AC Milan’s up-and-down season continues when they travel to play struggling Carpi for the first time ever on Sunday, with Andrea Poli calling for a win at all costs.
The last week has produced two victories for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side, with a 4-1 home triumph over Sampdoria followed up by a nervous 3-1 extra-time win over Serie B outfit Crotone in the Coppa Italia.
Milan have struggled for consistency in Serie A this year, winning seven, drawing two and losing five of their opening 14 fixtures in the league, although they have only lost once – to Juventus – in their last seven.
All that leaves them seventh in the table, eight points behind leaders Napoli, six behind Fiorentina in the third and final Champions League spot, but only four clear of Lazio in 10th place, highlighting how their campaign can still go either way.
Carpi, meanwhile, have struggled since gaining promotion to the top flight this season. They have only picked up nine points from 14 games to sit 19th in the table, although they did pick up what was just their second win of the season by securing a 2-1 victory away to Genoa in their last league match.
The 27 goals conceded in their league matches to date gives Carpi by far the worst defensive record in Serie A and Poli is desperate to see Milan take advantage.
“The Carpi match this weekend is massively important,” he told Milan Channel.
“We want to win at all costs and bring home the three points.
“The Crotone match was one in which we could have done better and we suffered. We faced a side that defended deep and man marked across the entire pitch. We should have done better, but in the end we were able to win and that is what matters.
“It was hard in extra-time with players that have not had much game-time this season. We were under pressure at times, but we simply had to progress to the next round and in the end we deserved to win.
“Many expected a flurry of goals, but we did not underestimate Crotone because they are a tough side to play against.”
Nigel de Jong (thigh) has been training in full this week, while Mario Balotelli is also back with the group following groin surgery but he is not expected to return until closer to Christmas.
Key Opta stats:
– Carpi and AC Milan have never met in Serie A or in Serie B.
– In the last game against Genoa, Carpi won after they had gained only one point in six games (0-0 against Verona).
– Milan have scored four goals against Sampdoria after they hadn’t scored in the previous two games: moreover Milan have not conceded more than one goal since the game against Napoli on October 4.
– Carpi have conceded six goals in the first 15 minutes of play, more than any other Serie A team.
– Milan have conceded five goals in the first half: only Napoli (three) and Inter (four) have better records.
– Marco Borriello have played 53 games for Milan in Serie A, scoring 16 goals, one every 207 minutes: at the moment his average at Carpi is 185 mins/goal.