Serie A Week 35 - 27/4/08 (14.00 UK)
Inter - Cagliari
Inter can feel a third consecutive Scudetto in their grasp, but Cagliari are one of the form teams of the moment and eager to cause an upset.
Thanks to Roma’s stumble at home to Livorno last week, the Nerazzurri were able to extend their lead at the top of the table to six points. It was a crucial result, as was their own 1-0 victory away to a revitalised Torino. Both Dejan Stankovic and assistant boss Sinisa Mihajlovic admitted the team played “very badly,” but that’s just the kind of result you need to win League titles.
A victory here means they could mathematically seal the Scudetto with a win in the Milan derby on May 4. With that in mind, Roberto Mancini may like to rest some of his many stars on the verge of suspension – Mario Balotelli, Esteban Cambiasso, Luis Jimenez, Douglas Maicon, Julio Cesar, Nicolas Burdisso and Stankovic. Patrick Vieira returns from a ban, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to sit out with long-term injury casualties Olivier Dacourt, Walter Samuel, Ivan Cordoba and Luis Figo.
Cagliari are in even worse condition, as they will be missing a trio of players stopped by the Disciplinary Commission. Michele Fini scored a great goal in the 2-0 win over Empoli only to foolishly receive a second booking for taking his shirt off to celebrate. Pasquale Foggia and Francesco Pisano are also banned, while key midfielder Andrea Parola has a thigh injury. Christian Del Grosso is set to step in.
Much of the Sardinians’ incredible comeback from the depths of the standings is down to the form of Robert Acquafresca, as the Under-21 international has scored seven goals in the last nine games. His partner has been less stable, but between the desperately disappointing Joaquin Larrivey, former Rimini man Jeda and surprise Alessandro Matri, the Brazilian is the favourite to start.
It doesn’t bode well for Cagliari, who have lost every visit here since a 2-2 draw in November 1996. However, last season it ended with a slender 1-0 result decided by Burdisso and their current form means just about anything could happen.
Keep an eye on: Robert Acquafresca (Cagliari) – If the Sardinians are to cause an upset at San Siro, it is bound to come from the Under-21 international who has been courted for Euro 2008 by the Polish side.
Last season: Inter 1-0 Cagliari
Form guide: Inter (L D W W W) Cagliari (D D L W W)
Inter (probable): Julio Cesar; Maicon, Materazzi, Chivu, Maxwell; Zanetti, Cambiasso, Vieira, Stankovic; Balotelli, Cruz
Cagliari (probable): Storari; Ferri, Lopez, Bianco, Agostini; Del Grosso, Biondini, Conti; Cossu; Jeda, Acquafresca
Ref: To follow...