Il Diavolo will be looking to add a third league win in a row before a tricky run of fixtures in October.
Date: Sunday, 24th September 2017
Time: 12:30 CET
Venue: San Siro, Milan
TV Info: BT Sport 3, Rai America, PremiumSport 1 HD
Following three consecutive wins in the Serie A and Europa League, the common consensus is that Vincenzo Montella and his men have bounced back after a humiliating defeat at the hands of Lazio in Rome.
On the other end of this fixture, Sampdoria will be looking to add another win to their league campaign after two consecutive draws and a suspended match.
On form and clinical, Milan have been nothing short of decisive in closing out games in their past three games. Detractors, however, would point out that Milan’s past three opponents (Austria Wien, Udinese and SPAL) have been sub-par opposition – and they would not be wrong. It remains to see whether Milan can continue their form against a credible opposition in Sampdoria.
The team selection for this crucial tie, which lies just on the eve of a very important October, could be a test of Montella’s managerial mastery. He faces the headache that every manager wishes to have – which on-form player shall he start on the pitch?
The two stars of Milan’s domineering performance in the Europa League – André Silva and Hakan Çalhanoğlu, are expected to be on the bench despite 6 goals and 3 assists between them this season. Replacing them on the pitch will be Suso and Giacomo Bonaventura respectively, indicating a less attacking approach to this game.
On the other end of the pitch, Cristián Zapata will continue to feature in the place of the Argentine centre-back Mateo Musacchio. The rest of the starting eleven remains unchanged from the victorious game against SPAL, with Gianluigi Donnarumma, Leonardo Bonucci, Alessio Romagnoli, Ignazio Abate, Lucas Biglia, Ricardo Rodríguez and Nikola Kalinić remaining on the team sheet, according to the latest reports.
Squad List: A. Donnarumma, G. Donnarumma, Storari; Abate, Bonucci, Musacchio, Paletta, Rodríguez, Romagnoli, Zapata; Biglia, Bonaventura, Çalhanoğlu, Kessié, Locatelli, Mauri; Borini, Cutrone, Kalinić, André Silva, Suso
Andrea Conti remains out of the side, after being sidelined for a projected 6 months following an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Ex-captain Riccardo Montolivo and Davide Calabria are also other notable exceptions from the squad.
Expected AC Milan XI (3-5-2): Donnarumma; Zapata, Bonucci, Romagnoli; Abate, Kessié, Biglia, Bonaventura, Rodríguez; Suso; Kalinić
Sampdoria, hailing from the coastal city of Genoa, has been suffering from a lacklustre beginning to their season. Their previous two league matches – both away fixtures against Torino and Hellas Verona, have ended in draws. The match before, against Roma, was cancelled due to bad weather.
The Blucerchiati, who once featured the likes of Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini among their players, will be looking to push into Europa League qualifying spots in the league. Their current squad features a mixture of youth talents like Lucas Torreira and Dennis Praet as well as experienced veterans like Fabio Quagliarella and Édgar Barreto.
This same fixture resulted in a win and a loss for Sampdoria in 2016-17, with both games ending in 1 – 0. La Samp will be looking to improve on that record.
LAST TIME OUT
Sampdoria finished the last match week in 8th place, following an insipid performance against relegation candidates Hellas Verona. The match ended in a goalless draw, with nothing of note happening in Verona’s Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi.
Meanwhile, the visitors Milan capped off the midweek fixtures with a hard-fought 2-0 win against SPAL. Both goals were scored through penalties, with Rodríguez and Kessié slotting it home for the Rossoneri.
Sampdoria will feature mouth-watering talents in their midfield. Lucas Torreira, Dennis Praet and Karol Linetty, all under the age of 24, will certainly wish to prove their potential and stock against a good opponent in Milan. The hosts also possess a potent and tested strike force in Fabio Quagliarella, Duván Zapata and Gianluca Caprari – all of whom will provide trouble for Montella’s men.
As for Milan, the key player to watch will indubitably be Nikola Kalinić. The Croatian hitman has begun his goal account for Milan after a brace against Udinese on his first start for his new club. His value lies in his masterful off-the-ball runs to get into space for either him or his teammates to score. His striker’s instinct ahead of the goal will also provide problems for Vasco Regini and Matias Silvestre.
The other player that will be key to Milan’s game plan is Franck Kessié. The Ivorian midfielder’s powerful drives towards the goal have shaken defences who are simply left unable to bring the ‘tank’ off the ball. He will be looking to create goal-scoring chances and dictating the entire team forward in this game.
It will be a hard-fought game for Milan, with Sampdoria’s talented midfield likely to be the deciding factor for the home side. However, Milan’s squad is generally better on all fronts, and the game should be closed out by a strike from Milan’s forwards.
Prediction: Sampdoria 1-2 Milan