Sunday’s match away to Eusebio Di Fancesco’s Cagliari will be Inter’s first match since elimination from the Champions League group stage. With Antonio Conte’s attention now focused solely on Serie A, the competition he has won three times as a manager, a good showing against the Sardinians could prove to be important in reaffirming Inter’s Scudetto hopes.
It’s been a very up and down type of season for Cagliari so far, as they sit 11th in the table with 12 points. Their three wins this season have come against Torino, Crotone, and Sampdoria. Against the bigger sides, they have not performed well. Losses to Lazio, Juventus, and Atalanta stand out as comfortable results for the bigger teams Cagliari have faced so far. However, they still have a few threats in front of goal in Giovanni Simeone, Joao Pedro, and the recently returned Leonardo Pavoletti. Former Inter defender Diego Godin will not feature for Cagliari in the match because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Though the draw with Shakhtar Donetsk and subsequent elimination from the Champions League stung, Inter have shown signs of picking up form in Serie A in recent weeks. Wins over Torino, Sassuolo, and Bologna have offered a glimpse of the white hot league form Inter had found with Conte at the helm in the league back in late 2019 and early 2020. A run that coincidentally ended with a draw against Cagliari that featured two Inter red cards. One of the red cards was issued to legendary third choice goalkeeper Tommaso Berni, but it still counts. As for the upcoming match, reports suggest that Christian Eriksen may get a rare start in the place of Nicolo Barella, who is still struggling with the ankle issue he played though against Shakhtar. Alexis Sanchez may also be set to get another start, which always changes the attacking setup slightly.
1-2 (A) - 1/9/2019
4-1 (H) - 14/1/2020 (Coppa Italia)
1-1 (H) - 26/1/2020
Predicted Starting XIs
CAGLIARI (4-2-3-1): Cragno; Faragò, Walukiewicz, Carboni, Lykogiannis; Marin, Rog; Zappa, Joao Pedro, Sottil; Pavoletti
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, de Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian, Gagliardini, Brozovic, Eriksen, Perisic; Sanchez, Lukaku
Prediction: Cagliari 1-2 Inter
After dropping out of the Champions League, Antonio Conte’s increased focus on the league he his most familiar with should begin to show itself with a win on Sunday. However, early kickoffs have been a stumbling block for Inter in the past and an early slip up is possible. Though with essentially one match a week until May, bar any midweek Serie A or Coppa Italia matches, there is no reason to expect anything less than a solid showing week in and week out.