Cagliari is recovering this summer after brilliant young coach Massimiliano Allegri departed to Milan. Following several seasons of overachievement under Allegri, the club now aims for more than their solitary target of survival in Serie A.
Last season: Usually this would be enough to appease the fans but strangely last season’s 14th placed finish was slightly disappointing in hindsight. The Isolani were left to wonder what might have been when they suffered a desperately poor end to their campaign with a winless run in their last 13 games. An adventurous side with the ability to counter-attack at speed, Cagliari created ample chances to win games on a regular basis. Despite this, they lacked the killer instinct or the ability to score in an ugly fashion.
2010 summer transfer campaign: The main change for the Rossoblu this campaign has been the departure of Coach Allegri. The club replaced him swiftly with Pierpaolo Bisoli. Inevitably, Sampdoria recalled their Azzurrini midfielder Daniele Dessena after a successful loan spell last season but fellow Azzurrini international, Lorenzo Ariaudo, rejoined on a co-ownership deal from Juventus. Throughout the summer there has been constant speculation linking the club’s best players with moves away. Despite this, Federico Marchetti, Andrea Cossu, Andrea Lazzari and Alessandro Matri remain with the club.
The Coach: Ex-Cagliari player Bisoli, 43, will be Allegri’s successor. He has a wealth of experience in the lower divisions of Italian football. He achieved back-to-back play-off finishes with Umbrian minnows Foligno in Serie C1, and later won the championship in the same division with current Serie A new boys Cesena. Last season he followed up that championship success by guiding the Bianconeri to a 2nd place finish and a return to Serie A after 19 years away. In his own words Bisoli described his sides as possessing “commitment, group cohesion and passion.”
Anchorman: Central midfielder Davide Biondini had his influence recognised with an Azzurri call-up last season. Biondini is very distinctive due to his long ginger hair, and is just as renowned for covering every blade of grass on the pitch. Now one of the first names on the teamsheet.
Playmaker: Undoubtedly the playmaker of the side is Andrea Cossu, who operates just behind the strikers. Cossu possesses beautiful balance and the ability to hold on to the ball when harassed by the opposition snapping at his heels. So cool and calm under pressure, he is able to take up possession from all over the park before spraying passes in to space. Equally as dangerous from wide areas due to his ability to consistently put the ball in to that dangerous area between defence and goalkeeper, thus creating havoc in the opposition’s penalty area. A breakthrough year in 2009/10 led to a call up for the initial Italian World Cup squad and at one point a move to Barcelona was mooted.
Hot prospect: The best young prospect for the Isolani is Lorenzo Ariaudo, a member of the Italy U-21 side. A cultured centre-back who enjoyed a loan spell in the 2nd half of last season.
2010/11 prediction: Cagliari must improve on last year’s 14th place finish. At times last season they showed a top half of the table placing was capable and this should be the case this time around. Cagliari possesses creativity and flair from Cossu and Lazzari, as well as the predatory instincts of Matri, Jeda and Nenê – all that is needed is a sense of organisation and toughness.
Football Italiano’s prediction: 10th