Inter Milan will be hoping to put Serie A leaders Juventus under pressure with a win when they face off against Cagliari at San Siro on Sunday afternoon.
Inter Milan will be aiming to keep pace with the table toppers Juventus in the 2019-20 Serie A when they host seventh-placed Cagliari at San Siro on Matchday 21 this weekend.
Having led the table for most of the season, Antonio Conte’s men have slipped up in their last two league games, allowing Juventus to move to the top. The Nerazzurri have played out consecutive 1-1 draws in Serie A against Atalanta and minnows Lecce, and will be intent on getting back to winning ways on Sunday.
Cagliari, on the other hand, have made a decent start to the season and find themselves in seventh place, just a point below the UEFA Europa League qualifying spots. However, Rolando Maran’s men are in a bit of a rut, having gone seven games without a win across all competitions, with their most recent fixture ending in a 2-2 draw against Brescia.
Inter Milan and Cagliari have already clashed twice this season, with the Nerazzurri winning the reverse fixture in Serie A 2-1, before thrashing them 4-1 in Coppa Italia earlier this month. And ahead of their latest meeting, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Inter Milan have been very active in the transfer window, signing Ashley Young and Victor Moses (loan) already, while a deal for Tottenham star Christian Eriksen is also expected to be completed soon. Valentino Lazaro has left the club, joining Premier League side Newcastle United on loan.
👕 | MAGLIA
— Inter (@Inter) January 17, 2020
Conte will be without Antonio Candreva, who is suspended for the game, while Matias Vecino, who has been linked with a move away from the club, will not be involved either. Marcelo Brozovic and Roberto Gagliardi are both out injured as well, leaving Conte with limited options in the middle of the park.
Captain Samir Handanovic is a certainty in the Inter Milan goal, while Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij ought to occupy two of the three centre-back slots. Diego Godin is likely to miss out though, with youngster Alessandro Bastoni set to replace him as the third centre-half.
With Candreva suspended, Ashley Young could make his debut as the right wing-back while Cristiano Biraghi should be retained on the left. Nicolo Barella and Stefano Sensi are guaranteed starters in the middle of the park, with Borja Valero expected to come in for the injured Brozovic on Sunday.
There is no looking past the deadly duo of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez in attack for Inter, with Alexis Sanchez likely to provide an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Young, Barella, Valero, Sensi, Biraghi; Lukaku, Martinez
The visitors will be without seven first-team players for the trip to Inter as Leonardo Pavoletti, Luca Ceppitelli, Fabrizio Cacciatore, Daniele Ragatzu, Alberto Cerri, Fabio Pisacane and Marko Rog all miss out. B team youngster Fabio Porru and Luca Gagliano have been called up to fill up the 20-man travelling squad.
There will be a definite change in goal as manager Maran has annouced that Alessio Cragno will start on Sunday ahead of Robin Olsen. Paolo Farago and Luca Pellegrini ought to be the full-backs on the right and left sides respectively while Ragnar Klavan should partner Sebastian Walukiewicz at the heart of the Cagliari defence.
Luca Cigarini will slot in as the deepest midfielder and shield the Cagliari backline, with support coming from Uruguayan international Nahitan Nandez and Artur Ionita, who will replace the absent Rog. Former Inter Milan star Radja Nainggolan will slot in as the lone attacking midfielder and look to dictate play in the final third on his return to San Siro.
Giovanni Simeone will spearhead the attack for Cagliari, with support coming from Joao Pedro, who has been in fine form, having scored 13 goals in the Serie A this term, including a brace against Brescia in the last game.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Cragno; Farogo, Walukiewicz, Klavan, Pellegrini; Nandez, Cigarini, Ionita; Nainggolan; Pedro, Simeone
- Inter Milan have scored in 34 of their last 35 Serie A matches against Cagliari (0-2 in April 2013) – they have netted on average two goals per match in this run.
- Cagliari have lost each of their last 13 Serie A games against teams starting the day in the top two of the table – conceding on average 2.5 goals per match.
- Inter have never kept three consecutive home clean sheets against Cagliari in Serie A – they are currently on a streak of two in a row at home.
- Among managers he’s faced on 3+ occasions in Serie A, Rolando Maran has a 100% loss record against only two coaches: Antonio Conte and Davide Nicola (four defeats vs both).
- Inter’s Lautaro Martinez has scored more Serie A goals versus Cagliari than against any other side (three goals in three matches) – his first goal in the Italian top-flight came against the Rossoblu at Meazza stadium in September 2018.
Player to Watch
The Belgian spent a year at Inter Milan, having signed from AS Roma in 2018. But his time with the Nerazzurri was mired in disciplinary issues. While Nainggolan featured in 36 matches in all competitions for Inter, scoring 7 goals and setting up 3 more, the 31-year-old never seem settled at the club and ended up joining Cagliari in the summer on loan.
Nainggolan has made a decent start to the season with the Rossoblu, scoring and assisting four goals apiece in 17 Serie A appearances. His experience and quality will be key for the visitors, if they are to get away with a positive result from San Siro this weekend.
Inter Milan 2-1 Cagliari
Inter Milan have dropped points in their last two league matches and will be hoping to correct their course before the gap at the top to Juventus becomes too wide. Cagliari, after a solid start to the season, have lost their way in recent weeks and will want to bounce back strongly this weekend.
However, the Rossoblu have been second-best on both the occasions they have clashed with Inter this season, getting thrashed 4-1 in their latest meeting only a fortnight ago. And that is why, we at The Hard Tackle are predicting Antonio Conte’s men to ease to another victory at home on Sunday.