Milan-Sampdoria Preview: The Ibrafana

In Italy, there is an old woman/witch called “La Befana.” Every year, on the Epiphany, January 6th, she travels around to all of the children. If the children have been good, they get toys and candy. If they have been bad, they get coal. This year, on January 6th, Milan fans will be visited by both Sampdoria and hopefully the Ibrafana™. Whether or not this match brings us toys or coal, though, remains to be seen.

Age is just a number

Sampdoria sit in 17th place on the table, desperately fighting to get out of the relegation zone after sacking Di Francesco and bringing in Claudio Ranieri just a few days after Milan madeour own change from ideas (Giampaolo) to experience (Pioli.) After winning an exciting 1-0 Derby della Lantera against rivals Genoa, they lost 2-1 to Juventus before the break, but they put up a good fight. For that match, Ranieri lined up Audero; Murillo, Ferrari, Colley, Murru; Depaoli, Thorsby, Linetty, Jankto; Ramirez, and Caprari. He will be missing Caprari to suspension after a late red card against Juve. He will also be missing Ferrari, Barreto, and also likely our old pal Bertolacci to injury. Quagliarella, at age 36, whether or not he gets to play, will just be grateful that there will be someone older than him on the other team.

Pioli will have the 38 year-old Ibrahimovic, who passed his medical tests with flying colors, then scored a goal and an assist in a training match yesterday. It remains to be seen whether Pioli will start him or sub him on or bench him altogether. Duarte will still be out with this foot injury, and Biglia and Rebic both missed the friendly yesterday with muscle concerns, so they will need to be evaluated ahead of Monday’s match.

Can "The Tinkerer" rescue Sampdoria's season?

Despite the inescapable excitement and joy surrounding the return of Ibrahimovic, Milan’s last match was the Christmas Massacre. In addition to needing to wipe those memories clean from Milan fans’ minds, a process that could take years, there is the first half of the season to date which also needs to be overcome. Even if Sampdoria are desperate to clear the relegation zone, Milan cannot afford to give up any more points and need to do much better than 11th place, especially with Ibra’s salary now. Although the battle will be between the two underperforming teams, all eyes will be on the Ibrafana™. He has scored in his first match at every club he has played at, so fans will be hoping he plays and scores on Monday, rather than bring them all coal.

This post inspired by the music of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Black Magic”

Serie A Week 18
Milan vs. Sampdoria
Monday, January 6 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)
This match can be streamed LIVE on ESPN+

Milan-Sampdoria Preview: The Ibrafana Milan-Sampdoria Preview: The Ibrafana Reviewed by Elaine on 5:51 AM Rating: 5
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