Cagliari vs Palermo, preview: An island battle for six points

Tullio M. Puglia

Both relegation battling sides managed a draw last weekend, but Palermo looked far more convincing. Will the visitors manage to find a win against Cagliari?

A relegation six-pointer that just might be fun? That's not as silly as an idea as it may sound. Just a couple weeks ago, the match between Cagliari and Palermo had the potential to showcase a mutual meltdown. Palermo have been in the relegation zone, or at its very precipice, since the start of the season. Cagliari were down at the bottom for the first two months, shot up for a few weeks, and are now just two points above the drop.

But could a turn around finally be on the horizon? Palermo, who went five rounds before picking up their first win in week six, managed a 2-2 draw against Lazio last week, the second-best team in the league. The rosanero struck twice in two minutes, with Egidio Arévalo and Paulo Dybala providing the goals.

This Palermo experienced a serious reshuffle from two weeks prior, when they lost 3-0 to Napoli. At the San Paolo, Gian Piero Gasperini fielded a 3-5-2, with Franco Brienza and Igor Budan leading the "attack." At home to Lazio, it was a 3-4-1-2, with Josip Ilicic playing behind Fabrizio Miccoli and Dybala. A much more lively combination, and one Gasperini should be brave enough to field on the road as well.

As for the home side, they finished off 2012 in rather pathetic style, losing 4-1 to Parma and 3-1 to Juventus. When calcio resumed, it was a 2-1 loss to Lazio. But then the Sardinians managed a 2-1 victory over Genoa and a 1-1 away draw with Atalanta. Is this a sign they'll be able to lift themselves once again?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Cagliari managed a comeback against Genoa, but that was more the result of the rossoblu failings in defense than the ability of Cagliari to get their shots on target. Last week, against Atalanta, the visitors should have won, but they couldn't even score once. The opening goal was an own goal from Michele Canini. Luigi Giorgi was dismissed with 11 minutes to go, but despite a fine chance falling to Daniele Conti, Cagliari still couldn't get the three points.

Cagliari Injuries and Suspensions

Lorenzo Ariaudo, Nene (injured)

Palermo Injuries and Suspensions

Santiago Garcia (suspended)

Match Date / Time: Sunday, January 27 at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Venue: Stadio IS Arenas, Quartu Sant'Elena

TV: Sky Calcio 4. Also Al Jazeera Sports +8 ... and nowhere else.

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