Cagliari welcome Murru and Borriello back into their squad after injuries, but the pair are more likely to start on the bench, while Rastelli is forced to make two changes following the defeat at Empoli. Isla is banned and Melchiorri is out for the rest of the season, but the overall quality of the starting XI shouldn’t be too dissimilar. Tachtsidis, Di Gennaro and Joao Pedro are pushing to start. Rastelli’s side are three games without a win and will be looking for all three points. Their home form has been impressive and they’ll have belief that they can get a positive result, while they’ll be hungry after losing their last home game 5-0 to Napoli. They’ll be keen to go into the winter break on a high and certainly won’t want to lose a third straight game for the first time this season. They will pursue the win and have been in good scoring form at home, finding the net more than once in all seven fixtures prior to the Napoli loss. However, their defensive frailties are very real and they’ve conceded more than anyone else in Serie A. The game could again open up and see goals, but some heavy defeats may put doubts in their minds, possibly leading to a more conservative approach.
Sassuolo are again majorly depleted by injuries and will be way short of full strength. Nine players are out, among them key players like Cannavaro, Magnanelli, Duncan, Missiroli, Berardi and Politano, so they’re weakened right through the team. Peluso is back from a ban to start at left back, which is a plus, while Mazzitelli is a doubt and may force a move away from their preferred 4-3-3 shape. The visitors have failed to win away from home since the opening weekend of the season and are really struggling with injuries, but they’ll view this as an opportunity to get three points and to draw level on points with Cagliari in the process. Their form has resulted in their confidence and belief being lowered since the start of the campaign, but motivation hasn’t been lacking at any stage. Di Francesco’s side have scored and conceded in each of their last eight Serie A away games and they won’t just sit back and defend as the away team. They’re capable of creating chances and have done despite their poor away form. They can compete in an open game, but are better suited to a tight one than Cagliari and will look to get ahead in order to force the hosts to become more reckless.
Verdict & Prediction
Cagliari are three games without a win, but they can be happy with their season so far, as they boast a healthy nine point lead over teams in the relegation zone. Their home form has generally been impressive and against a Sassuolo side ravaged by injuries, they’ll see this as a chance to win. Last time out at home they were beaten 5-0 by Napoli and there will be plenty of hunger to bounce back from that disappointing loss. They’ll want to go into the winter break on a high and with another three points and certainly won’t want to lose a third straight game for the first time this season.
Prediction: Cagliari -0.25 AH
Odds: 2.04 SBOBET