Are you ready for some football Cagliari style? Yes we are still surviving in Sardinia as our Rossoblu return for yet another season in Serie A and like this blog they are returning but just barely.
With the slow demise of the Italy Offside as most of the teams bloggers felt like there was just no interest or their blogs folowers were better served with independant websites, teams like Cagliari, Napoli, Catania, Fiorentina and even Inter on some level have managed to keep their loyal fans updated with real insight and commentary. Anyone can report game results but it takes real dedication to post detailed insight and commentary regularly for their team. Props to each of you who continue to write. While I felt last year was my sixth and final year blogging in detail for Cagliari on the Offside, I cant seem to let it go as I hate to see a website that provided so much for so many soccer fans just kind of fade away. While most of my commentary will be on Twitter going forward, I will try to post here but as someone who will not do things if I am going to do it half ass, it may not be pretty and I apologize to the few who still read about the team we love where for the past few years, there has been no better English insight about Cagliari.
Enough fontificating and lets talk about our team a bit and lay some groundwork for what could be another exciting but uncertain year. As you may remember, because of the safety issues and overall political posturing, Cagliari spent the last half of their season playing their home games on the mainland which made for a dodgy ride to safety which again was barely achieved with no gas left in the tank. While Cellino dreams of his new stadium in Cagliari, it looks like we will be playing our home games this year at the Stadio Comunale Is Arenas in Quartu Sant Aleni. Quartu is 4 miles outside of the city of Cagliari and the stadium will have a capacity of about 15-16,000 which is less then the Sant Elia by about 7,000. There are still renovations to be done but it is expected to be ready by the home opener against Atalanta on September 2nd. Yes its all a mess, but if we can play the games there, we will actually be at home in a smaller stadium that is never likely to sell out even at these smaller levels except when teams like Roma, Inter, Milan, and Juve come calling, but the Sant Elia seemed like a ghost town on gameday, it was not safe, and maybe the changes will spark some fan interest. Our stadium is not our strong point but it sure beats Trieste, Until the team can consistently fight for Europe, a big stadium should not be on the radar unless we can fill the Sant Elia or whatever stadium we would be in. Past history says no.
Cagliari limped home in 15th place last year but it was Novara, Lecce, and Cesena that were dropped back to Serie B. They will be replaced by Torino, Sampdoria, and Pescara. Samp returns after a one year absence, Torino has spent time in Serie A recently, and Pescara looks to be this years Novara. Overall the league should see a tougher race for survival this year then last year so if we take the second half of the season off like we did last year, we might actually get relegated.
Lets go through each of the teams in the order I think they will finish and Ill attempt to be more detailed about our team then the rest. What is tough about doing a season preview is that players can change teams at the last minute and such switches especially amognst big clubs can cause them to be placed up or down in the standings depending on who is coming or going. With opening day less then a half a week away, keep an eye on player movements at the last minute as even Cagliari has some players on the radar who could arrive and some current players who could face a loan or transfer out of town.
Here is how I see Serie A shaping up this year…
I picked them first last year and I see no reason not to do so this year. They have stabilized their team with Martin Caceres from Sevilla, Asamoah and Isla from Udinese, Leali from Brescia, and Lucio from Inter, not to mention other lesser known moves, they more then offset the loss of Pasquato, Krasic, and Felipe Melo.
They have spent well and with rumors of Matri possibly returning to Milan, they are still stacked. Giovinco returns from Parma and with the same players from last year, their depth at all positions should not only allow them to easily win Serie A, but make a real push in the Champions League. Juve fan has every reason to be excited.
They have to be the logical choice to finish second but this is a team that absent some real talent infusion at the last minute could end up much lower and ex Cagliari coach could see his dream job end in tatters.
Milan still has talent but Van Bommel, Inzaghi, Gattuso, Seedorf,and Nesta are no longer with the team and their leadership will be missed even if they cant play like they used to. Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were arguably the teams two best players who were sold for big money, but they cannot be adequately replaced. Cassano’s loss will also be huge even if he was replaced by Pazzini from Inter the trade. While Montolivo from Fiorentina has arrived, and Zapata from Villarreal could help, even with the likes of Robinho, Pato, Mexes, Boateng, Nocerino, and Ambrosini, this is the first Milan team in some time that lacks real star talent and a dangerous strikeforce.
The gap between them and Juve has increased and Milan could find themselves further down if any of the next group of teams gets their act together.
I am kind of a Roma homer. I seem to have them pegged higher then they finish every year but with the talent they have, I cant see how they have been so disappointing the past few years. They have again made some changes some of which I really like, but can they be consistent enough to make a real move?
They have done a great job shoring up weaknesses by adding Balzaretti from Palermo and the underrated Michael Bradley who is clearly adjusting to Serie A well, and Mattia Destro on loan. Borini has left for Liverpool, Heinz has returned to Argentina, and Brighi is gone.
Luis Enrique has moved on and they will now be coached by Zeman who guided a good Pescara team to Serie A but knew it was a sinking ship as the club was raided of the few good players it had and this may actually benefit the team as Enrique faced much more pressure. The additions clearly outwiegh the losses and if they can get another year out of Totti, Osvaldo can be more consistent,, and DeRossi can stay strong.
The key player is Michael Bradley. If he can link the midfield with the strikers, this team will be dangerous offensively. I think they finally qualify for the Champions League after being just below the top teams in recent years.
Yes they had a bad year finishing sixth but fourth is the worst they likely finish this year. Diego Forlan is gone and Cassano has been swapped with Pazzini in a very risky move, but Guarin has come over from Porto. Lucio has left as has Pandev but with hopefully a healthy Wesley Sneijder and Millito and Cassano doing their thing up front, this is a more exciting team then last year. The star power they clearly have over their Milan neighbors could cause the rivalry that was absent last year to rekindle. Ultimately this team will go as far as Sneijder takes them. Either way, they should be better then last year.
I was wrong on these guys last year so Im trying to make up for it by picking them this high. They were terrible in the CL last year but managed to finish third and will get another crack at it. Asamoah and Isla were sold to Juventus so they should drop down right? Well they finished strong last year after losing Sanchez, Inler, and Zapata. Therefore I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt as long as Di Natale keeps on scoring and Barreto supports him.
This is the prime example of a united team with players who seem to replace the ones who leave adequately and when added to the ageless Di Natale, this finish higher then teams spending oodles on big name transfers. That being said the team could fall off the cliff at any time and fall to mid table. I still think they have one more year of exciting play and should make another push for Europe.
Napoli finished 5th last year and will be in Europe but say good bye to Lavezzi who has been replaced by Pandev. However, as long as Hamsik and Pandev stay on and if Inler brings some new life to the team, they will be in the race for Europe until the end. Napoli is like many clubs that are big but not quite big enough in that there are clubs that players will leave for even if Napoli has established themselves as a year to year contender for Europe. To take the next step up, the owners will have to decide if they want to invest in real big name players for real big fees. So far they are holding off while they focus on trying to keep Cavani on board as his goal scoring will again be key.
Last years fourth place team is in for a bit of a drop. Klose cant keep scoring and other then Candreva coming in on loan from Udinese, did they really improve themselves. Zarate has returned from Inter but is he really in Lazios plans? Dont get me wrong there is still plenty of talent, but to move up, they needed to add some players. With even modest improvements or expected bounces back in form by the teams that were close to them in the standings, could see them drop back just a bit.
Once you get past the top 7 teams, I think there is a big drop off amongst the next bunch of teams all of which could finish 8th through 15th. Even trying to be objective, I still think Cagliari is the best of this bunch and in a slow market, they have made some good moves and if they are healthy, I expect them to finish no worse then 8th. Lets look at our team….
Ficcandenti was brought back to coach after he was fired and seems back in place for another year. I cant see him lasting the year especially if the team spends much time in the bottom half of the table in the first half of the year. Even a decent start last year couldnt keep Ficcandenti safe when a bad streak happened. For him to keep his job, he cannot ever lose more then two games in a row and he cant be managing crappy boring draws or Cellino will axe him. The expectations are again high and we all know what can happen. Ultimately the players need to step up and create some stability. Who will these players be? Lets look at them.
Agazzi will return and will be exactly what he was last year. Solid if not spectacular with the occasional big save. He might be a little better then last year, but wont be as good as he was in 2010-11. Its hard to get a superstar goalie so we can be successful with him because he does not hurt us and he clearly cares about the team.
The biggest coup of the summer was holding on to Astori. If that holds true, we will be better on defense because he is a world class player and we didnt get to have him all of last year due to injury and if he can stay on the field, the defense will be better. Longtime captain Agostini is gone as is Canini but Ariaudo will start and is an up and coming player. Pisano should fill the third spot and newcomers Rossettini and Avelar will likely fight to start in the other spot with Perico holding on to the end of the bench. While Cellino has said there is still another transfer to take place, it does not seem to be in defense. Unless Astori becomes the top defensive player in Italy and Ariaudo shows advanced improvement, this is the weakspot of our team and Cellino seems to have it on ignore. Acquisitions will have to be made at some point as I see it.
This is a group with potential yet is very much in transition and may be why Cellino is so concerned about adding another midfielder with the rumored return of Lazzarri even being mentioned. Why we let him go for under two million in a blind auction was beyond me. He was such a good fit for our team that I hated the fact we let him go for nothing. Ultimately the midfield will be Cossu who is on the wrong side of 30 but still an above average player, Nainggolan who was not sold high seems to be here for this year and while he has potential, he has underperformed expectations. If he can make the move up many expected last year, we will be even better. Fan favorite Danielle Dessena has been redeemed and he should hold down the third midfield spot. With Ekdal and a healthy Errikson fighting for the final midfield spot, you still have captain Conti feeling like he should play and we could see him take a defensive spot as his presence on the field is important. We also have Thiago Ribeiro who while is seen as a forward could play a triquartiesta position and if Ceppellini does not go out on loan, then we have an excess of midfielders.
That being said Cellino is still talking like a big name midfield player is on the way. I still think the focus needs to be on a defender.
Two words. Mauricio Pinilla. He is now a fully owned Cagliari player and the Inter rumors have passed. If he is healthy, I expect he will be one of the top three goal scorers in Italy this year. While on loan with us in the Spring, he brought enthusiasm and goal scoring prowess and helped build a good midseason winning streak. His injury cost Ballardini his job and by the time he returned, not much mattered. Keep this guy healthy physically and mentally and we might finish higher then 8th. So who will partner him? The logical choice is Ribeiro who seems to be resigned to staying in Italy despite his efforts to beat it back to Brazil. Hes talented but inconsistent. If not him, its Ibarbo who has speed and talent but disappears at times. He is Ribeiro with more speed but not quite the goal scoring ability even if his individual skills are off the chart at any given moment. Nene is still on the roster but finds himself as the 4th striker which is about what he is even if he has the best hair on the team. Larrivey, who got us through to the 4th round of the Coppa with a last minute goal last week, is rumored to leave and will likely be sold or loaned out in the next few days. He is just another enigma who for the most part scores goals when things dont matter. His potential has kept him on the team simply because we do not score goals. One player who could emerge and the reason Larrivey and Nenes days may be numbered is Marco Sau. He returns after a dominating season at Juve Stabia and his goal scoring potential could force him in to the lineup. Lets hope he pans out better then Ragatzu but remember his name.
There is clearly a surplus of fowards and Ficcandenti will spend the year trying to find the right partner for Pinilla. The sooner that match is found, the better the team will be as the constant shuffling of forwards like last year will not lead to good things.
There is real talent on this team and Pinillas presence makes the hope for a high finish seem real and Cagliari fans should be excited as there have not been noticeable improvements by most teams in Serie A. We can expect to finish this high and we could do better.
This team surprised and finished 9th last year. They will do it again as I really like them. DiVaio is gone to MLS but the fact they have kept Gaston Ramirez and extended fan favorite Diamanti gives the club great enthusiasm coming off last years finish. Add talented but enigmatic Robert Acquafresca and this team wont be surprising anyone while being enjoyable to watch.
They finished 12th last year despite a 6 point penalty and should find another comfortable mid table finish. They tend to rely on younger players with the occasional supposedly past their prime types. Last years find was German Denis and he will return. If he performs like he did last year, expect a similar finish. If not, they could face another relegation battle.
This team is being rebuilt with players like Montolivo and Gilardino now gone and while they have some exciting new players, remember this is a team that barely survived relegation and with a new coach as well, it is going to take some time before they can honestly expect to move into the fight for Europe. Vincenzo Montella will try to do more with his team then just survive. Viviano is the new goalie and he will help along with Mattias Fernandez and Alberto Aquilani who are trying to rediscover the magic of past years. While they got Rodriguez from Villarreal as they raided this relegated team, the key player will be ex Mallorca and Villarreal man Borja Valero. In the right system he can be a dominating offensive midfielder but if the game is slow and he feels bogged down, he can be useless. Jovetic and Lazzarri are still around but the team is going to have to show an improved effort and if it takes time for these new players to gell they may end up on a similar path as last year.
Palermo finished a disappointing 16th last year and kind of packed it in once it was clear to them Europe was not in the cards. Injuries and questionable moves made the club seem worse then it really is. Can they fight for Europe? Probably not. However, they are not a 16th place club and will likely have an uneventful year if you ignore the musings of their Chairmen.
Gone are Balzaretti and Viviano and while Miccoli returns, they teams transfers hopes are relying on South Americans who often dont adjust as quickly as demanded. The biggest known is Uruguayan Rios and they have added Swiss player Von Bergen.
You cant lose the players they have lost and expect a much higher finish and I am sure they wish they had the talents of a player like Pinilla as he would be very helpful to an offense that relies on an aging and injury concern such as Miccoli. Palermo has seen some good players leave and other then maybe Pastore, all were lost at bargain prices so Palermo fans are hoping these transaction results turn back around in their favor and they can move toward Europe. Its going to take awhile.
With the scare of relegation last year and rival Sampdoria returning to Serie A, this team will have real motivation to make sure there are no issues with the fans as they try to reestablish themselves as a mid table team and potential European contender.
Luigi Di Canio will take the helm and try to move this team up. They have some name players even if many are now on the downside of their careers. Biondini, Frey, Merkel, Jankovic, and Antonelli are names we all know. Add Gilardino and Michele Canini to the mix and one would think this team could be a real mover. They have added some players on loan from Roma(Verre and Pisciteeta) who may make a mark on the team along with ex Juve Ciro Immobile.
This has been one of the busiest teams in the player movement market and I think they will move safely away from the relegation zone and could surprise a bit as well.
Samp faced a year in purgatory in Serie B last year after a disappointing year in 2011-12 where they just allowed themselves to be relegated. The fact they bounced back and added some players combined with the fact they want to avoid this issue again means they are likely to survive even if they need a year to solidify the team before making a push up the standings.
They have Maxi Lopez on loan from Catania, DiSilvestri on loan from Fiorentina and have taken back Tissone from Mallorca and with other long term stalwarts such as Poli they could be this years Atalanta but to expect more so soon is a bit much.
Chievo finished 10th last year and with the loss of Michael Bradley to Roma, any excitement the fans saw in their play will likely be gone and they will again to fight to survive which they always manage to do. Luciano and Pellessier will do their best to carry this team to safety but with the improved teams at the bottom, I think this team could be in for a lower finish and despite their recent history, you cant rule them out for relegation.
Parma finished 8th last year but if you want to see how valuable Giovinco was, now that he is back with Juve, watch this team to be the big dropper of the year.
Amauri is with them and he will be expected to bring his Palermo scoring prowess with him. He has shown flashes in a prior time with Parma but now he is needed more then ever. It may be a bit late for him but you never know.
Parma relies heavily on loans to and they are one of the most active squads looking for that diamond in the rough who cant quite break through with a big club. They hit a home run with Giovinco but despite some purchases in addition to their loans, unless a player or two performs beyond expectations, this team is back in the relegation battle.
I just cant relegate these guys even if year to year they are often a strong favorite to go down. Who are they going to rely on Christian Llama? Why they are loaning Maxi Lopez to Samp makes no sense. I know Lopez does not want to be in Catania but they need him. Their transfers of note include Lucas Castro and Rolin from Uruguay but new coach Rolando Maran simply has his hands full. They did finish 11th last year after a solid season but with the improvements of the other teams, a concern as to where offense will come from, this team is going to drop down as well but should find a way to survive.
Torino makes its rerturn to Serie A and feels like they can stay up but it is going to be tough for them. Captain Rolando Bianchi is a great leader and has scored a lot of goals for Torino the past few years but as he nears 30, it will be interesting to see how he handles the return to Serie A. Pablo Caceres will provide help in the back as he comes over on loan from Mallorca and ex Roma man Brighi will bring good experience if nothing else. They also just added striker Cerci on loan from Fiorentina and he will look to get playing time alongside Bianchi.
Torino could be enjoyable to watch at times and probably has more overall talent then Catania and Chievo, but the return to Serie A is tough on yo yo type clubs which they clearly are and the other teams are simply better so they may be the unlucky team to fill the final relegation spot.
I dont know why I still hate this team but they are clearly relegation fodder and I am surprised they were not relegated last year once they came back to Serie A. They finished 14th last year but dragged themselves across like many other teams. The difference is that they did not improve enough this offseason and they could very easily be relegated again.
Who are their difference making players? I dont know any. Who do you look at when you watch this team. Unless you are a diehard fan, you dont likely know any of the players. Most teams in Serie A have atleast a couple of well know and good players. Even Torino is noticeably better. You cant blame them as they are a small team constantly shuffling players who perform a cut above everyone else doing whatever they have to to survive. Its going to be tough on them this year so they should go down.
This was Serie Bs best team last year and I will be rooting for them to survive but while they could finish higher then Siena, I dont see how even the most optimistic supporter can expect survival. Giovanni Stropa will lead an enthusiatic bunch but their best players from last year are gone including young Marco Veratti who is now with PSG. Last years coach is now in Rome and their best player might be some Czech dude named Weiss. Ultimately what got them up was taken away and they simply cant buy similarly talented players. They instead hope for some more youngsters to emerge which will be tough in Serie A. Its going to be a long year but a fun one as each game is a celebration for this team as this is their first time back in Serie A in 20 years.
So where does everyone think Cagliari will finish?
Who is going to be our final addition for what will likely be the midfield? Cabrera from Uruguay is the favorite but he may not be the answer and Lazzarri is still a longshot albeit a better fit and player.
Who will be the best players on each team and in Serie A this year?
Which players will revive their careers and which players will noticeably regress?
I will try to post updates on important games but I cant honestly say I will post as regularly as I have for the past years. Life just moves on.
I will try to keep the Twitter account going so please follow us
post some thoughts on Twitter.
I hope everyone enjoys another fun season of Serie A.
How are all my fellow Cagliari fan(s) out there? Are you enjoying our new Twitter feed @CagliariOffside or are you just wondering why this blog seems to be on life support just like our beloved clubs year to year Serie A status? Dont fret, we are soon to begin the 2012-13 season but there are still lots of player issues to sort out in the next couple of months. While its still early lets talk about the team and some key players and where the are now and where they might be come fall.
The stadium issue still has not resolved and until it does, Cellino will keep the purse strings closed. Players who seemed likely to return may not and there may even more last minute purchases of low cost high upside types as the goal seems to be barely staying in Serie A until a new stadium is ready. With the Sant Elia no longer an option, the hope is for the Stadio is Arenas to hold our home games next year. For now the uncertainties continue so lets briefly touch on a few players to get an idea of where some our favorites may be next year.
It seems like we have our coaching position as solidified as it can be heading in to the year. As you know Ficcadenti was fired early in the season only to be brought back because Cellino did not like Ballardini’s performance. Ficcadenti did not inspire upon his return and carries very little respect in the dressing room. His almost immediate confirmation for the new season gives us reason to think there is going to be significant turnover amongst players and we will see many new faces that he hopes to shape into a winning squad. Stability in this position has not been something associated with Cagliari so it is not a huge issue, but we currently have the wrong coach and he is being set up to be the scapegoat should we start poorly next year. With home games still possibly to be in Trieste for the forseeable future, he probably has the least job security of any coach in Serie A and will be the odds on favorite to be the first coach fired once the new season begins.
Simply put he was and is Cagliaris most important player and his return to Cagliari is vital for the teams success. If you dont understand what I am saying call Ballardini as Pinillas injuries cost Ballardini his job.
If you remember he was loaned to us by Palermo last winter with the right to redeem for like 3.5mil. It was expected that this redemption would take place soon after the season and with a June deadline that has passed, he is I understand it, still Palermos property. We all know he wont play for Palermo again and Cellino and Palermo boss Zamperini seem to have an understanding that he will be officially redeemed in early July. While he could be sold for a profit by Cagliari later this summer, I will be surprised if he is not redeemed and soon a full Cagliari player. Absent some big name transfers coming in, we need to keep him in Cagliari.
Probably Cagliari’s most valuable player in terms of potential sale value, he certainly has shown flashes of talent in his one year with the team. Ballardini smartly played him consistently knowing his talent would return dividends at some point and it did. With the return of Ficcadenti, he played less leaving him wondering where he stands with the club. With the budget issues, he could see a lot of time partnering Pinilla which would be a nice partnership. While it is expected he will move on at some point, its too early to sell him so we should enjoy him for one more year even if we are getting small but under the radar bids for him from big clubs who want to sign and develop him off their bench before he becomes too expensive.
He wants to return to Brazil. He is homesick and played lethargically last year. He did emerge for a time under Ballardini and even Ficcadenti tried to get him going the last part of the year. Cagliari must decide whether to redeem him by June 30th and the price tag from his Uruguayan club Rentistas is 5 million. Cellino will likely pay it and hopes he can squeeze a good year out of him and sell him for a profit next year. Riberio prefers to return to Braazil and if he is not redeemed by Cagliari, Palmeiras in Brazil will be his likely team.
Say goodbye to him as he heads to the Mexican league to play for Pachuca on a loan with a cheap purchase option. Larrivey is simply a stud player for a second tier league. He can score in Mexico and Argentina but not in Italy where defenders actually mark players so they cant show their skills. He wont be missed
Remember him. He wants to come back to Cagliari after an injury plagued season. He might be nice third or fourth striker, but if either the club or him sees him as a starter, we are not very good. His decision to come back will likely depend on what the club can get for him but he is nothing more then an insurance policy at this point.
So who is this you ask? Well it could be a sleeper to watch for Cagliaris strikeforce after scoring 20 plus goals last year in Serie B for Juve Stabia. He did the same in the lower level with Foggia the year before. The question is can he take such goal scoring prowess to the level of Serie A. At 24, hes still young but we need to find out what he can do quickly so keep an eye on him.
Rumors seem to abound he is going back to Sampdoria, but he is a signed Cagliari player and an important part of our future. Absent something strange I am not aware of expect him to start in midfield for us come fall and he has plenty of room for growth. An ideal Cagliari player in terms of talent v cost
Cagliaris current favorite son has two years left on his contract. While he has regressed he is still a helpful player and will start for us next year when a real decision will have to be made. Still a difference making player but not who he was two years ago.
Dont get me wrong as I like him, but I dont see how Cellino can sell him for what I would see his value. He is not a 15 mil player and Cellino wants 18 mil. Any bid over 10 mil is a gift as I see it. Cellino misread the market and probably could have sold him to Juve last winter for 15mil but his play in the spring was uninspiring and his value dropped as Juve lost interest. Russian teams have bid but Cellino may have misread the market and could hold on to him to see if he gains his up and coming form back for either a transfer next winter. I do think he will be sold this summer but if the market has dropped on him as it seems to be, Cellino will keep him to save face and to get another shot at a big profit. His future is as uncertain as any Cagliari player. If he is ultimately sold, Marco Parolo from Cesena will be the rumored replacement and he will cost a lot less even if there is not much difference between the two players.
We stupidly sold half of him last summer to Fiorentina last summer and his absence cost us. While he did not play all that great in Florence, his value in the right system is obious. While we hoped to renew the loan deal, Fiorentina wants full ownership but refuses a 3.5 mil payment Cagliari desires for the remaining half. Cagliari has valued him corretly so since no payment is coming, we could be headed to envelopes where the high bid wins. Cagliari has him valued correctly and if they are willing to bid what they value him for, hes coming back to Cagliari. I am guessing Cellino is bluffing and they either renew the loan deal or he just wants Fiorentina to overpay for him, which they will. I expect him to be in Florence as Cagliari never would have sold half of him if they wanted him back. Not one of our better moves so no reason to think we will correct it.
He did not have a good year last year due to injury yet has still received a 12 mil bid from Spartak Moscow which Cellino has turned down. There have been higher bids for him if you believe Cellino. With him on the fringes of the Azzurri and still being young, I think we need a full healthy year from him before you sell. Milan wants him and they want to buy him back before his price goes up. While he could be sold, I think he comes back unless a club who Cellino has a good relationship with their chairman offers a ton. He could very easily be packaged with Nainggolan to Milan for 30 million combined. The big buck bids are not likely to come from Italy so it may be the player and Cagliari are going to wait it out. We have gotten more years from him then we thought so another year would be a huge bonus.
Michele Canini et al
Some long standing players are definitely not coming back. With Canini entering his last year of his contract, Cellino wants to avoid another Biondini so Canini will be gone this summer maybe to Genoa. His long time defense partner Agostini is not coming back either so say good bye to our vice captain.
Currently co owned with Juve, we cant seem to come to a loan deal with them for another year. While I dont think we want to spend much to buy him, if it comes down to envelopes, Juve will spend enough to keep him. Until he proves himself a bit more, unless Juve is selling cheap, we need to do another loan deal. Cellino is meeting with Juve over him soon and I would expect it to be resolved with him coming back to Cagliari.
This is the year the former Juve man should emerge and he will be given every chance to show he is the next Astori. He showed inexperience and flashes of talent last year and since we fully own him, we will enjoy the good and bad that he will bring next year. He is an exciting player to watch for the future and we will be seeing a lot more of him so get ready.
There are not many rumors leading him out of Cagliari but he has done well following the Marchetti debacle. He should return next year and get better.
While other players like Conti, Erriksen, Rui Sampaio, Perico, Pisano et al will have roles with the club, its the above players whose status has to be solidified.
Its still early but the issues with these players need to be watched because if they leave, team will have a lot of scrambling to do. That being said Cagliari always makes moves at the last minute so its not easy to read into anything you hear or see at this point during the summer.
Cagliari heads to Florence very fortunate not to need points to ensure their survival. With 42 points, Cagliari again limps home following a season of ups and downs that again saw early season potential go by the wayside as the result of various factors. Now we get to play our final game where the result matters little and good or bad, the issues will still be same heading into the offseason.
The Juve game was interesting as we basically laid an egg when we really could have made their Scudetto clinching result a little tougher. Check out the highlites…….
The first goal was offside and the second goal was just an unlucky own goal. Kind of sums it up but other then Pinilla and Agazzi, this team shows no sense or pride or urgency and does only what it needs to do to stay in Serie A.
Fiorentina mirrors Cagliari in that it had higher expectations but coaching and player volatility caused it to sweat survival as well. They will look to rebuild and solidify in the offseason and Cagliari fans will be interested to see if we can get Lazzarri to return as we still own half of him and he did not fit well in Florence.
Analyzing Cagliaris future will continue after this game no matter the result, but Pinilla’s future must be determined before we can create any realistic expectations going forward. The hope is we can keep him and with some added players combined with Ribeiro and Ibarbo being much better because of this years experience, we can have higher expectations. While Pinillas option to purcahse from Palermo will no doubt be picked up, the question is will Cellino flip him for profit rather then understand how important he to this club. We need to build around him rather then make money off him as we have a new stadium and restless fans that will see allowing him to leave is not good for the long term future of this club.
Yet another ending to a season of ultimate indifference but with all that has gone on, celebrating safety is not a bad thing. Enjoy the scrimmage in Florence and hopefully the Offside and I will be back next year.
Does anyone read about Italian Soccer on Sports Nation?
Are you excited for another year in Serie A Cagliari fans? With another stellar performance midweek against Genoa, combined with some other results, we have achieved mathmatical safety with 42 points. Hooray!! Seriously though it has to be torture for others besides myself to watch this team as it has real talent but a lack of cohesion and team unity which leads to inconsistent results. Atleast when players are getting subbed, they are not insulting the coaches dead family members so things could always be worse.
Not that I have anything against Genoa, but Cagliari really should have done more to put pressure on them to face their relegation fears but instead in an empty stadium they did what they had to do. There could not have been a more perfect opponent then Cagliari for a team like them that needed the win. Check out the highlites……
Bosko Jankovic saved this teams season but they clearly deserved to win as they created more chances. Lets move on.
With the team safe by the skin of their teeth, they get to face Juventus who holds a one point lead over ex Cagliari coach Allegris Milan side. If you think many players were indifferent last week, this week will be even worse as Cagliari has nothing to play for, wouldnt mind seeing their old friend Matri win a Scudetto, and there would be nothing better then seeing Allegri squirm as anything less then a Scudetto will cause Gallani to twist the knife into his almost fired ass. As soon as Juve gets that first goal the flood gates will open and they know they must not allow any hiccups like they did last week against a motivated Lecce. Anything less then two wins in these final two weeks will cause their Scudetto dreams to go down the wayside.
Juventus has been the best team in Serie A from beginning to end and deserve to finish first. However, the team is still prone to too many bouts of indifference against inferior opponents and if Cagliari had something to play for, this could be an interesting and enjoyable game as the first half match was when Cagliari could have easily won.
With the players not motivated and safety achieved, combined with Ficcadenti’s lack of popularity throughout the club, there is simply no reason to watch these last two games. The travel contingent to Trieste for our last home/road game of the year will be minimal and focus will now totally shift to the operational problems of the club and certain personel decisions that must be made. We wont see a mass resting of our top players but with few exceptions the players will be more concerned about making it through the rest of the season without getting injured then impressing the boss to solidify a spot.
While the game will be on TV for us to see in the USA and I likely will watch because I prefer Juve to win the Scudetto, focus must now shift on getting our home venue locked in for next year. We have been very lucky to survive this year despite talent that should indicate a higher finish. While Cellino thinks there are different rules for teams like Juve, he needs to get his own house in order, make nice with the city of Cagliari, and create an environment where the players are valued, the coach is respected, and only then will the wins come. Cellino is so bad right now in his mindset that there is fear that he will exercise his option on Pinilla and then immediately flip him to a bigger club for a profit. Sadly Cellinos mindset about being cheap in the summer and a spender in the winter will not only cost him money this year, but undermine the overall talent level of the club. Pinilla is a player we need but who can be sold for a nice profit so he may go yet Nainggolan is a player whose value has dropped since the winter, but a time when he was trying to improve the club, he failed to make a deal that needed to be made to add to Pinilla giving us a real chance to move into European contention. While the players did not help the situation during their spring performances, the firing of Ballardini ruined any progress the club thought it was making. At a time when everyone was blamed, Cellino should have rallied around everyone and even if it meant no better finish, he would have created the stability and maybe some team unity coming in to the summer. Instead its back to square one and the cheap Cellino appears in the summer and it could cost us big time next year.
For now, lets see if something strange happens in Trieste to throw the Scudetto race into flux. After the game with Genoa, I cant see it.
Yes it was another boring game in Trieste against Chievo, but Cagliari did what they needed to do. They methodically played out a game in which Chievo had no real interest in and got the needed point that should secure safety even if last weeks win did not already seal the deal. If anyone sees any highlites in this video, let me know…….
I still dont understand why Ibarbo, Ribeiro, and Pinilla are not on the field at the same time for 90 minutes as even with an aging Cossu, that is a nice group of offensive talent. With all the risks and assumptions made by Cellino this year, part of me thinks he has instructed the coach not to play Ibarbo regularly in order to keep his value down so he will not demand a transfer. While that might make sense for a team that is secure in where they are, it has been too up and down of a year to leave talent on the bench just to keep him from wanting to leave. Ibarbo will be back next year absent a ridiculous offer and he should be unleashed with Pinilla every week and hopefully with Ribeiro and maybe even Cossu on the field as well, the team could be dangerous especially if we can bring Lazzarri back as he would be perfect in a midfield with Cossu and Ribeiro.
For now though we have to look at the remaining games to make sure we are safe. After Genoa and Lecce just gave it up in games they could have won, they have made Cagliaris worries that much less by failing to get points in games that they had to see as must wins to stay up.
With Lecce at 35 points, in the last relegation spot, and 7 behind Cagliari, with a midweek clash against Juve who needs to win to take the Scudetto, Lecce is not winning this game on any analysis. This would leave their max result as 41 assuming they can even beat Udinese. Sorry Lecce but you are not passing us although you should be applauded for your effort to stay up. If Lecce can beat Juve and all the other games and teams fall in a perfect way, then and only then can Cagliari be relegated. The Chievo point made things mathmatically that much easier.
What can you say about Genoa? They have failed to win in something like 14 straight games yet still are one above Lecce and sadly have to be considered the favorite to stay up despite the loss to Bologna.
Genoa might have gotten lucky in that this game with Cagliari has been moved to Brescia away from fans who have been on them for so long that they have cracked under the pressure. I dont see how they can win another game in that stadium and will be better off at a neutral site where the empty stadium will allow them to play with tranquility. Add Cagliari’s likely indifference and the expected Juve/Lecce result, if Genoa cant see how this game all but makes them safe, they deserve to be relegated if Cagliari can beat them.
While any Cagliari fan has to be pleased that we have gotten 4 points from Catania/Cheivo, there is still the underlying frustration that comes with being a fan of this team. While dealing with the relegation issues has kept my interest in the team peaked a bit more then it would otherwise. There is no reason for this team not to be top 8 and while there is really a small difference between 8th and say 16th, the mindset of the fans would be so much better if we were looking up at Roma doing some math rather then looking down at Lecce doing the same calculations.
While I have clearly spelled out my opinions on who should stay and go in the offseason, next question is who will be available via transfer that we can honestly look at a possibility to come in. Will Cellino have more money or will be be tight and look for transfers on the cheap?
For now, I think the best course of business would be to bring Lazzari back and see if we can purchase Acquafresca out right for a cheap price to be there if Pinilla and Ibarbo are hurt or not getting it done. Say goodbye to Nene and Larrivey and have Acquafresca and El Kabir be some enthusiastic youth ready to start or come in as subs and it could be a very exciting strikeforce.
Do we need another midfielder? If so, who could we get? Our big purchase needs to be a star defender to replace Agostini and add him to Astori, Canini(if he stays), and Ariaudo, and that could be a good workable lineup.
What do you couple of readers think?
I say that jokingly but even after 5 years of doing this blog and watching the Offside die out, I am glad there are some who still check this place out.
Does it get any more exciting then back to back home/road games when you are fighting for your Serie A life? If you are in Cagliari the answer may not be so obvious but while we are still in celebration mode after the MUST win home/road game that was Catania, there is still likely a little work to do and what better game then to finalize our safety against a Chievo team that has nothing to play for.
Did I say how important that win was versus Catania? The win not only helped point wise but it gave us another taste of the talent that is on this team and how a little tweeking with the roster, a stable manager, and maybe even a schedule that allows our home games to be in Cagliari next year, could lead to a real push for European football. While Ibarbo Pinilla and Ribeiro showed they are the key figures of the team, I still believe that Catanias over achieving streaks do not fit well with Cagliari on the other side. Despite their performance this year, that does does not strike me as a threat and we handle them like we should. Why we cant do the same with teams like Siena and this weeks opponent Chievo, I dont know, but this is the week to get atleast one point to hopefully finalize safety.
While it would be preferable to play in Cagliari, playing in a stadium that is empty is something we are used to and the fans are really not a factor in our home games and the players seem to want to please the fans that have made the trip so far away to Trieste. For all the joking about us unable to play in our own city, the logistics of Trieste have made these games as winnable as they would be if they were in Cagliari. With a small crowd and an apathetic Chievo I cant see any worse then a draw.
While the final push for safety is not a time to evaluate players, it is still obvious who has a place hear next year and who seems to be playing out the string. While Ibarbo and Ribeiro along with Pinilla continue to increase their value, players like Nainggolan and Nene have seen their value drop. While many thought this year would be more of a transition to younger players, that has not taken place and it may be next year before we see the final shift to players like Ariaudo and Ekdal with Conti and Agostini being pushed aside. For now their leadership is helping Cagliari with that final push.
As important as this game is, I would make a strong suggestion for fans to focus on Genoa who play Bologna and Leece who hosts Parma. Bologna and Parma are in similar situations in that they have achieved safety and have nothing to play for. While they like the idea they have nothing to lose and may play with more confidence making the road to safety even harder for Genoa and Bologna, I think it will be the opposite and it will be Genoa and Lecce who win and keep the relegation race tight. While Genoa is on the road, surely they let this streak go on any longer and will find some confidence from last weeks game with Milan. Lecce will get back on track even if it will be road game with Parma who has met their objective and will reward Donadoni with a new deal. This weekends matchups show just how important that win was over Catania. I think Cagliari will lose their last three games so we need a point this week and a win resolves all stress.
Speaking of coaches, Ficcadenti is saying all the right things but he is a man without a future. He knows he is gone but it goes to his professionalism to be sacked after starting out ok and then recalled only to be put under more scrutiny as the team slipped down the standings following his return which only came because our best player got injured. He wont be fired becuase of his coaching ability but instead his lack of ability to manage relationships which in a way is sad because he has been given the reigns of the team twice where it was almost a no win situation for him. The ability to relate to players and a crazy manager will keep a coach employed here even if the results are mediocre. We will be looking for the replacement this summer hopefully with our Serie A status secured. Enjoy the Saturday football in Trieste.
Rumor has it that Cagliari chairman Cellino decided to play our remaining home games outside the city for fear that the Cagliari ultras were going to cause a problem similar to what we saw in Genoa on Sunday when a group of Genoa ultras caused the game with Siena to be stopped early in the second half when their team, already in freefall, goes down 4-0 to Siena, one of the smallest and worst teams in Serie A, in a game they needed at home to win to make staying in Serie A a little easier. Not only were they losing, but they were getting destroyed and whether the actions were planned once it became clear the team was going to lose or if the performance was so bad that the plan was suddenly organized by just a few is unclear, but it happened and it seems far too many are saying this was a disgrace. I disagree as it was the perfect protest with the perfect result, all without any real violence and no arrests. Dont think for a moment that there are not a group of Cagliari Ultras that want to make it clear they are not satisfied with another year of late season apathy where we struggle to survive.
While the focus was on what happened in Genoa, Cagliari was trying to play its way in to the drop zone with a miserable performance away to Parma. Check out these highlites……
This was a typical Cagliari loss. Momentary lapses on defense with some bad breaks and no offensive fluidity. Add the loss of Agazzi and it could not have been a worse result even it seems like Cagliari was the more talented team. With the focus on Genoa, Cagliaris crisis slides under the radar and at 38 points, with Lecce getting a spirited draw against top team Lazio, does anyone think that Genoa or Cagliari wont be one of the teams who goes down. Add the fact Cagliari gets to make up a home game on the road against a confident yet uncertain Catania. There is a real recipe for disaster for this game.
For all the talk about the frustrated fans, Cellinos inability to save his relationships causing hardship on his team, Catania is a team I would want to face when I need three points especially when they are not facing pressure to win. I like them as a team and root for them but I still cant believe they are still in Serie A. They are like Siena’s big brother but they should be in a relegation battle and still dont have Cagliaris talent. All you can do is put the talent on the field and let them play. Where Ficcadenti gets so much criticism is his inability to put the talent we have in a place to do their best. He still cant seem to get Ibarbo on the fields as more then a sub. Today he comes on and solidifies a win to support good performances by the whole team including Pinilla and Ribeiro. Check out the highlites of our 3-0 win…….
This was the must win game and the players stepped up. Catania playing like you expect them to certainly helps. While I do not think Ficcadenti starts next year as coach even if the team stays up, the coach who can figure out how to get Pinilla, Riberio, and Ibarbo on the field at the same time from the opening kick off will last as this threesome offers different talent and can be dangerous. It may be we add another striker and let Ibarbo and Ribeiro dominate midfield. I would love to see if we can get Acquafresca back and pair him with Pinilla and put Ibarbo and Ribeiro on opposite wings on the midfield. While Acquafresca is like a Giorgio Chinaglia in that he cant do much else but score, if he has great teammates around him, he can score a lot as he is a finisher. Ibarbo is turning into that type of player and Pinilla certainly is, but the potential is huge if we can get the players in the right spots. Cagliari fans are so frustrated because these results are so inconsistent and we need to get these players, most of which we have, to be in the right spots and we are a top seven team. With winning comes excitement and the players are not going to be enthusiastic until they are all put in the right spots. Today showed glimpses of that and these three points were huge.
Dont assume we are now safe on 41 points but with Genoa likely to lose to Milan and Lecce facing a tough Napoli, if they both lose then we are all but there. We will likely need to get one more point which wont be easy in the remaining four, but things could play themselves out quickly. The good thing about getting Catania without any other known results really gave us an edge and now it is Genoa and Lecce facing real pressure. Genoa is a step away from total implosion but they may gave Milan a better game then you expect. Lecce certainly cant keep this up forever and they have no room for error if they are going to get Cagliari into a real relegation fight.
Its been an exciting few days. Cagliari is a more settled place, and while you dont want to see Ultras be the focus of any game in Italy, there was something about that whole sequence that reminds us why we love Serie A and soccer in Italy more then any other place. The culture puts soccer above almost everything and it is still the only place where fans are really valued by even the players. Could you imagine a bunch of protests by fans of an NFL or NBA team in the USA. While most fans of these teams are social climbing bandwagoner types who buy jerseys after a Super Bowl win and jump off the bandwagon when they have a bad year, those true fans who would protest the players performance and ask for a jersey would likely see players come into the stands and beat them up. As much as the world has turned into an Eff You culture, there are still small pockets in Italy where fans truly have value to everyone in the game and Cagliari is one of those places as is Genoa.
While I would not be overly upset to see Genoa relegated, they have some of the best fans in Serie A and they did what they had to do this weekend all without the violence of England and the apathy of Spain. Lets see how their team responds while Cagliari tries to find the one final point in four games that likely makes them safe. With the teams we are playing, its not going to be so easy but enjoy the win over Catania as it keeps us where we need to be…safe.
After a postponement of last weekends home/road game with Catania, we hit the road/road to play Parma in an edgy game with many subplots. Both teams are on 38 points, by no means safe, and with a real chance to put the other in a much more stressful position then they are in now.
Parma is now coached by ex Cagliari boss Roberto Donadoni. After being let go last summer by Cagliari, before a game was even played, he was a midseason replacement for Parma who needed something to keep them above the relegation zone. While he has not been an overwhelming success, he has put them in a position to survive which is all anyone can ask. While he liked Cagliari and the players, like many ex Cagliari coaches, he left too early with a sour taste in his mouth and a lot of hate for Cellino. You can bet Donadoni would love to see Cagliari go down.
Other being a little more rested, Cagliari still has the same plots as last week as they will play a game outside Sardinia knowing they need to get 3-4 points in these next 6 games to achieve safety. There is still strife between Cellino and the local government as he tries to angle for a new stadium while severely underestimating the problem of playing your last 8 games outside Sardinia. Despite some talk of Europe, the goal has been safety and Cellinos antics have only made it tougher.
As for the players, Dessena is still missing but he is about it. If Pinilla plays we have a chance and we have done well against Parma at home and on the road in recent years. He should partner Thiago Ribeiro up top but Ficcadenti has yet to show he has learned anything about putting the players in the right spot to create goals. He really has not done a better job then Ballardini but neither coach seems to have the majority of the dressing room on his side. Even if Cagliari survives, expect him to get fired this summer.
Parma has won a couple of nice games against Lazio and Novara to put pressure on teams like Fiorentina and Genoa who saw Parma as the team Lecce might catch. Now they are essentially a home win against Cagliari from safety. Delaying the Palermo game to play Cagliari at home will likely give them some confidence and the odds are probably in their favor for a win. The weak schedule would make relegation a shock for their fans. They are lead by Giovinco who with Lucarreli and Flocarri will have all the players at the top of their game as this is a huge opportunity for them in so many ways.
Logic says this will be an exciting draw as both teams feel like they can win but for different reasons. We are more talented but they are better organized, at home, and seem to be playing lately with the passion we lack. That being said, Pinilla can win this game single handedly with his play so watch him.
With a Saturday evening start locally, we get to put the pressure on our relegation rivals or create added pressure ourselves by losing and then watching Sundays games to see who passes us. There are still a lot of scenarios for many teams as it relates to relegation, but both of these teams will feel this is a golden opportunity to take away most of the stress that comes with trying to stay safe.
Enjoy the game and check us out on Twitter @cagliarioffside and leave some comments about the team or suggestions on how to get Cagliari fans more involved in giving opinions about what needs to be done to get this club moving forward.
It is that time of year Cagliari fans where we must analyze the relegation battle because not only are we totally in it, we again seem to be limping home praying we have done enough to remain in Serie A for yet another year.
If you watched yesterday’s debacle in Bologna, you remember why Ficcadenti was fired and why Mauricio Pinilla is Serie A’s most valuable player. Ficcadenti was let go after the decent start that comes with a new coach which turned into a lethargic offense where each week Cagliari’s best hope was a 0-0 draw. We had the likes of a pre injury Nene, a lost Thiago Ribeiro, a talented but disappear when goals matter Larrivey, an injured El Kabir, and a still unwrapped Ibarbo to lead the offense. So much potential yet so few goals. Ficcadenti was rightly fired and Ballardini brought in with the latest Cagliari hero, Mauricio Pinilla, who gave the offense hope. A dramatic change in results made the change seem like another brilliant move by Cellino. Pinillas timely goals and inspiration had us moving up the table with an easy part of the schedule coming. Then Pinilla gets hurt and he misses a couple games and Ballardinis tenure blows up as quickly as it started. Now we should never be so dependant on the likes of one player to the point we are firing our coaches because we cant score, but that is what we were pre Pinilla and have become with him missing. Without Pinilla, this is a Serie B level team. We simply lack players like Alessandro Diamanti who scored the goal for Bologna…
Like Pinilla, his presence uplifts his team and he won the game for them on so many levels yesterday.
While we should not lose to teams like Bologna, Lecce, and Siena, with or without Pinilla, something does not seem to work for this team without him. His arrival has kept us afloat but there is still work to be done and we head home to face Catania where we will need Pinilla to score if we are to win. He will return after missing the Bologna game through suspension. If you remember the first game with Catania, it was Ibarbo who scored a brilliant goal and announced his arrival. He is just ready to get going yet still seems to be on the bench more then he should be. Remember this….
If Ficcadenti still has a brain, he puts a strikeforce of Pinilla and Ibarbo up front with Thiago Ribeiro in midfield with Cossu, Nainggolan and Ekdal. I think Conti should be in for his leadership, but his pace is gone and I am always fearful of him committing some bad fouls to make up for lack of pace and then getting ejected. The back line is fine but Ariaudo should be in for Agostini. Agazzi has made some brilliant saves lately but without the offense, the momentary lapses that seem to happen in defense are costing us points.
Lets look at the relegation battle with 6 weeks to go as we are by no means safe. There are 6 teams for one relegation spot and the current point level is as follows:
Lets look at each team and their issues regarding relegation as a case can be made for each team to be relegated. I assume 42 points gets a team safe and it may be 41 that does it.
One win in their final game should lock their safety. This team is nameless and has very little talent yet they have done just enough this year. With a schedule of Bologna(H), Genoa(A), Milan(H), Lazio(A), Parma(H) and Napoli(A), they have a tough road. If they dont dont beat Bologna this weekend, they face a desperate Genoa side on the road and their only other realistic win left is Parma at Home. Surely they beat Bologna or Parma at home and secure another year of Serie A.
Cagliari 38 points
They have to be the most talented team still fighting for safety but they are the most unorganized, least passionate team in Serie A and certainly amongst this group. Take Pinilla off this team and I would bet they go down as they cannot score without his presence. With games left with Catania(H), Parma(A), Chievo(H), Genoa(A), Juve(H), and Fiorentina(A), there are a lot of tricky matches left and they could lose them all even if these teams minus Juve are some of Serie As worst. You do not want to face teams fighting for safety this time of year and the most winnable game is this weekend at home against Catania. Lose this weekend and the run coming in combined with the added pressure might be too much for Cagliari to get to 40 points.
Donadoni has done a good job to keep this club from dropping off the map and Giovinco does for them what Pinilla does for us. They have a very favorable schedule in they play Palermo(A), Cagliari(H), Lecce(A), Inter(H), Siena(A), and Bologna(H). Minus Lecce, these opponents will likely have very little to play for the weeks these games pop up on the schedule and with no games against the top teams coming in, Parma fans will have to be shocked if they cant scrape 4 points needed to survive. The key game will be the home match against Cagliari next weekend.
Fiorentina 37 points
A very disappointing year and with some occasional heroics they have stayed just above water. With games against Roma(A), Inter(H), Atalanta(A), Novara(H), Lecce(A), and Cagliari at(H), they mirror Cagliari with their schedule problems and this team could very easily get relegated. Despite their recent performance against Milan, I can see them getting no points the next 3 weeks and they could be in the relegation spot with three weeks left needing to beat Novara at home to set up a big match with Cagliari the final week. I think at this point they would be happy that safety would be achieved if they beat Cagliari the final week. Could be in real trouble.
Genoa 36 points
Another team whose talent expected them to fight for Europe but instead they have upset fans, scared players, and a streak of no wins that has continued to inspire Lecce and they are likely in total denial that they could finish 18th. My good friend Davide Biondini couldnt wait to get out of Cagliari, but he is now stagnate for a team that could be back in Serie B next year. I never understand players who make lateral moves after quitting on fans who love them unless they realize that their talent is on the decline and they want to hide elsewhere to prevent any more negativity. With a schedule that includes Milan(A), Siena(H), Bologna(A), Cagliari(H), Udinese(A), and Palermo(H), they have the most immediate pressure of any team still fighting to be safe. The pressure will amp up after this weeks expected loss to Milan and probably the must win of the season for them will come the following week at home against Siena who they will be fans of when they host Bologna this weekend. They will likely need points against Cagliari and it could very easily come down to a tricky match with Palermo the final week to be safe. This team should not be where they are but they have dug themselves such a hole with their recent performances that they may not be able to fix it and the pressure could suck them down to Serie B by default.
You still have to think their talent and three very winnable games following Milan should get them safe.
Lecce 34 points
The only reason we are even discussing relegation for any of the above teams is the brilliant leadership of Serse Cosmi and the never give up style of players who talent wise are clearly bottom three. Lecce have turned around a dreadful season and have pulled to within 2 points of suicidal Genoa. Totally unexpected but they are winning games against teams whose talent level is not that much better. Cagliari could take a lesson from these guys. That being said, they probably have the toughest schedule coming in with Napoli(H), Lazio(A), Parma(H), Juve(A), Fiorentina(H), and Chievo(A). They are praying that they do enough or results fall in a way that the game with Fiorentina in week 37 means something. It may be that even a win there will not make their final road match mean anything but Im guessing they will be watching Fiorentina’s matches as much as anyone. Still favorites to go down.
Each of these six teams has real concerns but with each passing week, the favorite may change.
Safety should be achieved by the following teams in this order:
This leave Lecce going down but only because of the brutal schedule in the 6 games remaining.
This is yet another frustrating year for Cagliari fans and it has been one roller coaster the whole season. The only positivity that can be taken as I see it is if we stay safe, get Pinilla locked in to return next year, bring back Ribeiro and Ibarbo just so we can say we arent giving up on them. Beyond that, other then Astori and Agazzi, every player can be moved(including Cossu) and the team is not going to be worse. We need a rebuild with a foundation of Pinilla, Agazzi, and Astori and the profits from the sale of others to bring other difference makers that can help get Ribeiro, Ibarbo and the other youngsters we may keep to take that next step. Ficcadenti needs to be gone as he is not the coach for this team.
How do you think the relegation battle shakes out these final 6 weeks? We better not even think about losing to Catania this weekend and I expect a big win with maybe 2-3 goals from Pinilla.
After Saturdays exciting but disappointing draw with Inter, Cagliari’s dream of a 6th place finish and a european place is pretty much gone. While the chances were slim to achieve such a final finish before the game with Inter, after the gain in confidence from the Atalanta win, there was still something to play for. After the draw with Inter, Cagliari sits in 12th place with 38 points, seven points above the drop zone, with the focus being able to finish safe and hopefully as strong as possible.
If you saw the Inter game, Cagliari showed again that if Pinilla is on the field, the offense is on another level. In addition to his own scoring, he makes the players around him better and inspires them to be confident in their own ability. While his post goal celebration cost him a yellow card and an ultimate dismissal, its hard to criticize his enthusiasm and he seems to clearly want to involve the fans, especially a group that traveled 600 miles to support the team. Once he was dismissed, Inter got the equalizer and was frustrated they didnt get another goal with all the time left with the man advantage. Check out the highlites……..
Even if the results sometimes dont go your way, things are so much better when the team is exciting to watch and there is a real goal scoring threat on the field. The success of Cagliari’s offseason will be determined by their ability to get Pinilla to return. Hopefully he understands he needs to build on his sucess which will eventually lead to a move to a bigger close. Lets just hope that does not come until summer 2013 at the soonest.
Now that the goal is to earn safety, the team has a little work to do and it starts with a midweek game against a similarly situated club in Bologna. They are one point behind us and have overcome a bad start with a nice run to be followed by some disappointing results which has left them where many expected they would finish which is safe but just above the relegation group. Like Cagliari they probably expected to finish higher but will be satisfied with another year in Serie A. They expect a home game with us to push them to the 40 point level. With DiVaio, Ramires, and the still untapped potential of Acquafresca, this team has some talent. It lacks Serie A quality depth so too many mistakes are made which cause points to be dropped.
Cagliari despite all its ups and downs this year, has to feel fairly stable on the field. They played well against Inter who still has a lot of talent even if they missed much of it on Saturday. Cagliari really should be in a higher place and it would be interesting to see what they could do with this same group for a whole year. If we can get Lazzarri back this will be an even better team next year and part of me hopes Acquafresca’s lack of time in Bologna will drive his price down and he can be brought back at a bargain price. He would be an ideal second striker for Pinilla at a reasonable cost and could allow Thiago Ribeiro to move more into a midfield role to replace Nainggolan who will likely leave this summer.
With Lecce the key team to watch, there is still time for them to escape the relegation zone. Teams like Genoa and Parma are under real stress but they get the two relegation certainties this weekend so they will have to get wins and if Bologna beats Cagliari and Lecce can beat Catania, there will be some real pressure. Ultimately its likely Lecce goes down, but we still have to watch the games and get 3-4 points to be sure. This should be able to be done in 6 matches but with us, you never know. This year really seems like a repeat of last year and ultimately Cellino will have to dig deeper into the pocketbook to get this team to the next level. We have become a team that seems to just edge out the relegation group and while this is better then being a yo yo type club, the fans want more.
While Cagliari and Cellino try to work out the stadium issue, one has to wonder how a new stadium is going to make sense when we cant even fill the Sant Elia. I would rather have a small stadium full then a big stadium where it seems like it is empty because of its size. Until the fans can show they can fill up the Sant Elia, why are we looking at investing in another stadium. If sponsorships etc make money great, but if it is empty, I am not sure how it makes sense.
There are still lots of questions to be answered but the team most focus on earning its safety so we can look toward the future. With Pinilla expected to miss this game because of suspension, I dont expect much on this road game as teams below us seem to improve their play once they realize their safety is an issue. Bologna will likely step up and do what they need to do while we regroup and look forward to the next match.