Nainggolan returns to San Siro for Inter cup tie
The Coppa Italia may not be a competition of the highest priority for Antonio Conte, however, hosting a strong Serie A side in Cagliari who they could see a league competitor if they fall away from the title race is an exciting proposition. Cagliari have left the San Siro empty handed and goalless in their last two clashes with Inter at the historic ground and considering their current form will need a rallying cry to compete in this encounter. The winner of this tie reaches the quarter final stage where they will take on either Atalanta or Fiorentina.
The 31-year-old Belgian powerhouse is only on loan in Southern Italy for the visitors however is permitted to play against his parent club just as he did earlier in the season. An experienced midfielder who has the ability to dictate play against top sides may be able to show his best form in a big matchup like this. Inter however are likely to deploy three central midfielders in their usual 3-5-2 formation, which is a good way to combat Nainggolan’s attacking threat.
In his sixth campaign with the club, Brazilian attacker Joao Pedro is in the form of his life, on target 11 times and with one assist in 19 appearances is an outstanding contribution. He enjoyed a purple patch netting six goals in five outings towards the conclusion of 2019 and bolstered Cagliari’s European qualification bid.
Rolando Maran’s men have been the surprise package of Serie A having struggled to find the right combinations in recent years leading to battles against relegation. Much improved since the acquisition of Nainggolan the Red and Blues went from strength to strength earlier in the season until the poor run, they are enduring.
Still in sixth place but rock bottom of the form table having only taken one point from a possible 15 and conceding 12 along the way, despite the league being the main priority, Inter Milan will be firm favourites to progress to the last eight.
Inter’s deadly duo
Conte’s devastating front two have clicked in alarmingly quick time after summer addition Romelu Lukaku’s transfer from Manchester United to partner Lautaro Martinez up front. They have scored 24 league goals so far between them which is exactly 60% of the team’s total, helping them to the joint owners of the best goal difference in the division, alongside Lazio on plus 24.
Cagliari will perform better than recent weeks and throw everything at Inter, but Serie A’s best defence will be equal to it and will march on in the Coppa Italia.