielder Seko Fofana has already scored two goals and made two assists in five appearances against Sassuolo in the top flight.
Sassuolo possible starting lineup:
Consigli; Toljan, Ferrari, Peluso, Kyriakopoulos; Magnanelli, Bourabia; Berardi, Djuricic, Haraslin; Caputo
Udinese possible starting lineup:
Musso; Becao, Maio, Samir; Larsen, De Paul, Walace, Fofana, Sema; Nestorovski, Lasagna