Cagliari picked up a point in a 2-2 draw at Sassuolo last weekend, while Salernitana suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Sampdoria, which kept them at the bottom of the division.
Cagliari finished 16th in Serie A last season, just four points above the relegation zone, and the early indications in 2021-22 suggest that they will have to battle hard to secure their status at this level for another campaign.
Indeed, a record of one win, four draws and eight defeats from 13 matches has seen the strugglers collect just seven points, which has left them in 19th position in the division.
Gli Isolani have not been victorious in Italy's top flight since recording a 3-1 win over Sampdoria in the middle of October and lost four straight matches between October 24 and November 6 to drop down the table.
Cagliari will be facing Salernitana for the 28th time in their history on Friday night, and the hosts lead the overall head-to-head record 13 wins to nine, while there have also been five draws.
Salernitana, meanwhile, have won two, drawn one and lost 10 of their 13 league matches this season to collect seven points, and they are bottom of the division with a minus 18 goal difference.
I Granata finished second in Serie B last season behind Empoli to secure a return to the top flight, and it is not too much of a surprise to see them currently struggling at the bottom of the division.
Salernitana have shown that they are capable of winning games at this level, overcoming Genoa and Venezia, but a record of 10 losses from 13 matches is worrying at this stage.
Stefano Colantuono's side were last victorious away at Venezia at the end of October but were unable to build on that result, losing each of their last three to Napoli, Lazio and Sampdoria without scoring.
Salernitana will be facing Cagliari for the first time at this level since May 1999, when they suffered a 3-1 defeat, while I Granata have only won one of the last seven meetings between the two sides.
Joao Pedro has been in excellent form at club level this season, scoring eight times in 13 appearances, and the Brazilian will once again be joined by Balde in the final third of the field.
There is every chance that Mazzarri will stick with the same side that took to the field for the first whistle against Sassuolo, with Nahitan Nandez again featuring in a wide area.
Head coach Colantuono is expected to resist the temptation to make wholesale changes, though, with the team expected to be similar to the one that started against Sampdoria last time out.
Cagliari possible starting lineup:
Cragno; Zappa, Ceppitelli, Carboni, Lykogiannis; Nandez, Grassi, Marin, Bellanova; Balde, Joao Pedro
Salernitana possible starting lineup:
Belec; Zortea, Gyomber, Gagliolo, Ranieri; Obi, Di Tacchio, Coulibaly; Nwankwo; Gondo, Duric
We say: Cagliari 1-1 Salernitana
There is no downplaying the importance of this match, even this early in the season. Both managers will be desperate to avoid defeat, which is likely to create a cagey affair, and we can see the two teams playing out a low-scoring draw on Friday night.
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