The win over Lecce, and the second half in particular, was a perfect microcosmic display of exactly what Roberto De Zerbi’s Neroverdi are and what they do.
— ForzaItalianFootball (@SerieAFFC) July 4, 2020
When Ciccio Caputo opened the scoring inside four minutes, it was easy to feel a little hard done by, as a routine ball over the top freed the No.9 for an excellent finish, but it’s not the kind of goal you expect to see when you watch Sassuolo.
Those watching on from the press box were left surprised by what they’d seen, though that could have been because of the ease at which the goal came about, with Lecce’s defence doing next to nothing to prevent it.
The finish, an elegant lob over a stranded Gabriel, was Caputo’s 15th of the season, in what is his first campaign at Sassuolo after his move from relegated Empoli last summer.
As important as the 32-year-old is, what makes Sassuolo so enjoyable to watch is that he’s not their only goalscoring threat.
Both Jeremie Boga and Domenico Berardi have 11 of their own goals as well, meaning that Sassuolo are alongside Atalanta as the only clubs in Serie A to have at least three players with 11 or more goals to their name.
The trio account for 37 of the Neroverdi’s 55 goals this season and Caputo alone has had a direct hand in 20 of those, with his five assists meaning he’s participated in 36 percent of his side’s goals.
Sassuolo have been quite an exciting side to watch for as long as they’ve been in Serie A, but the Berardi-Boga-Caputo frontline has taken them on to new levels.
Their 55-goal tally after 30 rounds of fixtures is already better than the 53 they managed in the entirety of last season, and they’ve only once scored more in a Serie A campaign – 58 in 2016/17.
De Zerbi keeps improving his side and he’s strengthened the team that looked as though it might collapse when Eusebio Di Francesco left for Roma in 2017.
Defending isn’t something that De Zerbi is concerned with – which is reflected by only Lecce, Brescia, Torino and Genoa having conceded more than their 53 this season – but that only guarantees goals and chances in any game they play.
In their five games since the restart, they’ve scored at least three in four of them, haven’t kept a single clean sheet, conceded three twice, and four once.
Sassuolo might not be the best-supported team in Serie A, but they should be one of the most-watched.
If you find yourself wanting to watch football without any real vested interest, check when the Neroverdi are playing, mark it in your calendar and enjoy the show.
Leaky Lecce’s troubles
Fabio Liverani’s Lecce have already conceded 70 Serie A goals this season – 12 more than Brescia, who have the next worst defence in Italy’s top flight.
Even around Europe’s top five leagues, only Paderborn – 74 – have a worse defensive record than the Giallorossi.
Still stranded in 18th place, relegation is looking increasingly likely as the games pass by and they’re still yet to pick up a point since the restart, losing each of their four games and four goals in three of those.