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Preview: Spezia vs. Salernitana - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Two of the bottom three in Serie A meet on Saturday afternoon, as Spezia welcome Salernitana to Stadio Alberto Picco.

Both just a point off the foot of the table having won only one game apiece, the two modest clubs convene for the first time ever in the top-flight, searching for success against a likely relegation rival.

Match preview

Following a grim start to the season, in which his side have lost five of their seven matches while conceding a league-high total of 19 goals, Spezia coach Thiago Motta has come under much scrutiny during the recent international break.

Before Serie A was paused for World Cup qualifying and Nations League fixtures to commence, the Ligurian outfit - experiencing only their second-ever season in the Italian elite - suffered a humbling 4-0 loss to Verona at the Bentegodi, leaving them 19th in the standings.

Therefore, rumours persist that the club's board is considering terminating the contract of the former Genoa manager, who replaced popular predecessor Vincenzo Italiano in the summer.

Though Motta's men have pushed both Juventus and Milan close without any reward, their solitary success so far came against promoted Venezia, and they now face another club recently arrived from Serie B.

Throughout their meetings in the second tier, Spezia have come out on top nine times against Salernitana, who were winners on seven occasions. However, this weekend they meet their Campanian counterparts in the top flight for the first time, amid some dire defensive difficulties.

In all - stretching back to Italiano's largely successful reign - the Aquilotti have failed to keep a clean sheet in Serie A since mid-February, a period now covering 23 games.

Salernitana could be forgiven for lamenting the timing of this month's internationals, as the previously rock-bottom side claimed their first league win of the season before the break.

Welcoming Genoa to Stadio Arechi having failed to win in six attempts since promotion back to the big time, the Granata took the lead through Milan Djuric midway through the second half and then hung on bravely for a precious three points.

While high-profile summer signings Franck Ribery and Simy were starters after being sparingly used so far, it was the unheralded Bosnian forward's header that proved enough to break Salernitana's drought and move them up to 18th place. Not only that, but after an uncertain start to the season by their defence, they also denied the opposition a goal for the first time this season.

Alongside Sampdoria's Emil Audero, goalkeeper Vid Belec's 25 saves so far represent the highest tally in the division - incidentally one ahead of Spezia's Jeroen Zoet - indicating the troubles that coach Fabrizio Castori has endured in keeping the team's back door shut.

Meanwhile, matters at the other end have not been helped by Simy's failure to fire in his seven Serie A appearances this term. By this stage last year, the Nigerian striker had already netted three goals for Crotone; going on to finish as an unlikely Capocannoniere contender along with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku.

However, Saturday's opponents have lost their last three home matches and, with confidence low, could prove perfect prey for Simy, as the Salerno side seek a second successive win.

Spezia Serie A form:
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L

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

Team News

Ahead of Saturday's game, Spezia are expecting to be without midfielder Mehdi Bourabia due to a calf injury, which requires further treatment. They must also make an enforced change at the back, as Simone Bastoni serves a suspension for his red card against Verona last time out.

Polish winger Arkadiusz Reca has tested positive for COVID-19 but was already out of action with a muscular injury, so the rest of the squad is unaffected.

Thiago Motta has been given good news regarding first-choice full-back Kelvin Amian though, as the issue which caused the former France Under-21 international to be withdrawn during the interval at the Bentegodi has cleared up, leaving him set to continue on the right flank.

Last season's star man M'Bala Nzola is still struggling for a start under Motta this term but will hope to be offered a chance in the Aquilotti's misfiring attack, ahead of Rey Manaj or Janis Antiste.

Salernitana, meanwhile, are sweating on the fitness of veteran wing wizard Franck Ribery, who suffered an ankle sprain during training earlier this week.

Ramzi Aya, Matteo Ruggeri and Leonardo Capezzi are all confirmed absentees for the visiting side, while Ivorian forward Cedric Gondo will be re-evaluated in the run-up to kickoff. Luka Bogdan's leg injury also puts him in serious doubt.

Francesco Di Tacchio and the matchwinner against Genoa, Milan Djuric, are contenders for promotion to the starting XI in the possible absence of Gondo and Ribery.

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Zoet; Amian, Hristov, Nikolaou, Ferrer; Podgoreanu, Maggiore; Antiste, Verde, Gyasi; Manaj

Salernitana possible starting lineup:
Belec; Gyomber, Strandberg, Gagliolo, Ranieri; M. Coulibaly, Obi, Di Tacchio, Kastanos; Bonazzoli, Simy

We say: Spezia 2-1 Salernitana

Spezia can halt their worrying losing streak at the Picco with a close-fought win over one of their close rivals for Serie A salvation.

Potentially facing visitors shorn of several regular starters through injury, the Aquilotti are set to pick Salernitana off and consequently leapfrog them in the table.

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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