The makeup fixture midweek went just about as well as it could for Inter Milan. A 2-1 victory over Sassuolo was only blighted by a late goal from the visitors. The Nerazzurri will be at home again on Sunday to host a lowly Cagliari side full of familiar faces. Despite the fact that they are flirting with relegation, this Cagliari team has already given Inter a tough time this season. Inter will need to be ready to take care of business, especially with a few Cagliari players looking for revenge on their former employer.
The black and blue winning train rolled over Sassuolo with relative ease, bar the late goal by Hamed Traore which led to some heart in mouth moments for the final five minutes plus extra time. The victory extended Inter’s unbeaten streak to 13 matches in the league. Inter’s winning streak is also now at 10. In their unbeaten streak, Inter have also not spent a single minute trailing in their last 12. Thanks to these streaks, the Nerazzurri have a very comfortable spot at the top of the table, 11 points clear of second place AC Milan.
Coming back into the fold after suspension against Sassuolo will be Marcelo Brozovic and Alessandro Bastoni. Matteo Darmian covered very well at the left center back position, but Bastoni will surely be back there on Sunday. In the midfield, Christian Eriksen will likely be happy to see Brozovic back, as he looked a little off without the Croatian beside him. Absent, however, will be Nicolo Barella, as he finally got another yellow card against Sassuolo to result in a one match suspension. In his spot, reports have suggested that Matias Vecino may be favored ahead of Roberto Gagliardini for a first start of the season. Elsewhere in the team, the usual suspects will be present, with Ashley Young still on the left and looking to improve upon an impressive performance against Sassuolo, though Darmian may also have an argument for a starting spot on the left. Up top, Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez will be looking to continue the momentum they have found in recent matches.
Things have not gone swimmingly on the island of Sardinia for Cagliari this season. They currently occupy the first spot in the relegation zone, one point behind Torino, though the Granata have a game in hand over them. Eusebio Di Francesco got the sack earlier in 2021, shortly after signing an extension with the team. Current manager Leonardo Semplici has not found much more success than his predecessor, with Cagliari still mired in a relegation battle turning more serious every week. Their last win came at the end of February with a 2-0 victory over bottom of the table Crotone. Cagliari are not relegated yet, but if they are to complete an escape, they will need to start stringing together some results.
Though their spot in the table does not show it, this Cagliari side has quite a bit of quality, including four former Inter players. Radja Nainggolan, Diego Godin, Kwadwo Asamoah, and academy product Alfred Duncan all currently ply their trade at the Sardinian club. They also boast one of this season’s highest scoring Brazilian players in Europe in the past few seasons in Joao Pedro. A big miss for visitors on Sunday will be their goalkeeper Alessio Cragno, who tested positive for COVID in the Italian national team cluster. Cragno played a great game against Inter earlier in the season, so he will surely be missed.
1-1 (H) - 26/1/2020
1-3 (A) - 13/12/2020
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Inter 4-0 Cagliari
This Cagliari side has some respectable talent, but they just have not figured out how to put it all together. At this point in the season, they may not have time to put everything together. The big advantage Inter will have in this match is the speed of the strikers as well as Achraf Hakimi on the right, as Cagliari’s back three has been shockingly slow in most matches this season. A rested Brozovic and Bastoni will be great to have back on the pitch. It also does not hurt that Barella finally gets a week off. With Inter at home and in such great winning form, even if it is not always pretty, it seems that this will be another match where the quality and confidence of the home side will be too much for anyone to handle. Inter have another chance to continue closing in on the Scudetto, and they should not let any of these chances go to waste.