The five key battles that could win or lose the game for Milan against Fiorentina

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan will take to the field in front of over 70,000 fans against Fiorentina at San Siro this evening hoping to go into the World Cup break with a win.

Napoli’s win over Udinese on Saturday means the gap is 11 points and as such the Rossoneri are in dire need of a win to move it back to eight, otherwise a Scudetto defence appears very difficult, but they meet a Viola side who have won their last five in all competitions.

The game will be heavily influenced by a number of key battles across the pitch, starting with Olivier Giroud who returns from suspension and will duel with Nikola Milenkovic. The Frenchman has scored four goals in his last four appearances for Milan in all competitions, while the Rossoneri have won 17 of their 18 matches in which the Frenchman has found the net. Milenkovic meanwhile was heavily linked with a move to Milan and has found his form again this season under Vincenzo Italiano.

Moving to the left side of Milan’s attack, Rafael Leão has scored two goals in three Serie A matches against Fiorentina, with both coming at San Siro. One of them was his very first for the club in September 2019, and the Brazilian full-back Dodo – who arrived in the summer from Shakhtar Donetsk – will have a tough task stopping him.

It is impossible not to mention Giacomo Bonaventura, who scored 30 goals in 155 Serie A matches for Milan between 2014 and 2020. He has played 618 minutes against Milan and has never been involved in a goal, so will look to change that against his old side after an excellent October, while Ismael Bennacer is likely to be at the base of Milan’s midfield and must limit his influence.

There is an interesting sub-plot involving Luka Jovic, who was linked with a move to Milan for several transfer windows before eventually joining Fiorentina on loan from Real Madrid. He has three goals in 13 Serie A games so far, and will meet Fikayo Tomori who will be absolutely determined to make Gareth Southgate regret his decision not to call him up for the World Cup.

Finally, we finish with another duel on Milan’s left where Theo Hernandez will come back after suspension to reunite with Leao and will look to pin Fiorentina back, but he will also have to watch another player who was linked with Milan in Jonathan Ikone. The Frenchman has two goals and an assist in 13 league games so far and is a menace with his pace and physicality.

Tags AC Milan Milan-Fiorentina
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