Juventus
    Juventus
      28.01.2017 13:20 - in: Serie A S

      #SassuoloJuve: key names and numbers

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      Juventus head to Sassuolo's Mapei Stadium looking for their 17th league win in 21 matches. Here's everything you need to know before Sunday's match
      Shaping up for Sunday

      Juventus and Sassuolo’s Serie A history is a brief one but one packed full of drama and importance nonetheless.

      Last season’s 1-0 reverse in Reggio Emilia has been earmarked by many as the turning point in the Bianconeri’s staggering surge to the Scudetto and stands as the only blot on the Bianconeri’s copy book in this fixture so far, five wins and one defeat in six league encounters. 

      Gonzalo Higuain's thrilling double settled proceedings at Juventus Stadium in September

      As a result, no side has beaten Sassuolo more times than Juve in Italy’s top-flight and Massimiliano Allegri’s men will be confident of continuing that record at the Mapei Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

      September’s 3-1 success at Juventus Stadium was the third of 16 league wins so far for the current leaders who sit one clear of Roma on 48 points, having played a game fewer.

      Sassuolo caught the eye in style last term with an impressive sixth-placed finish, enough to secure a Europa League berth, but have struggled to repeat the feat this time around.

      Eusebio Di Francesco’s side are in 14th position with 24 points, seven of which have been earned in their last three matches. Before then, the Neroverdi had collected just five from a possible 30.

      Both teams then will be desperate for a win tomorrow and should there be a result at the Mapei, Juventus would set a new Serie A record for consecutive games without a draw (currently 32.)

      Black and white, indeed. 

      Number crunching

      Sharp-shooting and fast counter-attacking characterized Sassuolo’s surge to the top six last season and at least one element of that remains this year: only Cagliari (18%) have a higher shots to goals ratio than Di Francesco’s charges (17.7%), a figure that could be even higher had they not struck the woodwork nine times, a total bettered only by Sampdoria. 

      The greater problems for Sunday’s hosts can be found at the other end however, where they have conceded at least 14 shots in all of their last 13 league outings; something that has only happened twice to Juventus.

      Striking early could be the key for the visitors. With nine goals in the first 15 minutes of matches this campaign, no one bursts out of the blocks quite like Juve, while the reverse is the case for Sassuolo, who have let slip eight goals in the same period, also a league high. 

      Early goals have been Juve's forte this season...

      Once ahead, the Old Lady does not give second chances, going on to win 16 of the 17 games in which she has taken the lead this term, holding the advantage for a total of 860 minutes, a record in the top flight.

      An early Sassuolo opener on the other hand hasn’t had the same effect so far: the Reggio Emilians have lost four times from winning positions, an unwanted record shared with Palermo. 

      Key men

      There will be familiar faces aplenty tomorrow afternoon, with Alessandro Matri (27 goals in 74 appearances), Federico Peluso and Alberto Aquilani all set to face their old employers. Full-back Pol Lirola, on loan from Juventus, has had an eye-catching debut Serie A campaign but will skip Sunday’s match through injury.

      In Matri, Sassuolo can count on one of the most in-form strikers in the division, the veteran Italian netting four times in two matches, a hot streak in part fueled by the return of Neroverdi talisman Domenico Berardi. Two assists in his last outing suggested that the U21 international is approaching full fitness after months out on the sidelines.  

      Alessandro Matri scored at a rate of more than one goal every three games

      On the scoring front, it’s a case of same names different week for Juventus. Gonzalo Higuain’s thrilling double, the first a venomous drive across the goalkeeper, the second a superb scissor kick, sealed the points for his team in September and the Argentine will be hungry for more this weekend.

      Higuain is the first Juve player since David Trezeguet (2005) to score in five consecutive league games, the legendary Frenchman going on to net in nine in a row. Of those to have attempted 30 shots or more this season, Pipita has the highest conversion rate (31.1%). 

      Stopping Gonzalo is just one part of the problem however. Paulo Dybala has two goals to his name in three matches and will be looking to score his first strike away from home since October’s 3-1 win over Empoli. 

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