Cagliari v Milan – Sardegna Arena at 14:00 GMT
Cagliari star Radja Nainggolan has said the Rossoblu “can’t make a mistake” against Milan on Saturday afternoon after admitting a three-game losing streak has sapped confidence in the camp.
The Sardinians started the season with only two defeats in their first 15 games, but after the 4-0 defeat to Juventus on Monday, Cagliari are on a winless run of four games since the start of December.
Individual mistakes cost Rolando Maran’s men dearly at the Allianz Arena and the captain Nainggolan wants to see his team eliminate the errors when they face Milan, saying, “It’s a game where we can’t make a mistake. We can’t afford to give a great team like the Rossoneri any opportunities.
Despite the recent downturn, Cagliari remain sixth in Serie A and only six points off the Champions League qualification places following a remarkable and unexpected opening stanza. The Rossoblu have outperformed their underlying data but few can dismiss the islanders efforts under Maran’s tutorship.
The Sardinians haven’t finished in the top half of Serie A since 2008-09 and 15th-placed finishes in their last two seasons did not suggest the team were going to show remarkable improvements in 2019/20. Yet in their centenary season, Cagliari are currently above Napoli and Milan after a week in 2020.
There was some cause for optimism when Nainggolan returned on-loan in the summer. The Belgian has been at the heart of their sensational form, with goals and assists, but he’s not the only player to star. Brazilian striker João Pedro has already scored more goals this season than in any of his previous four at the club.
Keep Cagliari onside
Nobody would have foreseen the run the Sardinians have embarked upon and Cagliari have continued their impressive home record, with two of their three defeats on the island (W5-D1-L3) arriving against top three teams. Overall under Maran, the Rossoblu have W13-D7-L8 at their Sardegna Arena base.
With that in mind, I’m happy to keep the hosts onside at 1.83 quotes with a +0.25 Asian Handicap start against Milan. The Rossoneri fell to their biggest league defeat in over 20 years against Atalanta before Christmas and followed up their 5-0 thumping with an underwhelming 0-0 draw at home to Sampdoria.
Almost 60,000 turned up at San Siro in anticipation of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return. But even his second-half introduction failed to spark a Milan side that’s struggled for consistency and continuity this season. Head coach Stefano Pioli complained post-match that Milan showed “a lack of quality” in the dour draw.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Cagliari +0.250 at 1.830
Preview by: @MarkOHaire