Cagliari will be up against Inter Milan in the Serie A encounter at the Sardegna Arena in Cagliari on the 16th of May.
Inter Milan will be heading into this clash after being crowned the Champions of Coppa Italia after an epic final in midweek. They will now focus their attempts on the defence of the Scudetto heading into the penultimate round of fixtures in Serie A when they visit relegation-threatened Cagliari.
The Nerazzurri are two points away from city rivals AC Milan at the top of the table with just two matches left to be played. Therefore, they will have to secure a win in Sardinia to keep their hopes of consecutive Serie A titles alive. Meanwhile, Cagliari will also be desperate for points as they are just inside the relegation zone and are fighting for their lives.
Cagliari are in a massive predicament heading into the final couple of fixtures in the Italian top flight this season. They are placed 18th in the league and have won just three matches in front of their own fans this season. It is the joint lowest for a single top-flight campaign and the worst return in over two decades of Italian football.
This chronic lack of success at the Sardegna Arena in Cagliari has contributed to their massive headaches, which will see them potentially getting demoted to Serie B and they are also running out of time to stay afloat in the first division.
Before facing fellow strugglers Venezia next weekend, who have already been relegated, Cagliari will be desperate to avoid the same fate in the final match of the campaign. Alessandro Agostini and his men will have a tall mountain to climb in the crucial part of the campaign. Agostini has been promoted from the Primavera side to oversee the campaign’s conclusion of the first team in the wake of former Inter head coach Walter Mazzarri getting sacked in the middle of the season.
If Cagliari want to extend their stay in the Italian top-flight beyond this season to make it seven straight years in a row in Serie A, they will have to reflect on last week’s late equalizer by Giorgio Altare as almost divine intervention. His goal in the 99th minute of the contest not only secured an all-important and precious point but has also kept them within touching distance of the Granata in the table.
A win here against the defending champions will be enough to take them out of the bottom three and will also put their destiny in their own hands. However, they will need more than a miracle to topple the title challengers on Sunday in front of their own home, where they have such a disastrous record this season.
On the other hand, Inter Milan’s Coppa Italia victory was made all the sweeter as they defeated arch-rivals Juventus in a second straight fight for silverware success. The Nerazzurri came from behind on Wednesday to clinch their first Coppa Italia title since 2011 at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
Inter had already secured the Super Copa Italiana earlier this season. Although Alex Sandro and Dusan Vlahovic had scored two goals in the second half to put Juventus ahead in the contest, Hakan Calhanoglu’s 80th-minute penalty forced extra time in the final.
Veteran forward Ivan Perisic then stepped up to take a penalty and put Inter 3-2 ahead in the 99th minute of the clock. He then slammed an unstoppable fourth goal just three minutes later to not only make it a brace for himself in the night but to also secure the eighth Coppa Italia title for Inter Milan.
Simone Inzaghi’s side are now set to take on Cagliari and Sampdoria in their final couple of league fixtures with the Serie A title on the line. The defending champions have won six of their last seven games in the league. However, a shocking upset at the hands of Bologna continues to haunt them and it could ultimately prove to be their undoing as neighbors and arch-rivals AC Milan have a three-point lead at the top of the standings. Inter’s fate is no longer in their own hands, and unless Milan slip up in the final two league matches, they will not be able to retain their domestic crown.
What’s certain is that Inter Milan certainly cannot afford another slip up themselves. They are also the strong favourites to pick up all three points from this fixture, despite ceding the home advantage to their latest opponents. In their last 10 matches against Cagliari, Inter Milan have secured victories in eight of them and have only lost once during that fantastic spell.
Simone Inzaghi will be happy that Inter Milan have regained their prolific touch in front of the goal. They have found the back of the net in each of their last 11 encounters, which includes the four goals scored in their come from behind win over Empoli last Friday. The side from Milan are also not exactly welcome visitors in Sardinia this weekend.
It goes without saying that due to the gulf in quality between the two sides, Cagliari’s last 13 home matches against Inter Milan have seen as many as eight losses and only three victories. The hosts will have to play out of their skins in order to secure a positive result here, although, Inter Milan will be unwilling to let that happen.
CAG vs INT, Serie A 2021/22
Date: 16th May, 2022
Time: 12:15 AM IST
Venue: Sardegna Arena, Cagliari
Cagliari Serie A form:
Cagliari form (all competitions):
Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
Cagliari wins: 5
Inter Milan wins: 17
Cagliari Team News: Hosts Cagliari are expected to have only two major absentees on Sunday evening. Nahitan Nandez is still recovering from a thigh problem, which is expected to keep him out and reserve goalkeeper Boris Radunovic will serve a suspension after seeing his marching orders on the bench in the previous match against Salernitana.
Therefore, Leonardo Pavoletti is expected to join captain Joao Pedro to lead the front line. Seven of Cagliari’s last 14 goals at home have been scored by their captain Pedro which includes the most recent – a stunning direct free-kick against Hellas Verona.
Inter Milan Team News: Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni has returned following a long injury lay off and he could now force his way back into the starting 11. This is expected to keep Danilo D’Ambrosio and Federico Dimarco on the bench as both of them have deputised on the left side of a back three implemented so frequently by Simone Inzaghi.
Considering the fact that Inter played an intense and thrilling encounter that lasted up to 120 minutes against Juventus only a few days ago, Inzaghi might be forced into making a few changes to his lineup. Joaquin Correa and Alexis Sanchez might be in contention to start while veteran striker Edin Dzeko might see some much-deserved rest.
Whoever is selected between Correa and Sanchez is expected to partner Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez in a two man attack. Martinez has been in breathtaking form and following the brace against Empoli, he has now registered 19 goals in the league this season. The Argentine international could end up becoming just the sixth player in the history of Inter Milan to find the back of the net at least 25 times in a single season of the Italian top-flight before turning 25 years of age.
Cagliari possible starting lineup:
Cragno; Ceppitelli, Lovato, Altare; Bellanova, Baselli, Grassi, Rog, Lykogiannis; Pedro, Pavoletti
Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Correa, Martinez
The last time these two sides met each other was back in December. Inter Milan comfortably ran riot with a 4-0 scoreline at the San Siro on that occasion. They will be hopeful about carrying their momentum from the Coppa Italia triumph into this clash which will see them staying within touching distance of Milan at the top if they win.
While the hosts Cagliari do have a winnable fixture on the final day of the 2021/22 league campaign, they will be hoping to put an end to their disastrous form at home this season. A win against the defending champions could end up being the perfect antidote to that. However, Inter have more than enough depth and resources to see past any challenge that the hosts might throw at them.