Vincenzo Montella says ‘Samp is special to me’ as he expects a difficult match against his former side, and insists Nikola Kalinić is the safest option now.
Milan have played 10 matches in all competitions, winning 9 of them, but they lost their only real challenge, getting defeated 4-1 by Lazio at Stadio Olimpico.
Tomorrow, they have another complicated match as they face Sampdoria at Stadio Luigi Ferraris at 12:30 CET. The boys of Marco Giampaolo have not lost a match yet this season and they have 8 points from 4 matches (they played one less game than Milan as their Matchday 3 encounter with Roma was called off).
“I’m happy to return to Genoa, it’s always an exciting match. Samp is special to me,” said Montella, who coached Blucerchiati in 2015/16. “It will be a very tough match, they are very strong tactically. We must be fast and very organized, it will also be important to have the right mental approach.
“Sampdoria always defend very well regardless of who they face, thus we will need to find spaces and gain depth up front. Defending against [Sampdoria striker] Duvan Zapata? If [Cristian] Zapata plays against [Duvan] Zapata then it will be a great challenge [the two players are cousins].
— AC Milan (@acmilan) September 23, 2017
“We need to raise our level, all our coming consecutive games will be extremely complicated like the Milan Derby, Roma, Juventus and Napoli. This will be the first of many tough ones to come and one of the most complicated ones. Like me, the squad is highly motivated, we are pleased with our position in the league. We wished for such a start, now we have to continue the hard work towards our future.
“Stats? Until now, only Napoli [who are in 1st place] have done better than us on ball possession, we record the highest shots on goal and the least shots on goal conceded. Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but if we take into considerations these stats we can see that Milan are doing really well.
“We are also the youngest squad in the competition, we are among the six youngest in Europe. We score the most from set pieces? I am very pleased with our improvement, as last year we were third in terms of goals scored from dead ball situations and in terms of defending against them.
“Now we have taken a further step forward. This is our quality and we have excellent takers. Ricardo Rodriguez is the penalty taker? It’s a possibility that it’ll be him again. We score many goals in the first half? It’s important and if we could keep it also during the rest of the season it’d be great.
“Suso’s position? He doesn’t need more words coming from me. He played very well last season as a winger. But our objective is to reach the Champions League and he needs to raise his level and score more goals. Moving towards the center, he’ll have more chances to see the target. He’ll adapt quickly.
“André Silva? He is improving constantly, both in his psychological approach and technically. I am not at all concerned about him. We did invest a lot on him and that raises the expectations and his responsibilities, but he is still 21 years old and will adapt very well. He is having a great start to the season and I am happy. Kalinić? There are him, Silva and Cutrone. Nikola is the most experienced, but we will need the 3 of them. So far Kalinić is the safest option. Later, all three will play.
“The importance of Bonucci and Biglia? We expect a lot from Bonucci and Biglia, as well as from the other experienced players that we have. They set the example, both on the pitch and in their behavior off it, and can lead the younger members of the team. However, I work with everyone in the same way, the tactics and all the other aspects of the game, I have no preferences.
“Changes in the next two matches? We play every three days and few players can play all the matches without problems, so we will have to change things a bit. But surely the best, mentally and tactically, will be on the pitch. But I don’t know the precise number of players that will be rotated.
“The state of the team? It’s only natural we will have ups and downs because we are a new squad [Fassone and Mirabelli bought 11 new players in the summer]. We can still improve but we are on the right path, we just need to be consistent with achieving positive results, that is always helpful.
“The big and small teams in Serie A? The top teams have all been strengthened, it is inevitable that the gap has been widened with the small sides. But I’m convinced that with the cunning and intelligence of the coaches in our league they will be able to bridge the gap.”
After the match with Sampdoria tomorrow, Milan host HNK Rijeka at San Siro on Thursday night (21:05 CET) before playing Roma on the 1st of October at 18:00 CET. Important days ahead.