MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Wednesday’s solitary Serie A contest.
Sassuolo v Torino | Wednesday 19.45 | BT Sport Europe
If you’re new to Serie A, firstly where have you been? Secondly, you’re going to love Sassuolo.
On a budget roughly one quarter the size of Serie A’s richest teams, the Neroverdi have been pulling up forest loads of trees under the watch of Eusebio Di Francesco.
The head coach has built a side whose tempo and furious pressing game can make them a match for just about anybody on their day. The plucky minnows have W3-D2-L1 against the top-three this term, only losing their unbeaten record at table-topping Napoli last Saturday night.
That loss left Sass down in eighth but a victory over Torino on Wednesday evening would lift the hosts back into sixth and just a point off Roma. It’s been a remarkable campaign for the Neroverdi who continue to impress under former Italian international Di Francesco.
Sassuolo did take an early lead in Naples and had their chances throughout but eventually fell to a 3-1 reverse, the final goal from Gonzalo Higuain arriving in stoppage-time. It was another brave display, especially with both star striker Domenico Berardi and defensive lynchpin Paolo Cannavaro missing through suspension.
Both talisman will return to the field this midweek as Di Francesco’s troops bid to extend their unbeaten 11-game spell (W6-D5-L0) at their adopted Mapei Stadium home. Juventus, Lazio, Napoli and Milan have all left pointless during that sample with Fiorentina also failing to secure maximum points.
Sassuolo tend to start games at pace – they’ve notched the opening goal in nine of their previous 14 fixtures in front of their home supporters and they’ll fancy their chances against a Torino side that’s suffered defeats in five of their last six road trips.
After an excellent start to 2015/16 (W4-D1-L1), the Granata dropped off the pace and their weekend victory over struggling Frosinone was their first in Serie A since November. Head coach Giampiero Ventura gave returning hero Ciro Immobile his debut and the 2013/14 top Serie A goalscorer marked the occasion with a goal.
The result will have given the Bulls a lift as they look to break into the top-half of the table. But their worrying road record needs to be addressed – Torino have W2-D1-L5 on their travels this term – leaking at least twice in five matches – and lost 27/65 (42%) of away outings during Ventura’s tenure. Across those 65 matches, the Granata kept only 12 clean sheets.
In contrast, Sassuolo have W13-D13-L7 when welcoming top tier opposition to the Mapei during Di Francesco’s reign – that’s a loss rate of just 21%. Throw in their 61% shots-on-target ratio figure at home (only bettered by four clubs) and the 8/5 (BetVictor) on a home victory begins to look a little plump.
But instead I’m going to take Both Teams To Score at even-money with William Hill – it’s just too big. A huge 23 of those aforementioned 33 home Sassuolo outings have delivered winning BTTS bet – that’s 70% including six of their eight this season.
Torino have only fired blanks twice on their travels in 2015/16, notching at both Napoli and bitter rivals Juventus. A juicy 40/65 (62%) of their away encounters under Ventura have rewarded Both Teams To Score backers with nine of their most 11 away from Turin featuring at least three goals.
If you were chalking up BTTS odds on this showdown based on their historical trends under each coach, we should be looking at a 66% chance – if we turn that probability percentage into implied odds, we’d be looking at a 1/2 shot.
Sassuolo v Torino – Both Teams To Score (1/1 William Hill)
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