Serie A Matchday 2: Milan – Cagliari Match Preview and Lineups

San Siro is the venue as strong-starting Milan welcome Cagliari in their final Serie A fixture ahead of the international break. Despite missing the likes of Frank Kessie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Rossoneri head into proceedings as hot favorites to claim all three points.

After missing out on their first Serie A crown since 2010/11 last season, Milan will be keen to mount a serious title challenge this term despite a lack of signings.

Milan vs Cagliari Head-to-Head

Despite being held to a scoreless draw in this exact fixture on last season’s penultimate weekend, Milan boast a resounding 92% unbeaten ratio in home Serie A matches against Cagliari. The Rossoneri have suffered three defeats in 39 such contests, explaining why they are odds-on favorites to wrap up the three points here.

On the other hand, Cagliari will be desperate to snap a five-match goal drought in their top-flight H2Hs against Milan, last scoring against this opposition in Serie A three years ago. Indeed, there’s a certain ‘Rossoneri jinx’ tormenting the Sardinian visitors, as they’ve lost more top-flight games versus the Lombard giants (43) than against any other opposition.

Milan Preview

Even with Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu gone for new pastures, Stefano Pioli has managed to stick to his game plan without making eye-catching signings. A keenly-contested 1-0 victory away to Sampdoria on the opening Serie A weekend demonstrated last season’s runners-up finish was no fluke. 

Mike Maignan, who arrived from Lille to replace Donnarumma, kept a clean sheet on his competitive debut for Milan. As a result, the Rossoneri have now registered six consecutive Serie A shutouts and could make it seven in a row for the first time in the 21st century. 

After slamming the door shut for Cagliari in their last five home top-flight encounters, the seven-time Champions League winners could make history here, with Maignan at the heart of it.

Meanwhile, Brahim Diaz, who took over the No 10 jersey in the wake of Calhanoglu’s switch to Inter, decided Milan’s opening league match in Genoa. Summer signing Olivier Giroud failed to trouble the scoreboard against Sampdoria but will be keen to open his Serie A account before returning fans at the San Siro.

As for Pioli, he could become the first Milan manager since Carlo Ancelotti in 2002/03 and 2003/04 to lead the Rossoneri to consecutive victories at the beginning of a new Serie A season twice on the trot. To his confidence, only Lajos Czeizler (64%) can boast a better win in percentage in Serie A with Milan than the Mister (59%). 

Cagliari Preview

Cagliari returned from a two-goal deficit to pull off a 2-2 draw against Spezia at home last time out, meaning they’ve now failed to win their seasonal opener since 2013/14. A slow start to their new Serie A campaign comes as a continuation of their underwhelming 2020/21 season, which saw them register their lowest points tally since returning to the top-flight in 2016/17.

Interestingly, the Sardinians have drawn three of their last four Serie A matches (L1), 2020/21 included, as many as in their previous 22 outings in the competition (W6, L13). Encouragingly, though, the visitors are enjoying their third-best unbeaten streak in away top-flight fixtures in the 21st century, having put together four successive league trips without losing (W2, D2). 

But Leonardo Semplici will be keen to improve upon his side’s paltry scoring return on the road down the final stretch of last season. Cagliari netted one goal or less in five of their final six away Serie A games to conclude the 2020/21 campaign, with a 3-1 win at relegated Benevento being the solitary exception.

Milan vs Cagliari Players to Watch

While waiting for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to regain full fitness, Milan will turn to Olivier Giroud to carry the scoring burden. The 34-year-old striker was nothing short of exceptional during the pre-season, registering three strikes in as many warm-up appearances. In the meantime, Brahim Diaz, who scored the winner against Sampdoria, will be seeking his first Serie A goal at the San Siro.

Cagliari stalwart Joao Pedro notched up a second-half brace to dig his side out of trouble against Spezia, becoming only the fifth Sardinian player to hit the net in seven different seasons for the club. The Brazilian was incidentally the last Cagliari player to score against Milan, doing so in a 1-1 home draw in September 2018.

Milan vs Cagliari Predicted Line-ups

Milan (4-2-3-1): Mike Maignan; Theo Hernandez, Fikayo Tomori, Simon Kjaer, Davide Calabria; Ismael Bennacer; Sandro Tonali; Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao, Ante Rebic; Olivier Giroud

Cagliari (3-5-2): Boris Radunovic; Sebastian Walukiewicz, Diego Godín, Andrea Carboni; Gabriele Zappa, Răzvan Marin, Kevin Strootman, Alessandro Deiola, Dalbert; João Pedro, Leonardo Pavoletti