Week 25: Milan – Sampdoria

Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1

Optimism and general mood around the team is on the rise. The come from behind 1-2 derby win and the 4-0 trashing of Lazio in Coppa Italia has made for a good few days for Milan. The weekend approached with more good news with news of Theo’s contract extension to 2026. Even more good news was Napoli versus Inter 1-1 tie which allows Milan to go to top of the standings with a win.

This week 25 match versus Sampdoria is an early afternoon match however and Milan’s record suggests that the team finds it difficult to win these early games. Whether that is an actual thing is debatable but the opportunity to go top, even temporarily as Inter have a game in hand, is both a motivator and a pressure builder.

Milan is missing arguably its bigger motivator in Ibra, but the Swede will be on the sidelines and Pioli and the young team have shown mental strength with the help of Ibra and the few veterans like – four goals in last two games – Giroud. The team is also as healthy as it has been in a while although Kjaer is of course a long term absentee.

Maignan will start in goal and Theo’s red card suspension makes choosing the back four difficult. Calabria and Florenzi could share the full back spots but will Calabria move to the left or will Florenzi. It was thought that Tomori will be given more rest following knee surgery as Romagnoli and Kalulu have handled the recent matches well but the Englishman is apparently ready to jump in from the start.

Kessie’s form has been indifferent at best and it was further proven in the derby when Diaz’s introduction in place of the Ivorian’s more advanced spot helped change the complexion of the match. Kessie is a prime candidate for the bench and it leaves the pivots job to Bennacer and the ever improving Tonali. Leao deserves to retain his left wing spot with Diaz in the middle. Messias or Saelemaekers will play on the right with form an issue. The former is a better bet for now. In Ibra’s absence Giroud’s form is very welcome and it is hoped he can bury the number 9 curse for good.

Marco Giampoalo rejoined Sampdoria last month. His team beat Sassuolo 4-0 in the returning coach’s second game back. The team signed Major League Soccer star Sebastian Giovinco as a replacement for long term absentee Manolo Gabbiadini. Gabbiadini ruptured knee ligament and will miss a few months of action.

There is always more about this and all Milan matches on the forums.