Napoli said goodbye to the Europa League last Thursday and that is why all arrows are now directed at Scudetto. The match against Cagliari on Monday night seems to be ideal in advance to deal with the midweek loss.
Cagliari had the good shape in the home stadium last season that there was never really any pressure. The formation of trainer Diego Lopez has more trouble winning this year for his own audience and that could easily result in a difficult final stage of the season. The island club won only four races in Sardinia and therefore it is not really a surprise that Cagliari has sank to fifteenth place. The gap with the dreaded line is eight points, which is a nice gap, but the men from Lopez have to keep collecting points to stay out of the acute problems. That has been a success in recent weeks. Cagliari only won two of the last twelve matches in Serie A and that is a bit on the thin side. The highlight was the victory over visiting Atalanta Bergamo, but that was a real incident and not a result that pushed Cagliari in the right direction.
Last week, Cagliari failed to prevent a new loss in the away match against Chievo Verona. These are now just the duels in which points have to be taken to take a chance at a place with the best twelve, but Cagliari handed over the result in the last part of the game. Chievo Verona was able to find it just in the 74th and 76th minute and the strength test was decided. Leonardo Pavoletti scored against the visitors, but that did not change the result anymore. It was already the fourteenth defeat of the season, the same number as SPAL, a club that is under the line.
Cagliari will now have to rise above himself to prevent a new defeat against Napoli. Lopez will not be able to start with his best eleven players on Monday-evening because the names of Luca Cigarini and Fabio Pisacane can already be crossed because of their injuries. Both players normally belong to the basic eleven and therefore Lopez will have to improvise again to come to his best team.
Trainer Maurizio Sarri clearly showed in the first game with RB Leipzig that the Europa League is not seen as a goal since he started with quite a few reserves and that is why it is no surprise that the Italians did not succeed in getting the ticket for to secure the next round. The Scudetto is the sacred goal and for that everything will have to give way from now on. Napoli has to deal with immense pressure. Juventus pulls the victories together with relative ease, and Napoli must win every week to successfully defend the edge of the lead. In recent weeks, it has been more than nice. The last nine games were all won and with the shape in the Serie A is therefore good. The last victory on SPAL was a meager one. The relegation candidate won an early goal in Naples, but that was it. It was not too good a game of Napoli, but after ninety minutes of football there was a 1-0 final score on the board.
Midnight there was little expected of Napoli in the Europa League. The Italians had lost the first game with RB Leipzig at home with 1-3. Sarri started in Germany again with some reserves in the base, but this time Napoli was a lot better for the day. Piotr Zielinski opened the score and in the 86th minute another goal from Lorenzo Insigne was added. Napoli needed another goal to bow RB Leipizg out of the Europa League, but it did not end that far. The Germans continued on the basis of the made goals.
Before the match against Cagliari, Sarri will again appeal to his trusted base team. Players like Jorginho, José Callejon and Kalidou Koulibaly return to the team. In terms of physical condition within his selection, Sarri actually has little reason to complain. Faouzi Ghoulam has been sidelined for a long time because of his injury and that also applies to Arkadiusz Milik. The coach has long been able to respond to this and the absence of these players will not affect Napoli’s performance.
PREDICTION: Over 2.5 goals @ 1.66