Juventus
    14.12.2013 16:30 - in: Serie A S

    Sassuolo in the spotlight

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    Juventus.com takes an in-depth look at the Bianconeri’s latest opponents: Sassuolo

    Club

    Founded in 1922, Sassuolo originally wore the yellow and red colours of the town’s crest, competing in amateur leagues around the Emilia-Romagna region where they are based.

    The club first entered the arena of professional football for their 1968/69 Serie D campaign, a season in which they held their own and avoided relegation.

    1974 was the year the club’s current name of U.S. Sassuolo Calcio was established, though at that point they were playing in a red and blue striped strip as opposed to their current black and green.

    They were unfortunate that it was goal difference which sent them back down to amateur level the following season, but in 1984 they went on to reach Serie C2 for the first time thanks to the support of Mapei businessman Giorgio Squinzi.

    For many years the team struggled to find their feet and experienced another return to amateur football soon afterwards, but the arrival of Massimiliano Allegri in the dugout in 2007 sparked a momentous rise.

    The current Milan manager led them to Serie B for the first time in his debut season with the Neroverdi, but then moved on to a new challenge with Serie A club Cagliari and was replaced by current Hellas Verona coach Andrea Mandorlini.

    Sassuolo finished in a very respectable seventh position in their first Serie B adventure, and yet another current Serie A manager, Bologna‘s Stefano Pioli, was appointed in June to lead them to new heights.

    The side experienced two near promotion misses in 2010 and 2012, but last season they managed it, lifting the Scudetto title to secure their first ever promotion to the top flight. Sassuolo is the smallest town ever to have a team competing in Serie A.

    Stadium

    While Sassuolo’s official home has historically been the town’s 4,008-capacity Stadio Enzo Ricci, their swift rise to the upper tiers of Italian football has called for different venues.

    Following promotion to Serie B in 2008, the Neroverdi lined up for their home games at Modena’s Stadio Alberto Braglia.

    And on reaching Serie A for the first time in their history this season, a ground-sharing agreement was struck up with Reggiana to allow the Neroverdi to play at the Stadio Mapei.

    Their new home for the 2013/14 campaign holds 23,717 spectators, was inaugurated in 1995 by a Reggiana v Juventus fixture which the Bianconeri won and is an English-style stadium, with stands very close to the field of play.

    Transfer Activity

    Sassuolo’s dealings in the summer transfer window involved a number of links with Juventus.

    To begin with, the Neroverdi purchased 50% of Juventus youth academy product Luca Marrone’s registration rights to bring him to the Stadio Mapei for the current season. The same deal was struck in the opposite direction for Sassuolo youngster Domenico Berardi, who nevertheless remains with the newly-promoted outfit this year.

    Talented striker Simone Zaza also joined Sassuolo over the summer after being purchased on a co-ownership basis with Juventus from Sampdoria. It was the 22-year-old who scored the team’s first ever goal in Serie A, a header against Livorno.

    Also arriving were ex-Genoa defender Francesco Acerbi, promising Portuguese striker Aladje, 24-year-old midfielder Jasmin Kurtic and pacy winger Marius Alexe amongst others.

    In terms of departures, Juve forward Richmond Boakye has now moved to newly-promoted La Liga side Elche after spending the last couple of seasons on loan with the Neroverdi, and Gennaro Troianello has gone to Palermo.  

    Current Team

    Fortune has smiled kindly on Juve on this occasion, as Sassuolo’s star performer and top goalscorer Domenico Berardi is suspended for Sunday’s fixture.  The 19-year-old Italian co-owned by Juventus has been in deadly form with seven goals, five of which have been netted away from home.

    The team’s captain is Francesco Magnanelli, a midfielder who has been on the full journey with Sassuolo having joined in 2005.

    Experienced forward Antonio Floro Flores has scored two goals away at Juventus in his career whilst playing for Genoa and Udinese.  

    Manager

    Guiding Sassuolo through their first Serie A campaign is Eusebio di Francesco.

    An ex-midfielder, he developed in the Empoli youth academy and made his Serie A debut for the Tuscan side in the 1987/88 season. He went on to win the Scudetto with Roma in 2001 and made 12 appearances for the Azzurri.

    After his retirement in 2005, he became the Giallorossi’s team manager. And following a brief stint as sporting director of Serie C2 club Val di Sangro, he took on his first coaching role at Virtus Lanciano in 2008.

    At Pescara the following year, his men played attacking football and challenged for a play-off place for the majority of the season, but he was unable to transfer that success to Serie A with Lecce, who he left at the bottom of the table when he was relieved of his duties in December 2011.

    He became Sassuolo manager in June 2012, leading them to the Serie B title in his first season.

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