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Aug 21, 2021 at 5.30pm UK
Hellas VeronaHellas Verona
Zaccagni (71' pen., 90')
Veloso (35'), Di Carmine (75')
Veloso (45+1')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Raspadori (32'), Duricic (51'), Traore (77')
Lopez (23'), Duricic (79')

Preview: Hellas Verona vs. Sassuolo - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Both under new management for 2021-22, Hellas Verona and Sassuolo clash at Stadio Bentegodi on the opening day of the Serie A season.

With recently installed coaches equally keen to get their reign off to a winning start on Saturday - following the exit of overachieving predecessors - an appetising encounter is in prospect.

Match preview

After a period of distinct growth under former boss Ivan Juric, this season, Verona will turn to a manager whose CV has been littered with a series of promising starts and spectacular failures.

Formerly a success while in charge at opening-day opponents Sassuolo, new Hellas supremo Eusebio Di Francesco steps into the hot-seat amid much scrutiny, having crashed and burned at Cagliari - who mounted a spectacular revival once he had left - just last term.

In fact, since leaving Roma - where he had made over 100 appearances as a player - his win rate has slipped from 52% to half that in a brief spell at Sampdoria, then down to 19% in Sardinia until his inevitable sacking in February.

While hiring Di Francesco as coach may be seen as something of a gamble, Verona were delighted to confirm the signing of Manchester City midfielder Ivan Ilic on a permanent basis earlier this month, with the 20-year-old having proved his worth in making a total of 30 appearances on loan last season.

Warding off competition from Juric's new club Torino for Ilic - who has penned a five-year deal at the club after failing to make a single appearance for City - has helped the Gialloblu keep together most of a squad that impressed by finishing ninth and 10th respectively since promotion back to the top flight.

Though goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and promising defender Matteo Lovato have now departed for new horizons, Di Francesco can rely upon a group which knows how to grind out results at this level - and they made a successful start to competitive football this term by beating Serie C side Catanzaro 3-0 in the Coppa Italia last weekend.

However, Verona's recent record versus Sassuolo leaves much to be desired, as they have failed to beat the Neroverdi in four attempts since returning to Serie A - losing both fixtures last season, by an aggregate score of 5-2.

Such dominance over Saturday's hosts illustrates the standing Sassuolo have achieved within the Italian game, as the Emilian outfit are now accustomed to challenging for European football in the spring, and have finished in the top half of the table more often than not since joining Calcio's elite in 2014.

Successive eighth-placed finishes under the enterprising leadership of former coach Roberto De Zerbi - who left to try his hand at the Champions League with Shakhtar Donetsk - have well and truly established the Neroverdi on the map, but incoming boss Alessandro Dionisi will have his work cut out to maintain such lofty standards.

Following the charismatic De Zerbi through the exit door - albeit belatedly - was Juventus-bound Manuel Locatelli, who excelled on the grand stage at Euro 2020 this summer, while Brazilian defender Marlon has added to Shakhtar's South American enclave by joining his former manager in Ukraine. Replacing Locatelli will not be easy, as the youngest outfield player to have made 100 Serie A appearances made the most passes and won the most tackles throughout the top flight last term and was the beating heart of an attractive side.

Nonetheless, Dionisi arrives at the Mapei Stadium having led Empoli to the Serie B title in his one and only season there, and he has been rewarded for such impressive work with one of the more attractive managerial positions on the peninsula.

Thanks to their placing in the final 2020-21 standings, Sassuolo have avoided entering the Coppa Italia at the earlier stages, so his new side have instead warmed up for the trip to Verona with a series of friendlies - including wins over Vicenza and near neighbours Parma, plus a 1-1 draw with Lazio last weekend. This Saturday, though, will prove the first serious test of their credentials.

Hellas Verona form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W

Sassuolo form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D

Team News

Verona begin the new campaign without the services of striker Kevin Lasagna, as he underwent knee surgery last month. Furthermore, the influential Davide Faraoni is a doubt for the weekend, while Swiss defender Kevin Ruegg is poised to miss out.

Eusebio Di Francesco is expected to ditch his preferred 4-3-3, and has utilised a 3-4-2-1 during much of pre-season - with Antonin Barak and Mattia Zaccagni slotting in behind Nikola Kalinic in an attacking trident. The latter will certainly want to get off to a flying start this season, as an injury-hit 2020-21 saw the Croatian striker comfortably out-scored by his midfield colleagues.

Lorenzo Montipo has arrived as a replacement for Udinese-bound Marco Silvestri in goal, with young Ivor Pandur also a possible starter as the last line of defence, given his impressive showings at the end of last term. In all, though, the setup and personnel should not be too dissimilar to that favoured by Ivan Juric.

Sassuolo, however, will have to adjust not only to life without midfield lynchpin Manuel Locatelli, but also cater for several first-day absences: Giorgos Kyriakopoulos must serve a suspension, so Rogerio will start at left-back, while midfielder Pedro Obiang is out injured.

Alessandro Dionisi also has concerns about the fitness of forwards Francesco Caputo (muscular), and Gregoire Defrel - just recovered from COVID-19 infection.

The former Venezia coach will at least have the returning Gianluca Scamacca to call upon, with Locatelli's Azzurri colleague Giacomo Raspadori also among the Neroverdi ranks and ready to start on Saturday - star man Domenico Berardi is expected to be on the bench.

Hellas Verona possible starting lineup:
Pandur; Dawidowicz, Gunter, Ceccherini; Faraoni, Tameze, Veloso, Lazovic; Barak, Zaccagni; Kalinic

Sassuolo possible starting lineup:
Consigli; Toljan, Chiriches, Ferrari, Rogerio; Lopez, Frattesi; Traore, Djuricic, Boga; Raspadori

We say: Hellas Verona 1-2 Sassuolo

Despite change at the top, Sassuolo can continue their upward trajectory this season - providing no further exits occur - so can get 2021-22 off to a flier with an away win in Veneto.

While Verona often proved hard to beat under Ivan Juric, the Croatian coach's successor does not carry the clout he once did - and the Gialloblu's goalscoring problems do not appear to have been resolved.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 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 1.5:data

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