Milan-Sampdoria Preview: Pride

This match is all about pride. Sampdoria have already been relegated, and are facing a potentially worse fate off the pitch, so are simply playing for pride. Milan are desperate to secure a top four finish, and after a string of three straight losses, also need to restore some pride. Then there is a matter of humanity, as Wednesday was the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. For some reason, some people confuse discrimination, hate, and religious or personal beliefs, while actually forgetting the definition of tolerance. So here's hoping that this match will restore some faith and humanity all around. Here's hoping for pride.

Both teams are battered and bruised and will be seeking to restore pride.

Sampdoria are such a Serie A club with such history. Since winning their singular Scudetto in the 1990-91 season, they have spent all but five seasons in Serie A. In 2021, their owner and president, Massimo Ferrero, was arrested as part of an investigation into corporate crimes and bankruptcy. Now, the club itself has serious financial problems and is facing potential bankruptcy. Moral of that story is never allow your club to be purchased by a crazy film producer.

This season began with Giampaolo as their manager. That's how bad it has been. After only eight matches in charge (sound familiar?) Sampdoria were winless, and so he was replaced by Dejan Stanković. He has only managed to earn them 18 points for the entire season, which has them absolute bottom of the table, and already mathematically relegated. Worse still, the same time they were relegated, their cross city rivals, Genoa, gained promotion from Serie B back to Serie A. That had to sting. The moral of that story is to never entrust your club to a former Lazio and Inter player.

Legendary club. Legendary player and captain.

Their most recent match on Monday was nearly a win, but they conceded a goal in stoppage time for a heartbreaking 1-1 draw to Empoli. For that match, Stanković lined up: Raviglia; Günter, Nuytinck, Amione; Zanioli, Winks, Rincón, Augello; Djuričić; Gabbiadini, and Quagliarella. He will be missing Audero, Pussetto, and former Milan player Andrea Conti to injuries. Fans have not been taking the situation well, so despite all of the troubles, the team will undoubtedly like to leave their mark on their final three matches as a matter of pride.

Pioli faces the tough task of bringing the team back mentally from the bitter defeats to the also severely financially plagued Inter in the Champions League, as well as an inexplicable loss last week to Spezia. He is also without Ibrahimović and now Bennacer for six months. Florenzi could possibly return for this one, his fitness is still unknown as of this writing. EDIT: After training Saturday morning, three more players sustained injuries and are unavailable: Rebić has an ankle injury; Origi has an adductor injury, and Vranckx has a groin injury. Who Pioli lines up will be telling. He has tired legs to manage, as well as players like Leão and Messias who may not be fully fit yet after injury. But the team will have a full week off after this one. He knows three points are essential, so what will his approach be?

With a horror show of results behind him in 2023 and only 3 games left, he probably isn't sleeping.

The risks of missing out on Champions League next year are well known. Milan are currently in fifth place, four points behind Lazio, with 61 points. Which means that we must get all nine points available in these last three matches and also hope that at least one team above us drops points. While Milan were only expected to make it out of the Group Stage this year, having won the league last year and having made it all the way to the semifinal raised expectations, perhaps artificially so. Finishing in the top four is the bare minimum that the team could do at this point to preserve the club's pride this season.

Speaking of pride and the club, it is shocking too me the level of hate people have for other people. On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, as part of the RespACT campaign, the club posted once on social media "AC Milan is for Everyone" and the phrase "There is no place for discrimination." That's it. There were thousands of hateful replies, confirming the need for such an initiative, from people claiming to be Milan fans. I know that this was also one of the problems at the World Cup in Qatar this past year, but I simply do not understand how people can claim that their religious beliefs are being infringed upon by allowing others to simply live with their own agency. 

AC Milan is for Everyone. Unfortunately, even the haters.

There are those who do not even adhere to their own religious beliefs but are willing to forcibly impose certain beliefs on others in the form of hatred. That level of hate has no place in our club or our world. Allowing people to live autonomously and without discrimination is a source of pride. Milan's RespACT campaign may have a ridiculous name, but the purpose is to be inclusive of all people. For example, they are rolling out a new digital version of their audio-description service for the visually impaired at the San Siro this weekend that is accessible to anyone with a smartphone and internet access. Because Milan is for everyone.

There is much at stake for Milan, but the universal goal for everyone involved this match is to restore pride. The San Siro will likely be packed, and hopefully, the Milan fans in person are more tolerant and respectful of all people than those ignorant and hateful people online. Also, this will definitely be our last match vs. Sampdoria for at least a year, and perhaps ever, at least in this iteration of the club. While I must still ardently support Milan taking all three points for all of the reasons, I hope that Milan fans show the legendary Genovese club the respect they deserve. Even if they leave without three points, they should be able to leave the San Siro with pride.

This post inspired by the music of Andy Rourke and The Smiths

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 36
Milan vs. Sampdoria
Saturday, May 20, 2023 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This match can be streamed LIVE on Paramount+ in the U.S.

Milan-Sampdoria Preview: Pride Milan-Sampdoria Preview: Pride Reviewed by Elaine on 4:00 AM Rating: 5
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