Goalless Draw at San Siro In Ibrahimovic New Debut Day

A goalless draw at the San Siro Stadium, with Sampdoria snatching an important away point in view of their battle to remain in Serie A. Milan were held onto a nil-nil tie at home for the second time in a row, after Sassuolo had ruined their 120th birthday before the Christmas break. The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was sent in by Stefano Pioli 10 minutes into the second half, didn’t help changing the situation.

Ibra had not played and official game since October 25th, the day his former Los Angeles Galaxy side lost a playoff derby against cross-city rivals LAFC. However, more than his 38 years of age and the expected limited condition, it was the almost total lack of supplies received by his teammates to limit Zlatan’s impact on the game.   

The Rossoneri had two main goals as they set to face the Blucerchiati: Cancelling the shame of their 0-5 defeat in Bergamo from the previous Serie A round, and showcasing their new jewel Ibra – whose presence was enough to draw more than 60000 spectators to the stands of the San Siro.

Stefano Pioli however chose continuity with his previous lineup, as he maintained Krzystzof Piatek in charge of his attacking forces, supported by Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu. Ibra remained on the bench, tough for what was seen in the initial 23 minutes of play, he could have surely lent a hand to a low-paced Milan side, regardless of his alleged lack of condition.

Milan’s first chance was a shot by midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura, which was stopped by Omar Colley. Suso tested goalkeeper Emil Audero with a weak challenge, then was also blocked by Sampdoria’s Gambian defender. That’s all the Rossoneri could produce, much to Zlatan’s despair. The Swede was seen putting his hands in his hair, moments before Pioli ordered him to warm-up – prompting an enthusiastic reaction on the part of the San Siro fans.

Sampdoria mostly thought about defending themselves and, if truth be told, couldn’t have done anything much different as coach Claudio Ranieri was forced to change two players in the first half already – losing to injuries Gastón Ramirez first, and then Fabio Depaoli.

The second half marked Ibra’s second debut among the Rossoneri lines. Zlatan set foot on the pitch in the 55th minute, along with Rafael Leao – whom Pioli sent in to switch to a two-man attacking line. It was the Blucerchiati, however, to come closer to break the balance, and it took a couple of providential saves on the part of Gianluigi Donnarumma to keep the score unchanged – with Gigio denying Manolo Gabbiadini twice in the space of a few minutes.

Ibrahimovic’s only scoring attempt was a weak header which Omar Colley pushed away, courtesy of one of the very few successful crosses delivered by Suso. Rafael Leao tried shooting twice with no better fortune. San Siro’s enthusiasm quickly turned into disappointment and frustration as Pioli’s side failed to create any additional scoring opportunity, rather evidencing a somewhat worrying confusion.

A hailstorm of booing accompanied them as they left the pitch while Sampdoria held onto a precious away draw. The end of the tunnel is still far from Milan, with or without Ibra.        


January 6, 2020 – Serie A 2019-2020 Round 18

MILAN (4-3-3): G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Krunic (86′ Paquetà), Bennacer, Bonaventura (55′ Rafael Leao); Suso, Piatek (55′ Ibrahimovic), Calhanoglu (Reina, A. Donnarumma, Castillejo, Conti, Caldara, Gabbia, Kessiè, Brescianini, Maldini) Coach: Pioli
SAMPDORIA (4-4-2): Audero; Bereszynski, Chabot, Colley, Murru; Ramirez (29′ Depaoli, 42′ Jankto), Thorsby, Vieira, Linetty; Gabbiadini, Quagliarella (87′ Ekdal) (Seculin, Falcone, Augello, Bonazzoli, Rigoni, Regini, Maroni, Murillo, Leris) Coach: Ranieri

REFEREE: Mr. Massa from Imperia
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Krunic (M), Depaoli, Thorsby, Colley, Bereszynski, Linetty (S); Extra Time: 1st Half 3′, 2nd Half 4′