Catania vs Cagliari, preview: Elephants cling to the slimmest thread of hope

Enrico Locci

The Elefanti are currently five points out of the Europa League spots, but a win over Cagliari could keep the dream alive for Catania. However, the in-form Sardinians won't be willing to give up the points quietly.

Catania are still in eighth place, surprising many people who apparently paid no attention to the elefanti last season. They retained the core of their squad and added the accuracy of Francesco Lodi, so even the loss of manager Vincenzo Montella didn't do too much to dampen their quality. Rolando Maran has worked with the strength of his players, keeping the same basic approach to matches -- so really, their European run shouldn't have come as a surprise.

But Catania still have their weaknesses. The defense is apt to implode at times, as seen last week when they threw away a lead against Lazio. Nicola Legrottaglie scored against his own side and, minutes later, Catania gave away a penalty which was duly converted. Such flaws mean it's awfully unlikely the Elephants will sneak into that last Europa League spot. They're five back of fifth and have Fiorentina, Inter Milan, Lazio, and AS Roma to contend with.

Most importantly, they have to overcome Cagliari. Catania are still quality at home, having lost just three times, but the Sardinians have momentum on their side. Despite all the drama surrounding their stadium, Ivo Pugla and his team have managed to keep their feet on the ground. Cagliari have lost just twice in the calendar year, are undefeated in their last three and have climbed up to 11th place.

Cagliari are safe and they're not challenging for Europe, but don't expect them to hand all three points to Catania. They'll be flying high after last week's 2-1 victory (both goals scored by Mauricio Pinilla) over the Viola, during which they made the Champions League contenders question their very existence. It seems Cagliari really are building for the future, and they're going to be using this season's final games to continue that construction.

Catania Injuries and Suspensions

Francesco Lodi (injured)

Catania's spot-kick specialist suffered an injury in training this week, forcing him to undergo surgery on his hand.

Cagliari Injuries and Suspensions

None known.

Match Date / Time: Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Angelo Massimino, Catania

TV: Sky Calcio 1, beIN Sport en Español

With the majority of Catania's starters hailing from Argentina, putting it on beIN Sport en Español is understandable, but you know there's not many matches to choose from when Catania - Cagliari makes it to Sky Calcio 1.

Cow:

Kirstenislazy_medium

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.