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Feb 14, 2021 at 2pm UK at Stadio Sant'Elia
CagliariCagliari
0-1
AtalantaAtalanta BC

Walukiewicz (7'), Rugani (60'), Lykogiannis (69')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Muriel (90')
Romero (45+1'), Ilicic (68'), de Roon (89')

Preview: Cagliari vs. Atalanta BC - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Seeking a first win since November, Cagliari meet Atalanta BC for the third time this season on Sunday at the Sardegna Arena.

The visitors celebrated progress to the Coppa Italia final in midweek, while Eusebio Di Francesco's abject home side have been suffering from their worst form in a decade.


Match preview

Atalanta's Cristian Romero celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on January 23, 2021© Reuters

Ahead of concluding their comprehensive 3-1 aggregate win over Napoli in the cup semi-finals on Wednesday, Atalanta let a three-goal advantage slip through their grasp in a dramatic 3-3 draw with Torino in their last Serie A outing.

Leaving them in seventh place in the table, gifting the lead away in such circumstances reconfirmed La Dea's reputation as a team with no half measures - either dominating through incisive passing patterns and clinical finishing or sloppily conceding avoidable goals.

Despite keeping up a remarkably high scoring rate - at 2.29 per game, the second best behind Inter - Atalanta have now won just one of their last five Serie A games, having recorded four wins from their previous five. As their only victories in recent weeks have come against leaders Milan and then Napoli, in reaching their second Coppa Italia final in three years, Gian Piero Gasperini's men are an increasingly unpredictable proposition.

One bastion of consistency amid the ups and downs has been striker Luis Muriel, who has now netted in each of his last eight league starts, with 12 goals in all - even despite being used more often as a second-half substitute. The Colombian international ranks fifth among the league's top scorers in 2020-2021 and has forced his way into Gasperini's first XI lately - either alongside his compatriot Duvan Zapata or in his place.

Faced with a flagging Cagliari defence on Sunday, both men - plus in-form midfielder Matteo Pessina, who scored twice in the cup - will fancy extending a seven-match unbeaten away streak dating back to October by boosting their goal tallies further.

Certainly, Atalanta's record on the road this season - five wins, four draws, and only one loss - makes formidable reading for opponents afflicted by a 'goals conceded' column of nearly two per game on Sardinian soil.

Radja Nainggolan celebrates after scoring for Cagliari against Inter Milan in January 2020© Reuters

Even as coach Eusebio Di Francesco tinkers frantically with his formation - most recently switching to a 3-4-2-1 which sees Radja Nainggolan playing closer to the lone front man - Cagliari have been singularly unable to turn around their alarming descent towards the Serie A trapdoor.

Following their latest reverse - a 1-0 loss against Lazio last week - the Isolani are on the verge of recording a run of 15 matches without a win for the first time since August 2010. Not only that, but the Rossoblu are also one of two teams with the joint-fewest points in 2021 across all of the top five European leagues - just one in seven games so far, equal with Parma.

Against Atalanta, the Sardinian side will be seeking to somehow break a seven-match winless streak at home, which has seen them sink to 18th place in the standings but fortunately not far adrift of safety.

As main striker Giovanni Simeone's slump continues to grow into a goalscoring depression and deputy Leonardo Pavoletti has failed to fare much better, Cagliari's most prolific player to date has been club stalwart Joao Pedro, who has netted 11 times from his position just off the centre forward, to sit surprisingly high in the Capocannoniere standings.

The Brazilian forward scored in a heavy defeat when these two sides last met in Serie A, as Atalanta triumphed 5-2 at Gewiss Stadium in early October - the Bergamaschi also knocked Cagliari out of the cup at the same venue last month - and his side can only hope to avoid a hat-trick of losses this weekend.

Cagliari Serie A form: LLLLDL
Cagliari form (all competitions): LLLLDL

Atalanta BC Serie A form: WDDWLD
Atalanta BC form (all competitions): WWLDDW


Team News

Cagliari manager Eusebio Di Francesco pictured in December 2020© Reuters

Still in search of inspiration, Cagliari coach Eusebio Di Francesco seems intent on repeating the 3-4-1-2 setup seen against Lazio, with recent signing Kwadwo Asamoah possibly earning a first start on the left flank in place of Charalampos Lykogiannis, who was substituted with a bruised knee in Rome.

The hosts will also be without Luca Ceppitelli, Alfred Duncan, Alessandro Deiola, Ragnar Klavan and Riccardo Sottil, who all trained separately during the week and are unlikely to be ready to start on Sunday.

In attack, Joao Pedro and Radja Nainggolan should begin behind the lone striker - either Leonardo Pavoletti or Giovanni Simeone.

For the visitors, Jose Luis Palomino returns to the defence, alongside Cristian Romero and Berat Djimsiti, due to Rafael Toloi's suspension. Wing-back Hans Hateboer is also unavailable, having failed to recover from injury, so Joakim Maehle is expected to deputise on the right if fit - Bosko Sutalo would drop to the bench.

Either Josip Ilicic or Luis Muriel should start in support of Duvan Zapata up front, depending on whether Gian Piero Gasperini opts to set up with a 3-4-2-1 or more conventional 3-5-2.

Cagliari possible starting lineup:
Cragno; Walukiewicz, Godin, Rugani; Zappa, Nandez, Marin, Asamoah; Nainggolan, Pedro; Pavoletti

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Gollini; Palomino, Romero, Djimsiti; Maehle, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Pessina, Ilicic; Zapata


SM words green background

We say: Cagliari 0-2 Atalanta BC

Atalanta are well-placed to heap more misery on their hosts this weekend, as both their away record and goals tally speak for themselves.

Potentially matching up like-for-like in terms of formation, this could be an entertaining watch and one ultimately decided by La Dea's greater collective quality in the final third.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com 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:data


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Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CInter Milan38287389355491
2AC Milan38247774413379
3Atalanta BCAtalanta38239690474378
4Juventus38239677383978
5Napoli38245986414577
6Lazio38215126155668
7Roma381881268581062
8SassuoloSassuolo381711106456862
9Sampdoria38157165254-252
10Hellas VeronaHellas Verona381112154648-245
11Genoa381012164758-1142
12Bologna381011175165-1441
13Fiorentina38913164759-1240
14Udinese381010184258-1640
15SpeziaSpezia38912175272-2039
16CagliariCagliari38910194359-1637
17Torino38716155069-1937
RBeneventoBenevento38712194075-3533
RCrotone3865274592-4723
RParma38311243983-4420

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