Cagliari vs Napoli Preview and Lineups – Serie A Round 26

Napoli’s elusive pursuit of their first Scudetto continues on Monday as they head to Sardegna Arena to take on relegation-battling Cagliari in an exciting Serie A fixture. Milan’s unexpected 2-2 draw with dead-last Salernitana brought the Partenopei back in the Serie A title race, but the resurgent Sardinians are waiting in the wings. 

Cagliari have enjoyed an eye-catching start to the new calendar year, going unbeaten in six of their seven Serie A matches (W3, D2) to reinforce their hopes of securing top-flight survival. But that is still a work in progress as Walter Mazzarri’s men have yet to escape from the drop zone.

Level on points with 17th-placed Venezia, the hosts will fancy their chances against one of the most in-form teams in the league. Before being held to a 1-1 draw to Inter in their mammoth Serie A clash last time out, Napoli had enjoyed a run of four consecutive league victories.

With table-topping Milan only three points away, Luciano Spalletti’s side will go for broke to beat Cagliari following Thursday’s hard-fought 1-1 draw at Barcelona in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie. Yet, underestimating Mazzarri’s team is the luxury Napoli cannot afford.

Cagliari vs Napoli Head-to-Head

Victor Osimhen and Lorenzo Insigne fired Napoli to a comfortable 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, further improving their side’s impressive H2H record against Cagliari. Indeed, the Partenopei have lost just one of their last 23 Serie A meetings with the Sardinians (W16, D6). 

Except for a 1-0 defeat in September 2019, Napoli have kept Cagliari goalless in 12 of their remaining 22 top-flight showdowns in that sequence. Adding to the visitors’ confidence, they have won each of their last six Serie A matches at Sardegna Arena, conceding just one goal while scoring 19 in return.

Since a 3-3 draw at this venue in December 2009, Cagliari have failed to get on the scoresheet in eight of their last ten home league games against Napoli. 

Cagliari Form Guide

Despite their abysmal H2H record against Napoli of late, Cagliari can call upon their recent home form, having lost just one of their last six home games in all competitions (W2, D3). 

However, immense defensive difficulties require an immediate improvement, with the Sardinians going 15 consecutive home matches without a clean sheet since a goalless league draw with Fiorentina in May 2021. Mazzarri’s men have conceded an average of 1.75 goals per home league outing this season, so the signs are worrying. 

Particularly vulnerable from set-pieces, Cagliari have shipped a league-high 20 goals from such plays this Serie A campaign. That could be a problem, given that Napoli have netted the division’s second-high 17 goals from set-piece situations this term. 

Napoli Form Guide

Napoli have been a force to be reckoned with away from home this season. They have suffered just one loss from their 12 Serie A road trips so far (W8, D3) and are unbeaten in their last five in a row (W3, D2). Each of their three victories in that five-game sequence came ‘to nil,’ highlighting Spalletti’s rock-solid defensive tactics.

Indeed, Napoli have conceded a league-low 17 goals this Serie A season, and they remain the only side yet to ship 20+ goals in Italy’s top-flight. Moreover, the Partneopei have let in a mere eight goals across their 12 league travels to date. Their average of 0.66 goals conceded per away Serie A game is the fourth-best in Europe’s top-five leagues.

Interestingly, Napoli have been given more penalties than any other side in Europe’s big-five leagues, though they have failed to convert three of ten such scoring opportunities so far. But Insigne, Spalletti’s designated spot-kick taker who had a couple of wastes this season, made no mistake against Cagliari in the reverse fixture.

Cagliari vs Napoli Predicted Lineups

Cagliari (3-5-2): Alessio Cragno; Giorgio Altare, Luca Ceppitelli, Edoardo Goldaniga; Charalampos Lykogiannis, Raoul Bellanova, Alberto Grassi, Dalbert, Razvan Marin; Joao Pedro, Leonardo Pavoletti.

Napoli (4-2-3-1): David Ospina; Mario Rui, Juan Jesus, Amir Rrahmani, Giovanni Di Lorenzo; Diego Demme, Fabian Ruiz; Piotr Zielinski, Eljif Elmas, Lorenzo Insigne; Victor Osimhen.