Here’s why Sassuolo can be Serie A’s answer to Leicester City

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Juventus may have ruled Italian football for the last five seasons, but the loss of Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata this summer has opened up a power vacuum in Serie A – and that can only be good news for U.S. Sassuolo, who are continuing to go from strength to strength.

The club from a town of just 40,000 people made the top-six last season, securing a Europa League spot in the process. And there’s plenty of reason to believe the 200/1 shots can genuinely lift the title. For starters…

They’ve shown they can beat anyone

Sassuolo managed a result against every team in Serie A’s top five last season, with Juventus’ only loss between the beginning of October and the end of April coming at the hands of Eusebio Di Francesco’s side, who beat the Turin giants 1-0.

Elsewhere, they came from behind to beat Napoli 2-1 at Mapei Stadium – Citta del Tricolore (Sassuolo’s snappily named home), as well as beating Internazionale home and away.

Throughout an impressive 2015-16, I Neroverdi showed themselves to be a fearless side – with Domenico Berardi’s 95th-minute penalty winner at the San Siro just one of many examples. And on that note…

They have a genuine wing wizard

Riyad Mahrez was widely considered Leicester City’s most important player en route to their Premier League triumph last season, and the Algerian emphasised just what a pacy, skilful and creative winger can give a team. But Sassuolo’s very own Berardi is a player of perhaps even greater quality than the Foxes hero.

Physically strong, a fantastic dribbler of the ball, and a naturally gifted finisher, the 22-year-old has already netted five goals in four games this season, including a well-taken double against Luzern in the Europa League.

With a deal in place to join Juventus next summer, the Calabria-born forward seems determined to produce something special for Sassuolo before he heads for pastures new, and he’s improving week on week. At 33/1 he looks well worth backing to be Serie A top scorer this season.

A good blend of youth and experience

With Juventus relying on an aged defence containing Patrice Evra, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, and the likes of Roma relying too much on promising but raw youngsters, of last season’s top six, Sassuolo look to have the best blend of potential and pedigree in their ranks.

From young midfield talents like Luca Mazzitelli and Ghana international Alfred Duncan to experienced and intelligent full-back pairing Federico Peluso and Marcelo Gazzola, I Neroverdi have a superbly balanced squad.

Early-season form shows they’re the real deal

Di Francesco’s men have started the campaign in red-hot form, brushing aside Luzern in the Europa League before a 3-0 triumph over Red Star Belgrade.

However, perhaps even more impressive was Sassuolo’s measured and professional 1-0 win at Palermo to kick off their Serie A campaign, inflicting the Eagles first home loss in five games.

The visitors dominated possession and carved out the game’s best chances in an impressive display, and they look likely to make it six points from six against Pescara this weekend.

Sassuolo are 8/13 to beat Delfini this weekend, and another good result for the small-town team could see those big odds of 200/1 to lift the title quickly tumble.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.