Serie A giants AC Milan will look to bounce back to winning ways when they host high-flying Sampdoria at San Siro on Sunday.
After two back-to-back defeats since the end of the international break, AC Milan will be keen to snatch all three points against Sampdoria as they look to get a move on this season. The Rossoneri have endured an uneventful start to the season, languishing on the wrong half of the table with just 12 points on the board.
Milan are coming on the back of a disappointing midweek loss at the hands of Real Betis in the UEFA Europa League, just days after their last-gasp defeat to Inter Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.
But, Milan have scored on a consistent basis this season, plundering 15 goals in Serie A this season, which is the most by any team in the bottom half of the table. Thus, they will be looking to utilise their scoring habit as they attempt to outclass Sampdoria this weekend.
Speaking of Sampdoria, their solidity in defence has been their key to success so far this season. Indeed, the Blucerchiati are flying high with 15 points, just three points behind fourth-placed Lazio. In addition, they have conceded only four goals so far, meaning they have the meanest defence in the league this season, which is indicative of coach Marco Giampaolo’s defence-oriented tactics.
A win for Milan is imperative, especially after successive defeats. Sampdoria will also be keen to collect all three points at San Siro, having secured only two wins n their last six matches. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both the sides ahead of their fascinating encounter this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso shuffled his lineup in the midweek match against Real Betis and he is expected to rotate his squad against Sampdoria once again. Fortunately for him, the hosts will not have to deal with any fresh injuries with Andrea Conti and Ivan Strinic being their only absentees.
In goal, Pepe Reina produced a disappointing display in midweek and will likely be replaced by Gianluigi Donnarumma this weekend. Davide Calabria though, should retain his place as the right-back especially with Conti facing a spell on the sidelines.
But, Ricardo Rodriguez is expected to come in for Diego Laxalt on the opposite flank. Rodriguez’s set-piece qualities could prove to be effective against a resolute Sampdoria defence. Cristian Zapata should be replaced by Mateo Musacchio, who will partner club captain Alessio Romagnoli in the central defensive partnership.
In midfield, Franck Kessie will likely return to the lineup, after being left out of the squad against Betis. The Ivorian will play a crucial role in the midfield triumvirate alongside Lucas Biglia and Giacomo Bonaventura.
We expect Gattuso to make a couple of necessary changes in attack with Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu coming in for Samu Castillejo and Fabio Borini. The duo will occupy the wider attacking positions while the Milan attack will be led by Gonzalo Higuain.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Higuain, Calhanoglu.
Despite a stale 0-0 draw with US Sassuolo last weekend, Sampdoria are unlikely to make any significant changes against Milan on Sunday. Emil Audero has been consistent this season and will continue to serve as the man between the sticks for the visitors this weekend.
Bartosz Bereszynski will feature as the right-back for Sampdoria, while Nicola Murru should start on the left. The former has impressed this season and his athleticism could be key. The central defensive pairing will comprise of Lorenzo Tonelli and the highly talented Joachim Anderson, who has raised a lot of eyebrows with his impressive defensive displays this campaign.
Edgar Barreto and former HSV midfielder Albin Ekdal will take charge of the midfield alongside a more attacking minded Dennis Praet, who will be tasked with the responsibility of creating a spark in the final third, playing a vital role in half-spaces thanks to his excellent ball-carrying ability.
Gaston Ramirez should be deployed as the lone attacking midfielder, just in behind the two central strikers in Gregoire Defrel and Fabio Quagliarella. Defrel will be the obvious danger-man for Sampdoria, having netted five goals in nine matches while Quagliarella’s clever movements and intelligence will also be key in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Audero; Bereszynski, Tonelli, Anderson, Murru; Praet, Ekdal, Barreto; Ramirez; Defrel, Quagliarella.
- Despite a dismal start to the campaign, AC Milan boast a strong record at home, having not been beaten in 12 of their 13 matches.
- Since their 5-0 battering of Frosinone back in mid-September, Sampdoria have scored only four goals in six matches.
- Staying solid on the road has been a feature for Sampdoria this season as they have kept clean sheets in all of their last three away games.
- AC Milan’s Giacomo Bonaventura has scored four top-flight goals against Sampdoria. Against no opponent has he scored more (also scored four against Inter Milan and Napoli).
- A win for AC Milan could level them on points with Sampdoria despite being separated by seven places in the league table.
Player to Watch
Gonzalo Higuain will have a point to prove this weekend, after a disappointing showing against Real Betis in midweek. The Argentine international squandered a few great chances, which could have put his team ahead in the first half. Therefore, he will be looking to redeem himself with a strong display against Sampdoria.
Since moving from Juventus in the summer, Higuain has boasted an impressive scoring record with Milan, netting six goals in nine matches in all competitions. He will be a nuisance for the visitors in the final third with his clever runs in behind the defence. It will be interesting to see how the resolute Sampdoria defence copes with the pressure of having to deal with the Argentine forward this weekend.
AC Milan 1-1 UC Sampdoria
Sampdoria definitely have the edge going into this contest, thanks to their solid start to the campaign coupled with their impressive away record, which has kept them afloat in the Serie A top five so far this season.
However, Milan have been strong at home this term and their individual quality makes it an evenly-balanced contest. Thus, we can expect a 1-1 draw from this highly intriguing encounter this weekend.