Following their strong showing last season, fears were present that Cagliari's squad would be picked of its key players; however, Ivo Pulga has done a remarkable job of keeping the group together. The main problem for Cagliari is the lack of a home stadium. This season they're being forced to play 'home' matches in Trieste, about as far away from Cagliari as you can get without leaving Italy's borders, until at least October, when they hope to return to Sardinia and the temporary Stadio Is Arenas.
Pre-season, Cagliari were widely tipped to go down or at least be right amongst the relegation battle come the end of the season. Early on it looked as if those fears would be realised, the Isolani not winning until the seventh match of the campaign. Inconsistent form followed but after the winter break, they put together a sterling run, going nearly two months without losing and easily securing their place in mid-table, even troubling the top half at one point before settling into 11th, 15 whole points clear of relegation.
Thiago Ribeiro: The only notable departure is that of the bustling Brazilian, back to Santos in his homeland. A hard worker on and off the ball, he provided an effective foil to whoever he was tasked with playing with, be it Victor Ibarbo, Mauricio Pinilla or Marco Sau. Also an effective impact substitute, his energy may be missed by the Rossoblu.
Danilo Avelar: Following a successful loan spell from Ukraine's Karpaty Lviv, Cagliari have made the Brazilian left back's transfer permanent.
Marios Ikonomou: Young Greek centre-back brought in from PAS Giannina. Helped the Greek club to 5th place in the Superleague last season, their best ever position, and is a Greek under-21 international.
Keep An Eye On
Marco Sau: After spending much of his career to date journeying round Serie B and Lega Pro in a variety of loan spells, Sau finally got his chance with the Cagliari first team and took it with both hands. His 11 goals last season made him the club's top scorer ahead of the more illustrious Mauricio Pinilla and Victor Ibarbo and was rewarded for his form with an Azzurri debut in their pre-Confederations Cup friendly against San Marino. Although he didn't make the squad for the tournament, he will be keen to build on last season to give himself the best possible chance of making the World Cup, now that he knows Cesare Prandelli has his eye on him.
It is difficult to predict where Cagliari will end up. Their lack of a home ground didn't seem to affect them last season; however, it is largely the same squad that was predicted for the drop 12 months ago. There is still a question mark over their Belgian midfield lynchpin Radja Nainggolan as he has long been linked with a transfer away from the club, and Sau will need another season of performances like last. The plus side is that with the carrot of the World Cup, players like Sau, Davide Astori and Victor Ibarbo will all be keen to perform in order to gain a place in Brazil and as a result Cagliari can look at mid-table as a realistic ambition once again.