MATCH PREVIEW

Serie A Week 38 - 20 May 2018 (17.00 UK)
Cagliari - Atalanta
Stadio Sant'Elia

Both sides have a lot at stake in the final round, as Cagliari risk relegation and Atalanta need to book their Europa League spot.

The visitors come into the game on the back of seven games without defeat and have just one loss in their last 11 away games, including seven victories. They have drawn their last two very tough fixtures with Lazio and Milan, which gave Fiorentina a chance to take the last Europa League spot, but La Viola’s defeat to Cagliari last weekend let them off the hook and all but secured Atalanta’s place in Europe.

Cagliari need to win this game if they are to ensure they survive relegation, but if Crotone lose to Napoli, the Sardinians will avoid the drop regardless of their result. If Crotone can only manage a draw away at Napoli, then a point would be enough for I Rossoblu to stay up.

Bearing all that in mind, Cagliari will be happy to allow Atalanta possession and hope to play on the counter attack. Diego Lopez will be sure to have one eye on the Napoli-Crotone score and will probably play according to that. I Rossoblu’s home form has been poor all season, winning just five, and have failed to score in five of their last nine domestic games.

Cagliari did beat Atalanta in the reverse fixture back in December, however, and will be confident of gaining three points after their 1-0 win away at Fiorentina last weekend.

Atalanta would secure seventh place with a point, but a victory and Milan failing to get past Fiorentina skips them straight into the group phase, by-passing the preliminary rounds from July.

It could be a nervy game for the home support, especially if Crotone can go in front at Napoli. In all likelihood, a point here should be enough, but Lopez would be foolish to set his side up to play that way. 

Joao Pedro has been given a six-month ban for failing a doping test, but as most of that will be over the summer, he’ll only miss a couple of games.

Atalanta lost Leonardo Spinazzola and Andrea Petagna to serious knee injuries, so 19-year-old hitman Musa Barrow should again start in attack with Papu Gomez and Bryan Cristante.

Keep an eye on: Leonardo Pavoletti (Cagliari) – The 29-year-old has scored three in his last four starts for Cagliari, including the winner against Fiorentina. Has scored 11 goals in the Serie A this season, is the Rossoblu’s top goal-scorer and will be hoping to add to his tally against Atalanta.

Form Guide: Cagliari (W L L D L) Atalanta (D D W W W)

Last season: Cagliari 3-0 Atalanta

Stat fact: Atalanta have lost four of their last six Serie A trips to Sardinia, drawing one and winning the other.

Top tip: Both teams to score.

Cagliari (probable): Cragno; Faragò, Ceppitelli, Pisacane, Lykogiannis; Deiola, Barella, Padoin; Ionita; Farias, Pavoletti

Suspended: Joao Pedro

Atalanta (probable): Berisha; Mancini, Caldara, Palomino; Castagne, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Cristante; Barrow, Gomez

Suspended: Masiello, Toloi

Words: Marcello Cossali-Francis – @marchCF96

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