Early leaders AC Milan will look to maintain their five-point cushion at the top of the Serie A table when they travel to Sampdoria on Sunday at 7:45 PM (UK time).
The Rossoneri have made a blistering start to the 2020/21 campaign, going unbeaten across their opening nine Serie A games of the season, winning seven and drawing two.
Stefano Pioli is quite rightly receiving widespread plaudits for the unexpectedly brilliant job he’s doing at Milan, with the Italian tactician also guiding the club safely through to the Europa League knockout rounds thanks to their 4-2 win over Scottish champions Celtic last time out.
And Pioli will fancy his side’s chances against this weekend’s opponents, Sampdoria, who currently occupy 11th place in the Serie A table with 11 points from nine games.
Claudio Ranieri’s men are enduring a five-match winless run across all competitions, losing three times (including to rivals Genoa in the Coppa Italia) and drawing twice.
That said, Sampdoria have already beaten the likes of Atalanta and Lazio this season, so for AC Milan to underestimate their opponents on Sunday would be a grave mistake.
Where to watch Sampdoria vs AC Milan on TV:
- UK: Premier Sports 2
- US: ESPN+
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Sampdoria & AC Milan’s previous line-ups:
- Sampdoria (vs Torino): Audero; Bereszynski, Ferrari, Yoshida, Augello; Candreva, Thorsby, Ekdal, Jankto; Verre; Quagliarella.
- AC Milan (vs Celtic): Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjaer, Gabbia, Hernandez; Kessie, Krunic; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Hauge; Rebic.
The injured Keita Balde is Ranieri’s only absentee heading into Sunday’s match.
Forwards Rafael Leao and Zlatan Ibrahimovic remain sidelined for AC Milan, who are otherwise at full strength.
Player to watch: Franck Kessie (AC Milan)
Even with Ibrahimovic and Leao sidelined, Milan are still likely to take the game to Sampdoria, so expect Ranieri to instruct his side to sit deep and stay disciplined before hitting the Serie A leaders on the counter-attack. That in mind, the role of Franck Kessie will be crucial to the outcome at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium.
The Ivorian midfielder has been a colossus for Milan so far this season, breaking up opposition moves with a mixture of robust physical duels and expert in-game intelligence, while he’s also proved to be something of a maverick in the final third, too, popping up with three goals and two assists in Serie A alone, including one of each in a 2-0 win over Fiorentina last time out.
Only Simon Kjaer (395) has completed more passes in Serie A among AC Milan players than Kessie (392) this season and his ability in possession will be important. However, it’s the fact that he ranks second for blocks (6) and third for recoveries (70) among Serie A midfielders so far this season which will be most vital to Pioli, whose team need to retain their concentration no matter how much they dominate Sampdoria on Sunday, with Ranieri having the likes of Fabio Quagliarella and Antonio Candreva at his disposal.
Serie A 2020/21 recent form:
- Sampdoria: DLLDW
- AC Milan: WWDWD
Scoreline prediction: Sampdoria 1-2 AC Milan
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