By 90Min
February 17, 2018

AC Milan host Sampdoria at the San Siro on Sunday, looking to go level on points with a win over their opponents - who currently sit one place above them. The Rossoneri continued their resurgence on Thursday night with an easy 3-0 Europa League win over Bulgarian champions Ludogorets. 

Gennaro Gattuso's men have picked up the pace of late and have not lost now since a 2-0 defeat to Atalanta back in December. They will, however, have to accept that Serie A looks a two horse race between Juventus and Napoli, as the two clubs are head and shoulders above the rest with a 14-point gap separating them from third-placed Inter. 


That makes Sunday's encounter all the more important as Milan look to climb into the European qualifying spots, but they will have to push aside Sunday's opponents in the process. 

Sampdoria, meanwhile, are on course for their highest league finish since the 2011-2012 season and also go into Sunday's game on a good run of form. They currently sit in 6th position, five points behind Lazio, and will be hoping for a repeat of their 2-0 victory over the Rossoneri back in September. 

Here is everything you need to know about the San Siro clash:


Classic Encounter

NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/GettyImages

Of the 42 games between these two sides, Milan have won 22 and Sampdoria 11, leaving 9 resulting in draws. The encounter rarely produces an abundance of goals - with exception of a stellar Milan performance back in 2015. 


Former Watford loanee M'Baye Niang, then just 20 years of age, starred in a 4-1 demolition of Sampdoria at the San Siro. The Senegalese forward, now with Torino, bagged himself a brace as the Rossoneri strolled past the Genoa-based club. 


Further goals came from Giacomo Bonaventura and Luiz Adriano while Sampdoria managed to pull one back through an 87th minute Éder penalty but it proved to be nothing but a consolation in the San Siro rout.


Key Battles

Fabio Quagliarella vs Leonardo Bonucci 

MIGUEL MEDINA/GettyImages

Much will be made of how Milan's recently improved back line can deal with Serie A's third-highest top scorer, Fabio Quagliarella. Sampdoria have found the back of the net in each of their last eight Serie A games and it is largely down to the 35-year-old former Napoli striker


Quagliarella has 17 goals in 23 games - his best scoring Serie A campaign to date - and has given many Serie A defences a torrid time this season. 

Milan's 6 ft 3in club captain Leonardo Bonucci played alongside Quagliarella at Juventus and will be tasked with keeping his former teammate quiet in Sunday's encounter. 


Team News


Franck Kessié has started every one of AC Milan's games this season but will be forced to sit out due to picking up one too many yellow cards. He will likely be replaced by Tomas Locatelli in a three-man midfield, alongside Lucas Biglia and Giacomo Bonaventura.


Nikola Kalinić is a major doubt while Andrea Conti is a long-term absentee after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament. 

The game comes too soon for Sampdoria's Denis Praet, who will be out for at least a couple more weeks with a thigh strain. But Samp boss Marco Giampaolo has no fresh injury concerns heading into the weekend. 


It is expected he will name a largely unchanged side.


Potential Milan Starting Lineup: Donnarumma, Rodriguez, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Abate, Biglia, Locatelli, Bonaventura, Calhanoglu, Suso, Cutrone.


Potential Sampdoria Starting Lineup: Viviano, Bereszynski, Silvestre, Ferrari, Murru, Barreto, Linetty, Torreira, Ramirez, Zapata, Quagliarella.


Prediction


AC Milan head into the game having scored a total of seven goals and conceding zero in their last two games - albeit against two sides you would expect them to defeat in Ludogorets and SPAL.

Sampdoria meanwhile swept aside Verona last weekend in a 2-0 home victory and have the advantage of not having midweek Europa League distractions.

Gattuso's men will have played three times in eight days and will envy the week that Sampdoria have had to prepare. It could prove vital but as with the majority of previous encounters between these two sides, it is unlikely either are going to allow the floodgates to open. 

AC Milan need the three points to climb into a competitive position but given the form of both teams going into the tie this will likely finish all square.

Prediction: AC Milan 1-1 Sampdoria



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