Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Italy
August 26, 2012 – 1600 GMT
With a huge exodus of talented and legendary players from Milan, the summer transfer window has not been a particularly happy one for the Rossoneri. However, with the new season getting underway in few day’s time, it will serve Milan well to look forward and make the best of the players at their disposal. With the possibility of players joining before the transfer window closes, Allegri needs to start the new season on a positive note.
On the other hand, Sampdoria has returned to the topmost tier of Italian football after spending the last year in Serie B. However, all is not rosy with the Blucerchiati as they have been docked points for involvement in a betting scandal that has sidelined one of the leading coaches in Serie A along with a host of other players and clubs.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the likes of Pato, Abate, Muntari, Mexes, Strasser, Didac Vila and Ambrosini for this match. Even before the start of the season, the main striker for Milan this season – Pato has been injured in training, this time his adductor muscle being the culprit. Last season, Milan were ravaged with multiple injuries to key players at vital moments of the season, which ultimately led to the surrender of their title. Questions have been raised as to what goes on at Milanello but still surprisingly the injuries keep on piling.
Allegri will field a 4-3-1-2 formation, which has been his blueprint ever since he took charge. Abbiati, who is Milan’s best bet under the bar will start along with Bonera and Zapata forming the core of the defence. Antonini will start at left-back whereas the versatile De Sciglio starts as right-back. With Acerbi and Yepes the only two other center-backs in the team, Allegri will have a huge problem on his hands if one of these players get injured or booked. With Nesta and Thiago Silva leaving Milan shores, it is time to hope against hope that Zapata and Acerbi prove their worth, not just once, but all throughout the season. Also, with news of the possible departure of Mesbah in the coming days, Antonini needs to step up and take ownership of the left-back position. Milan
Montolivo starts in the position left vacant by van Bommel but is likely to go forward and help in attack rather than act as a defensive screen. Montolivo can play the role of a deep-lying midfielder but it needs to be seen exactly how Allegri uses him in the set-up. Flamini starts on the right of midfield with Nocerino on the left. The Frenchman was out injured for most part of last season and even at one point was about to be sold. However, all that has changed and with no injuries forecasted, he can play a vital role this season. Nocerino was a revelation last time and he will look to carry his form into the new season. Milan
In the absence of a proper trequartista, Boateng starts in the hole behind the strikers. Although he is not at all a creative player by any stretch of imagination, Boateng makes it up with his lung-bursting runs and his tireless running. If required, Emanuelson can also play that role, no matter how out of position he may be. The forward line sees the pairing of new Milan signing Pazzini and Robinho. Exactly how these two strikers will gel is a question every Milan fan has been asking and it is upto Allegri to eke out a successful combination.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2): Abbiati (GK); De Sciglio, Bonera, Zapata, Antonini; Flamini, Montolivo, Nocerino; Boateng; Pazzini, Robinho
Sampdoria will be missing the likes of Pozzi and Da Costa for this match. Former Juventus player and manager, Ciro Ferrara has been appointed manager of the Blucerchiati, and he replaced Giuseppe Iachini, who had guided Sampdoria to Serie A via the play-offs. This will be a new challenge for Ferrara, who also was a part of the legendary Napoli side led by none other than Maradona. However Ferrara only has a single term as manager when he led Juventus in the 2009-10 season. Helping Sampdoria stay afloat will be a whole different ball-game as compared to the position which he left (Italian U-21 manager) and it remains to be seen how he measures up this time.
Sampdoria is likely to start with a 4-3-3 formation with Romero manning the posts. With FIGC taking the ridiculous decision to have 12 substitutes on the bench, Ferrara will be spoilt for choice once the match begins. The defence line is expected to comprise of Gastaldello and Rossini at the center-back positions with De Silvestri starting at right-back and Costa starting as left-back. Tissone will start at the center of the park and it will be his job to distribute the play to the wings via Munari on the right and Poli on the left. Sampdoria must dominate the midfield if they hope to frustrate Milan in this match.
The forward line sees the likes of Estigarribia, Maxi Lopez and Eder. Milan did not buy Maxi Lopez at the end of the last season and Sampdoria took this opportunity to take him on-board from Catania. The forward three are talented enough to trouble any back-line and with the new faces at Milan, they will be expecting to have a field day. Milan needs to take special care of Poli if they are to stop him from creating any nuisance in their defence set-up.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Romero (GK); De Silvestri, Gastaldello, Rossini, Costa; Munari, Tissone, Poli; Estigarribia, Maxi Lopez, Eder
Player to Watch Out For
Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan)
This has been a transfer that has taken almost a year to materialize, not due to Milan but due to Montolivo himself. However, with a successful Euro campaign under his belt, Montolivo will be looking to play a creative role from the center of the park. His forays in the attacking third might be limited, but with Cassano’s departure, he is the sole creative spark left in the Milan team.
AC Milan 2-0 Sampdoria
Allegri will be looking to start off the new campaign with a win and faced with a promoted team, he will be expecting maximum points from this match. Sampdoria are unlikely to pose any real threat and with the club already docked points, they might look for a safe way out. A Milan victory is on the cards with possibly Nocerino and Pazzinni on the scoresheet.