AC Milan vs. Sampdoria: 5 Things We Learned
The man of the match was easily Valter Birsa, who not only scored the Rossoneri's only goal but showed a creative spark, dribbling ability and continually tested Sampdoria's goalkeeper from long range.
Without further ado, here are five things we learned from Milan vs. Sampdoria:
Matri Will Ride the Bench Once Fitness Improves
Perhaps the only reason Massimiliano Allegri is forced to play Milan's €11 million summer signing is because he has no other choice at the moment.
Giampaolo Pazzini is still injured, Stephan El Shaarawy is getting over a knock of his own and Mario Balotelli is suspended for the next two matches.
That leaves Alessandro Matri, Milan's most expensive signing from the summer, as the lone wolf up front.
If his play was catastrophic before, consider today's performance apocalyptic.
The Birsa-for-Antonini Swap Looks Genius
The little-known Slovenian playmaker known as Valter Birsa is slowly winning his way into the hearts of Rossoneri fans.
At first, mockery was made about the Luca Antonini-Valter Birsa swap, which sent the aging left-back to Genoa, but now Birsa seems to be an integral part of the formation who works hard and can create.
Birsa scored his first goal for Milan against Sampdoria and could have easily had a brace.
Balotelli Dependency Lives on
Milan fans are counting down the days until the end of Mario Balotelli's suspension, which he picked up against Napoli for verbally harassing a referee after the game was over.
Two domestic games remain where the team will have to be without the services of their superstar striker.
Balotelli was all smiles in the stadium, as he was flanked by his brother Enoch Barwuah, who is a lower-league footballer himself.
The biggest aspect of his game that's needed is the touch of unexpectedness, which could only come with a misunderstood genius like himself.
Allegri Experimenting with Different Tactical Setups
While Massimiliano Allegri's preferred tactical lineup has been a 4-3-3 or a 4-3-1-2, it seems that he has now told Nigel De Jong to play the sweeper role alongside Philippe Mexes and Christian Zapata.
The change has been apparent for the past two domestic matches, where De Jong has slotted deeper in the formation and given a hand to one of the worst Serie A defenses, which conceded 10 goals in the first five matches of the season.
Christmas Wishlist: Goalkeeper
Even though Christian Abbiati kept his first clean sheet of the season, there isn't one shot that comes his way that doesn't terrorize onlooking Milan fans.
Behind those 10 goals conceded in the first five matches of the season, there has been Christian Abbiati to lend a hand to the mediocrity.
Even in his prime he was a streaky goalkeeper who was just as prone to committing a mistake as he was to make a game-saving reflex save. The latter part of this past statement has completely vanished, and Milan is left shivering in hope that the next papera isn't around the corner.