As the international break has come to an end, Milan are gearing up to take on Sampdoria in just a few hours, with an unusual kick-off time of 12:30 CEST on a Saturday. Of course, this is because of the Easter celebrations, but hopefully it won’t distract the team from getting the job done.
Stefano Pioli’s men claimed a necessary win away at Fiorentina ahead of the break, turning a deficit into a lead in the second half. Despite conceding twice, it was certainly a strong performance from the Rossoneri and they will most likely be in a good mood for today’s clash.
Several players that were out on international duty managed to boost their confidence with some good performances as well and maybe that will help. Inter are still ahead in the standings but within reach for Milan and thus the season finale will be extremely interesting, starting with today’s game.
Milan still have a few players on the injury list and given how that season has progressed, you wouldn’t expect anything else really. Brahim Diaz played for Spain’s U21 side but picked up a knock and won’t be available, joining the already injured Alessio Romagnoli, Davide Calabria, Mario Mandzukic, Rafael Leao and Daniel Maldini.
On the other hand, Pioli will be able to rely on Ante Rebic who managed to game his two-game ban reduced to just one game. The Croatian will start on the left-wing and will surely be eager to prove his worth. In addition to him, Ismael Bennacer is ready to play from start again and that will be a huge boost for the team.
Besides those two changes, there will also be a surprising one as the manager is set to field Alexis Saelemaekers in the right-back position. Milan do have Diogo Dalot and Pierre Kalulu available for this role, so it feels like the decision is tactical. As a result, Samu Castillejo will start on the right flank of the attacking trio.
It’s a strong XI, therefore, that will take on Sampdoria later today and hopefully the Rossoneri won’t get any more injuries to trouble them in the season finale. Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned from Sweden a few days ago and is said to be in very good shape, but perhaps he can’t play the full 90 minutes.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Saelemaekers, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer, Kessie; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Rebic; Ibrahimovic.
Probable Sampdoria XI (4-4-2): Audero; Bereszynski, Yoshida, Colley, Aguello; Candreva, Thorsby, Silva, Jankto; Quagliarella, Gabbiadini.
- AC Milan have won four of their last six Serie A matches against Sampdoria (D1 L1), including the most recent one; the last time the Rossoneri won both league games against Sampdoria in a season was back in 2015/16.
- AC Milan are the team with the largest negative difference between points picked up at home (22) and those gained away (37) in the Top-5 European leagues this season: -15.
- Sampdoria haven’t drawn any of their last 20 Serie A matches against sides starting the day in the top two of the table (W5 L15); a 2-1 victory against Inter in the most recent such fixture back in January.
- Post lockdown, AC Milan remain unbeaten in the 14 games in which Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored in Serie A, winning 12 of these matches: 22 goals for the Swedish striker during this period.
- Antonio Candreva has been involved in 11 Serie A goals this season (five goals and six assists), more than any other Sampdoria player. The Italian winger has netted three goals against AC Milan in the top-flight.
As mentioned, Milan will have a pretty strong XI on the pitch today and following the win against Fiorentina, they will surely be eager to add another three points to their tally and put some pressure on Inter. Having said that, Claudio Ranieri’s side is hard to break down – as we saw in the reverse fixture – so it won’t be easy.
On paper, at least, there is no doubt that the Rossoneri are the favourites but it will require maximum attention from all of the players in order to get a good result. Anything other than a win would be hugely disappointing for Milan and it would probably ruin their chances of getting the Scudetto.
Milan 2-0 Sampdoria
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