Sassuolo vs. Inter Milan, preview: Sassuolo face tough challenge in search for first points

Claudio Villa

Newly promoted Sassuolo are looking to improve on their terrible start to the season, but it's hard to expect victory against an in-form Inter side.

Sassuolo have zero points from their first three games, and their fight to avoid the drop already appears fruitless. They are still to show they are up to the challenge of Serie A, but proving themselves against one of the best teams in league may be impossible. Inter Milan come into this match in an optimistic mood, drawing last week's Derby D'Italia after winning their first two matches.

More from our team blogs: Inter Milan Offside

Sassuolo had a great season in Serie B, winning the division under Eusebio Di Francesco, the former Roma player, who more than once expressed his admiration for legendary Zdenek Zeman -- so no surprise that they played some exciting football. But their Serie A campaign did not exactly start as they expected. Or at least as we assume they expected, but looking at their transfer dealings, it does make you wonder just how ambitious Sassuolo were coming into this season.

The beginning of this Serie A season must feel like a bit of a deja vu for Di Francesco. A couple of years ago, he was the coach of Pescara and had a great season in Serie B. He then took over Lecce in Serie A, but it didn't go well at all - his team did play some good football, but results were missing and Di Francesco was sacked fairly quickly. If he is to keep his job with Sassuolo, he will have to find a way to win games.

Sassuolo have lost all three games so far, two of them to their direct opponents in the battle against the drop. They were heavily defeated by Livorno at home 4-1, and in the last round they lost to Verona 2-0. In round one, the neroverdi were beaten 2-0 by Torino. It makes you wonder how will they fare against teams from the top of the table.

Sassuolo will be without their brightest talent, 19 years old Domenico Berardi, who is suspended. The news that defender Emanuele Terranova damaged his cruciate ligaments on training on Wednesday, keeping him out for about six months, certainly won't help players and fans be optimistic about this duel. Ex-Juve man Luca Marrone is recovering from injury and likely won't be in the starting line up, nor will goalkeeper Gianluca Pegolo. The injuries to starters combined with a lack of confidence from Sassuolo means it's hard to expect anything but an Inter win.

Inter's situation is exactly the opposite - they started the season brightly especially considering the skepticism of most football fans in Italy after a terrible last season. Walter Mazzarri has already managed to make the his side look like a team, rather than a collection of individual players, which is how they appeared last year under Andrea Stramaccioni.

Players that most nerazzurri fans wanted out last season now look reborn, particularly Ricardo Alvarez, who is the league leader in dribblings per game with five. Bringing Hugo Campagnaro with him from Napoli was a great move by Mazzarri, as the experienced Argentinian is in great form and is slowly becoming a defensive leader of the team.

Inter have 7 points from the first three games, having defeated Genoa at home 2-0 before beating Catania away 3-0. The only draw (1-1) came last week, in the derby against Juventus. Mazzarri likely won't change his formation, using his favored 3-5-1-1. Rodrigo Palacio will start in attack, with Alvarez behind him. Captain Javier Zanetti is still missing, as well as Cristian Chivu.

Sassuolo Injuries and Suspensions

Emanuele Terranova (injured); Alaje Gomes, Luca Marrone, Gianluca Pegolo (in doubt); Domenico Berardi (suspended)

Inter Milan Injuries and Suspensions

Javier Zanetti, Cristian Chivu (injured)

Projected lineups

Sassuolo (4-3-3): Pomini, Gazzola, Antei, Acerbi, Ziegler, Kurtic, Magnanelli, Missiroli, Schelotto, Alexe, Zaza

Inter (3-5-1-1): Handanovic, Campagnaro, Juan Jesus, Ranocchia, Jonathan, Guarin, Cambiasso, Taider, Nagatomo, Alvarez, Palacio

Match Date / Time

Sunday, September 22 at 12:30 p.m. local / 6:30 a.m. ET


Mapei Stadium, Reggio-Emilia


Sky Calcio 1 (Italy); BT Sport 2 (UK); BeIN Sport Play Online, RAI Internazionale (USA)

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