While Inter – who have missed out on several potential recruits – took care of business against Monza on the opening day, their Sardinian counterparts settled for a point on their top-flight return.
Back in competitive action for the first time since their Champions League final defeat, Inter hosted Lombardy neighbours Monza at San Siro last weekend, when a Lautaro Martinez double brought the Nerazzurri a 2-0 win.
Having experienced a 2022-23 campaign of contrasts – losing nearly a third of their league games but also lifting two trophies and coming close to European glory – Simone Inzaghi’s side are now seeking a sustained push for the Scudetto in the months ahead.
However, with Milan Skriniar, Andre Onana, Edin Dzeko, Marcelo Brozovic and Romelu Lukaku among those who have departed San Siro this summer, Inzaghi has been unable to secure several targets to adequately replace them, amid financial strife in the boardroom and growing concern in the stands.
One new recruit, returning striker Marko Arnautovic – who has essentially taken up Dzeko’s role – set up his captain’s second goal last Saturday, and as a result Inter can now win both of their first two games for a fifth straight season if they beat Cagliari.
Ahead of their trip south, the second-city club have scored in each of their last 16 league meetings with Monday’s hosts, racking up no fewer than 35 goals in the process.
With new skipper Martinez starting 2023-24 like he finished last term, and both Arnautovic and French forward Marcus Thuram available to support him, Inter will surely be confident of extending that record in Sardinia, where they have won on six of their last seven visits.
Cagliari have won only one of their last 11 league games against the Nerazzurri, losing on nine occasions, so the size of their task is quite clear ahead of the first home match of their Serie A comeback campaign.
Veteran coach Claudio Ranieri – who had a brief, unsuccessful spell as Inter boss over a decade ago – arrived midway through last season and led the Rossoblu back to the promised land via the dramatic Serie B playoffs; securing a return to the top flight just 12 months after relegation.
After their first competitive outing of 2023-24 resulted in an extra-time Coppa Italia win over Palermo earlier this month, Cagliari travelled to Turin for their league opener last week.
Restricted to just two shots on target throughout the 90 minutes, Ranieri’s men were held to a goalless draw by Torino, but picking up such points on the road could hold the key to staving off an immediate return to Italy’s second tier.
Against Inter, Cagliari will be aiming to go unbeaten in their first two Serie A fixtures for the first time since 2011, but in spite of having home advantage they remain outsiders to prevail on Monday evening.
Cagliari Serie A form:
Cagliari form (all competitions):
Inter Milan Serie A form:
We say: Cagliari 1-3 Inter Milan
For all their troubles in the transfer market, Inter possess the type of firepower that few clubs in Serie A can compete with. With a well-balanced and relatively settled setup – plus several new options on the bench – the Nerazzurri should again prove their title credentials with a comprehensive win in Cagliari.