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Cagliari-Milan Preview: Maybe??

With the threat of a strike still very possible as of this writing, Our Serie A season debut may need a raincheck. Even using player reps as feared as Gennaro Gattuso and Giorgio Chiellini, the owners are  still unwilling to budge. After voting 18-2 against the players' demands on Wednesday, Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis said, “Let them strike. We cannot continue with a gun pointed at our heads.” And he’s right, you know. It is very difficult to go on tirades and ride off on someone’s scooter if there is a gun pointed at your head. Which I suppose is why he wants the strike, given that his most recent act of crazy was due to perceived congested fixtures for his club. If they don’t play at all, problem solved.
Where did everybody go?
However, I am still hopeful they can reach an agreement. Because there is another club owner who could never be De Laurentiis crazy, but is still nowhere near sane by conventional standards. He is Massimo Cellino, president of Cagliari, and he just fired Roberto Donadoni, just 2 weeks before the start of the season. It seems Donadoni asked for more improvements to the squad, and Cellino refused. Then fired him. Did I mention it was 2 weeks before the season?

Luckily for Mr. Crazy President Lite, Cesena had let Massimo Ficcadenti go  last season after he brought them up to a very respectable 15th as a newly promoted side, and 7 points above relegation, so he was available for Cagliari. (Tough crowd down there at the bottom of the table!) I’m going to guess that the two share the first name might have actually weighed into Cellino’s decision, who is known for keeping a revolving manager’s seat.

Anyway, the Cagliari fans are angry, they’ve even started a Facebook page to protest Donadoni’s dismissal. As much as I like Donadoni, being a former Milan player and all, Cellino did manage to find a good coach in Ficcadenti, even if he’ll be joining Donadoni in the ranks of the unemployed by season’s end. Ficcadenti handed Milan our first defeat last year at the helm of Cesena, and was not afraid to take the reigns of Cagliari just days before their first Coppa Italia match this past Sunday. He is a good fit for Cagliari, which means it's good that we're meeting them early in the season before his reign of terror can begin.

Ficcadenti: with a name like that, he should've been a dentist

Speaking of their Coppa Italia match, Cagliari beat Serie B team AlbinoLeffe 5-1, with a penalty converted by Nenè, a hat trick by Larrivey, and a goal by Conti. But will they be able to stand up against Milan? For one, the transfers they did acquire this summer were apparently not match fit for this past Sunday. But if they are fit for Milan, they could add some decent quality to a Cagliari side that is lacking, and that could be dangerous for us.

There is Moestafa El Kabir, a striker who played last year for Mjällby in Sweden, or Colombian midfielder Victor Ibarbo who came from Atletico Madrid. Or the most recent acquisition, brought in at the same time as Ficcadenti, Thiago Ribeiro, the Brazilian striker who played for Cruzeiro most recently on loan. None of these are star players, but they certainly could serve to provide a little more quality in attack.

More than likely, Ficcadenti will deploy a 4-3-1-2 of Agazzi; Pisano, Canini, Astori, Agostini; Biondini, Conti, Nainggolan; Cossu, Nenè, and Larrivey. The question is, will he have had enough time with them to inspire them to be the occasional giant beaters like Cesena were last year? Let's hope not. A win is a great way to start the season.

Our Milan preview is really an update on injuries and returns. Some very good news, Kevin Prince Boateng has been cleared to play, and Ibra is likely to be available also. Pippo has apparently been training with the squad as well, and may be available. Thiago Silva and Yepes have now returned, and Pato and Robinho have been in training already this week, too. And although it is not official as of this writing, Aquilani’s medical and signature are now mere formalities, as he arrived in Milan last night having agreed to terms.

Welcome Aquaman!

This leaves Allegri with a decent squad. I have not heard one way or the other anything regarding Nesta’s apparent concussion from Sunday’s game, so he is possibly a doubt. Flamini, as you may have heard, could be out for months and is in France seeking further consultations on his knee. We don’t have Mexes until at least October, and Taiwo is also out until October or close to it. I would expect Yepes and Zambrotta to deputize for Nesta and Taiwo, should Nesta miss.

This game, if it is played on Saturday, should be a good warmup for some of the tougher teams we face after the International break. And it should be a win, but never discount the underdogs. They may be looking to prove themselves against Allegri, their former manager. And Ficcadenti will want to do what he can to ensure himself a good 6 months before Cellino spins the manager chair again.

And I do hope the strike is called off and Milan can play after all. Otherwise we might have to write a post about the crazy non-football stories in Serie A right now, like Masiello from Bari, who got upset with a teammate at lunchtime this week and threw a plate at him, which hit another player’s arm, creating a gash that required 50 stitches. I may be creative, but not even I can make up stuff like that.

(Seriously, owners, sign the collective bargaining agreement already!! It’s not right to make the players train separately anyway. Give us our football!!)


This post was inspired by the music of The Bolshoi