AC Milan will be hoping to close the gap to league leaders Inter Milan when they take on Fiorentina at Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday evening.

AC Milan will be aiming to bring an end to their three-game winless streak across all competitions when they face off against Fiorentina at Stadio Artemio Franchi in Matchweek 28 of the 2020/21 Serie A this weekend.

Milan, after having made a terrific start to the season, have seen their form decline since the turn of the year. The Rossoneri have won just one of their last five games in all competitions and head into Sunday’s clash on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United which saw them crash out of the UEFA Europa League.

Stefano Pioli’s men are currently second in the league, nine points off of leaders and arch-rivals Inter Milan. And with Juventus also breathing down their necks from below, it is imperative that Milan get back to winning ways on Sunday. But, things will be very tricky against a Fiorentina side, who will be in a confident mood after their 4-1 win over Benevento last time out.

The victory meant Cesare Prandelli’s men moved to 14th place on the table, seven points clear of the relegation zone. However, the Viola have not been anywhere near good enough, having won just two of their last eight games and will be hoping to make the most of Milan’s current plight and heap further misery on them with a win.

The reverse fixture, played in November last year, saw Milan beat Fiorentina 2-0 courtesy of first half goals from Alessio Romagnoli and Franck Kessie. Ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday evening, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Fiorentina

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Heading into the game, Cesare Prandelli does not have any pressing concerns with regards to his squad as Igor is the only player missing out with an injury. Sofyan Amrabat, however, is a doubt due to a back issue, as confirmed by the manager on the eve of the game.

The hosts will line up in their preferred 3-5-2 formation on Sunday evening with Bartlomiej Dragowski manning the goal. He will be protected by the three-man defensive unit of Lucas Martinez Quarta, German Pezzella and Nikola Milenkovic, who is a summer transfer target for Manchester United.

Martin Caceres and Lorenzo Venuti ought to be the two wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively, and will look to push forward on the break and hit crosses for the attackers. Erick Pulgar should be the man tasked with holding the fort in the middle of the park where he will look to negate the influence of Hakan Calhanoglu.

Gaetano Castrovilli should provide defensive support to Pulgar in the centre of the park while former AC Milan midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura will be the man in charge of providing the forward impetus from the middle. He will look to drive upfield at every opportunity possible to support the strike-partnership of Dusan Vlahovic and Franck Ribery.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Dragowski; Milenkovic, Pezzella, Quarta; Caceres, Bonaventura, Pulgar, Castrovilli, Venuti; Vlahovic, Ribery

AC Milan

AC Milan have to make do without right-back Davide Calabria, who is set for an extended spell out on the sidelines. Along with the Italian international, forwards Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic also miss out due to injury, although the latter would have been suspended even if he was fit. Mario Mandzukic and Alessio Romagnoli remain unavailable as well.

Stefano Pioli, on his return to Fiorentina, will set his AC Milan side in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma on Sunday. Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori, who was one of the few positives for the Rossoneri in midweek against Manchester United, should form the centre-back partnership.

With Calabria out, Diogo Dalot should get the nod at right-back ahead of Pierre Kalulu while Theo Hernandez is a certainty to feature on the left. The Frenchman’s attacking prowess and powerful overlapping runs will be key for Milan on the evening.

Franck Kessie will provide the legs in the midfield engine room for the visitors, with Sandro Tonali essaying the role of a deep-lying playmaker alongside him. The majority of the creative onus, though, will fall onto the shoulders of Hakan Calhanoglu in the No. 10 role.

Alexis Saelemaekers should start ahead of Samu Castillejo on the right while Jens Petter Hauge could get a rare run out on the left, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic spearheading the attack for Milan in Florence.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Hauge; Ibrahimovic

Key Stats

  • AC Milan have won 13 of their last 15 away matches in Serie A.
  • Fiorentina have drawn three of their last four home league games against AC Milan (L1). The last time they got the better of the Rossoneri at home was in 2015.
  • AC Milan have scored at least two goals in 18 of their last 19 away matches in Serie A.
  • Cesare Prandelli has lost each of his last seven managerial matches against AC Milan in Serie A. His teams have failed to score in six of these seven games.
  • After scoring in 38 consecutive league games, Milan have failed to find the back of the net in four of their last nine, losing each of those four games in which they did not score.

Player to Watch

Hakan Calhanoglu

The 27-year-old playmaker is a pivotal player for AC Milan. And with him going through a difficult patch, it has reflected on the team’s performances as well. Calhanoglu had been one of Milan’s best players in 2020 but injuries and COVID-19 in quick succession have had a negative impact on his displays.

Nonetheless, the Turkish international is a player possessing quality and class in abundance. For Milan to turn things around and stay alive in the title race, they need their No. 10 to be back firing on all cylinders starting from the game against Fiorentina.

Prediction

Fiorentina 0-1 AC Milan

Fiorentina head into the game with their morale boosted after the win over Benevento. However, with all due respect to the latter, AC Milan will be a major step up in terms of the level of opposition for the Viola. And even though the Rossoneri are missing few players due to injuries the availability of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hakan Calhanoglu should be telling. The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts a narrow win for Stefano Pioli & co.

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