Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
Sunday 23rd August, 2015, 19:45 GMT
Fiorentina will host AC Milan at the Artemio Franchi on Sunday evening in Serie Aa s first highly anticipated encounter of the season. New head coach Paulo Sousa will hope to keep up the momentum that Vincenzo Montella had with the team last season and a win against the Rossoneri may be an indicator of another good season in Florence. Meanwhile, the visitors have been one of the biggest spenders this summer and all new signings, along with new coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, will certainly be motivated to justify the money spent to bring them to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
Team news and tactics
Paulo Sousa will look to stamp his authority in his new team and that part might prove to be a challenge. In the last three years, Fiorentina were built in order to play with a 3-5-2 formation where the two wing backs had to help the team in both phases, but now they’re switching to a completely different tactical disposition and type of play. La Viola played an unusual 4-2-3-1 formatin during the preseason, and it’s likely that they’re going to do the same on Sunday against Milan to try and take advantage of their width and flexibility. Despite all the changes, Fiorentina will continue to base their play on ball possession like they did in the past years. But, they are going to do it a bit differently. Their new tactical disposition will guarantee more coverage than the old 3-5-2, but will force the two midfielders to do some extra work when the opponents try to put some pressure over them, since they will be numerically inferior against most Serie A teams in the middle of the pitch.
Despite the loss of key players like Mario GA?mez and Stefan Savi , Fiorentina made other squad players work in new positions throughout the summer in order to help them adapt to the new formation. For example, Giuseppe Rossi continued his recovery from the injury by playing as trequartista and he’s likely to spend most of his time in that position, just like Josip Ilicic who will play almost anywhere behind the striker. Also, Borja Valero will have a slight different role due to the change of formation: he won’t be able to be as offensive as he was in the last two season but he’ll surely be the real playmaker of the team, helped by the new signing Mario Suarez. Fiorentina weakest position is clearly their defence. The starting duo of Gonzalo Rodriguez and Davide Astori are physically ready to compete with the strongest strikers in the league, but they could struggle against quicker forwards or extremely organized teams. Similarly, the two fullbacks look a bit inadequate for the average level of Serie A wingers: Nenad Tomovic is slow, technically mediocre and lacks in concentration so he’s going to have a lot of troubles during the season; Manuel Pasqual is not a real defensive fullback for the 4-2-3-1 formation but he’s an attacking one. So Marcus Alonso might get the nod ahead of him for this game.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1):Tatarusanu(Gk); Tomovic, Rodriguez, Astori, Alonso; Borja Valero, Suarez; Bernardeschi, Mati Fernandez, Ilicic; Babacar
Fiorentina will not be an easy game for Milan, but it shouldn’t be an extremely tough one. This game will be an indication if Milan can transmit the aggressive mentality highlighted by their coach on the road, especially against a tough Fiorentina side. The majority of games are won and lost in the midfield. On Sunday, Milan will come face to face with one of Serie A’s best midfielders, the silky Spaniard, Borja Valero. Valero excels at dictating the tempo in a match and loves to pull the strings from midfield, spraying passes from touchline to touchline. In most games, he is what makes the Viola tick. On the Rossoneri side of the ball is Nigel de Jong, one of Serie A’s best holding midfielders, a pitbull of a player who loves to tackle, intercept, and create turnovers. One would be hard pressed to find two more opposite midfielders in Serie A, and during Sunday’s game they will clash often. It is fair to say that the winner of this midfield battle will go a long way in helping his team toward victory. If De Jong can use his pressing and tackling abilities to limit Borja Valero’s influence on the match, Milan have a great chance of taking three points with them on their way out of Florence.
Milan’s two young central defenders will have a tough test against Fiorentina. Sousa’s newly implemented 4-2-3-1 revolves around a lone target man up top whose main objective will be to bang in goals from inside the box. His two options are the 6-foot-3-inch Sengalese forward Khouma Babacar or the 6-foot-2-inch Croatian Nikola Kalinic. Tomovic and Alonso will be looking to find their striker’s head with their crosses all night. Ely and Romagnoli will have to excel in the air and keep those two towering strikers at bay in order to neutralize Fiorentina’s attack. Bacca and Adriano are two strikers with a track record of scoring in Spain and Ukraine, respectively, and have also had success finding the back of the net in European competitions. It will be intriguing to see how these two settle in Italy, and, more importantly, playing with each other. We saw flashes of brilliance between the Colombian and the Brazilian during the preseason; Milan fans will hope they carry on the same here as well.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2):Diego Lopez(Gk); Abate, Ely, Romagnoli, Antonelli; Bonaventura, De Jong, Bertolacci, Honda; Bacca, Adriano
- This will be the 151st meeting between these two teams in Serie A: the Rossoneri lead the head to head record by 68 wins to 41, with 41 draws.
- Milan have scored 235 league goals against Fiorentina, more than against any other opponent in Serie A.
- The Rossoneri have won only one of their last seven league clashes versus Fiorentina (3D, 4L).
Players to Watch Out For
Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina)
Bernardeschi was brilliant in friendlies this summer, and could well be a protagonist for Fiorentina this season.
Carlos Bacca (AC Milan)
Fiorentina have some major problems at the back, and Bacca could just be the man to exploit them.Davide Astori hasna t played on a weekly basis for two years, whilst Gonzalo Rodriguez will arguably have his hands full with the Colombian.
Fiorentina 2a 2 AC Milan
With a number of changes made by each team over the summer, there will be plenty of players looking to impress their new managers. Milan look to have added more strength and power to their attack, and Bacca and Adriano should cause a number of problems for the opposition defence. However, it will take their side time to gel, and with Fiorentina in good form, expect this match to finish in a draw.
Blast From the Past
Joaquin snatched all three points for Fiorentina as they completed a dramatic late comeback to beat AC Milan 2-1 last season in this fixture.