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Milan-Empoli Preview: Bringing Football Home


After an offseason where hope started to build into a positive fervor, Sunday’s match hurt a lot more for many of us than any normal match. But now we got that pain out of the way, we can focus on more realistic and grounded expectations for Saturday. Empoli have the daunting task of coming to the San Siro, where fans will be especially anxious for victory. And if there’s anything to be said for Mihajlovic, it’s that he knows how to learn from mistakes. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that we'll see a much improved performance, especially since our opponent may not be as strong or organized as Fiorentina were. So on Saturday, I believe we’ll see Milan bringing football home.

"So we have a new plan for this week: winning"

Empoli are where they are today for several reasons, but the people who most impacted their success were coach Maurizio Sarri and former Milan player Riccardo Saponara. But Sarri moved on to another blue team this summer, so that leaves Saponara as our biggest threat. And he is a big threat, but he cannot do it all alone. Take last Sunday’s match vs. Chievo, he put them up in the 7th minute, but Chievo came back with three goals in the second half to take all three points. They were simply not the same team as last year.

This year, Marco Giampaolo is at the helm. For that fateful opening loss, he lined up Skorupski; Zambelli, Barba, Rui, Martinelli; Saponara, Maccarone, Croce, Diousse, Zielinski, and Pucciarelli. This time around, he’ll be missing defender Laurini, with Rui, Maccarone, and Dermaku in doubt with minor injuries, and Tonelli likely to play, although also a doubt.

Wow... deja vu... this place is so familiar

With both teams still stinging from opening losses, missing players doesn’t help. Mihajlovic will still be missing Mexes, Menez, and Niang to injuries, but also the young center back Rodrigo Ely to suspension. Look for Zapata to most likely replace him, as Paletta is set to go on loan with Atalanta and Alex may not be 100% fit yet. The big unknown as of this writing will be if Balotelli will see any time. It is unlikely, given that he has not had any significant playing time for a while. However, if he is deemed reasonably fit, it wouldn’t surprise me if Mihajlovic subs him on for some time.

There is more than just three points on the line for these two clubs. Both will be playing for pride and for redemption. But Milan have the additional challenge of playing in front of their home fans, who are starving for both a result and some beautiful football again. While the football may not be anywhere near the beautiful football that many of us crave, it will be important to show improvement to the fans. So while three points is the primary goal, these players will also be tasked with the challenge of bringing football home.


This post inspired by the music of U2’s “Pride”

Serie A Week 2
Milan vs. Empoli
Saturday, August 29 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This match will be shown LIVE on BeIn Sport and RAI in the U.S.