Sassuolo-Milan Preview: The Strength of the Spirit

J.R.R. Tolkien wisely wrote, "It is not the strength of the body, but the strength of the spirit." Never before have Milan needed this to be more true than now. With so many bodies missing to injury, the strength of the spirit of this squad is at the heart of our hope. Like so many of Tolkien's characters, who faced great adversity and tasks that were much larger than they, this squad must carry the team now through at least the next two matches with out our Viking forward and Viking defender, who are both injured. Battle weary, and struggling for a lack of reinforcements, the test of this match will be the strength of the spirit.

One glimmer of hope

Sassuolo are known as Milan killers, specifically Berardi. The currently sit in sixth place on the table, a mere five points behind Milan. Midweek, they played a frustrated 1-1 draw with Fiorentina. For that match, De Zerbi lined up: Consigli; Toljan, Chiriches, Peluso, Rogerio; Obiang, Locatelli; Berardi, Traore, Boga; Rapsadori. Locatelli, former Milan fan favorite, is suspended for that match due to card accumulation, which at least helps to know that he will not be breaking our hearts and our unbeaten streak. Additionally, De Zerbi will be missing to Romagna to injury.

Milan were hoping to have Ibrahimovic back to bolster our beleaguered young team for the last two matches of this calendar year. He did return to training on Friday, but sustained a new injury and definitely won't be back until after the Christmas break. Likewise, we will still be missing Kjaer to injury, perhaps an even more worrying prospect, given the number of goals we have conceded since he has been injured. Bennacer and Gabbia are also out injured. However, we should have Theo Hernandez back from his muscle fatigue he suffered midweek, so that is one bright spot.

Even having one of these injured players available would change so much

In July, the last time we went to the Mapei, we took all three points. But that was with an Ibrahimovic brace, and we have failed to score like he does, even if we have seen so many different players score. Rebic is tired and likely frustrated to be playing out of position, and Leao reportedly just has his assets seized in conjunction with a case involving a transfer drama with his previous club, Sporting CP. We need goals, and we need them from anywhere we can get them. More importantly, we need to not concede any goals. Sassuolo have scored 23 goals thus far this season, we do not need to allow them any more. Especially not Berardi.

This Milan squad have the weight of the world on their shoulders. The unbeaten streak, our lead in Serie A reduced to only one point ahead of our hated Cugini, who no longer have Europe to worry about, and have a superior squad on paper with fewer injuries. This match will probably be a little like the battle of Helm's Deep, only without any reinforcements available. Thus, we must rely on Tolkien's wise words, and hope that this young team can dig deep and fight for all three points to hold our ground, everything they have fought so hard for up until this point. This match, they must fight with "the strength of the spirit."

This post inspired by the music of Howard Shore's "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Soundtrack"

Serie A Week 13
Sassuolo vs. Milan
Sunday, December 20 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)
This match can be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.

Sassuolo-Milan Preview: The Strength of the Spirit Sassuolo-Milan Preview: The Strength of the Spirit Reviewed by Elaine on 12:26 AM Rating: 5
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