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Preview: Cagliari vs. Atalanta BC - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Cagliari vs. Atalanta BC - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Cagliari and Atalanta BC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Following another late capitulation in the Champions League this week, Atalanta BC return to Serie A duty with a trip to Sardinia, where they meet rock-bottom Cagliari.

The sides clash on Saturday evening, with the visitors having won just two of seven fixtures played last month, and the hosts are stranded in the relegation zone having posted only one league win so far this season.

Match preview

Set to secure three vital points in pursuit of a place in the Champions League knockout stages, once again Atalanta suffered at the boot of Cristiano Ronaldo, who steered home a volley in stoppage time to hold La Dea to a 2-2 draw in the second of two dramatic clashes with Manchester United.

As a consequence, the English side are tied with Young Boys at the top of Group F and Atalanta have it all to do, as they sit two points behind - with a potentially decisive trip to Switzerland on the horizon later this month.

Not only are things not quite going to plan in Europe's elite competition - where he has miraculously established his squad as last 16 regulars despite all their disadvantages - but coach Gian Piero Gasperini has also seen progress stall in the league of late.

Following their fourth win from five away fixtures in this season's Serie A, the Nerazzurri moved fifth in the table just ahead of Lazio's visit last weekend. However, it took a late Marten de Roon equaliser to save their skins at the Gewiss Stadium, and keep them a point above the Romans.

While they have now won just once from six home games in the league, of the current sides in Italy's top flight, Atalanta are unbeaten for the longest time away from home soil. In extending that spell to 11 matches, of which they have won eight, Gasperini's men have made up for a sluggish start at their Bergamo headquarters.

In fact, ahead of their trip south this weekend, 13 of their 19 points have come on the road, and the Bergamaschi have also won all of their last three away matches against Cagliari - each by a 1-0 scoreline.

A seventh loss of the season on Monday night brought a grim start to November for Cagliari, who stay rooted to the foot of the table as a consequence of their 2-0 defeat to Bologna.

In the aftermath of the Isolani's latest setback, president Tommaso Giulini felt the need to declare his backing for head coach Walter Mazzarri, who only took up his position in Sardinia a mere matter of weeks ago.

Defeat at Dall'Ara followed consecutive losses to Fiorentina and Roma for a side which has conceded goals at a rate of over two per game this season, and Cagliari are still seeking to end a long run without recording a clean sheet.

With that streak having been extended to 12 matches in Emilia-Romagna, they may struggle to do so against a side they have lost against in their last four encounters in league and cup - with an aggregate score of 10-3 to Atalanta.

However, they do only remain a couple of points adrift of those clubs on the other side of the cut-line, so even a draw would work wonders for morale and keep them in contention to escape the bottom three after the international break.

Cagliari Serie A form:
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L

Atalanta BC Serie A form:
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D

Atalanta BC form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D

Team News

As injury problems continue to blight their start to the season, Atalanta are expecting to be without regular picks including Robin Gosens and captain Rafael Toloi on Saturday evening. Hans Hateboer is also set to be sidelined again in Sardinia, but Matteo Pessina will be back on the bench.

Following the late draw with Manchester United, either Berat Djimsiti or summer signing Matteo Lovato could come into the visitors' back three, which would allow midfielder Marten de Roon to return to a more familiar place in the engine room.

Luis Muriel will hope a good recent record at the Sardegna Arena - where has scored the winner on both of his last two visits - can help him supplant Duvan Zapata at the apex of the attack. Meanwhile, in Pessina's continued absence, Mario Pasalic, Ruslan Malinovskyi and Josip Ilicic lead the contenders for two places in support of the central striker.

After a run of just one goal from three games, Walter Mazzarri may wish to rotate his Cagliari forward line, and must be ruing Giovanni Simeone's loan move to Verona considering the red-hot striker's scintillating start to the 2021-22 season.

While captain Joao Pedro is a fixture in the hosts' attack, Leonardo Pavoletti may find his place in jeopardy, though alternative option Keita Balde - mostly restricted to substitute appearances of late - may have to sit the match out due to a tonsil abscess.

Veteran defender Martin Caceres will definitely be missing for the Isolani this weekend, as he serves a suspension for receiving a red card on Monday, while Sebastian Walukiewicz and Dalbert are major doubts.

Cagliari possible starting lineup:
Cragno; Godin, Ceppitelli, Carboni; Nandez, Deiola, Strootman, Marin, Lykogiannis; Pedro, Pavoletti

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Musso; Demiral, Djimsiti, Palomino; Zappacosta, De Roon, Freuler, Maehle; Pasalic, Malinovskyi; Zapata

We say: Cagliari 0-2 Atalanta BC

Atalanta's recent wobble - relatively speaking, given the quality of many of their opponents - will surely end before the break for internationals, as they pick off an ailing home side.

The difficulties Cagliari have endured at both ends of the pitch cannot have been cured by a 'ritiro' (training camp) this week, and the Isolani are set to suffer yet another league defeat.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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