AC Milan v Fiorentina Preview
San Siro, Milan
MATCH IN A SENTENCE: Milan are on a modest unbeaten run as they prepare to host Fiorentina, who at fourth place in the table are surely where the 11th-place Rossoneri would rather be after 11 matches this season.
BREAKDOWN: AC Milan are unbeaten in four matches in all competitions coming into Sunday—a run the club no doubt hopes evolves from modest to dominant. It’s been a difficult start to the season for the Rossoneri, but since switching to a 4-2-3-1 manager Massimiliano Allegri has been able to coax some decent performances from his players.
Even so, the Milan boss is not expecting to mount a title challenge this term. In his pre-match press conference the 45-year-old revealed he would consider finishing in fourth, fifth or even sixth to be a success given the high-profile exits of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta over the summer.
“We still haven’t resolved our problems and are a long way from the top three,” he said, adding that it remained one of his top objectives to take Milan into the knockout stage of the Champions League.
“We can have a great campaign and we are still in the running on every front,” he said. “We have played so many youngsters in the Champions League and it’ll take time to win.”
On the other side of the ball, Fiorentina have taken 13 of the last 15 points available to them in the league and are presently just two points adrift of third-place Napoli.
Manager Vincenzo Montella has somehow been able to bring together the squad’s many new players, and Stevan Jovetic and Borja Valero have enjoyed exceptional starts to the season.
ESSENTIALS: AC Milan are still without injured defenders Djamel Mesbah and Didac Villa, and full-backs Luca Antonini and Ignazio Abate and midfielders Sulley Muntari and Rodney Strasser are sidelined as well.
The Rossoneri have scored more than two goals in a match just twice in Serie A this season.
Fiorentina defender Michele Camporese is absent through injury, and Montella is also sweating over the fitness of Jovetic.
KEY BATTLE: Fiorentina play a 3-5-2 formation and stand a good chance of dominating possession on Sunday. With that in mind, look for Allegri to start three central midfielders instead of two—a combination of Massimo Ambrosini, Ricardo Montolivo and Nigel De Jong, for example
FORMATIONS: Allegri, should he keep the faith with his 4-2-3-1, will have Alexandre Patro up front and Stefan El Shaarawy, Bojan Krkic and Urby Emanuelson in support. Montella’s 3-5-2 will have Adam Ljajic and either Jovetic or Mounir El Hamdaoui up top.
BETLINE: AC Milan 1/1; Draw 9/4; Fiorentina 3/1. Fiorentina were 2-1 winners in the corresponding fixture last season.