MX23RW : Monday, June 14 22:29:13| >> :600:1997430:1997430:
May 9, 2021 at 2pm UK at Stadio Ciro Vigorito
Lapadula (16')
Schiattarella (10'), Tello (56')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Lykogiannis (1'), Pavoletti (64'), Pedro (90+3')
Pavoletti (13'), Deiola (58')

Preview: Benevento vs. Cagliari - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Benevento and Cagliari meet on Sunday afternoon in what could prove to be the decisive game in the Serie A relegation battle.

The Stregoni are currently 18th on 31 points, while the Isolani are one point better off and outside of the drop zone in 17th.

Match preview

Leonardo Semplici, now in charge of Cagliari, pictured in December 2019© Reuters

With Crotone already relegated and Parma all but certain to join them, there is an intense battle to avoid being the third team to fall into Serie B, with just five points separating Benevento in 18th and Genoa in 13th with four matches left to play.

After sitting on a run of four consecutive defeats a month ago, Cagliari looked as if they were doomed and set for a first spell in the second tier since 2016. However, since then they have picked up 10 points out of a possible 12.

Leonardo Semplici's side won 3-2 against Europa League semi-finalists Roma a fortnight ago and then drew 1-1 with Champions League-chasing Napoli last weekend as Nahitan Nandez scored a 93rd-minute equaliser.

Cagliari have won just three of their 17 away games in Serie A this season and still have a trip to AC Milan to come, while only Bologna and Genoa have scored fewer goals on the road.

They will be eager to get revenge on Benevento after the Stregoni came from behind to win 2-1 in this season's reverse fixture; particularly as the league table is decided on head-to-head record if the points are level.

That game back in January – decided by two goals in the space of three minutes just before halftime from Marco Sau and Alessandro Tuia – was just the fourth ever meeting between the two sides.

That owes largely to the fact that this is just Benevento's second ever top-flight season, and they are putting up a much better fight for survival than when they finished rock bottom with just 21 points in 2017-18.

During the first half of this season they looked to have no relegation worries at all and sat 10th at the start of 2021. However, the strugglers have won just one of their last 18 matches and have slid right into trouble; a fortnight ago they entered the bottom three for the first time all campaign.

As that solitary victory came away from home against Juventus, Benevento have not won on home turf since December; they have picked up just 12 points and two victories at Stadio Ciro Vigorito all season, scoring only 17 goals.

Filippo Inzaghi's side lost 2-0 to AC Milan last weekend, but the ex-striker reiterated his belief that "this squad has what it takes to stay in the top flight".

The Stregoni have to travel to second-place Atalanta next weekend but then host bottom side Crotone before a final day visit to Torino.

Benevento Serie A form:
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Cagliari Serie A form:
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Team News

Benevento manager Filippo Inzaghi pictured in January 2021© Reuters

Iago Falque was only able to play 54 minutes for Benevento at San Siro last week as he continued to struggle with a muscle injury; the Spaniard is a doubt for Sunday's match and could be replaced by Gianluca Caprari or Roberto Insigne.

Defensive pair Tuia and Gaetano Letizia are expected to be available again after recent injuries, but Gabriele Moncini and Sau remain out.

Before last weekend's defeat to Milan, Nicolas Viola and Gianluca Lapadula had five goals and four assists between them in three games, so if anyone is to drag Benevento out of the predicament they find themselves in, it is likely to be one or both of that duo.

Cagliari will welcome back Razvan Marin from suspension; the Romanian has two goals and two assists in his last three games.

LSemplici is also expected to bring captain Joao Pedro back into the side after the Brazilian was rested against Napoli as he is only one yellow card away from suspension himself.

Pedro's return upfront will likely mean a switch to a three-man defence with Nandez and Charalampos Lykogiannis deployed as wing-backs.

Benevento possible starting lineup:
Montipo; Depaoli, Glik, Caldirola, Barba; Hetemaj, Viola, Ionita; Improta, Caprari; Lapadula

Cagliari possible starting lineup:
Cragno; Ceppitelli, Godin, Carboni; Nandez, Marin, Nainggolan, Duncan, Lykogiannis; Pedro, Pavoletti

SM words green background

We say: Benevento 1-3 Cagliari

Momentum and form are so crucial in a relegation battle, and it is certainly in those areas where Cagliari have the advantage. Benevento's record at home also does not provide much encouragement, so we think the visitors will earn a vital victory in this match.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals 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.Over 1.5:data

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Inter Milan's Matteo Darmian celebrates scoring against Cagliari on April 11, 2021
Read Next:
Sunday's Serie A predictions including Inter Milan vs. Hellas Verona
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