Friday, September 27, 2013

Milan-Sampdoria Preview: Running to Stand Still

I’m sure there are words I should be typing, but frankly, it’s been over 3 years with Allegri at the helm, management have switched sides, and it’s hard to have anything redeeming to look forward to tomorrow. According to Allegri, every match they have played they have played well, even if it has looked incredibly different to everyone else. So tomorrow we welcome 17th placed Sampdoria to the San Siro. A situation we would normally be salivating about and placing odds on how many goals we could score against them. Instead, our Curva Sud will likely be empty (as of this writing, anyway,) and our hearts still bruised from recent results. With the other big teams performing well, even if we pull of the win, it will seem like we are just running to stand still.

Take away the Curva, and it is hardly a home advantage

Sampdoria are a hot mess. Ever since Garrone undermined the club by selling Cassano and Pazzini, they have struggled to even stay in Serie A, having actually been relegated to Serie B in 2011. Despite having finished 14th last season, their season has started off poorly with 3 losses and 2 draws. That includes the 3-0 derby loss to Genoa, which was their worst defeat ever in the Derby della Lanterna, and inspired their fans to write a letter saying they were not worthy of their shirts, etc.

So after an incredible comeback on Sunday to draw with Cagliari, they suffered yet another loss midweek to top of the table Roma. Normally, they would probably be dreading the trip to the San Siro, but I’ll bet if they’ve watched the tapes, they’ll be salivating and placing odds on how many goals they’ll be scoring against us. A painful irony that is not lost on Milan fans.

Two points in six games gets you.... a trip to the San Siro!!

Delio Rossi managed to make it to round 6 without getting sacked, so we should see him on the sidelines tomorrow. Against Roma, he started Junior Costa; Andrea Costa, Palombo, Gastaldello; Krsticic, Obiang, De Silvestri, Gavazzi; Gabbiadini, Wszolek, and Bjarnason. He should have mostly a full strength squad, in fact Eder may even be back in time for the match, he’s been out injured. And they don’t have to worry about a Champions League match coming up on Tuesday, either, so they could definitely take advantage of Milan while we’re down.

Milan have injuries, suspensions, and a manager who thinks they’ve been playing well. Yet we only have 5 points from 5 matches. So clearly the manager is delusional. Not that this is news. But it makes it very hard to get your hopes up as a fan when you have no idea exactly how delusional he’ll be this week. With Balotelli’s big 3 match ban, Allegri’s bromance boy Matri is likely to start. Just more proof of how delusional/desperate Allegri is. Robinho played well on Wednesday, so maybe he’ll start again.

Even Matri himself looks happier and more comfortable on the bench

Then it’s a matter of which player Allegri views as a trequartista tomorrow, most likely Birsa again. I expect Muntari to be back with a vengeance, he’ll either score or get sent off, or maybe do both within 5 minutes. You never know with that one. But hopefully Poli and De Jong slip past him and make it on the lineup sheet, that would be lovely.On defense, it will really likely only be a question of Constant or Urby. The big goalscorer Abate will likely be accompanied by the other 2 Stooges from Wednesday, with any or all of them working all 90 minutes to concede goals. Abbiati will likely round out the starting 11 and wear the armband, too.

Well if you are not pumped by the optimism oozing from this post and the possible lineups, then I don’t even know how to help you. Milan are spinning our wheels, not playing our game, and the results show. Despite what Allegri may say, we don’t deserve more, in fact, with a couple of the performances, we probably deserved less. But who knows? Maybe the Curva ban will be overturned. Maybe Milan will play better, since they are at home. And maybe we’ll actually win one this time. I’ll be watching, regardless of the performance or the result. I can only hope this time, though we make some progress.

This post inspired by the music of Liam Lynch’s “United States of Whatever”

Milan vs. Sampdoria
Saturday, September 28 • 20:45 CEST (2:45 EDT)
This match is being broadcast LIVE on RAI in the U.S.
Check the comments for stream links prior to the match