Sampdoria-Milan Preview: Manic Monday

While all of the other Serie A opening matches will have been played on Saturday and Sunday, Sampdoria and Milan fans have to wait in anticipation until Monday to see how their teams kick off their respective seasons. To add to the excitement/stress, after Monday, there will only be eight days left of the transfer window. Milan finished second last season, but just barely, so will want to start their season off right with all three points. But Sampdoria, having finished ninth last year, will have something to prove. This one may not be just another manic Monday.

The missing piece Milan have needed

After somehow convincing the singular Premier League title-winning Claudio Ranieri to join the club in October of 2019, Sampdoria's notably eccentric owner, Massimo Ferrero, was unable to keep him this summer when his contract was up. Instead, Roberto D'Aversa, a Milan youth product in his playing days, was brought in from the relegated Parma as manager. Sampdoria's transfer market, like most Serie A clubs, has been basically non-existent. This may be in part because when Kjaer's young Danish teammate and Blucerchiati player, Mikkel Damsgaard dazzled at the Euro Tournament, Ferrero said he wouldn't sell except for ridiculous sums of money, which no club really has right now. More recently, Norway's Marten Thorsby is being linked to a move away to Atalanta, as Ferrero is likely looking to make some panicked last minute reinforcements.

D'Aversa is predicted to lineup a 4-2-3-1 system featuring Audero; Bereszynski, Ferrari, Colley, Augello; Thorsby, Ekdal; Candreva, Gabbiadini, Damsgaard; and Quagliarella. Yes, that is the 38 year-old striker who is still scoring brilliant goals and hails from the same city in Southern Italy as Donnarumma did. Something else they had in common was receiving death threats to both themselves and their families. Quagliarella's were via a stalker for five years that forced him away from Napoli, the club of his heart, whereas Donnarumma's were more public. Time will only tell if something sinister also forced Donnarumma away from Milan, but so far his story is that he wanted a change of scenery and wanted to win trophies, and the only sinister thing involved in his exit besides the glory hunting is agent Mino Raiola.

So many similarities, and yet one player jumped ship and doubled his salary this summer

After Milan twice took Sampdoria's coaching leftovers in Montella and Giampaolo, we finally learned and are entering the third season with the same manager, Stefano Pioli. That consistency alone gives Milan an advantage, as D'Aversa is one of twelve new coaches beginning the season in Serie A. Pioli starts the season without his two best players in Ibrahimović and Kessié, who are both out recovering from injuries. However, unlike last season, or really any season since the retirement of Pippo Inzaghi in 2012, Milan finally have a proper number 9 in Olivier Giroud. He has immediately changed the intensity of our attack and scored all three goals in our preseason tour. We also have a new and very capable pair of hands in goal in the form of Mike Maignan, thanks to a mic drop move from Maldini. The club also announced the arrival of Alessandro Florenzi on loan from Roma on Saturday, who brings both versatility and experience, and is expected to be on the bench on Monday.

Experience, motivation, and ready to play

The last time we faced Sampdoria at the San Siro, the score was 1-1, with a Hauge super sub goal in the 88th minute. Despite not having him after his transfer to Germany and the team's preseason not being overly impressive, the starters looked like they were really clicking together in the last couple of matches. Predicted lineups for Pioli are: Maignan; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernández; Bennacer, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Díaz, Leão; and Giroud. Pioli may experiment with new systems this season, depending on whether or not there are anymore changes to the squad in the mercato

While people are underestimating Milan after the exit of Donnarumma and Calhanoglu this summer, consistency and mentality should more than compensate for the losses. As we discussed on the last podcast, Milan's struggles last year were largely due to injuries and inexperience. Barring too many absences again this season, this young squad is older mathematically and more experienced both with the new signings and with having played the past two seasons together. Even still, with fans returning, and especially at the Marassi, anything can happen in 90 minutes. Anything can happen in the final days of this mercato. So be prepared if this one is just another manic Monday.

This post inspired by the music of The Bangles' "Manic Monday"

Our next match is
Serie A Week 1
Sampdoria vs. Milan
Monday, August 23 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This match can be streamed on Paramount+ in the U.S. (via paid subscription)* 
* Note games are no longer available on ESPN+

Sampdoria-Milan Preview: Manic Monday Sampdoria-Milan Preview: Manic Monday Reviewed by Elaine on 1:45 AM Rating: 5
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