AC Milan will be looking to get their poor Serie A campaign back on track when they travel to face Fiorentina on Saturday.
The Rossoneri have lost back-to-back games in the league, with a shock 3-0 defeat at Hellas Verona being followed up by a 2-0 defeat to Atalanta on December 22.
The result leaves Gennaro Gattuso’s side in 11th place – the bottom half of the table – but a win at the Stadio Artemio Franchi would see them jump above La Viola.
Gattuso’s move to send the squad on a retreat after losing to Hellas Verona appeared to do little to change the mentality of the squad, however they will be looking to build on a 1-0 Coppa Italia derby win over Inter in midweek.
The game against Atalanta saw Ignazio Abate deployed at right-back alongside Leonardo Bonucci and Alessio Romagnoli, with Ricardo Rodriguez at left-back. Franck Kessie, Riccardo Montolivo and Giacomo Bonaventura made up the midfield, while Fabio Borini start in the forward trio along with Nikola Kalinic and Patrick Cutrone.
Perhaps the biggest team news ahead of Saturday’s fixture is that Gianluigi Donnarumma is set to miss out with a groin issue, with his brother Antonio tipped to start instead.
There are set to be multiple changes in the outfield too, with Davide Calabria expected to replace Abate – who came off injured on Wednesday. Kalinic is set to be dropped, with Bonaventura preferred on the wing, and Hakan Calhanoglu expected to slot into midfield. Suso is back from suspension, and will likely start.
ProbablyXI vs. Fiorentina: A. Donnarumma; Calabria, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Montolivo, Calhanoglu; Suso, Cutrone, Bonaventura.
As mentioned, Fiorentina are within striking distance of the Diavolo, sitting in 8th place with 26 points from 18 games – just two points ahead of Milan but with a +11 superior goal difference.
La Viola haven’t conceded in their last four Serie A fixtures either, registering eight points in the process. The run began with a 3-0 win over Sassuolo before they gained an impressive point at Napoli, before drawing with Genoa and winning 1-0 at Cagliari in their last match.
On Boxing Day, Fiorentina were knocked out of the Coppa Italia with a 1-0 defeat at Lazio.
LAST TIME OUT
Milan took four points from Fiorentina last season, winning the most recent meeting between the sides 2-1 at San Siro in February.
Juraj Kucka opened the scoring on 16 minutes for the hosts before Kalinic equalised against his current club shortly after. Gerard Deulofeu scored the winner just after the half-hour mark with a curling shot.
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) February 19, 2017
Suso is back, so Fiorentina will have to be alert to stop the Spaniard from continuing his reputation as Milan’s best creator. It will also be interesting to see how ‘Jack’ Bonaventura plays on the wing, and how Calhanoglu responds to being handed a league start.
Probable Fiorentina Starting XI: Dragowski, Milenkovic, Vitor Hugo, Astori, Gaspar, Benassi, Sanchez, Veretout, Chiesa, Saponara, Babacar.
The key man for the home team is probably going to be Riccardo Saponara. The midfielder has a knack of scoring against Milan, so betting against him scoring again would be dangerous.
Babacar will provide a pace outlet for Stefano Pioli’s side, and he will test the back-line, while Chiesa is also an impressive emerging Serie A talent.
The game last season at the Artemio Franchi ended 0-0, and it is impossible to rule out the same scoreline this time around. Gattuso will set his side up not to concede, but the hope is that they can finally put one in at the other end after two league games without a goal.
However, it is a tough place to go, and Fiorentina’s recent form could easily see them snatch this. Cautious, rather than optimistic.
Prediction: Fiorentina 1-1 AC Milan