AC Milan will be aiming to strengthen their hold on sixth place in the Serie A table, when they take on Sampdoria on Wednesday night.

AC Milan will make the trip to Stadio Luigi Ferraris this week, as they gear up to take on Sampdoria in their penultimate match of the 2019/20 Serie A.

Currently 15th in the table, Sampdoria are safe from relegation given that they have a nine-point lead over Lecce in 18th with two games left. Claudio Ranieri’s side lost their last two matches against Genoa and Juventus, after having picked up three wins in a row prior to that. They will now be looking to end their campaign on a winning note with two wins in two matches.

AC Milan, on the other hand, have been one of the most in-form teams since the season resumed last month. Under Stefano Pioli, the Rossoneri have enjoyed a resurgence and are currently sixth in the table – a position that they will look to solidify and seal qualification to the UEFA Europa League next season. They come into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw against Atalanta.

The reverse fixture, played at San Siro in January earlier this year, ended in a goalless draw. And ahead of their latest meeting on Wednesday night, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Sampdoria

Ranieri will be looking to end the season on a high (Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images)

Claudio Ranieri will be looking to end the season on a high (Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images)

Sampdoria have a number of roster issues to contend to heading into their penultimate fixture of the season. Claudio Ranieri will be unable to call upon key midfielder Albin Ekdal, who is injured while Morten Thorsby misses out due to suspension. Bartosz Bereszynski is also a doubt for the game, while Julian Chabot, who came off injured in the last game could also miss out.

Ranieri is expected to set his team up in a 4-4-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Emil Audero on Wednesday night. Lorenzo Tonelli is likely to continue at right-back, while Tomasso Augello should slot in on the left. Maya Yoshida is sure to start at the heart of the defence, but could be partnered by Omar Colley in place of Chalot.

Right-back Fabio Depaoli was fielded on the right side of the four-man midfield last time out and could start in a similar role again, in order to keep a check on the runs of AC Milan left-back Theo Hernandez. Jakub Jankto should occupy the left wing, although he is likely to tuck into the middle more often than not.

With Ekdal injured and Thorsby suspended, Andrea Bertolacci could be in line for a start in the middle of the park. He could be partnered by Karol Linetty, although Mehdi Leris is also an option at the manager’s disposal.

Gaston Ramirez started in a secondary striker role in the last game, but having come off injured, his involvement is uncertain. In that case, Ranieri is likely to opt for a two-pronged strike force comprising of captain Fabio Quagliarella and Manolo Gabbiadini.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Audero; Tonelli, Yoshida, Colley, Augello; Depaoli, Linetty, Bertolacci, Jankto; Quagliarella, Gabbiadini

AC Milan

AC Milan will be boosted by the return of Theo Hernandez and Ismael Bennacer, who are back after serving out their respective suspensions. However, the Rossoneri continue to be without captain Alessio Romagnoli and fellow defender Andrea Conti.

There is no looking past Gianluigi Donnarumma in the AC Milan goal, while Davide Calabria should continue at right-back in Conti’s absence. Simon Kjaer and Matteo Gabbia are expected to pair up at the heart of the defence once again, while Hernandez should replace Diego Laxalt at left-back.

In the centre of the park, Franck Kessie will be reunited with regular partner Bennacer, with Lucas Biglia dropping out of the starting XI. Hakan Calhanoglu, who matched his best goal tally in a single league campaign after scoring against Atalanta last time out, will continue to pull the strings from the No. 10 role for the visitors.

Despite Samu Castillejo’s return to full fitness, Alexis Saelemaekers is expected to continue on the right wing, while in-form man Ante Rebic is a certainty on the left. The AC Milan attack will be spearheaded by the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Gabbia, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Rebic; Ibrahimovic

Key Stats

  • AC Milan have a huge upper-hand over Sampdoria when it comes to head to head record  in the Serie A. The Rossoneri have won 63 of the 123 matches played, while the Blucerchiati have picked up just 30 wins (D30).
  • Sampdoria have won only three of their last 14 matches against AC Milan in Serie A (D4 L7).
  • AC Milan have scored 28 goals in the 10 matches post-lockdown in Serie A, as many as they had scored in their previous 26 games of the season.
  • None of Sampdoria’s last seven home matches in the league have ended in draws, since a goalless stalemate against Sassuolo in January (W3 L4).
  • AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli is unbeaten against Sampdoria manager Claudio Ranieri in Serie A (W1 D3).

Player to Watch

Hakan Calhanoglu

Living up to expectations, finally (Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

Living up to expectations, finally (Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

It hasn’t always been easy for the 26-year-old Turkish international at Milan since his high-profile switch from Bayer Leverkusen in 2017. However, he has toughed it out and emerged with credit season after season, including the 2019/20 campaign.

While Ante Rebic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have been drawing the plaudits, the Turkish playmaker has had a huge influence on Milan’s upturn of form post-lockdown. Indeed, the 26-year-old has scored five of his eight league goals since football resumed last month, while seven of his eight assists in the league have also come during this period.

Having found the back of the net against Atalanta in the previous game, Calhanoglu will now look to build upon that and lead Milan to another victory this midweek.

Prediction

Sampdoria 1-2 AC Milan

AC Milan have been on a hot streak since the campaign resumed last month. While they did fail to pick up a win last time out, they will be handed a huge boost by the returns of Theo Hernandez and Ismael Bennacer.

Sampdoria, on the other hand, coming to the game on the back of two consecutive defeats, although they were a tad unlucky not to score in the last game against Juventus, which might have changed the outcome of the game.

Nevertheless, they don’t boast the best of records against the Rossoneri, who will also have the added motivation of securing Europa League football for next season. Thus, The Hard Tackle is backing Stefano Pioli & co. to pick up a win at the Luigi Ferraris on Wednesday.

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