MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) picks out his favourite fancy from Monday night’s Serie A offering from Sardinia.
Cagliari v Sampdoria | Monday 20.00 | BT Sport 1
Collectively, Cagliari and Sampdoria have picked up just three Serie A points from their last 18 on offer so Monday night’s match presents the perfect opportunity for one of the struggling pair to bounce back into form.
Hosts Cagliari won immediate promotion back to Italy’s top-flight, taking the Serie B title last term having suffered relegation for the first time since 1999/2000.
Having gone through four managers during their doomed 2014/15 campaign, Massimo Rastelli was handed the reigns last season and keeps the head coach’s role after a successful campaign in charge of the Rossoblu.
The new boss saw Alberto Cerri and Andres Tello’s loans expire but the Islanders recruited a number of experienced Serie A campaigners this summer, including midfield men Artur Ionita and Mauricio Isla, Bruno Alves at the back and veteran forward Marco Borriello.
Ionita is expected to miss out here but leading assist-maker Isla should return to the fold as the Sardinians bid to erase memories of their 4-0 shredding at Juventus in midweek. Cagliari failed to land a shot-on-target in that defeat and are desperate to improve upon their W1-D1-L3 return.
Rastelli’s troops did salvage a point having trailed Roma 2-0 in their opening home encounter at the Stadio Sant’Elia, before beating Atlanta 3-0 at the same venue. And with a W15-D5-L3 record when entertaining Serie B opposition last season, the hosts clearly enjoying playing in front of their partisan supporters.
However, the Rossoblu have shipped two goals in four of their first five fixtures and that unsteady defence may not be ready to handle the likes of Colombian striker Luis Muriel, the dangerous Dennis Praet or back-from-a-ban playmaker Ricardo Alvarez in the opposition dressing room.
Sampdoria have been defeated in their past three outings, having started their season with successive victories. But performances in pointless returns from games against Roma and Milan deserved more whilst the Blucerchiati notched just a solitary strike in two games without Alvarez pulling the strings.
Head coach Marco Giampaolo now sees Edgar Barreto suspended here but Bruno Fernandes can come straight into the XI as Samp look to improve a rather ugly road record in Serie A. Since the start of last season, the visitors have W3-D6-L13, losing, seven of their eight trips to bottom-nine sides.
Nevertheless, the Blucerchiati have definitely displayed enough quality across the first month of the campaign to suggest they can improve on last season’s struggles and I like the chances of a goal-heavy game in Cagliari.
Last season the hosts delivered Over 2.5 Goals profit in 26/42 (62%) of their league encounters whilst all five since promotion have followed suit. Meanwhile, eight of Sampdoria’s past 14 road trips have also featured at least three goals.
If we peruse Samp’s away-day stats since 2014/15, we can see the visitors have kept just seven clean sheets (17%) in 41 games as guests but also managed to score themselves in 30 (73%) of those matches. A healthy 25 (61%) saw both sides score, making the 4/5 (Boylesports) on offer for a repeat a little too hunky to turn down.
Cagliari v Sampdoria – Both Teams To Score (4/5 Boylesports)