Spezia-Milan Preview: For the Love of the Game

For those living in a COVID-19 haze, a friendly reminder: it is Valentine's Day on Sunday. For those with significant others of the female variety, there may be expectations in spite of lockdowns and restrictions, so conveniently, Milan are playing the day before. This allows all of us fans to focus on our first love on Saturday, before potentially having to focus on romantic expectations. On paper, this may seem like just another imbalanced matchup, but this one will be played for the love of the game.

The best way to spend Valentine's weekend

This is Spezia's first time in Serie A as we currently know it, although they previously competed in the top flight prior to World War II. In fact, it was a group made up mainly of local firemen who won the league during the war. The team still wear an honorary tricolore patch on their kits to honor this accomplishment. This season, they are fighting to stay up, and currently sit in 16th place on the table. The little team that could have nothing to lose, which makes them far more dangerous than their place on the table would indicate.

Last week, they earned three points away to Sassuolo in a 2-1 win. For that match, Vincenzo Italiano lined up Provedel; Vignali, Erlic, Terzi, Bastoni; Sena, Ricci, Maggiore; Verde, Agudelo, and Gyasi. He was missing our own Pobega to suspension, the bright young midfielder who is on loan to the Aquilotti this season. Unfortunately, he should be ready to face us on Saturday. Italiano will be without Ferrer and Terzi, due to injury, with Farias, Piccoli, and Nzola fighting for match fitness for this match.

Pobega vs. the player who displaced him at Milan

Milan are not desperate, but do need three points going into a very difficult few weeks, with the Europa League Round of 32 beginning on Thursday and the Derby the following Sunday. Pioli will be without Calabria due to suspension, and Brahim Diaz is definitely out. Tonali is in doubt due to a nagging hip condition. Bennacer is well again and should play from the start. Since that is all that is known as of this writing, expect two or three more players to take ill, test positive for COVID-19, or be injured between now and tomorrow night, because that is just Milan's luck this season.

At the San Siro in October, Milan fielded one of the youngest teams to play in Serie A following the tough Rio Ave match, and beat this Spezia side 3-0. Again, that would indicate that this is an obvious win for Milan, but that can never be assumed, and it is disrespectful and unsporting to do so. Pioli will likely field players that need match fitness, or perhaps give some younger players, but he will not be lining up this team to play on cruise control. 

Spezia will want revenge for this

This is Milan. For as much as fans all over the world love this team, this team sweat and bleed for us every week on the pitch. Pioli and the players have reiterated time and time again that they are taking every game one match at a time, and this will be no exception. Not only will Pobega want to impress to show he deserves to come back and stay at Milan next season, this team have everything to play for. Even if Milan have some big distractions on the horizon, we need every point, too, in order to stay top of the table. Milan will take this seriously. After all, wearing the Milan shirt means always playing for the love of the game.

This post inspired by the music of The Cure's "Lovesong"

Serie A Week 22 
Spezia vs. Milan
Saturday, February 13 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)
This match can be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.

Spezia-Milan Preview: For the Love of the Game Spezia-Milan Preview: For the Love of the Game Reviewed by Elaine on 12:28 AM Rating: 5
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