Milan vs Cagliari

August 31, 2013
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Having eased off to Champions League group stages, Milan need to get their Serie A campaign back on track following the opening defeat to Hellas Verona. Cagliari enjoyed a winning start as they beat Atalanta in Trieste, but extending their good run at San Siro is easier said than done.

Matri in, Boateng out

Following several very busy summers at San Siro, the Rossoneri opted against making major changes to the playing squad, with the club only doing some high-profile business last Friday, selling Kevin-Prince Boateng to Schalke and luring Alessandro Matri from Juventus. That could prove to be a blessing in disguise, as Milan should be able to hit the ground running early on, as opposed to last season when a dismal start ended up costing them dearly. And while the opening defeat to Hellas Verona was somewhat disappointing, Max Allegri’s side showed a considerable improvement to record a 3-0 victory over PSV Eindhoven in the second leg of the Champions League play-offs, proving they are still a force to be reckoned with at their San Siro. With the confidence back following such a resounding triumph, the Rossoneri can be trusted to keep the rich vein of form against Cagliari and make sure not to lag behind their title rivals. Having been pretty convincing at home last season and taking into account their performance in midweek, Milan look a good bet to return to winning ways in the league.

Mattia De Sciglio could be rested as he battles a knee injury, but Bonera, Saponara, Gabriel, Pazzini and Vergara are out injured.

Bright start for Cagliari

Last season was pretty successful for Cagliari in spite of the dismal start and another disappointing run of results, with Isolani ending the league campaign in 11th place, no less than 15 points above the relegation zone. In an attempt to repeat another successful season and possibly challenge for a top 10 finish, the club chiefs made virtually no changes to the playing squad, with only Brazilian attacker Thiago Ribeiro leaving to join Santos. Even so, Isolani had a disappointing start to the season, as their full-strength side were beaten at home by Frosinone in Coppa Italia, but the most important thing is they kicked off the league championship with a 2-1 triumph over Atalanta. Cagliari showed a lot of character to come from a goal behind, but another poor start to the match would cost them dearly against AC Milan. The first two matches have shown Ivo Pulga’s men tend to struggle in the opening exchanges, which should see their next opponents score at least one goal in the first period of the match. Cagliari have been far from impressive on the travels last season, and the trend looks likely to continue.

First team regulars Francesco Pisano and Andrea Cossu continue to miss out through injury, but at least there are no new worries for Ivo Pulga.

Verdict

Even if Cagliari have the ability to cause their opposition some problems if they produced a high-quality performance, everything will depend on AC Milan, who seem to be slowly raising their form. After the impressive showing in the 3-0 victory over PSV, the Rossoneri look ready for more of the same when they host Isolani.

Top pick: Milan/Milan   2.10 (11/10) @ Paddy Power

Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score   2.10 (11/10) @ William Hill

Alternative pick 2: Home win + over 2.5 goals   2.05 (21/20) @ Ladbrokes

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