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Dec 12, 2021 at 5pm UK
Berardi (63'), Raspadori (69')
Berardi (77')
Ayhan (88')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Zaccagni (6')
Marusic (40'), Anderson (73')

Preview: Sassuolo vs. Lazio - prediction, team news, lineups

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

After completing the formality of European progress in midweek, unpredictable Lazio visit the similarly hit-or-miss Sassuolo on Sunday.

The Aquile went through as runners-up in their Europa League group, having previously beaten Sampdoria to sit eighth in the Serie A standings - five points and four places above their weekend opponents.

Match preview

Held to a goalless draw against Galatasaray on Thursday evening, Lazio missed an opportunity to win on soil and beat their Turkish counterparts to top spot in Group E, which would have secured a direct place in the Europa League's last 16.

Now set to face a playoff with one of the Champions League dropouts in February, the Aquile can return their thoughts to an eventful domestic campaign, which has seen them fail to win two games on the spin since the opening rounds.

Beset by inconsistency under Maurizio Sarri, the capital club had claimed just one point from their previous three league matches before visiting Stadio Luigi Ferraris last weekend, and were in distinct danger of falling off the pace in the relentless top-four race.

Following their implosion in the incredible 4-4 draw with Udinese just days before, Lazio were quick out of the blocks against struggling Sampdoria, going two goals up by the 17th minute.

Though midfield mainstay Sergej Milinkovic-Savic managed to get his name on the scoresheet, he was later sent off on his side's way to a 3-1 victory - the Biancocelesti's first success in seven domestic away games.

Generally saving their best work for the Olimpico this term, Lazio have conceded more than 30 times in their first 16 matches of a Serie A season for the first time since 1958 - with 18 goals already leaked from eight on the road - so must shore up at the back if they are to improve their recent record against Sunday's hosts.

As Sassuolo have won two of their last three top-flight meetings with Lazio - as many as they had managed in their previous 13 - the once yawning gap between the two very different clubs has certainly narrowed in recent times.

They have, though, shown the same inconsistency as their Roman opponents throughout the current campaign - even losing their grip on several fixtures during the course of the 90 minutes.

Indeed, despite the Neroverdi gaining more points from losing positions than any other Serie A side this calendar year (20 in all), they have also lost 24 points when leading since the end of 2020.

The former trait was in evidence last Sunday afternoon, as Sassuolo fought back to draw 2-2 with lowly Spezia, thanks to a clinical pair of Giacomo Raspadori strikes. Previously, they had held Scudetto challengers Napoli to the same score with another dramatic comeback - just days after a 3-1 win at current leaders Milan.

As Alessio Dionisi's men have drawn three of their last four league games, though, they are treading water in 12th, having ultimately finished eighth in both of the past two seasons.

Undoubtedly, a weak home record has undermined the Emilians' latest improbable push for the European places, so Dionisi will hope for better against a vulnerable Lazio side.

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

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

Lazio form (all competitions):

Team News

Due to his dismissal at Sampdoria last week, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will be missing from Lazio's matchday squad as he serves a suspension, while Luis Alberto is a major doubt due to injury.

After being benched in midweek, Danilo Cataldi is therefore set to return to the visitors' midfield, while Mattia Zaccagni hopes to hold off the claims of Felipe Anderson following a rare start in the Europa League. Patric comes back in contention for a place in the back four, after sitting out the trip to Marassi because of a ban.

A bastion of consistency for the Aquile in both good times and bad, star striker Ciro Immobile has scored 13 times already this season, so could become only the fourth Italian player to score 15 or more goals in seven different Serie A campaigns if he bags a brace on Sunday.

Injured pair Filip Djuricic (hamstring) and Edoardo Goldaniga (muscular), meanwhile, remain sidelined for Sassuolo this week, but Alessio Dionisi is able to name a similar side to that which fought back for a point last Sunday.

Jeremy Toljan is in line to usurp Mert Muldur at right-back, while the hosts' goalscoring hero at Spezia, Giacomo Raspadori, should replace Gregoire Defrel in a three-man attack.

One of his forward colleagues, Domenico Berardi, has previously scored eight Serie A goals against Lazio; only against Milan has the Italy international netted more in the Italian top flight.

Sassuolo possible starting lineup:
Consigli; Toljan, Ayhan, Ferrari, Rogerio; Frattesi, Lopez, Henrique; Berardi, Scamacca, Raspadori

Lazio possible starting lineup:
Strakosha; Hysaj, Felipe, Acerbi, Marusic; Cataldi, Leiva, Basic; Pedro, Immobile, Anderson

We say: Sassuolo 2-3 Lazio

It is difficult to see this encounter ending without a flurry of goals, as part of the Azzurri strikeforce which helped Italy win the Euros will be on display - with Immobile and Berardi being in particularly fine form.

Though Lazio have struggled to make a mark away from their Roman headquarters, they can strike on the counter to seal victory - establishing a significant points gap between the two clubs.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 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.Over 2.5:data

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