AC Milan will be hoping to keep their top four hopes alive when they take on Fiorentina, who are looking to end their winless run, on Saturday.
AC Milan have endured a difficult season in Serie A and are four points behind nearest top four rivals Atalanta. There still lies a glimmer of hope for Gennaro Guttuso’s side as they take on Fiorentina at the Artemio Franchi Stadium in Florence. Milan will be hoping to collect three points and hoping for Atalanta to lose ground, taking the fourth place race into the final day of the season.
Last time out, Milan contested a tense battle with Bologna, which saw a player from both teams being sent off. Milan took control early on, but slowly let Bologna into the game, although in the end, it was Gattuso’s side that triumphed with a 2-1 scoreline. The Rossoneri have been inconsistent lately, and if they continue such form, then they can wave goodbye to any lingering top four hopes that still remain.
Fiorentina, meanwhile, host Milan at the back of an incredible 11-game winless run, and another such result might heap more misery than they might have expected. It has been two months since La Viola last tasted victory, and this bad run of form led to the sacking of former manager Stefano Pioli, although new boss Vincenzo Montella has been unable to turn their fortunes around.
Their problems were compounded with a 1-0 loss at 18th-placed Empoli. Montella will undoubtedly be looking for a result, but a stalemate will also highlight a big problem in their season as Fiorentina are the team with the most draws (16) this season. The problem lies more in attack than defence, as Fiorentina are unable to find any rhythm in the final third this season and it has shown in their recent results.
Team News & Tactics
For the home side, there are few injury concerns as well as a suspension heading into the Milan clash. Marko Pjaca and German Pezzella are out of the game with injuries, while Jordan Veretout is suspended fter being sent off against Empoli. Replacing club captain Pezzella will be a big task, as he has been one of Fiorentina’s key defensive players this season, and Vitor Hugo will have a huge task on Saturday.
Another area of concern is to replace suspended playmaker Veretout. The home side might be able to call upon Gerson to replace him, as he could form a partnership with Edmilson Fernandes and Marco Benassi in central midfield.
In defence, a four-man defensive line could be fielded comprising of Nikola Milenkovic at right-back, Hugo and Federico Ceccherini as centre-halves and Cristiano Biraghi at the left side of the Fiorentina defence.
In attack, Montella could go with a three-man unit, Luis Muriel operating as the centre forward. Muriel should be supported by Federico Chiesa and Everton loanee Kevin Mirallas.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lafont; Milenkovic, Ceccherini, Hugo, Biraghi; Gerson, Fernandes, Benassi; Cheisa, Muriel, Mirallas
Starting with some more bad news for AC Milan as Mattia Caldara suffered yet another knee injury that rules him out for a long time. Caldara joins Giacomo Bonaventura and Davide Calabria on the sidelines with none of the players available for travel to Florence. Additionally, Lucas Paqueta is also out with suspension after being sent off against Bologna the last time out.
Paqueta will now miss the remainder of the season because of the said booking and might pose a problem for Gattuso. Moreover, Gattuso’s public spat with Tiemoue Bakayoko has led to speculation regarding the on-loan Chelsea midfielder’s future, but the big concern would be his availability for the Fiorentina clash.
The manager might go with Jose Mauri for the anchor man role, while he has options in Franck Kessie and Hakan Calhanoglu in central midfield, with the Turkish star replacing Paqueta.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Abate, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Mauri, Calhanoglu; Suso, Piatek, Borini
- Fiorentina won the reverse fixture against AC Milan; the last time they won both league games against the Rossoneri in a Serie A campaign was back in 2000-01.
- AC Milan have won just one of their last seven away Serie A matches against Fiorentina (D4 L2).
- The last time Fiorentina went 11 consecutive games without a win in a single Serie A campaign was back in 1989-90 (12 games) – they have played out five draws and six defeats in the current streak.
- AC Milan have picked up only one point in their last four away league games and have conceded at least once in each of their last seven matches on the road.
- Two of AC Milan’s last three goals in Serie A have been scored by substitutes; the Rossoneri had seen just one of their previous 46 goals in the top-flight netted by a substitute before this.
Player to Watch
Kessie has been one of Milan’s most consistent performers throughout the season despite the overall team effort being a little timid at times. Kessie alone could not change the fortunes of the San Siro outfit, when it came to some of their poor displays throughout the season, but he can put some things right in the final two games of the season.
Milan have a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless, to finish in the top four come the end of the season. The Rossoneri though, would want Atalanta, Kessie’s former side, to lose ground with two games remaining, and the midfielder will have to play a vital role in reviving his club’s fortunes, especially if he could help them to a win.
Fiorentina 1-3 AC Milan
Milan do not have problems with their forward line or scoring goals regularly. Their major problem comes from the fact that the side, sometimes even in good positions switch off completely to allow the opposition into the game, something they did against Bologna last time out.
Against a struggling Fiorentina side, they might find their rhythm again to score a few and hold on to the lead to take three points. It is a now or never situation for Milan, although even with a win, their fate will rest on Atalanta’s result. Either way, Milan could cement their place as the fifth-placed team at the very least, and they could do so with a win in Florence.