Sassuolo Club Focus: Season Preview 2013/14
Who the heck are Sassuolo you may rightly be asking yourselves. Well, here at Club Focus we like to educate as well as entertain so here is a brief history.
Founded in 1922, this small club from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy will be competing for the first time ever in Serie A.
Last season they were crowned champions of Serie B under the stewardship of ex-Roma player Eusebio di Francesco.
They play in green and black (a kit which was originally donated by English club Lancaster Rovers) and they will ground share with Lega Pro side Reggiana, parading their skills on the Stadio Citta del Tricolore.
Their own ground is too small for Italy’s premier division as it only holds a maximum of 4000 spectators but it will be used for training purposes.
The Neroverdi have been a launching pad for some big name coaches over the years. Stefano Pioli of Bologna, Verona’s Andrea Mandorlini and Max Allegri of AC Milan have all had a hand in guiding this tiny team throughout its more recent history.
And that’s about it. Until now… This year the best that Italian football has to offer will come up against the team affectionately known by its supporters as Sasol.
So who have Sassuolo brought in over the summer to tackle the likes of Inter, Juventus and Fiorentina? Thrift is a crucial element of any small club and currently the owners have only spent around €4 million on players.
In goal, former Napoli backup custodian Antonio Rosati has been drafted in to bring some much needed experience between the sticks and offer some competition to current keeper Alberto Pomini.
In defence the coach has been given Francesco Acerbi formerly of Milan and Chievo, Reto Ziegler on loan form Juventus and Luca Antei has joined after a loan spell from Roma.
The midfield sees the addition of the Slovenian international Jasmin Kurtic who has arrived from Palermo but it is in attack that the Sassuolo team is of most intrigue.
The Juventus co-owned striker Simone Zaza (who scored 18 goals in Serie B for Ascoli last season) will play alongside another exciting young talent Domenico Berardi and Romania forward Marius Alexe who has joined on loan from Dinamo Bucharest. The Brazilian Diego Farias will also be an option up front, another loan signing from Chievo.
The only player of note to have been sold is Gianluca Sansone, moving to Sampdoria as part of the deal that allowed Zaza to move the opposite way.
Eusebio Di Francesco
Current tactician di Francesco was a player during the first Zdenek Zeman era at Roma and his favoured 4-3-3 formation does have a hint of Zemanlandia about it.
Whether that’s a good thing is certainly up for debate but what is certain is that you can expect plenty of fireworks from this little club in it’s inaugural season in the top flight as they will look to play a very assertive style of calcio.
He started his coaching career at Virtus Lanciano in 2008 but things did not work out too well for him in Lega Pro and was sacked from his position.
For the 2010-11 season he was appointed into the hot seat at Pescara (uncannily preceding his former mentor Zeman) where he was appreciated for his exciting brand of football guiding the team to a decent 13th place finish. He was then lured to Serie A with southern club Lecce (also a former club of Zeman), though this stint lasted a mere 13 games during the 2011-12 season, with the side languishing at the foot of Serie A with just eight points.
However, Sassuolo had seen something in the coach that they liked and he was appointed to take charge of their 2012-13 campaign which ended in huge satisfaction for all concerned for the club owned by Giorgio Squinzi.
With no previous form to be guided by, convention says that this new team which is backed by loan signings will almost certainly return to Serie B immediately.
The attack minded di Francesco is expected to stick to his principles and many so called experts will try to convince you that the provincial clubs should always think of defending first if they are to have any hope of keeping their top flight credentials intact.
But here at Club Focus we think a little different. Once upon a time a small club called Foggia, coached by a forward thinking tactician, rocked Italian football with its unknown players and aggressive brand of football.
We feel that this little outfit that play in black and green would rather go down in a blaze of glory than disappear with a whimper on one of football’s greatest stages.
Keep an eye out on the front three of Zaza, Berardi and Alexe. This trio may not yet be the players that Giuseppe Signori, Francesco Baiano and Roberto Rambaudi became but if anyone can replicate the Zeman philosophy in Serie A, it’s Eusebio di Francesco.
Here at Sassuolo Club Focus we urge you to follow the team with us throughout their debut season and to perhaps offer your support to Serie A’s newest protagonist.