SSC Napoli at Sassuolo Preview and Predictions 04-23-2017
By Eskender Tamrat
When: 6:30AM EST, Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
Where: Mapei Stadium – Città del Tricolore, Reggio Emilia, Italy
Betting Line: OFF
TV Coverage: beIN Sports, fuboTV
Free-scoring S.S.C. Napoli (21-7-4) will play at last season's surprise packages U.S. Sassuolo Calcio (10-5-17) in Sunday's early Serie A fixture. Maurizio Sarri's side scored three goals in each of their last five wins, including the Coppa Italia semi-finals second leg at Naples. Sassuolo only did the same in five league games so far this season, as they struggled to repeat their form which brought Europa League football to Mapei Stadium after only three seasons in top-flight.
The sides played each other seven times before, with a 2-1 win in the last season's corresponding fixture the only time Sassuolo emerged victorious. Lorenzo Insigne and Grégoire Defrel scored for the two teams in the reverse fixture as they shared the spoils at the end of November.
Top scorer Defrel, who missed the 2-1 win against U.C. Sampdoria (12-9-11), could still be out with an injury.
The league's top scorers are enjoying a magnificent season despite there will be nothing to add to the silverware cabinet. Coupled with a home draw for A.S. Roma (23-3-6) against U.C. Sassuolo Calcio (10-5-17), Napoli are now only two points far off a direct place in Champions League group stage following an inspired second-half performance to beat Udinese Calcio (11-7-14) 3-0.
Dries Mertens scored his 21st goal of the season against Udinese, while José Callejón became the fourth Napoli player to reach the double figure tally. It also meant Napoli kept a clean sheet for two league games in a row for the first time since December 2016. Their scoring output outshines the defensive efforts but Napoli still boosts the league's third best defensive record – although a long way behind the top two – with only 33 goals conceded in 32 matches.
After a six-game winless run, Sassuolo finally returned to winning ways against Sampdoria. Antonino Ragusa and Francesco Acerbi both scored their fourth goals of the season to turn the half-time deficit to their fifth win of 2017. They started the year with three wins from the first five matches, but their form has been in a decline for some time.
However, the win against Sampdoria helped them to extend their comfortable lead over the drop zone to 14 points heading into the final six weeks of the season. Eusebio Di Francesco's side will face three top half of the table sides as well as three teams in the wrong half of the standings in the remaining fixture list.
1. After the 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture, Napoli were seventh in the table. It was the last time they spend a week outside the European places.
2. Sassuolo (10-1-8) lost the most matches in the league from leading positions.
3. According to WhoScored, Napoli (59.1%) are top of the possession ranking in Serie A this term.
Napoli should continue their surge with another impressive win on the road. Sassuolo would be happy with a draw result, as they aim to repeat the performance that saw them return from a trip to Roma with a point.
Napoli 2, Sassuolo 0
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