I will dispense with much muttering for there is only one thing on all our minds…
We expect a RESPONSE. We expect to see the players from the first to the last whistle fighting for every ball, dominating every challenge, responding with pride and hunger and anger to the horror-show of our recent CL exit by pummelling the Sardinians, to emerge clear and righteous victors.
Cagliari have upped their game of late, after a string of slender losses, they beat Crotone, then Bologna and earned a creditable draw away to Samp in their last outing. Still, they sit 17th in the table, still very much in a relegation battle and are a side who we should outclass all over the field.
Player for player, we are vastly superior. And the gulf between the sides is magnified through the absences of Rog and Pavoletti in particular.
We are missing Dybala, Demiral, Ramsey and Bentancur. Other than which have a full squad. Rusty many may well be, there can be no excuses for anything less than a positive result and performance.
Forget the formations which show Juan behind Chiesa, for as much as I would like to see this, Pirlo insists on placing Chiesa on the left when Juan is on the right, which offers a weird attempt to balance.
I wonder why few are suggesting Danilo – probably our most consistent performer in the back line – is not to be included. Don’t be surprised to see him start in the above, in place of Freddy B. It is all so tangled and muddled when trying to analyse the formation. Mckennie as a box to box expected to tuck in and support Juan. Chiesa on the wrong side. Continued double pivot in the middle which never dominates. Kulu back in the middle up top as some hybrid SS.
Whatever the starting XI, my hopes for this game and all others remaining of this ill-fated campaign are found more in-depth in the piece of a few days back>
Essentially, given the financial situation, the promising signs shown previously, I am focused on Pirlo using more of the youth talents. Part of me still has that boyish dream of finding the starting XI announced including Fagioli from the start…Or De Graca up top at CF. Or Di Pardo given the nod over Juan…
As for those around us in the table –
Roma could overtake or catch us, as they face an away trip to Parma and sit 2 points behind.
AC Milan host Napoli, we will hope for a draw in that one or a win for Napoli, yet that does not do us many favours as it brings them closer to us in the table, potentially 2 points off if we somehow fail to take anything from the Cagliari match.
The response from the players will tell us much about the mental strength and hunger of the squad. Anything less than a resounding victory will be…not worrying, but not what we desperately need as a tonic to soothe the despondency born of our recent form and failings.
Just briefly, as I am happily consuming images of a lady friend from Tasmania, her photos shared of an atavistic throwback to Atilla and the militant fairytale of children learning to fire arrows on horseback before they learned even to walk…far more engaging and inspiring a connection than Juve. Still…
It won’t happen, but its exciting to ponder Pirlo ringing mega changes through the squad, understanding that this is Cagliari, that we have to shake loose of not only the disappointment but the lethargy which has long plagued the side. So he aims for a balance between focusing more than ever before on hunger and zeal, players desperate to give their best and stake a claim for the first team squad next year, backed up by experienced, seasoned professionals, and the team that emerge from the tunnel for kick-off, looks something like this>>>