MX23RW : Friday, January 8 02:25:25| >> :600:193067:193067:
Dec 13, 2020 at 11.30am UK at Stadio Sant'Elia
Inter MilanInter Milan
Sottil (42')
Farago (10'), Pavoletti (71')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Barella (77'), D'Ambrosio (84'), Lukaku (90+4')
Darmian (16')

Preview: Cagliari vs. Inter Milan - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Serie A clash between Cagliari and Inter Milan, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

In the immediate aftermath of Champions League heartbreak, Scudetto-chasing Inter Milan travel to Sardinia this weekend for Sunday's clash with mid-table Cagliari.

Antonio Conte's side calamitously crashed out of Europe in midweek but have their eyes fixed on closing the gap at the top of the Serie A table to city rivals AC Milan as they face a home side who have failed to win in their last three league games.

Match preview

Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte pictured on November 22, 2020© Reuters

Despite having the opportunity to be the first Inter side to progress past the group stage of the Champions League since 2011-12, Conte's team instead went out of continental competition entirely with barely even a whimper. It was the third year in a row in which they have gone out of Europe's elite competition before the knockout phase.

The nature of Wednesday's desperate goalless draw with Shakhtar Donetsk in a super-competitive Group B - also featuring Real Madrid and Borussia Monchengladbach - will be difficult for the Nerazzurri to overcome in such short order as they prepare to resume the fight for the Serie A title.

Managing only four shots on target from 20 attempts summed up the efforts of a side that rarely looked like breaking down the Ukrainian champions' fierce defensive resistance. They have fared rather better in front of goal in league action, however, as Inter are currently top scorers in the Italian top flight, with 26 from just 10 games.

In the three-points-for-a-win era, star forward Romelu Lukaku has scored the highest average of Serie A away goals - with 18 goals in 23 games since joining last term, which equates to 0.78 goals per game on the road. His relentless input away from San Siro should not only frighten Cagliari's defence - provided the Belgium striker is not given a rare rest this Sunday - but also helps to explain why Inter are now unbeaten in six league games.

Their last defeat came on October 17 in the Milan derby and subsequent results have lifted them to second place in the standings - some five points adrift of their fiercest rivals. Another win at the Sardegna Arena this week is a must if they are to keep up with the furious pace set by Stefano Pioli's side.

Eusebio Di Francesco, now in charge of Cagliari, pictured in September 2019© Reuters

Since Cagliari's last win in early November, they suffered a defeat against Juventus followed by two consecutive draws - against Spezia and Verona.

Gli Isolani have scored 17 goals in the current league season - in their top-flight history, only once have they netted more after the first 10 matches of a season - so finding the net has not proved much of a problem for Eusebio Di Francesco's progressive side.

Main man Joao Pedro has notched up six goals and two assists so far, after being switched from a previous supporting role, while others including Giovanni Simeone and former Napoli striker Leonardo Pavoletti have chipped in on occasion. They have, however, conceded 20 goals - at a rate of two per game - so far, which leaves them 11th in the table.

Intriguingly, Pavoletti - who has a goal and an assist since recently replacing Simeone - has registered three goals in four home matches against Inter, including in his last two games against the Nerazzurri, for Cagliari.

His boss, Di Francesco, will require more of the same from the once-capped Italy international, who provides a more traditional 'number nine' presence in the lineup, if his charges are to take even a point from this stiff test of their commitment to attacking principles.

Opposite number Antonio Conte is sure to be like a wounded animal after bitter failure in Europe and will order his team to unleash all their remaining energies on the porous Cagliari defence.

Cagliari Serie A form: WLWLDD
Cagliari form (all competitions): LWLWDD

Inter Milan Serie A form: WDDWWW
Inter Milan form (all competitions): WLWWWD

Team News

Lautaro Martinez in action for Inter Milan on November 28, 2020© Reuters

Visiting manager Antonio Conte must decide between Lautaro Martinez - who has not hit the net in his past five outings - and Alexis Sanchez to partner the dependable Romelu Lukaku, though the Anderlecht academy graduate may even be given a rest ahead of a packed pre-Christmas schedule.

Midfielders Radja Nainggolan - on his return to his former club - Arturo Vidal and Matias Vecino remain out due to injury for Inter, while Nicolo Barella played through an ankle injury on Wednesday and may do so again in Sardinia.

Roberto Gagliardini has proved a steadying influence since returning to action so will again step in for Vidal and though Christian Eriksen was a rare bright spark in midweek, he may once more have to settle for a place on the well-stocked Nerazzurri bench.

Cagliari's Ragnar Klavan and Zito Luvumbo remain out through injury and veteran Diego Godin is absent due to another positive COVID-19 test, but Giovanni Simeone and Uruguayan pair Nahitan Nandez and Gaston Pereiro have recovered and may be able to feature at some stage.

Gabriele Zappa, Joao Pedro and Riccardo Sottil should start behind Leonardo Pavoletti up front, but 'Cholito' Simeone could even press his deputy for a start.

Cagliari possible starting lineup:
Cragno; Farago, Walukiewicz, Carboni, Lykogiannis; Marin, Rog; Zappa, Pedro, Sottil; Pavoletti

Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Gagliardini, Perisic; Lukaku, Sanchez

SM words green background

We say: Cagliari 1-3 Inter Milan

Though tired and demoralised by their midweek Champions League travails, Inter can prove that they are made of sterner stuff on Sunday, as they must win to keep up with their closest rivals.

Lautaro Martinez and Alexis Sanchez can step up their efforts in support of the irrepressible Romelu Lukaku and should do so in Cagliari, but expect the home side to carry a significant - if not decisive - threat on the break.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Away Win:curl


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Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring against Bayer Leverkusen on August 10, 2020
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