It should have been a fine opportunity for Catania on Sunday: at home to Cagliari, a side safe from the drop but not challenging for Europe. Fiorentina and Milan played out a draw earlier, and Lazio and AS Roma would meet on Monday. This could have been their chance to prove they were still in contention for the last Europa League position.
Instead, the elefanti found themselves frustrated by the visitors, who came to Sicily intent on reaching an unbeaten run of four games. Catania actually managed to get in quite a few shots, but the majority of those were speculative, sent in from outside the area and not even coming close to reaching their target. The first shot on goal, from either side, came in the 37th minute, when Mariano Izco got on the end of a ball from Giovanni Marchese to force a save from Michael Agazzi.
Cagliari wasted a great chance shortly thereafter, when Victor Ibarbo cut back and Matias Cabrera, on for the injured Francesco Pisano, came charging forward. The Uruguayan didn't even come close, however. And thus ended the half, with the Sardinians getting just three shots in 45 minutes.
After the break, the visitors looked like they might attempt to attack, but unfortunately, they weren't very committed to that plan. Mariano Andujar found himself caught out by Radja Nainggolan, scrambling to get back into position, but the Cagliari man could only place his shot wide.
In fact, Cagliari contrived to put none of their (admittedly few) shots on target. They were more intent on making sure Catania couldn't even find themselves near the goal. It didn't help that the elefanti were without Pablo Barrientos, who is normally able to give the opposition the slip and link up well with Alejandro Gomez. Missing deadball specialist Francesco Lodi was also a blow, and it was clear that Rolando Maran had few ways to cope without two of his best players.
And so Catania could pick up just a point, which only serves to bring them within a point of seventh placed Roma -- and that's presuming the giallorossi can't pick up any points in the derby. If the Elephants want European play, they better start hoping Italy improves its coefficient. With just five teams heading to Europe, it just isn't going to happen.
Catania: Mariano Andujar, Giovanni Marchese, Nicolás Spolli, Giuseppe Bellusci, Pablo Álvarez, Marco Biagianti (Amidu Salifu 82), Mariano Izco, Alejandro Gómez, Lucas Castro, Keko (Adrián Ricchiuti 83), Gonzalo Bergessio
Cagliari: Michael Agazzi, Danilo Avelar, Davide Astori, Luca Rossettini, Francesco Pisano (Matias Cabrera 32), Radja Nainggolan, Daniele Conti, Daniele Dessena, Victor Ibarbo, Mauricio Pinilla, Marco Sau