Serie A Matchday 37: Milan – Cagliari Match Preview

Milan’s pursuit of the top-four finish in Serie A continues this weekend as they welcome resurgent Cagliari to the Stadio San Siro on Sunday evening. Juventus’ 3-2 win against Inter in the Derby d’Italia put the Rossoneri in a precarious position as they cannot afford to drop points here.

This will be Milan’s final home game of the season and probably the most significant. If they can overcome bottom-half-of-the-table Cagliari, the hosts will secure a long-awaited Champions League return even before their trip to Atalanta on the final weekend.

Milan vs Cagliari Head-To-Head

Milan have outscored Cagliari across their last four Serie A meetings by an aggregate scoreline of 10-0, netting two unanswered goals in each victory. By extension, the Rossoneri have gone unbeaten in their seven consecutive top-flight H2Hs (W6, D1) since a 2-1 loss at the Sardegna Arena in May 2017.

The Sardinians have come out victorious in just one of their last 34 Serie A matches against Milan, drawing a blank on 50% of those occasions. In fact, they have lost all 15 top-flight trips to the San Siro since the turn of the 21st century. The last time Cagliari avoided defeat at this venue was in October 1992 (2-2 draw). 

Teams Recent Forms

A disastrous 3-0 away loss to Lazio on Matchday 33 seems to have served as a wake-up call for the Rossoneri, who have since hit the ground running in Serie A, racking up three consecutive league wins by an aggregate score of 12-0. Following a memorable 3-0 away victory to Juventus, Milan put another Turin outfit to the sword last time out, dispatching Torino 7-0 on the road.

At the San Siro, Stefano Pioli’s men have picked up two wins in their last three Serie A matches (L1), as many victories as they had in their previous eight home games in the competition (D2, L4). Milan have been ruthless against the sides currently hovering in the bottom half of the table, having netted 2+ goals in all but one of their nine home encounters with such opposition this term.

Since the introduction of the three-points-per-win system, the Rossoneri have scored more goals after 36 Serie A fixtures only in 2005-06 (80), with Pioli’s side notching up 72 strikes so far. 

At the end of the pitch, lapses of concentration after the half-time break have seen Milan register a clear majority (62.5%) of their total league goals conceded at home this season in the second half of play (15/24).

On the other hand, Cagliari are on the verge of securing their Serie A survival following a run of six league matches without defeat (W4, D2). Coming into this match-day, the Sardinians harbor a substantial five-point lead on 18th-placed Benevento and have already put one foot in the 2021-22 top-flight campaign.

Cagliari’s 3-1 triumph against Benevento in their most recent Serie A trip means they could post back-to-back top-division wins for the first time since September 2019. Easier said than done, though, as Leonardo Semplici’s men had lost five consecutive Serie A visits to the current top-seven sides by an aggregate score of 12-4 prior to a 1-1 draw at Naples in their most recent such fixture.

Cagliari have established a habit of falling behind without recovering, frustratingly surrendering the points in 72.73% of the away Serie A games in which they conceded first this season (W1, D2, L8). Poor first-half performers, they have found themselves leading at half-time just twice in 18 league trips this term (HT: W2, D10, L6).

Players to Watch

Milan needed someone to should the scoring burden in their consecutive trips to Turin as Zlatan Ibrahimovic dealt some fitness issues. And Ante Rebic came up big. The Croat netted a thunderous strike to put clear daylight between his side and Juventus before grabbing a hat-trick against Torino last time out.

Cagliari standout performer Joao Pedro has amassed 16 goals and three assists this Serie A season, playing a vital role in his side’s relegation battle. The 29-year-old Brazilian has also found the net three times against Milan and was the last Cagliari player to score against the Rossoneri.

Predicted Line-ups

MILAN (4-2-3-1): Gianluigi Donnarumma, Davide Calabria, Simon Kjaer, Alessio Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez, Ismael Bennacer, Franck Kessie, Samu Castillejo, Hakan Calhanoglu, Rafael Leao, Ante Rebic

CAGLIARI (4-2-3-1): Alessio Cragno, Gabriele Zappa, Luca Ceppitelli, Diego Godin, Charalampos Lykogiannis, Razvan Marin, Alfred Duncan, Nahitan Nandez, Radja Nainggolan, Joao Pedro, Leonardo Pavoletti