After ensuring 2013/14 survival with four wins from the final seven encounters, Sassuolo have struggled to replicate their end of season form this time around, taking just three points from the six Serie A fixtures contested to date.
The return of Eusebio Di Francesco and his bold attacking style to the Neroverdi dugout at the tail end of last season brought plenty of goals, but with just three championship strikes to their name so far, along with 12 conceded down the other end, it looks set to be a tough second year in Italy’s top flight.
A 1-1 draw with Cagliari brought in the new season at the Mapei Stadium, where Simone Zaza got the hosts off to an ideal start on 42 minutes. His effort was soon pegged back though, with Marco Sau levelling two minutes later to earn a share of the spoils for the Rossoblu.
Lightning then struck twice as a rampant Inter put seven past the Neroverdi for the second time in the space of 12 months. After inflicting a 7-0 drubbing away from home in September 2013, Walter Mazzari’s men treated their fans to another goal-fest in which Mauro Icardi netted a hat-trick and Dani Osvaldo struck a brace at the San Siro.
Deprived of the goalscoring talents of Domenico Berardi, suspended for three games after elbowing Juan Jesus in Milan, Sassuolo were unable to find a way past inspired Sampdoria goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, who pulled off a string of fine stops to earn his side a goalless draw in Reggio Emilia.
The same outcome, albeit in different circumstances, also came in the next encounter away at Fiorentina. It was the hosts who had the upper hand throughout, fashioning a total of 16 opportunities and twice hitting the woodwork through Juan Cuadrado and Borja Valero, but Sassuolo held firm to leave Florence with a morale-boosting point.
An unforgiving fixture list then saw Napoli make the journey to Reggio Emilia, where a late surge and Federico Peluso header against the crossbar were unable to earn them a riposte to Jose Callejon’s first-half goal.
A tricky trip to Lazio followed, and the odds appeared firmly stacked against the Neroverdi when Stefano Mauri and Filip Djordjevic shot the hosts into a two-goal lead inside the opening 25 minutes.
Hope was restored when the returning Berardi halved the deficit sixty seconds later, only for Antonio Candreva to give the Biancocelesti added breathing space by finding the net ten minutes ahead of the interval.
Another Berardi strike, this time from the spot, paved the way for an open second-half, but Stefano Pioli’s side ultimately held on to wrap up their first back-to-back Serie A wins under his stewardship.