Check out our analysis, team news, line-ups and see our prediction for this match.
Two teams who flirted with relegation towards the end of last season will start their 2021-22 season on Monday, there Cagliari host Specia in Sardinia.
While the home side hope to do better under last season’s savior Leonardo Semplici, the guests want to build on a good first season in Serie A despite the loss of a coach.
Prediction for this match
After the disappointments of the last four years, in which they only finished 14th or below, Cagliari are starting the new league with the aim of attacking the top half of the table and avoiding looking over their shoulder towards the relegation trapdoor.
While the Rossoblu have lost an important figure in the midfield talisman Radja Nainggolan – who left the club with bitterness and accusations – they persuaded the former Roma man Kevin Strootman as his replacement, but little else has changed about the team that reached the rescue under head coach Leonardo Semplici.
The former SPAL boss lost only five of his 15 competitive games after his appointment in February – a huge improvement over a previous 16-game run without a win – and his pragmatic style was particularly rewarded with decisive victories against relegation rivals Parma and Europe. Persecution of Roma during run-in.
Now his team welcomes Spezia to Sardinia to improve a sad record on the opening day of the last few years. after winning just one of the last eight Serie A opening games, most recently in 2013.
At the forefront of this endeavor will be the club’s captain João Pedrowho, despite his quiet excellence, rarely seems to make headlines for the past three years. The Isolani number 10, who is rarely noticed as an absolute striker, has scored 41 league goals during this time – making him the Brazilian player who has scored the most goals in the five best leagues in Europe since 2018.
As part of a strong South American presence in the squad, Cagliari’s captain started the comfortable Coppa Italia win over Pisa last week when they led by three goals at halftime and then finished second with a 3-1 win in December. In the second of the consecutive home games at the beginning of the season against the humble Spezia they expect a similar result.
In her role as an underdog on her first division debut last year, it should come as no surprise that Spezia went undefeated in the two duels against Cagliari – a 2-2 draw and a 2-1 win at Picco in the second leg – there they spent much of the season in the relative safety of the lower midfield.
Along with several other excellent results – including their memorable victory over Scudetto challenger Milan – the Ligurian team finally finished 15th; one place before Cagliari and six points from relegation.
Commended head coach Vincenzo ItalianoHowever, she has since said goodbye to the scene – and then takes the hot seat at Fiorentina Gennaro Gattuso‘s bizarre exit earlier this summer – so it could prove to be an even tougher task for the former Inter and Barcelona midfielder Thiago Motta to replicate a historic 2020-21 campaign.
Much has changed in the players’ squad as well, with several player loan deals expiring and a number of veterans fired, leaving Motta – an inexperienced head coach who briefly failed in Genoa – to undertake a significant rebuilding.
Angolan striker M’Bala Nzola – a revelation last year – scored nine of his 11 Serie A goals in the first half of the season before injury; including an injury-time equalizer against Cagliari last November. The strong striker does not appear to be favored by his new coach though, so the redesigned attack that helped Coppa Italia to a 3-1 win for Coppa Italia against Pordenone last week will take on the islanders instead.
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Although both Charalampos Lykogiannis and Razvan Marin trains separately from the rest of the Kagliari squad during the week – recovering from a calf injury or ankle problem – the couple should be available to Leonardo Semplici on Monday.
However, Paolo Farago and long-term absent Marko Rog are excluded with a versatile midfielder Nahitan Nandezthe participation is also doubtful due to a possible move away.
Semplici will keep the 3-4-2-1 setup he used when he won the Cup last week, so Dalbert should make his league debut for the club as a full-back and star newcomer Kevin Strootman starts in the center. In front, Leonardo Pavoletti and Giovanni Simeone battle for the role of the sole striker, with influential captain Joao Pedro starting at the back.
Spezia, meanwhile, has disrupted preparations with the news that midfielder Leo Sena must suspend training for at least a month after suffering pre-season complications following COVID-19 infection.
Reserve goalkeeper Titas Krapikas and returned midfielder Alessandro Bordin are also out, but Thiago Motta otherwise has his entire squad ready for action in Sardinia.
Samuel Mraz started in a 3-4-3 system against Pordenone up front, but Motta is known for his experimental methodology so could use a different setup this week. Certainly, Atalanta Borrower Ebrima Colley and Viktor Kovalenko expected to begin while Daniele Verde has signed a permanent contract and is returning in the attack.
Cagliari possible starting line-up:
Cragno; Ceppitelli, Godin, Carboni; Zappa, Marin, Strootman, Dalbert; Pedro, Pereiro; Pavoletti
Specia possible starting line-up:
Zoet; Hristov, Nikolau, Erlic; Amian, Kovalenko, Maggiore, Bastoni; Verde, Mraz, Colley
Probability: Cagliari 3-1 Spezia
Cagliari was a very different proposition under Leonardo Semplici as the weak defense and mentality improved immeasurably towards the end of last season.
They’ve stuck the same roster together and face day one opponents who will take the time to transition from their previously successful methods to that of their new boss. The Isolani are therefore ready to pick up Spezia and take all three items with them on the opening evening.
Best betting tip for this match
Our expert tipster partners at footpredictions.com predict over 1.5 goals in this game. Click here to see more football predictions to see what else they are predicting for this game and for more proven soccer tips.Over 1.5: data