This evening, AC Milan will take on Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia round of 16, kicking off the second half of the season. However, it will not only be important to get the win in order to advance, but also to gain confidence ahead of the Supercup final against Juve on Wednesday.
Gattuso’s men ended 2018 with a crucial 2-1 win over SPAL, putting themselves back in the Champions League race after dropping points in the previous four games. The three points were also vital for the management’s continuous support for Gattuso, who’s certainly been given a second chance at the club.
Tonight the season continues, as an away game at Sampdoria will take place at Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Since it’s the Coppa Italia, there are bound to be some changes in the starting eleven, although Gattuso hasn’t changed more than what he’s been forced to.
Likely AC Milan XI (4-3-3): Reina; Abate; Zapata, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Bakayoko, Paqueta; Castillejo, Higuain, Calhanoglu.
The big exclamation mark is 21-year-old Lucas Paqueta, who was secured by the Rossoneri management in December after the Brazilian league ended. With that said, he hasn’t been training with Milan for a very long time, but Gattuso had loads of praise for the boy during yesterday’s press conference.
“He’s a player with very specific characteristics, he looks like a European player and not Brazilian. He combines quality with physical strength and immediately understands. His brain works very well even at a tactical level. This is something important, I’m surprised. He always wants to ball and makes himself available. We have made a great signing,” he concluded.
For Milan fans, it will be interesting the see the €35m signing, although it must be said that we shouldn’t take too much out of the first game, that is if he doesn’t do well straight away.
In other team news, Suso will miss out on the game as he’s still struggling with a muscle injury. The Spaniard won’t be available against Juventus either, as he’s suspended due to a red card against SPAL. Left-back Ivan Strinic returns to the squad after missing the first half of the season with heart issues, as doctors have given him the go-ahead.
Even though the game tonight is important, just like any other game, most of the focus lies on the upcoming Supercup final against Juventus. The game will be played on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia, which has resulted in lots of criticism for Lega Serie A. However, once things kick off, Milan will have to put this aside and try to get the win.
The Rossoneri will look to recreate the Supercup win from 2016 when they coincidentally beat Juventus on penalties, as the scores remained 1-1 after extra-time. Even though that trophy didn’t quite result in any further success, Milan will hope that a possible win can be the start of a new era.
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