AC Milan welcome Fiorentina in a crucial Serie A encounter as they try to maintain their lead at the top.

AC Milan are sitting pretty at the top of the Serie A table with 74 points in 34 matches. They will want to maintain their lead entering the last three matches of the league when they welcome Fiorentina to San Siro.

The Rossoneri have been in brilliant form in the Serie A. They have not lost in the league since a shock 2-1 defeat to Spezia in January, going 12 matches unbeaten which has helped them solidify their spot at the top of the league table.

Their last league outing saw them emerge 2-1 winners over Lazio, with Sandro Tonali scoring a late winner in injury time to see his side through. Milan have two points more than rivals Inter, and the Rossoneri will want to keep things that way with a win on Sunday.

Fiorentina, on the other hand, are seventh in the league table with 56 points from 34 matches. A win over Milan could see them leapfrog AS Roma and Lazio to the fifth spot, provided other results go Fiorentina’s way.

They enter the Milan encounter on the back of two consecutive defeats in Serie A – a 4-0 drubbing against Udinese and a 2-1 win over Salernitana. Vincenzo Italiano’s side will want to return to winning ways immediately as the league enters its business end. But defeating a Milan side high on confidence will not be an easy task.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

Stefano Pioli will be without centre-back Simon Kjaer and right-back Alessandro Florenzi for the encounter as both miss out due to their respective injuries. Ismael Bennacer is also doubtful whereas Zlatan Ibrahimovic could make a return.

Pioli will continue with his 4-2-3-1 formation, with Milan trying to feed their attackers Olivier Giroud and Ibrahimovic with crosses from out wide. Their wingers will thus play the most important role in the match.

Pioli is not expected to make changes in the XI that started their 2-1 win over Lazio last time out. Mike Maignan will man the goal with a back four of Davide Calabria, Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori and Theo Hernandez. Sandro Tonali and Franck Kessie are expected to keep their respective spots in the midfield.

Junior Messias, Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud will complete their attacking unit against Fiorentina.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Hernandez; Tonali, Kessie; Messias, Diaz, Leao; Giroud

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Fiorentina

Vincenzo Italiano will be without the services of central midfielder Gaetano Castrovilli, who is expected to be the only miss for the encounter. All other players will be available so the Fiorentina manager will have a near full-strength team to choose from.

The Italian tactician will continue with a 4-3-3 that he has used this season. He may make quite a few changes to the side that started in the 4-0 defeat to Udinese to spur a return to form.

Pietro Terracciano will continue in goal with a back four of Alvaro Odriozola, Nikola Milenkovic, Igor Julio and Cristiano Biraghi. Giacomo Bonaventura, Lucas Torreira and Alfred Duncan will retain their midfield spots.

Nicolas Gonzalez, Arthur Cabral and Jonathan Ikone will form the front three in a bid to return to winning ways.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Terracciano; Odriozola, Milenkovic, Igor, Biraghi; Bonaventura, Torreira, Duncan; Gonzalez, Cabral, Ikone

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Key Stats

  • The last two encounters between the sides have seen 12 goals scored.
  • Fiorentina won the reverse fixture earlier this season 4-3, so Milan will want to get one back on Italiano’s side.
  • Both the sides have won twice each with one draw played in their last five encounters.
  • Milan have conceded just eight goals in 15 league matches this year. Only Liverpool have conceded fewer across Europe’s top-five leagues.
  • If Milan manage to keep a clean sheet against Fiorentina, it will be the first instance in over three years that they will keep four consecutive league clean sheets.

Player to Watch

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan loves to play against Fiorentina (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Zlatan loves to play against Fiorentina (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Though the Swede is not expected to start the encounter, Fiorentina have been Ibrahimovic’s favourite side in the league. He has been involved in 15 goals against Sunday’s opponents, scoring 11 and assisting four.

Ibrahimovic scored a brace in Milan’s 3-4 defeat to Fiorentina earlier this season. Expect him to make things happen if Pioli decides to send him on.

Prediction

AC Milan 1-0 Fiorentina

AC Milan have not scored freely recently but have been able to eke out results one way or the other. Fiorentina, on the other hand, are down on confidence after the 4-0 drubbing against Udinese.
Expect the Rossoneri to come out 1-0 winners and maintain their lead at the top of the Serie A table.

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