Both Sampdoria and AC Milan will be desperate to rebound as they clash at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Friday evening.
The Blucerchiati and the Rossoneri are the first teams in action to kick-start matchday four. It will also be the first visit to this ground for new Milan coach Vincenzo Montella since leaving earlier this summer. Another year has brought another new coach for the beleaguered Diavolo. And it has not been the start that Montella – or the club’s weary fans would have wanted.
For the third straight year, there is no European football for Milan. Once one of the elite clubs on the continent, even a Europa League spot is out of reach. They started off decently, with a 3-2 win against Torino, but now have lost two in a row. The 4-2 defeat to Napoli ended with nine men, showing that discipline under pressure is a problem. And last weekend, they suffered their first home defeat to Udinese since May 2007.
Not exactly promising reading ahead of their trip to Genoa. In addition, the visitors are missing Mattia De Sciglio, Matías Fernández, Cristian Zapata, and Andrea Bertolacci due to injury, whilst Juraj Kucka is still banned. Despite Milan having won the past three meetings against Sampdoria, confidence within the Diavolo camp could not be any lower. And although they have half the points of their opponents, the Rossoneri sit in 13th versus Samp’s fifth.
Meanwhile, Marco Giampaolo’s side saw their 100 per cent win record end as they fell to a 3-2 loss to Roma. Sampdoria, however, will feel a bit aggrieved with that result as the match was initially halted due to bad weather before being re-started. The hiatus appeared to really help the Lupi regain their bearings, and the game ultimately finished with veteran striker Francesco Totti scoring a very late spot-kick. Before the narrow loss, Friday’s hosts had been pretty solid, and will be expected to get back on track against a very disappointing Milan side.
Sampdoria will have to make do without Ricky Alvarez due to suspension, whilst Carlos Carbonero is still recovering from injury. If one is into stats, here are a few that will please one set of fans – but will surely upset the other. For starters, in their past 20 fixtures against teams below them in the table, Sampdoria have won 12, drawn eight, and lost none. By contrast, Milan have lost 13, drawn six, and won just one of their last 20 road fixtures versus teams ranked higher than them in the table.
In addition, although Samp haven’t beaten Milan at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris since April 2010, the Rossoneri have yet to keep a clean sheet this term. If this does not represent a golden opportunity to end their own Milan hoodoo, then what else is? For all intents and purposes, the Diavolo are like a wounded fish struggling in the sea, with sharks like Juventus, Lazio, Sassuolo, and Fiorentina all awaiting them. All in all, the Blucerchiati indeed will be loath to fail to capitalize on this chance to inflict more misery on a side that surely wish they could hit the reset button on an already-frustrating campaign.
For Milan, this also represents a great chance to bounce back and avoid a third straight loss, but will the defeat to Udinese have inflicted too heavy a demoralizing blow?