Milan continued to win without Ibra in the lineup. A solid 2-0 win versus Fiorentina was followed by a come back midweek 4-2 win against Celtic . The Swedish giant was watching on the sidelines as the team on the pitch showed growth and confidence. Ibra will still miss another week or more and the injury list has another important player on it. Kjaer started versus Celtic when it seemed like a good opportunity to give the Danish defender a respite following many consecutive starts. As luck would have it he picked up a thigh problem and could miss around two weeks. Romagnoli, who on the surface likely didn’t need the rest as much, will now start with Gabbia. Another feature of the Celtic match was that Krunic was given a start and was partly responsible for the Scottish team taking a quick 0-2 lead.
Every coach seems to have his set of, arguably, stubborn ways and Pioli’s insistence in giving Krunic minutes may yet cost the team more points. The bigger issue perhaps is that however short Kjaer’s time on the side line is Milan can not afford to be missing central defenders. The January window, it is hoped, will bring depth and quality.
As for this visit to Sampdoria both Calabria and Theo will play as first choice full backs but in midfield Bennacer is not called up in what is described as fatigue. Tonali and Kessie will get the starts. After a slow start the former has been showing signs of adapting and growing. Hauge had an assist and a goal versus Celtic but that may not be enough to get a start at the Luigi Ferraris. Diaz along side Calhanoglu and Saelemaekers are favorites for the spots behind Rebic. The tactics will remain the way they have been the last few months but of course Rebic offers a different look than Ibra. The Croatian doesn’t seem very settled as an attacking focal point and will switch and move to open up space for Calhanoglu or others to work as a false 9 or a false forward.
Sampdoria are a relatively healthy team but Keita Balde is out injured. The team features several verterans in Antonio Candreva, Fabio Quagliarella and Manolo Gabbiadini. The team hasn’t won since late October and sits in the middle of the table.
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