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Milan-Empoli Preview: Scraping Bottom


Remember for the first few weeks when Milan scored more goals than we conceded and were at the top of the table? That all seems so long ago now. We are heading into this lunchtime fixture in 11th place on the table with only 29 points, 24 points behind the league leaders. Our opponent, Empoli, is in 15th place with 23 points. Sadly, we have every right to fear them stealing points from us at the San Siro, as our home record this year is abysmal and we were lucky to grab a point against them back in September in Tuscany. And although we made a good showing last week against Juve, the loss reminds us that our results have been poor even when our football has not, so anything can happen. Let’s face it, when we’re in the lower half of the table, we’re scraping bottom.

He scored against Empoli before, can he do it again?

Empoli love to draw. In fact, they have 11 draws this season so far, including the 2-2 draw with us in September. Their current run of form is L-D-L-D-W. But their draws were vs. Inter and Roma, they love stealing points from the teams in the top half of the table…. oh wait, that’s not us anymore, nevermind. At least they won’t have Bonera this time, he was their 12th man in our September fixture.

Their home win last week was vs. Cesena where Sarri lined up Sepe; Rui, Hisaj, Rugani, Tonelli; Valdifiori, Signorelli, Verdi, Zielinski; Maccarone, and Pucciarelli. And if you’re wondering why that name “Verdi” sounds familiar, it’s because he is Simone Verdi, our former Milan youth player. The big news is that their newly returned star, Ricardo Saponara, who is on loan to them from Milan, has contracted the chicken pox and will not be available to play. Terrible for him, but great for us. Sarri will also be missing Guarente to a long term injury and Vecino is doubtful.

At least he seems to have learned something from Milan

Inzaghi of course is still missing nearly half of his bloated and overpaid roster. Mexes is still suspended, and with injuries he is missing: Agazzi, Zapata, De Sciglio, Bonera, Abate, Montolivo, Mastour, and El Shaarawy. But the good news is that the injured De Jong is back, and Destro returns after his one match suspension. Those are two excellent players to get back, with even a returning-to-fitness-De Jong being better than all the rest of our midfield combined.

The other major factor in this game is the time: the lunchtime fixture is always hard. It’s so hard to predict which team will do better in the middle of the day, but I keep hoping that playing at home will somehow give us some advantage, even if I should know better by now. So I hope with all my heart that we can build on the improvement from last week, even if I should also know better than that by now. Let’s face it, when you are scraping bottom, it’s hard to consciously have any real hope. But in my heart, I will always have the desire to win. So since it’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m waking up at 3am for this game, maybe Milan will give me all three points?


This post inspired by the music of The Cure’s “Lovesong”


Milan vs. Empoli
Sunday, February 15 • 12:30 CET (6:30am EST)
This match will be shown on RAI and BeIN Sports in the U.S.