Bari will be looking to continue their fine form since returning to Serie A and maintain their unbeaten streak when Cagliari visit the Stadio San Nicola on Wednesday night. Bari, who had accrued three draws in three games before the weekend, hammered a sluggish Atalanta side 4-1 on Sunday and even had the gall to miss a penalty in a convincing win.
Conversely, last year’s surprise package Cagliari have done little to echo the flourish that landed them ninth place last season and surrendered a one-goal lead against champions Inter to go down 2-1 on Sunday. The defeat added to a dismal string of results in the 2009/10 campaign, with the Rossoblu’s only points coming from a 1-1 draw at newly promoted Livorno.
Giampiero Ventura is unfortunate that he cannot name the same XI that trounced Atalanta for Wednesday night’s clash. Emanuel Rivas, who opened the scoring at the weekend, is set to miss out after being withdrawn at halftime. Taking his place in the line-up looks likely to be Antonio Langella, who came on for the Argentine against the Nerazzurri. Striker Ferdinando Sforzini is available again after suspension but looks unlikely to unseat fellow Udinese loan-star Paulo Vitor Barreto, who marked his first start of the season for the Biancorossi with a well taken goal. Alessandro Parisi, who sat out the Atlanta game after picking up a thigh injury, looks set to continue to miss out with Salvatore Masiello ready to stand-in at a left-back again.
5 Andrea Masiello – 13 Ranocchia – 19 Bonucci – 17 Salvatore Masiello
90 Álvarez -16 Donati -14 Gazzi – 23 Langella
20 Kutuzov – 10 Barreto
How times have changed for Massimiliano Allegri’s men. After a shock finish in the top half of the table last season, the Rossoblu have one point from a possible 12 thus far and look in need of some fresh thinking from their lauded Coach. Cagliari is set for at least one enforced change, with captain Daniele Conti suspended and former Torino midfielder Simone Barone therefore likely to start in the middle of the park. The Rossoblu are still without Francesco Pisano (knee injury) and Diego López (calf), with the duo set to spend the better part of a month watching from the stands.
15 Marzoratti – 21 Canini – 13 Astori – 31 Agostini
4 Dessena – 20 Barone – 8 Biondini
32 Matri – 27 Jeda
The last time the two teams from Italy’s south met in the top flight was way back in the 1998/99 season, where the two encounters between the clubs ended in a 1-1 at the San Nicola and a 3-3 draw at the Sant’Elia.
However, that was 11 years ago and this campaign is very different. Cagliari are entering a run of very winnable games, with a visit to Parma and a home clash with Chievo next in line, which should give them the impetus to push Bari hard on their opponent’s own turf. However, Bari will also need to gather some momentum ahead of next Sunday’s trip to Milan, where they will be hoping that they can repeat the opening weekend feat of drawing with Inter and take some points off of the Rossoneri.
Still finding their feet back at the top table of Italian football, Ventura has equipped Bari well to deal with its demands and there is rightly an air of confidence on the heel of peninsula. The differing fortunes of the two teams does not necessarily make the fixture a foregone conclusion, but Bari’s first win of the season and their unbeaten status will certainly give them buoyancy and the upper hand going into the match with the Sardinians.