Luca Antonelli expects a Sampdoria side reinvigorated by the arrival of new coach Vincenzo Montella to provide a stern test for AC Milan at San Siro on Saturday in a Serie A clash that will put Sinisa Mihajlovic in the spotlight.
Current Milan boss Mihajlovic will be going up against his previous employers at the weekend, though there will be little room for sentimentality.
An away defeat to Juventus last time out leaves Milan in seventh place in the table, already 10 points behind leaders Inter and outside of the European qualification spots.
Antonelli knows Sampdoria under Montella will be determined to spark a change in fortunes.
“We’re expecting a tough game, partly because Sampdoria have just changed coach, and because every team which comes to San Siro wants to do well,” he told Milan Channel.
“The boss [Sinisa Mihajlovic] will decide the formation, we’re preparing well because it would be an important win for our position in the table.”
Milan had seemed to be finding some form with three successive league wins over Sassuolo, Chievo and Lazio, but picked up just one point from their last two outings.
“We’re obliged to do well, we’re Milan,” Antonelli added.
“We’re facing teams within our reach. Let’s also not forget the Coppa Italia match against Crotone [next Tuesday], which is very important for us.
“A team does well, above all if there’s a good group, that’s the basis of everything. We have great players, and being a group will help us to finish as high as possible.”
Sampdoria started the season with three wins from their first five Serie A outings under former coach Walter Zenga, who had taken charge after Mihajlovic’s departure at the end of last season.
However, they have recorded just one win since the end of September, a disappointing run that has seen them slip down to 12th and cost Zenga his job.
Former Fiorentina coach Montella was unable to halt the slide in his first match in charge, as his new team went down 1-0 to Udinese.
Key Opta stats:
– Sampdoria have not beaten Milan in Serie A since August 2012.
– Milan have kept a clean sheet in four of their last six league meetings against Sampdoria at home.
– Sampdoria are the only side yet to have a substitute score in Serie A this season.
– Sinisa Mihajlovic has won only one of his four league meetings against his former side Sampdoria as manager (D2 L1).
– Antonio Cassano has scored eight goals in 18 Serie A games against AC Milan: only against Fiorentina has he netted more in the top flight (9).