It will be up to hard-working Cagliari to try and stop red-hot Inter in their tracks when the two sides meet at Stadio Nereo Rocco in Trieste. And while the hosts probably wouldn’t mind recording fourth straight draw, the Nerazzurri will attempt to make it five wins in six league fixtures.
A tough nut to crack
Boasting a very experienced squad that had already proved they were good enough for mid table finish, Cagliari chiefs unsurprisingly opted against making major changes this summer, which is likely to give the team the best chance of achieving pre-season ambitions. And while the season started with a disappointing Coppa Italia defeat to Frosinone, Isolani quickly returned to the right track, defeating Atalanta in their opening Serie A fixture. Following the 3-1 defeat to Milan at San Siro, Cagliari recorded three straight draws against Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Livorno, but having scored in every single match this season, Ivo Pulga’s side have reason for optimism before the high-profile clash against Inter Milan. Given that the boss is unlikely to make changes to the squad due to the lack of strength in depth, the hosts could be suffering from tired legs when they take on Inter, but they should still have enough in them to produce another solid showing. However, having lost seven home fixtures last term, Cagliari are not exactly favourites to win this one, especially as some key men will be missing.
Important midfielders Andrea Cossu and Albin Ekdal are out injured, whereas Francesco Pisano is a major doubt.
Inter continue to impress
Following several very successful seasons at Napoli and with the Azzurri on a major uptrend, Walter Mazzarri surprised everyone when he decided to take over the reigns at Inter Milan, the team that had finished the league campaign 24 points behind his former club. With a number of key players out on the sidelines and some footballers completely out of form, nobody believed the experienced tactician would be able to whip the Nerazzurri into shape, but he has quickly proved the doubters wrong. Mazzarri rehabilitated players like Jonathan and Alvarez, who had been nearing the exit door, while their teammates also chipped in to help Inter climb to the second position in he league standings. While impressing in matches against bottom-table sides, winning all three games, scoring 12 goals and keeping a clean sheet in all of them, the Nerazzurri were also quite impressive in high-profile matches, sharing spoils with Juventus before defeating in-form Fiorentina. With severely weakened Cagliari next, Inter will fancy their chances of extending the winning run, especially given that Diego Milito continues to improve his fitness after returning from injury.
Javier Zanetti, Cristian Chivu, McDonald Mariga and Juan Pablo Carrizo are out injured, but Mateo Kovacic should return to the starting line-up.
Cagliari have done pretty well in the opening exchanges, scoring in every single match, but no doubts the likes of Cossu and Ekdal will be sorely missed. Meanwhile, Inter are brimming with confidence following the hard-fought win over Fiorentina and they might just edge this one.
Top pick: Away win 2.05 (21/20) @ William Hill
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 1.80 (4/5) @ Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 2: Palacio to score 2.60 (8/5) @ bet365
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