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Match Preview: Sassuolo in a must-win against Fiorentina

After enjoying a brief spell of success with wins over Juventus (4-2) and Inter Milan (2-1) in the last week of September, Sassuolo continued their slide towards the Serie A relegation zone by ending 2023 with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of AC Milan, one of the top-four contenders. Pressure is mounting on coach Alessio Dionisi after the Neroverdi have managed to beat only Empoli, another struggling club, in their last 12 Serie A matches (4 draws, 7 defeats).

Dionisi was frustrated that the Neroverdi could not come away from Milan with a point as they only faced two shots on target, while they themselves had six on target. The coach also lamented a lack of precision in attack. Even a new 1-0 defeat to their upcoming opponent Fiorentina could be considered an improvement, as the team has conceded exactly two goals in four of their last five Serie A home matches (2 draws, 3 defeats).

On the other side, Fiorentina finished 2023 in the top four after a trilogy of 1-0 victories, all against clubs that started that day in tenth place or lower. This has taken their pre-match win percentage to 75% (9 wins, 2 draws, 1 defeat). Since their fifth-place finish in 2015/16, Fiorentina had not taken as many points in their first 18 Serie A matches. With this, they can hope for a new European qualification in one of the two best continental competitions for the first time since 2016/17.

Fiorentina also has an excellent record overall this Serie A season against teams that finished 2023 in the bottom half of the table (6 wins, 2 draws, 1 defeat). However, if you look at their last ten league matches, only two have produced more than 2.5 goals. In this sense, the highlights of this upcoming encounter could be relatively brief.

Players to watch: By scoring in the 28th minute of the loss to Genoa, Andrea Pinamonti became the first player to score in three home Serie A matches for Sassuolo this season. Fiorentina midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura has won 100% of the six Serie A matches in which he has scored this season.

Current series: Both teams have scored in the last eight meetings. Seven of these matches have produced at least three goals.

Prediction: Fiorentina to win 2-1

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