Cagliari vs Lazio, Preview: Sardinians stand in the way of Lazio's European quest

Paolo Bruno

Lazio have their sights set on a top five finish and a place in next season’s Europa League, but must get by Cagliari and hope other results go their way.

The Biancocelesti enter the final round of games trailing Udinese by two points. If the Zebrette fail to beat Inter Milan at the San Siro, then Lazio have a chance of overhauling their rivals for the first time in three seasons.

Should Lazio and Udinese finish level on points, then, due to having an equal head-to-head record, it will come down to goal difference. Vladimir Petkovic's side also have next weekend's Coppa Italia final against AS Roma as a second possible route into Europe. The Eagles have rediscovered their early season form at the right time and come into this game looking for a fourth straight victory.

Cagliari have exceeded all expectations this season and could secure a top ten finish if they pick up a victory and Parma lose at Palermo. Even if his side lose, Ivo Pulga will still have beaten last season's 15th place finish.

A 1-1 draw at Juventus last weekend proved that the Sardinians aren't pushovers, although they have lost their last two consecutive 'home' games. The problems with Cagliari's IS Arenas stadium have been well documented throughout the season and this game will also be played away from Sardinia in Trieste.

In-demand Davide Astori and Radja Nainggolan could well make their final appearances for the Rossoblu, while Italian pair Michael Agazzi and Marco Sau celebrated their maiden national team call-ups after being named in Cesare Prandelli's pre-Confederations Cup squad in midweek.

The home side will be without injured trio Francesco Pisano, Lorenzo Ariaudo and Matias Cabrera. Meanwhile, Lazio have omitted Stefan Radu (fractured nose) and Hernanes (muscle injury) from their travelling party.

Giuseppe Biava, Michael Ciani, Ogenyi Onazi, Cristian Ledesma and Sergio Floccari have all been included in the visiting squad despite carrying knocks.

Lazio came from behind to defeat the Sardinians 2-1 in Rome back in January and eased to a 3-0 victory in this fixture last season.

Cagliari injuries and suspensions

Out: Francesco Pisano, Lorenzo Ariaudo, Matias Cabrera (injured)

Lazio injuries and suspensions

Out: Stefan Radu, Hernanes (injured)

Match Date/Time: Sunday 19th May 2013 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Nereo Rocco, Trieste, Italy

TV: Premium Calcio, Sky Calcio 5 (Italy)

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