Sassuolo-Milan Preview: Uphill From Here

At the halfway point in the season, Milan only have 5 league wins, with only one of those being an away win. Having earned only 22 points in 18 games seems like it should be impossible with so many talented players, but for Milan, impossible is nothing. Fans keep hoping each week that this week will be the turn of fortunes, that this week, Milan will return to winning ways. And the fervor becomes more than twice as loud if there has been a good result the previous week. With Monday’s convincing win over Atalanta, complete with three heartwarming goals from Kaka and Cristante, it’s almost impossible not to go to 18th place Sassuolo with a positive attitude, even if we’ve been burned so many times before this season. Still, one can only hope with that result coupled with the signings of Rami and Honda, things will only be uphill from here.

Our hearts are with you, as your heart has always been Milanista

Two big off-the pitch issues have gained a lot of press this week. The first is Francesco Acerbi. He was banned in December by officials for testing positive for hcG, a banned substance. However, it was quickly determined that the hcG was caused by a relapse in the poor man’s testicular cancer. And yet, even while undergoing treatment again for the disease first diagnosed last July, including potentially having chemotherapy as well this time, the ban stood, a complete disgrace to the authorities and their inhumane approach to doping. However, finally this week, Acerbi’s lawyers were able to get the ban removed and clear Acerbi’s name, something that should have happened immediately and not required the intervention of lawyers and court dates. As his lawyer said, now Acerbi can focus 100% on returning to health. Our thoughts and prayers are with Acerbi, as are the Milan players, who wore special shirts for him following his relapse. May your battle be all uphill from here.

The other off-the-pitch issue is the Curva Sud announcing that they would boycott the Sassuolo match due to ticket prices. A strange  protest after recent protests, even if it is for a noble cause. The €35 ticket at the Stadio Cittá del Tricolore is actually not terribly expensive as tickets go, either. But Milan will have to win this one without the support of their Curva.

Will our boys pull off the win without the away support of the Curva?

Sassuolo started this season off poorly, but things have gotten even worse for them than for Milan. It must be the curse of the Berlusconi Trophy. The newly promoted side, playing in Serie A for the very first time have only 3 wins, 5 draws, and thus 10 losses this season. Two of their three wins came at home, but their worst loss, a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Inter earlier in the season, also came at home. They are currently in very poor form, with 4 straight losses ahead of Sunday’s match.

Their most recent match was a 2-0 away loss to Genoa, in which Di Eusebio lined up Pegolo; Antei, Bianco, Rossini; Longhi, Magnanelli, Marrone, Gazzola; Missiroli, Berardi, and Floro Flores. Di Eusebio will be without defender Bianco due to a yellow card accumulation suspension. He will also be missing three strikers to injury: Masucci, Gomes, and Alexe, as well as the defender Terranova, who is missing due to a long term injury.

You got your panettone, now give us a decent lineup and a win already

If we don’t manage a result tomorrow, Allegri can’t really pull the injury card as an excuse. With only El Shaarawy out long term, Birsa will likely still miss this one, despite returning to individual training this week, and only Constant and Abate are still out, I believe. That is nothing compared to our typical list, and most of those players have others in the squad to take their places. Muntari is still suspended of course, but it is important to take advantage of every week Allegri cannot field him.

Additionally, Allegri has the infusion of three new signings. Rami as a central defender, who played a few minutes on Monday and should be ready to start. Of course there is Honda, who I am guessing will not start, and may not even sub on, due to the fact that he has not been playing for over a month and also just flew from Japan a week ago. But who is the third, you ask? Well according to Galliani, after finally getting a start on Monday and impressing and even scoring, Bryan Cristante is our midfield signing for January, despite having been rotting on the bench and playing with the Primavera all season under Allegri’s infamous “Every Child Left Behind™” (also known as “he is very, very young”) policy.

Galliani's newest signing of the mercato

Between the excitement for the new transfers, even if they don’t start or even play, and the feel-good win on Monday, it’s easy to imagine a good result tomorrow. And yet, this is Milan, which this season means something completely different than it has in the past, with both off-the-pitch shenanigans and on-the-pitch poor performances. Still, I have to believe, as a fan, it’s almost impossible not to. Certainly the Curva Sud must believe enough to abandon their team and leave them to their own devices. But I hope we win this one for Acerbi. Despite the fact that Sassuolo is his team now, he is still a Milanista at heart. And what better way to show him support while he is treated for cancer than to have the team of his heart pull off the win? (Did I seriously just type that?) After a season that has been so tough for Milan, I have to believe that things will only go uphill from here.

This post inspired by the music of The Ramones

Sassuolo vs. Milan
Sunday, January 12 * 20:45 CET (2:45 EST)
This match will be shown on BeIN Sport and RAI in the US
Check the comments for stream links ahead of the match

Sassuolo-Milan Preview: Uphill From Here Sassuolo-Milan Preview: Uphill From Here Reviewed by Elaine on 4:20 AM Rating: 5
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