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Sep 26, 2021 at 2pm UK
Bonifazi (1' og.), Pinamonti (32'), Bajrami (54' pen.), Ricci (90')
Henderson (34'), Pinamonti (67')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Barrow (11'), Arnautovic (77')
Vignato (24'), Orsolini (90+4')

Preview: Empoli vs. Bologna - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Empoli vs. Bologna - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Serie A clash between Empoli and Bologna, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Newly-promoted Empoli will be looking to claim successive Serie A victories when they host Bologna at the Stadio Carlo Castellani on Sunday.

Both sides have an even record from their previous 14 meetings in the top flight, winning four games each as well as drawing six times.

Match preview

After suffering two consecutive home defeats against Venezia and Sampdoria, Serie B champions Empoli bounced back to win 2-0 away at Cagliari on Wednesday night.

Goals either side of half time from Federico Di Francesco and Leo Stulac ensured the Blues took home all three points for the second time this season.

Despite enjoying an unbeaten campaign on home soil in the second tier last season, Aurelio Andreazzoli's side are yet to claim a single point at the Stadio Carlo Castellani so far this term, losing all three games and conceding eight goals in the process.

A worrying statistic for Empoli fans is that all nine Italian top-flight teams in history who have lost their opening four home matches have been relegated at the end of the season.

The Blues do, however, come up against a Bologna outfit on Sunday who they are unbeaten against in each of their last seven home meetings.

A victory this weekend for Empoli, who currently sit 11th in the Serie A standings, could see them climb into the top six, much closer to the top four than the relegation zone.

Bologna have made a solid start to the new campaign, accumulating five more points than at this stage last season and they also sit 10 places higher in eighth position.

Despite suffering a heavy 6-1 away defeat to Serie A holders Inter Milan last weekend, they were able to claim a point in a 2-2 draw at home against Genoa on Tuesday night, though they came very close to securing all three.

With the score level at 1-1 heading into the final five minutes, Bologna were awarded a penalty, which summer signing Marko Arnautovic converted to the give the hosts the lead. However, just four minutes later, Genoa equalised with a spot kick of their own, converted by Domenico Criscito, forcing the two teams to share the spoils.

Sinisa Mihajlovic's men are now preparing for their away trip to Empoli, having won only one of their last 10 top-flight games on the road, a 3-2 win against newly-promoted Crotone in March of last season.

However, victory on Sunday for Bologna would see them move onto 11 points, which would be their best return from their opening six Serie A matches since the 2002-03 campaign.

Empoli Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

Empoli form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

Bologna Serie A form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • D

Bologna form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • D

Team News

Empoli will still be without defenders Lorenzo Tonelli (knee) and Riccardo Fiamozzi (muscle) due to injury.

Andreazzoli made five changes from the side that lost to Sampdoria for their midweek fixture against Cagliari, and after winning that game the Italian head coach may stick with a similar starting lineup on Sunday.

Central midfield quartet Nicolas Haas, Samuele Ricci, Szymon Zurkowski and Liam Henderson are all likely to keep their places in the first XI, while Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Patrick Cutrone will be hoping he can replace either Di Francesco or Andrea Pinamonti in attack.

As for Bologna, midfield duo Jerdy Schouten and Kingsley Michael remain out as they continue to recover from muscle injuries.

Sweden international Mattias Svanberg is set to start once again in central midfield alongside Nicolas Dominguez in their absence, while Riccardo Orsolini, Roberto Soriano and Musa Barrow are all likely to operate in attacking midfield roles.

Former West Ham United forward Arnautovic, who has scored three goals across all competitions since joining the club this summer, is expected to lead the line as the lone striker.

Empoli possible starting lineup:
Vicario; Stojanovic, Romagnoli, Viti, Marchizza; Haas, Ricci, Zurkowski; Henderson; Di Fransesco, Cutrone

Bologna possible starting lineup:
Skorupski; De Silvestri, Medel, Bonifazi, Hickey; Svanberg, Dominguez; Orsolini, Soriano, Barrow; Arnautovic

We say: Empoli 2-2 Bologna

Both sides have made decent starts to the new campaign, though they do look vulnerable in defence and so goals are to be expected on Sunday.

With little to separate these two evenly-matched teams, an entertaining score draw could be on the cards at the Stadio Carlo Castellani.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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