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Sep 11, 2021 at 2pm UK
Bajrami (89' pen.)
Ismajli (7'), Haas (44')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Henry (13'), Okereke (68')
Aramu (15'), Lezzerini (35'), Johnsen (45+3'), Heymans (86'), Maenpaa (88')

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

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

Two promoted sides clash upon the resumption of Serie A, as Empoli welcome Venezia to Stadio Carlo Castellani on Saturday.

Slayers of Juventus just before the international break, the home side came out of two tough opening fixtures with three points, while their Venetian counterparts remain goalless and pointless at the foot of the table.

Match preview

Promoted in May as Serie B champions, Empoli have already made a major impact on the Italian top flight, as they recorded the shock result of the season so far by getting one over on the Old Lady of Turin.

In their first match of the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era, Juventus found themselves behind to Leonardo Mancuso's strike midway through the first half at the Allianz Stadium. Despite their efforts after the interval, Empoli held firm and proved good value for all three points in the end - frustrating the Bianconeri, but also posing a significant threat on the break.

The Tuscan team previously went down to a 3-1 defeat at home to Lazio on the opening day - handing coach Aurelio Andreazzoli his first competitive defeat after a Coppa Italia win had started his reign - but are sure to be in buoyant mood ahead of Venezia's visit this weekend.

When the clubs met in the second tier last term, Empoli were held to a 1-1 home draw and suffered a two-goal defeat in Venice, but both squads have a quite different make-up now - indeed Andreazzoli has been able to add Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Patrick Cutrone and Inter starlet Andrea Pinamonti to his attacking options during the summer.

As the Azzurri cruised to the Serie B title in style, while Venezia stole the final promotion place at the death in the playoff final, they are undoubtedly favourites to add further to their points tally on Saturday, with both sides intent on retaining their top-flight status next spring.

Venezia certainly arrive in Tuscany as underdogs, given their weak showings since finally joining the elite, amid a blaze of social media promotional activity.

While their merchandise may be flying off the shelves of their virtual club shop in record numbers, on the field the Arancioneroverdi have flattered to deceive.

Despite playing the majority of their opening game versus Napoli against 10 men, they returned north empty-handed, and just before the break for World Cup qualifying, were beaten comprehensively by Udinese.

In a local derby, the Bianconeri's Nahuel Molina made one goal and scored another, with the final scoreline a deserved 3-0 victory for the hosts, as they punished slack marking from a new-look Venezia back four.

Even during the past week, Paolo Zanetti saw his team suffer a 4-0 friendly defeat to Serie B outfit Brescia, who will surely not be the last team to exploit their defensive deficiencies this season. Not only that, but their latest loss also marked their third straight game without a goal.

Having signed several new players over the summer - totally overhauling the side that Zanetti lead to promotion - their third successive away fixture is sure to test both confidence and cohesion after a sticky start.

Empoli Serie A form:
  • L
  • W

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

Venezia Serie A form:
  • L
  • L

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

Team News

On-loan Wolves striker Patrick Cutrone will once again lead the line for Empoli on Saturday, joining Leonardo Mancuso in a front pairing supported by recent Albania debutant Nedim Bajrami.

Coach Aurelio Andreazzoli favours a 4-3-1-2 setup, and the personnel forming his first XI should be the same as in the win over Juve, as no fresh injuries have arisen.

The home side also have young Inter forward Andrea Pinamonti available on the bench, having signed a temporary deal at the club late last month.

Providing Paolo Zanetti does not opt for an overhaul following a below-par start to the season, the visitors should persist with a 4-3-3 formation - Mattia Aramu, Thomas Henry and Dennis Johnsen being likeliest to form their attacking trident.

Signed from Chelsea on the final day of the transfer window, Ethan Ampadu could be selected to make his Venezia debut in central defence. Though he has only featured 12 times for the Premier League side over the past four years, the Wales international made three appearances for his nation at Euro 2020, and - despite his tender years - adds top-flight experience to the squad.

Finnish goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa is still doubtful with a back problem, so Luca Lezzerini starts between the posts.

Empoli possible starting lineup:
Vicario; Stojanovic, Ismajli, Luperto, Marchizza; Ricci, Haas, Bandinelli; Bajrami; Mancuso, Cutrone

Venezia possible starting lineup:
Lezzerini; Mazzocchi, Caldara, Ampadu, Ceccaroni; Heymans, Crnigoj, Busio; Aramu, Henry, Johnsen

We say: Empoli 3-1 Venezia

Not only did they capitalise on the chaos at Juventus last time out, but Empoli also demonstrated they may have the tools to threaten both mid-ranking sides and survival rivals on a regular basis.

Venezia may have to wait until next week's return to the iconic Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo for their first points of the campaign, but should at least notch a first top-flight goal since their demotion and subsequent implosion back in 2002.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win 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.Home/Away:data

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