In the 7th round of Serie A fixtures Cagliari welcomed Sampdoria to the Sardegna Arena. Cagliari deployed a asymmetrical 4-4-1-1 with Rog operating as an unorthodox wide player on the left, regularly tucking inside to take up central space. On the other hand, Sampdoria played a classic Ranieri 4-4-2, although this became a 4-4-1 following Augello’s dismissal late in the first half. I Blucerchiati traveled to Sardinia as one of the form sides in the league, winning four of their last five, and dominated possession early on. Joao Pedro stuck the post for the home side early on but other than that chances were at a minimum. The first half was a cagey affair and barring the red card there was very little to write home about with both sides being organised defensively and thus cancelling each other out.
With Ranieri’s men down to ten men the game became much more open. Cagliari moved Rog into central midfield and brought on a more conventional winger in Sottil. The young winger found plenty of joy against Candreva, who filled in at right back for Sampdoria. An early second half penalty gave the home side the lead and if not for poor decision making they could have extended their lead. With Jankto and Damsgaard on the wing Sampdoria still posed a threat on the counter. However, they never really tested Cragno and as the half progressed the home side started to control the game. They doubled their lead midway through the half and never looked like losing from here. Cagliari deserved the win today but it could have been a completely different game had it remained 11 vs 11.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, re-watch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Polish
- Age: 20
- Date of Birth: 5/4/2000
- Current Club: Cagliari
- Career: Legia Warsaw, Pogon Szczecin, Cagliari
- Position: Centre Back
- Preferred foot: Right
Recently, there has been rumours suggesting Walukiewicz is being monitored by clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Dortmund. Whether these claims are genuine is a mystery but it would not surprising if there was an element of truth to them. At only 20 the young centre back has clear potential and today displayed why football’s elite may consider him a future asset.
Like any high level modern centre back Walukiewicz is confident on the ball. He did a solid job of retaining the ball and consistently looked start attacks by progressing the ball forward. However, at times, he may have been slightly too eager to do this and sometimes forced a pass which was not really on. Although, these moments were uncommon; for the most part he was reliable on the ball and thus achieved a 91% passing accuracy. In the first half he demonstrated great awareness and appeared to be reasonably press resistant. He checked his shoulders well and even with two opponents converging on him carried the ball forward into space with confidence, while also using his body well to protect the ball.
He partnered recent signing and veteran defender Diego Godin in defence and together they formed a sound partnership. Of the two, Godin was certainly the more active in defensive actions, while Sampdoria’s switch to a 4-4-1 meant the Polish defenders workload was eased. Despite this, Walukiewicz illustrated his defensive capabilities, being routinely strong in challenges and by showing a good understanding of when to push up to win possession and when to drop back into the defensive line. At 6’2 he is of typical height for his position. He was commanding in aerial challenges and so was rarely beaten in this department.
Overall, Walukiewicz had a solid game. Defensively, it was clearly not one of the most challenging games he has played, partly as a result of the red card. Therefore, it would be good to assess him in a game where he defensive acumen is really tested for large parts. Playing alongside someone like Diego Godin, who at one time was legitimately one of the world’s best centre backs, should only aid Walukiewicz’s development.
Rating – B1
- Nationality: Uruguayan
- Age: 24
- Date of birth: 28/12/1995
- Current Club: Cagliari
- Career: Penarol, Boca Juniors, Cagliari
- Position: Central Midfield
- Secondary Position: Defensive midfield
- Preferred foot: Right
Versatile midfielder Nahitan Nandez found himself playing a deep lying central midfield role today after being use wide left and right in recent weeks. Throughout the game he looked to take the ball from the defence and influence the game from this deeper position.
He is a tidy player, with a secure first touch and good passing technique. He tended to hit his passes with considerable power and so Cagliari were able to move the ball quickly in attacking transitions. He grew into the game as it went on and was able to find more space and time on the ball following Augello’s dismissal. Although, his passing range appeared somewhat limited as he over-hit many of his longer or more difficult passes. While he did not seem adept at playing defence splitting passes, instead looking more comfortable operating from deep.
Nandez covered a lot of ground in midfield for his team today. He displayed good positional sense to cover the full backs on the rare occasion they ventured forward. His movement in an attacking sense was also highly effective, and he was most dangerous when making these runs. He found pockets of space both on the left and right, and from here would make penetrative runs infield, while he was equally effective bursting into central space from deep. His goal was a prime example of this kind of movement as he broke through the defensive line with great pace, before calmly rolling the ball past the keeper.
Furthermore, he is just as hard working when his team are out of possession. The energetic Uruguayan is always keen to press the opposition, although some of this is wasted running as he is not pressing with a group and so is easily passed around when he steps out of position. Nonetheless, his work rate is clearly a positive and through it he forced the red card by pressuring the Sampdoria defenders into a mistake before being pulled down by Augello when he was one on one with the keeper. Unsurprisingly, Nandez is not one to shy from a challenge and contests these duels well despite his 5’7 stature. But, against the most physically imposing midfielders Nandez can be out-competed while his height does heavily reduce his aerial capabilities.
Rating – B1
- Nationality: Italian
- Age: 20
- Date of Birth: 22/12/1999
- Current Club: Cagliari, on loan with obligation to buy from Pescara
- Career: Inter, Pescara, Cagliari (L)
- Position: Right back
- Preferred foot: Right
Zappa played at right back for Gli Isolani and put in a sound performance. It was apparent from today that Zappa is a full back who will contribute more defensively than offensively. He preferred to stick to his defensive position and only made successful runs once Sampdoria had been reduced to ten men. When play was on the opposite flank the young full back positioned himself well, tucking in close to his centre back to provide cover. In these areas he managed to cut out numerous attempted switches and deep crosses. His 6’1 stature certainly aided him here as he was able to dominate aerially and win balls a smaller full back may have not have.
However, when play came down his side he was slow to close down his man and as a result they were able to take a good touch and settle themselves before running at Zappa. Furthermore, when standing up the opposition he gave them too much time and space to be able to take him on or work play around him. Another consequence of this was that Zappa struggled to block crosses into the box and so his team were put under pressure. In Zappa’s defence, he was up against two dynamic wingers in Jankto and later Damsgaard who have put in some great performances of late. Despite his aforementioned height, Zappa is pretty lightweight and this was reflected in the several challenges where he was muscled off the ball.
Today, his passing was sound enough but his touch was often poor and he never really set himself well. Generally, he looked clumsy on the ball and uncomfortable in offensive areas, although this could be a consequence of his lanky build. Even so his runs into forward areas were rarely effective. Particularly in the first half, his forward runs gave him little chance of receiving the ball as he rarely found areas of space. At times it looked as if he was going forward more as an obligation rather than with any real thought for where he was running. In the second half he did find it easier to find space but his quality was still lacking in attacking situations with none of his four crosses finding a target.
Ultimalty, Zappa played his part in a solid 2-0 win today but he has clear areas for improvement. Sampdoria being reduced to ten men obviously made the game easier for him and his team and so this report could have looked very different had both sides remained with eleven men.
Rating – B2