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Match Preview: Cagliari vs. Inter Milan - Serie A Week 24

Mancini and his men head to Cagliari hoping to secure the first 3 game winning streak in the league since the Stramaccioni era.

Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Match Facts:

Date: Monday. February 23, 2015

Time: 3:00pm ET/ 21:00 CET

Venue: Stadio Sant'Elia; Cagliari, Italy

The goals have been flowing in the last few matches, with Inter scoring 10 goals in the last 3 matches of all competitions. As a result, the team's fortunes have been on the rise with 2 wins in Serie A and the 3-3 draw in the Europa League on Thursday. The only downside as highlighted in the scoreline in the last match is that the defense is still very much a liability. So as the squad travels to take on the Sardinians the question is whether the attack will be able to continue to make up for the  struggling back line.

The last time the two sides faced each other Cagliari ran out as winners in a shocking 4-1 victory at the San Siro, though since then both clubs have changed managers. Walter Mazzarri was replaced by Mancini while Gianfranco Zola was brought in to get rid of Zdenek Zeman.

Cagliari come into this match in 18th place, 3 points from escaping the relegation zone. They have only won one match in their last 5 though, so they will definitely be looking to turn the corner and get a win in front of their fans. Zola only has one injury to deal with, Antonio Balzano out with a leg injury.

Mancini has a few injury issues to deal with (in defense of course). Jonathan is out for the rest of the season after having knee surgery, while Nagatomo is still injured as well. Handanovic bruised his foot in training and will not be making the trip to Cagliari.  Andreolli and D'Ambrosio are included in the match squad, though it is up in the air whether either of them will be thrown right back into the starting lineup. It looks as though Campagnaro will start again as fullback (though personally I feel like Dodo should be put back into the starting lineup, or even D'Ambrosio-I don't like Campagnaro as a fullback...). Also, it is possible that Ranocchia might be rested since his knee has been giving him problems so Vidic might be given a chance (or maybe even Andreolli). In other words there is a lot of uncertainty as to who will make up the back 4 tomorrow.

This is a chance for the team to show that they are finally clicking into gear. The first Serie A 3 game winning streak since 2012 would be a massive boost of confidence for the team, while also motivating them for the second leg Europa League match against Celtic. While the defense still needs work, the offense has been doing enough in recent matches to make up for it. And with Cagliari not keeping a clean sheet at home in their last 12 matches at home, it is probable that the run will continue.

Projected Starting XIs

Cagliari: Brkic; Dessena, Rossettini, Capuano, Avelar; Donsah, Coni, Ekdal; Cossu, Cop; Sau.

Inter: Carrizo; Campagnaro, Ranocchia, Juan Jesus, Santon; Guarin, Medel, Brozovic; Shaqiri; Icardi, Podolski.

(Projected starting lineups from Forza Italian Football)