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Apr 19, 2015 at 5pm UK at Stadio Sant'Elia
FT(HT: 0-2)
Callejon (24'), Balzano (45' og.), Gabbiadini (59')

Preview: Cagliari vs. Napoli

Sports Mole looks ahead to this weekend's Serie A clash between Napoli and Cagliari.

There are vital points up for grabs at both ends of the Serie A table this Sunday, as relegation-threatened Cagliari take on Napoli at the Stadio Sant'Elia.

The Sardinians are eight points from safety and have not won in 10 games, while Napoli will be boosted by their recent victories over Fiorentina and Wolfsburg.


Coach Zeman Zdenek of Cagliari Calcio looks on during the Serie A match betweeen Cagliari Calcio and Juventus FC at Stadio Sant'Elia on December 18, 2014© Getty Images

There are no teams in the Italian top flight in worse form than Cagliari, who are without a league win in their previous 10 matches.

It has left them in 19th place in the league table and eight points from safety, with relegation starting to look increasingly likely.

Their woeful run led to Gianfranco Zola being dismissed as manager last month, but even the arrival of former boss Zdenek Zeman has failed to spark a revival and they have lost three of their four games under him.

It was the same old story last weekend, as goals from M'Baye Niang and Iago Falque early in the second half subjected them to a 2-0 defeat at Genoa.

Finding the back of the net is not usually a problem for them and they are among the highest scorers in the bottom half of the table, but they have shipped a huge 58 goals, which is the worst of any club in the top flight this season.

Recent form: LLDLLL


Rafael Benitez of Napoli looks on during the Emirates Cup match between Napoli and FC Porto at the Emirates Stadium on August 4, 2013© Getty Images

A season that had looked like ending in disaster for Napoli has been completely transformed in the space of a week.

They had gone into their league meeting with Fiorentina last Sunday without a win from their previous five Serie A games and after suffering a heartbreaking exit in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia to Lazio.

However, they bounced back in style to claim a resounding 3-0 win over the Viola that moved them above the Florence outfit in the table and reignited their fading Champions League hopes.

It got even better for Rafael Benitez's side on Thursday evening, as they stunned Wolfsburg with a clinical display of attacking football to earn a 4-1 win over the Germans in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

They have now been installed as the tournament favourites and it would take a major collapse to see them knocked out when the teams meet again in Naples next week.

Winning the Europa League may prove to be their best chance of getting into the Champions League next season, as they are currently seven points behind third-placed Roma, who occupy the final qualifying spot.

Lazio are eight points ahead of them and with those teams meeting on the last day of the campaign, Benitez will want his side to get as close as possible to the Rome outfit to give themselves a real shot of finishing inside the top three.

Recent form in Serie A: LDLDLW
Recent form (all competitions): DDLLWW

Team News

Napoli's player Walter Gargano vies with SS Lazio player Marco Parolo during the Tim cup match between SSC Napoli and SS Lazio at the San Paolo Stadium on April 8, 2015© Getty Images

Cagliari are without the suspended Lorenzo Crisetig, who picked up a booking in last weekend's defeat to Genoa.

It means that Daniele Conti should replace him in the centre of the pitch, while Modibo Diakite could come back into the defence after serving a ban.

David Lopez is ruled out for Napoli, so Walter Gargano is expected to take his place in the midfield.

With the second leg of their match against Wolfsburg to come next Thursday, Benitez is likely to rotate his squad, meaning that the likes of Ivan Strinic and Jonathan de Guzman will be pushing for starting spots.

Cagliari possible starting lineup:
Brkic, Balzano, Rossettini, Diakite, Avelar, Dessena, Conti, Ekdal, Farias, Sau, M'Poku

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Andujar, Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Strinic, Inler, Gargano, Callejon, Hamsik, De Guzman, Higuain

Head To Head

Six goals were shared when the teams met in this season's reverse fixture, as Cagliari came from behind to earn a 3-3 draw at the Stadio San Paolo.

This is a game that tends to produce plenty of excitement, as there have been a whopping 26 goals scored in the previous six matches between the teams.

It's Napoli who have the better head-to-head record in recent meetings and they are unbeaten in 11 games against the Sardinians.

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We say: Cagliari 1-3 Napoli

Napoli look to have returned to form and their displays over the past week have been of the highest quality. They will be desperate to maintain their good run and against a Cagliari side who are short of confidence, we think that they will come away from Sardinia with all three points.

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Manolo Gabbiadiani # 23 of SSC Napoli celebrates with his team mates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match on February 1, 2015
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Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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Scottish Premiership
Taca da Liga
Pre-Season Friendlies
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Belarusian Premier League
Major League Soccer
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
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