Serie A: Sassuolo enjoy perfect start to 2021/22 season in Italy

Kamila Dubcova of US Sassuolo celebrates with team mates after scoring to give the side a 1-0 lead during the Women's Serie A match between AC Milan and Sassuolo (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

As the international break arrives, two teams in Serie A possess 100% records. Unsurprisingly, one of those sides is Juventus, who have won four consecutive league titles. However, Sassuolo have kept pace with the reigning champions, after impressing in the early stages of the season.

Sassuolo are participating in their fifth successive Serie A campaign and they have improved year after year in the top flight.

Last season was particularly impressive, with Sassuolo narrowly missing out on a Champions League place. Agonisingly, they finished in third position, just a point behind second-placed AC Milan.

In the 2020/21 campaign, Gianpiero Piovani’s side scored 47 goals, the same as AC Milan and Empoli. Although, they were still 28 goals shy of the 75 Juventus managed to score.

They were also strong defensively, conceding just 20 times, with only AC Milan and Juventus conceding fewer.

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Six of the best to start the campaign

The current campaign has started successfully, with Sassuolo winning all six of their opening fixtures to match the start of Juventus. The top two sides have accumulated 18 points and possess an identical goal difference of +13.

Sassuolo have managed to outscore the champions this term, scoring 16 goals compared to Juventus’ 14. In every game, they have scored at least two goals and in half of those encounters, they have found the net on three occasions.

However, their free-scoring form has not led to fragility at the other end of the pitch, with Piovani’s side demonstrating that they have a solid defence. Sassuolo have impressed by keeping four clean sheets this season and conceding on just three occasions. Only Juventus have a better defence, with the champions conceding one goal this term.

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Cantore has been key

Sofia Cantore has led the line superbly this season, top-scoring for Sassuolo, with five goals to her name so far. She heads into the international break having scored three goals in her last two appearances, including a brace in Sassuolo’s most recent encounter with Empoli.

The 22-year-old, who is on loan from Juventus, has demonstrated her incredible talent by scoring an array of goals. In a 4-0 win over Hellas Verona, Cantore showed great strength to hold off Verona defender Caterina Ambrosi, and with great composure, she rounded the goalkeeper to calmly slot the ball home.

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Another great example of her finishing ability was witnessed in Sassuolo’s most recent encounter with Empoli. The Italian international’s first goal of the game involved the forward delicately lifting the ball over the goalkeeper.

Cantore has also created goals for her teammates this term, with two assists to her name. As a result, only Fiorentina’s Karin Lundin has managed to match the seven goals and assists that Cantore has managed this term.

Who else has starred?

Cantore has had great support upfront from Lana Clelland. The Scottish international has chipped in with three goals this term while also assisting on one occasion.

Kamila Dubcová has also been key for Sassuolo with three assists this term. Crucially, she has also started to find the net, with two goals in her last three club appearances.

It has not just been in the final third where the talent lies though, part of Sassuolo’s success has also been due to a solid defence. Tamar Dongus and Maria Luisa Filangeri have both played every minute of the campaign so far and have been pivotal figures in a formidable backline.

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Is the title a possibility?

Of course, the big question now is, could they do it? Could they be the team to overthrow the long-reigning champions, Juventus?

Realistically, it will be extremely difficult to maintain their current form. It will also be tough to keep pace with a Juventus side, who have not lost a league game since March 2019, when they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Sassuolo.

That brings us nicely to December 5th, when the current top two in Serie A will do battle for the first time this season. Sassuolo will host Juventus, and the encounter will be a great test for the home side. The result will provide an insight as to whether a title race this season is a realistic possibility.

Whatever happens, Sassuolo should not become victims of their early-season success. If they are unable to match Juventus throughout the season, then that should not be regarded as a failure.

In fact, after finishing just a point shy of the Champions League place last season, the realistic target is second place. Finishing in the top two would ensure qualification for next season’s Champions League. After just falling short of AC Milan last term, Sassuolo will have taken confidence from a 2-0 victory over Maurizio Ganz’s side on the third matchday. Heading into the international break, Sassuolo currently hold a five-point advantage over AC Milan, who sit in third position.

Piovani’s side have been the success story of the Serie A season so far, and if they continue their impressive form and collect something from the Juventus game, then it could be a memorable campaign for Sassuolo.

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