Udinese v Cagliari – Stadio Friuli at 14:00 GMT
Cagliari kicked off their centenary season with back-to-back home defeats – the first of which came against newly-promoted Brescia – and supporters could have been forgiven for expecting another long, hard slog this campaign battling against Serie A relegation.
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 with the midway point approaching, the Rossoblu are directly above Atalanta, Napoli and Milan.
Cagliari are just three points adrift of the Champions League places and it could have been even better had Rolando Maran’s men held on to a one-goal lead against Lazio on Monday evening. The Islanders conceded two late goals to suffer their first league loss since the 1st September, a 14-match streak (W8-D5-L1).
There was some cause for optimism when Radja Nainggolan returned on-loan. 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.
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Nobody would have foreseen the run the Sardinians have embarked upon and remarkably, Cagliari are yet lose an away match this season (W3-D4-L0). The club’s underlying numbers suggest the Rossoblu may regress sooner than later but they should be well capable of keeping Udinese at bay at least here.
The visitors are 1.75 with a +0.25 Asian Handicap start on Saturday afternoon. That means, we’ll make a half-stakes profit should the game end all-square with a full pay-out earned should Cagliari pocket a fourth victory on their travels this term. The Sardinians have lost once in 14 against teams in fourth and below.
Udinese struggling for top honours
If Cagliari are impressing the neutrals, Udinese continue to dither in the lower reaches of Serie A. The Zebrette have tabled only four triumphs this term (W4-D3-L9) and managed only 11 goals in their 16 encounters thus far.
Igor Tudor has already been dismissed with Luca Gotti taking charge at the start of November. The new boss has picked up five points from six fixtures with his team dismantled by Juventus in their most recent outing; goals continue to be Udinese’s largest challenge and that could prove their downfall here.
The hosts have only scored more than a solitary strike once this season. Considering Cagliari have found the back of the net in each of their past 15 fixtures, it may take something special for Udinese to collect top honours.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Cagliari +0.25 at 1.750
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