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Serie A Preview: Sampdoria - Milan

Kick-Off: Sunday, March 1, 15:00 CET.Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa

Down But Not Out Entirely

Sampdoria failed to impress in the UEFA Cup in midweek, and were deservedly sent out by Ukraine side Metalist Kharkiv 3-0 on aggregate. This was a disappointing result for a team that has played well below expectations this season.

When discussing the match, in which Sampdoria manager Walter Mazzarri did not field a full strength side, he said, “Those who were on the field did their best.

“It's a pity because we had two very good opportunities to score and change the course of the match. However, luck was not with us and unfortunately we compromised our own opportunities.”

Addressing his side’s next matches, he said, “[We play] Inter in the Coppa Italia and Milan in the league, these are two important tests that we cannot fail, so some choices were required with regards to [player] selection.”

Their only saving grace for this season is the prospect of achieving silverware from the Coppa Italia, however difficult that may be. They face finalists in the last four years― and twice winners― Inter in the semi-final next Wednesday in Milan.

Having finished in sixth place last term, they were looking to make a real push toward UEFA Champions League football this time around. Currently in fourteenth place in Serie A, that looks very unlikely.

Singular Focus From Now On

Having embarrassingly been eliminated from the UEFA Cup on Thursday― the competition they were favoured to win― Milan now only have one objective remaining, and that is to finish in a league position which will secure Champions League football for next season.

On Thursday, Milan faced German side Werder Bremen at home with a slight advantage of having an away goal to their credit after drawing 1-1 last week. But Milan were determined not to have to rely on the away goals rule.

They came out firing in the first half, and deserved to go into the break with a 2-0 lead after a penalty kick from Andrea Pirlo and a fantastic solo effort from Alexandre Pato. It appeared as though Milan were going to steamroll Werder on their way to the next round.

However, just as they did in the first leg, Werder Bremen picked up the pace in the second half, and once again caught Milan flat-footed. Two crosses from the left side found the head of Claudio Pizarro, who duly placed the ball into the back of the net. Milan poured forward in the last moments of the match to get the goal they needed to advance, seeing as Werder were now the side with the away goals rule in their favour, but the goal never came.

Milan must now pick up the pieces and focus their efforts on getting the maximum number of points they can not only from this next match against Sampdoria, but for the remainder of the season. Fiorentina, Genoa and Roma are not far behind in the Serie A standings, and could take over Milan’s position should the Rossoneri slip up.


FORM GUIDE


Sampdoria

08/02 (Serie A): Sampdoria 2-2 Siena

15/02 (Serie A): Juventus 1-1 Sampdoria

18/02 (UEFA Cup): Sampdoria 0-1 Metalist

22/02 (Serie A): Sampdoria 1-0 Atalanta

26/02 (UEFA Cup): Metalist 2-0 Sampdoria

 

Milan

07/02 (Serie A): Milan 1-1 Reggina

15/02 (Serie A): Inter 2-1 Milan

18/02 (UEFA Cup): Werder Bremen 1-1 Milan

22/02 (Serie A): Milan 1-0 Cagliari

26/02 (UEFA Cup): Milan 2-2 Werder Bremen


TEAM NEWS

Sampdoria

The home side must do without Nenad Krsticic and Gennaro Delvecchio through injury, while Claudio Bellucci is suspended.

Sampdoria must be careful when going in for tackles, as Hugo Campagnaro, Daniele Franceschini, Angelo Palombo and Marco Padalino are all sitting one caution away from a suspension.

Possible Formation (3-5-2): Castellazzi; Raggi, Lucchini, Accardi; Padalino, Sammarco, Palombo, Franceschini, Pieri; Pazzini, Cassano

Milan

Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Marco Borriello are injured. Kaka is questionable for this match as his left foot sprain is still bothering him. Clarence Seedorf sustained a neck injury in the UEFA Cup loss, so he will be kept out of this match, while Massimo Ambrosini is also not entirely fit.

There are no suspended players for Milan, but Kakhaber Kaladze, Giuseppe Favalli and Massimo Ambrosini face suspension if they are cautioned.

Possible Formation (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Zambrotta, Bonera, Maldini, Jankulovski; Beckham, Pirlo, Flamini; Ronaldinho; Pato, Inzaghi


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sampdoria

Antonio Cassano is the main focus in attack, as usual. However, it is his partner up-front, Giampaolo Pazzini, who has been in the best form  lately. Since joining Sampdoria in January, he has integrated himself into his new surroundings very well and is now a first-choice striker having scored in the last four matches.

Milan

Now seeing regular football after having sat on the bench for most of the season, Filippo Inzaghi is back to his old self, terrorising defences in the penalty box. With Kaka not fit and Seedorf injured, Ronaldinho returns to the fold with the reins of the attack in his hands.


PREDICTION

Sampdoria have played better in the last month, while Milan’s play has levelled out after their brilliant start to the year. With both sides disappointed following their poor showings in European play, it is possible that one of these clubs will come out flat in this match. However, that will not be the case, and we will get an entertaining affair from these clubs.

Sampdoria 1-1 Milan

Joel Whitehead, Goal.com